Archive for the 'oil paintings' Category



21
Feb
14

NZ Gothic – Retrospective of Early Paintings

Bonar Creigh Carew - Lee Campbell

Bonar Creigh, Carew – Lee Campbell

Going through some old photos of my early post grad paintings I thought they may resonate with others also raised in rural isolation (Near the Rangatata River in Canterbury, NZ).  Some of the paintings have meanings known only to myself (and my therapist)  but they served me well in laying the ghosts to rest and can now be seen as milestones along the journey, old friends – long gone but fondly remembered.

Prints of some of these images are available from The Bridgeman Art Library:

http://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-GB/search?filter_text=Lee+Campbell&filter_

Verandah - Lee Campbell

Verandah – Lee Campbell

Nightmares - Lee Campbell

Nightmares – Lee Campbell

Phantoms - Lee Campbell

Phantoms – Lee Campbell

Within - Lee Campbell

Within – Lee Campbell

NZ Gothic - Interior 2

NZ Gothic – Interior 2

Blue Room - Lee Campbell

Blue Room – Lee Campbell

 Interior 1 - Lee Campbell

Interior 1 – Lee Campbell

Chris's Verandah - Lee Campbell

Chris’s Verandah – Lee Campbell

Retrospective -Lee Campbell

Retrospective -Lee Campbell

Erosion - Lee Campbell

Erosion – Lee Campbell

Leaving - Lee Campbell

Leaving – Lee Campbell

West Coast - Lee Campbell

West Coast – Lee Campbell

Southland - Lee Campbell

Southland – Lee Campbell

High Country - Lee Campbell

High Country – Lee Campbell

Akaroa - Lee Campbell

Akaroa – Lee Campbell

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02
Feb
14

Feb ’14 – Valentines Day at BHS Kingston

BHS 14th Feb - Lee Campbell

BHS 14th Feb – Lee Campbell

I’ve managed to create a new series of paintings for my latest project – ‘MEET the ARTIST’ in one of the store windows of BHS in Kingston. 20% of the sales going to support ‘Love Kingston’ www.love-kingston.org.uk  

This is an exciting new campaign to raise vital funds for Kingston upon Thames’s communities: Kingston Savers, Kingston Legacy Fund, Kingston Foodbank, Action on Homelessness, Hestia  and Oxygen.

'Gold Heart' oil on canvas Lee Campbell

‘Gold Heart’ oil on canvas Lee Campbell

It’s been a busy time for me this year and despite the rain and flooding – See these great pics from the Huffington Post. They just missed me hopping over the stepping stone earlier – love the chap texting as he wades :

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/01/31/twickenham-flooded-thames_n_4703488.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

Below are some of the new oil paintings that will be on display in the window – I will also be available to discuss COMMISSIONS – see  www.leecampbell.co.uk – Back Catalogue:

'Memories' oil on canvas Lee Campbell

‘Memories’ oil on canvas Lee Campbell

"Spirit' oil on canvas Lee Campbell

“Spirit’ oil on canvas
Lee Campbell

'Soft Heart' oil on canvas Lee Campbell

‘Soft Heart’ oil on canvas
Lee Campbell

Also available – ART GIFT VOUCHERS – redeemable for ART LESSONS or ART WORK.

My evening WATER COLOUR CLASS  which begins 18th February at Kingston University is taking enrolments now:   Contact Nina Hunt – Head of Short Courses:   n.hunt@kingston.ac.uk

Mini Roses + Frame

Mini Roses + Frame

Mini Roses Gold oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Mini Roses Gold oil  Lee Campbell

Red & Gold oil Lee Campbell

Red & Gold oil Lee Campbell

If you ever needed a practical excuse to commission an original oil painting on canvas – this is it and to ascertain the exact size required – tape a sheet of newspaper to the wall and measure this – once I have the dimensions I can give you a quote:

[Make] Disguise an Alarm or Other Electronic Gizmo
04
May
13

Kaspar and Clouds

Cloudscape -  Lee Campbell

Cloudscape – Lee Campbell

The Dreaming - Lee Campbell

The Dreaming – Lee Campbell

Clouds – nephology or cloud physics

For the last 20 years I have been painting clouds – and can’t be sure exactly why.  I often look to create a timeless quality in my paintings and clouds seem to be one of those timeless things, constantly fluctuating and affecting everything from our mood to our climate. They can be dark and toxic or as light and lacy as white angels with as many shapes as we can possibly imagine. The essentials of the modern nomenclature system for tropospheric clouds (those forming in the lowest major layer of the atmosphere) were proposed by Luke Howard a British manufacturing chemist and an amateur meteorologist with broad interests in science, in an 1802 presentation to the Askesian Society. Since 1890, clouds have been classified and illustrated in cloud atlases with most cloud genera divided into species, varieties, or both, based on specific physical characteristics of the clouds. This was the beginning of a study that allowed artists to understand the basic structures of clouds and since then they have used them in a variety of spectacular ways:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21034217  Berndnaut Smilde creating actual clouds.

