Sunday, 7 August 2011

Nichollas Hamper. G.L.C. Spirit of London Prize 1984

Mr Hamper`s painting which won the Arthur Guinness prize for a painting illustrating a record from the Guinness Book of Records, is called Battersea Power Station. I`m not clear which particular record he intended to illustrate, but his painting certainly deserves a place itself in that illustrious organ - onto it Hamper has crammed more action than any artist except for, perhaps, Pieter Breughel or Jasper Johns! The famous 1930s landmark of British industry of the title dominates the top of the painting, the sky is filled with aircraft, an airship (they were made locally), cranes, trees and a Union Jack; on the river bank are pin men people, dancing, watching TV, taking a bath in a tub, working, fishing and unwisely diving off the embankment into the river for a swim; the famous all-night tea stand on the bridge is there, as is the dogs` home, a train on its way to Subiton, and a fork lift truck; plying the river are warships, pleasure craft and even a swimmer, a bottle and a friendly dolphin; and crossing the bridge over the Thames is every form of transport from a double decker bus to a steam roller. The whole is executed in rust red and steel grey, borrows its style from advertisments from the "thirties" and is a delightfully humorous work.

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