Easily my favourite exhibition of the last twelve months, Doreen Fletcher’s Retrospective showcases a stunning collection of urban street views painted around east London.
For twenty years, Doreen Fletcher documented the everyday scenes of east London before abandoning painting in 2004 after being discouraged by lack of recognition.
A chance meeting with The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life brought her painting to public attention in 2015, and the growing interest culminated in this wonderful retrospective revealing the work she created between 1983 and 2004.
The largest selection of her paintings put on display, the exhibition includes many previously unseen pictures from private collections, along with new works. I absolutely loved it.
On her website, Doreen explains her passion for painting city scenes:
Since I was a teenager I have been committed to drawing and painting what might be termed, ‘the almost gone’. I have always shown concern for my immediate external environment and the traces left by people on the surface of things, in city and landscape, urban and rural.
Be it the changing use of buildings, the crumbling of dry stone walls, abandoned terraces and disused barns, faded shop signs, dilapidated street furniture or graffiti, they are all the stuff of my pictures, to be recorded before being swept away.
The Nunnery Gallery can be found down a short alley off Bow Road, and comprises a main gallery, a small shop, a corridor gallery and a cafe. It’s a lovely place.
Here’s some photos from my visit – but you really need to see the paintings close up to appreciate their evocative, atmospheric craftsmanship.
I used to live all around the East End so many of the paintings drew a personal response as they captured places I used to visit regularly.
This beautifully executed Plaistow tube painting (above) called up bittersweet memories – I used to catch the tube from there every day to go to my grim job at Farmiloe & Farmiloe in Smithfields – read the depressing tale of my time there in this archive article: My Office Job Hell.
There’s a small (and affordable) cafe in the gallery.
Fletcher’s recent work is equally fascinating.
Runs until Sunday, March 24, 2019
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm, Tues – Sun
Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