Exhibition review: Urban Landscapes at the Elizabeth James Gallery, South Norwood

By - Friday 2nd June, 2017

Artists explore their cities and find beauty in this thought-provoking show

‘Playground’ by Peter Hart.
Photo by Elizabeth James Gallery, used with permission.

On Tuesday 17th May 2017, an art exhibition opened at the Elizabeth James Gallery on Portland Road. Elizabeth James was originally from Richmond, but grew up in Croydon, and could see the place where the gallery is now from her bedroom window as a child. Wanting to bring art to this area is what inspired her to create the gallery in a part of Croydon not previously known for it.

The core values of Elizabeth James Art are that the gallery has a strong sense of community, and wants to help charity as much as possible, which is admirable. Creating products using only UK manufacturers and suppliers is something the gallery is passionate about. It also has a impressive manifesto, which includes: sharing inspirations; finding beauty in simplicity; blending great things together; elevating your tastes; and much more. A handful of the artists that had made these pieces of work were also present at the show to talk to visitors, so this is art at the the heart of the community. It was almost like a celebration.

The opening of the Urban Landscapes event, which contains works by Glen Broomfield, Ian Barrington, Monjii Art and Peter Hart, was well-attended and because it was a warm evening, people also stepped outside the gallery on to the streets of Norwood to talk about the art they were seeing. So the vision of Elizabeth James has become a reality.

Art encourages us to look carefully at the world around us

The exhibition was a range of different artworks, with varying sizes and mediums of drawing, depicting urban landscapes from bustling city streets to tranquil, serene suburbs. There were many contrasts within the exhibition and some of the works were big, colourful statements, while others were small and delicate.

Drawing by Ian Barrington.
Photo by Elizabeth James Gallery, used with permission.

One of my favourite pieces of artwork was a piece done by Peter Hart called ‘Playground’. I feel that I could resonate with the motives of the piece being made. Hart wanted to get more out of his journeys around the city by paying attention to every little detail, and noticing how beautiful these journeys can be if you aren’t staring at a screen or being distracted. It is interesting to notice how art encourages us to look carefully at the world around us and be present.

I was also very interested in Ian Barrington’s work in black-and-white panels. It was a drawing of a city, which did not seem to be finished, being made up of panels in which some were drawn in great detail, and in others, just a few lines. It seemed to suggest to me that the city was still in the process of being created just like the drawing was. This made me think about about how cities are never finished works, but are always developing and changing, and you can never say that they are going to remain in a perfect state.

I found my trip eye-opening.

Rufus Jones

Rufus Jones

Rufus is in year 10 at Archbishop Tenison's School, Croydon. He has a passion for art and design and a keen interest in history and writing, taking after his father. In his spare time he enjoys gaming.

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