Sunday, 5 October 2014

Battersea Power Station

This one was a special request from a friend at work.  He wanted Battersea Power Station looking "industrial and derelict with a hint of a future to come".  I've got to admit, I didn't quite know where to begin so I started by reading a bit about the history of this London landmark.  When the power station was first proposed in the late 1920s, the idea provoked protests from Londoners who felt it would be an eyesore and who worried about the effects of pollution.  In an attempt to address some of these concerns, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was commissioned to design the exterior of the building.  This is the same guy who also designed the red telephone boxes we all know and love so he clearly had a talent for producing iconic designs.  I think the tactic worked because at some point in the last 85 years, we fell in love with the place.  Where once people protested at the idea of it being built, now they protest at the idea it could be pulled down and developers wanted to make use of the site are forced to invest millions of pounds in its restoration.

Having learnt a bit more about the place and completed a few sketches in the process, I started on a drawing.  I thought this view with the railway line in front of it could help add to the industrial feel of the finished picture and the scaffolding would give a hint of future redevelopment.  It works to a certain extent but I don't think it really conveys the sheer scale of the place.  This is an enormous Power Station.  It's Europe's biggest brick building and it dwarfs everything around it and somehow that's not quite happening here.

So for my final painting, I chose a view from the other side of the building.  Here we're looking up instead of across and there is no real foreground to distract us.  The blocks of flats in the background are big ugly buildings in their own right but they look almost insignificant next to the power station.  I used watercolours and pastels because I felt that with watercolours alone, I couldn't quite get the industrial look I was aiming for.  There was a point about 3/4 of the way through the painting where I wasn't at all happy with it and I started drawing out a new version, bringing the building forward and towards the middle of the page.  It wasn't quite right there though and when I looked back an hour or so later at the first version, I could see where my mistakes were.   They were mostly around the horizon so I went back to correct them and the building sits a bit better in it's surroundings now.  I'm pretty happy with the end result - let's hope my colleague is too.