City of Mirrors

This is a personal statement written for the Cass MA Show 2019 at London Metropolitan University, September 2019. It accompanies the gallery of the same name.
My work is about my personal experience of the physical world. A focus on architecture led me to undertake the CWND Residency at Canary Wharf in 2018 upon which the work in this exhibition is based. This is my own psychogeography of Canary Wharf based on my direct experience of being there, wandering around led by curiosity, taking photographs of what I saw. One of my key impressions was a sense of unreality fostered by the outsize scale of the buildings; the physical separation from the areas of East London that surround it; and the lack of a historical patchwork of buildings. The large expanses of glass, water and sky mean that colour, light and reflectivity are key features of the environment. I gradually focused in on reflections as a way of expressing the feeling of unreality. Reflections in water, in particular, with their ability to shift and move have the potential to distort reality the most. Two versions of the world exist at once, the one real and solid, the other seemingly the same but illusory and distorted and which can never quite be grasped. Using unreal colouring seemed a way to heighten the perception of strangeness so the watercolour paintings use inverted colours that are the opposite of those in nature. Even so, ultimately those colours are dictated by nature so the paintings are documents of this place and my experience of it. I, in common with all city dwellers, have created my own vision of the city, an ‘invisible city’ or ‘a city in the mind’.*
*Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, and Peter Fraser, A City in the Mind