My family is originally from the East End of London and I am interested in how the area has changed over the years. The East End was, at one time, regarded as a neglected slum but due to regeneration in some parts that image has rapidly changed. Although a lot of good has come out of regeneration, for me, it is sad that some areas have lost historic buildings, small businesses and to some extent, their original identities. A lot of demolition has taken place, which has sometimes 'erased' an areas history and character. It can also change a community so that local residents find it hard to figure out how they now fit in and in some cases make it too expensive for them to live there anymore.
Doreen Fletcher is an artist who grew up in the Midlands and moved to the East End of London in the early 1980s. At that time there were a lot of dilapidated buildings and small businesses in the area. Doreen began to paint the scenes around her, continuing to do so for the next 20 years, documenting an ever changing urban landscape. She tried to promote her work by contacting magazines and galleries but unfortunately received negative responses. Due to the disappointing reaction to her work Doreen stopped painting in 2003 and stored her work in the attic.
Mile End Park at Twilight, 1987 (above)
Salmon Lane in the Rain, 1987 (above)
Grand Union Canal in Wintertime, Stepney, 1986 (above)
Due to a chance encounter in early 2016, Doreen's paintings were featured in the Gentle Author's blog, Spitalfields Life. This led to her paintings being exhibited in an antiques shop/gallery called Town House in June 2016 and this is where I first saw her paintings. There was a lot of interest and Doreen's work nearly sold out! I am pleased to say that this encouraged Doreen to start painting again.
I love Doreen's paintings! They are a record of the ever changing East End's urban landscape but they also demonstrate social changes in the area. When viewing Doreen's paintings I always feel that she has a fondness and emotional connection to the subjects she is painting.
There is currently an exhibition of Doreen's work at Bow Arts, The Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ, which finishes on 24th March 2019. The body of work on display was painted over a period of three decades and remembers many business that may have been forgotten and buildings that have been demolished. Many of the paintings are unseen and have been borrowed from private collectors. I went to the exhibition on the opening night and it was packed solid! Doreen is a lovely lady and I am very happy for her well deserved success.
Bow Arts, The Nunnery, Bow (above)
Going Home, 2019 - the figure is Doreen (above)
Doreen signing copies of her book at the Nunnery
Tyre Shop, Salman Lane, 2017 (above)
After the Hurricane, Shadwell, 1987
Foot Tunnel, North Woolwich, 2017
Although the majority of Doreen's work is of paintings of the East End, there are a few pieces in the exhibition of other subjects. I really liked a pencil drawing of her parents - it is very realistic and at first glance I thought it was a photograph. I also love a painting of a lady looking into a dress shop, which is a picture of Doreen's mother gazing at the window display of a dress shop/hairdressers.
A pencil drawing of Doreen's parents (above)
Sheldon’s Dress Shop, Knutton, 1982 - the lady is Doreen's mother
If you are in the Bow area I highly recommend a visit to view Doreen's work.
Until we meet again,