This – the biggest piece I have undertaken on canvas, is a complex compositional painting for a restaurant interior. It was commissioned by the restaurant owner. The brief was to create a piece which drew from my own personal work – specifically my concentration of history and social stories. Initially, asked to research the history of the Fitzrovia area in the 1850s-1890s, I found that the actual building, 92 Newman Street had such a fascinating back story – I decided, after consultation with the client, to focus solely on this for the painting. The restaurant interior has a rich yet at times whimsical look at the entente cordiale between London and Paris in the late Victorian era. It draws from the exchange in cultural ideas appertaining to restaurants and food at the time, as well as those at a social level.
The area's rich and chequered past, especially this street, led the commission in the one strong direction – that of the history of prostitution in the area and indeed in this particular premises.
And so the story of Miss Polly Hawkins is told – her involvement with the charismatic Monsieur Germain Marmaysee from the Montmartre in Paris: she, the shop-girl, by day and the reluctant lady of ill repute by night, He – the ‘landlord’ of the premises for shop girls working on nearby Oxford Street and Burlington Arcade. The piece is mixed media, employing many techniques and mediums. It is 11ft 6 inches by 6ft 6 inches and is on stretched canvas. A piece such as this requires substantial consultation period due to the complexity of its nature – not only in its story, but in its compositional arrangement. Completed June 2015.