London from the M25 in Essex

London over the M25 from Essex , 1998-2001
oil on canvas, 1820mm x 810mm
Private collection

The painting records London at the opening of the Twenty-first century. There is a European tradition of distant prospects of towns dating from ancient Rome to he Rennaissance and Beughel, then Dutch topographers like Hollar and Siberechts, to Turner in the Nineteenth century.  Turner's view of London from Greenwich of 1809 (Tate Britain) was a starting point for this picture, as was the work of Monet & Pissarro on the outskirts of Paris and van Gogh at Arles.

The view is from Tylers Common, high ground where thousands gathered to march on London with Wat Tyler in The Peasants Revolt of 1381. The wood is a fragment of ancient woodland near Brentwood, but the conflicting kinds of land use are modern. Power cables, telephone wires, pipelines, road and rail cross-cross the landscape with jet contrails overhead. The World Trade center in New York was attacked while I was painting this scene. House martins and magpies that have co-existed with man since the first cities fly over the huge road; which can be seen and heard day and night, in a circle running over a hundred miles round the capital.

On the hill there is a father with a child on his shoulders.

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