In painting, clouds make a flexible pictorial device which can be employed to create perspective or suggest wind movement and when naturalism is no longer an issue the clouds can be any colour or shape that the artist can imagine. My personal favourite naturalistic cloud painting is by Vermeer:

View of Delft - Vermeer

View of Delft – Vermeer

Can you identify these painted clouds?

Test your knowledge  on this site:

http://www.windows2universe.org/art_and_music/cloud_art/clouds_in_art.html

Some amazing cloud phenomena:

Some of the more fantastic examples can be seen on this site:

http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/60-insane-cloud-formations-from-around-the-world-pics/

See video of Gavin Preton-Pinney’s delightful lecture on the Joy of Clouds:

http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/

Sky details from my paintings

Clouds 1 - Lee Campbell

Clouds 1 – Lee Campbell

Cloud 5 - Lee Campbell

Cloud 5 – Lee Campbell

Cloud 6 - Lee Campbell

Cloud 6 – Lee Campbell

Cloud 3 - Lee Campbell

Cloud 3 – Lee Campbell

cloud 9 - Lee Campbell

Cloud 9 – Lee Campbell

Blue & Gold oil on canvas Lee Campbell 2014

Blue & Gold oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Happy to see that The Savoy is continuing to inspire artists:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/a-homage-to-kaspar-the-friendly-cat-checks-in-at-the-savoys-new-eatery-8600305.html

Kaspar

Kaspar

I had been commissioned to make paintings of The Savoy during the re fit for The Byrne Bros and this included a large painting encompassing details from the Savoy including the lovely cat Kaspar – see detail below:

Kaspar - detail from painting of The Savoy by Lee Campbell

Kaspar – detail from painting of The Savoy by Lee Campbell

 

05
Apr
13

Spooky Stuff and Cats

The painting below was done for the Eureka Magazine produced for the Kingston Chamber of Commerce by The Creative People. The painting is oil on paper 10″ x 14″ and available for sale . It is also available as a limited edition giclee print the same size.

Kingston Bridge - Lee Campbell

Kingston Bridge – Lee Campbell

 New perspectives:

Every year I produce 3 x tiny post card-sized paintings for the The Royal College’s ‘Secret Exhibition‘:http://home.secret.rca.ac.uk/ and this year was delighted to be contacted by someone who had queued to buy one of my paintings of roses. She had missed out as the queue was very long so requested that I make her a copy which I was delighted to do. The painting had actually been done with my left hand as I was still having trouble with the right, so it is a comfort to know that I have useful degree of dexterity in both.

RCA 'Secret' Roses-Lee Campbell

RCA ‘Secret’ Roses-Lee Campbell

FLIMMERN-GEISTS – Flicker Spirits

Shadow People or dark hooded figures that can only be see with your peripheral vision

The words “Flimmern” and “Geist” are Germanic in origin and translate as Flicker-Spirits or Flicker-Guides. This unexplained phenomenon was first described by the alchemist Jakob Bohme in the 16th Century as the ability to see shadowy figures out of the corner of your eye. Generally, these beings flicker in-and-out of a person’s peripheral vision and appear to be humanoid, dark and agile. The truth is that almost every person alive has at some time seen a fast moving shadow just at the edge of their vision and turned to look but seen nothing more. These observations are most often accompanied by shivers, chills and a sensation that something odd has happened. Scientists are quick to suggest that this phenomenon is just a “trick of the eyes” but fail to explain both how and why. Some explainable scientific phenomena: matadornetwork.com/bnt/60-insane-cloud-formations-from-around-the-world-pics/ Halos – http://www.atoptics.co.uk/opod.htm

Brocken Spectre

Brocken Spectre

august-2011-aurora-borealis-calgary-

august-2011-aurora-borealis-calgary-

august-2011-aurora-borealis-calgary-

It is possible that these unexplained apparitions are just the hallucinations of the brain as it tries to decipher the edge of visual perception but others believe that it is in this marginal zone that the eye and the mind is able to perceive another more paranormal dimension. These Flickering Spirits are often described as being cloaked but those that have trained themselves to observe this phenomenon simply describe a blurred outline that can easily be mistaken for dark clothing. According to late 16th century culture and superstition, these Flimmern-Geists were largely associated with death. They may well have given rise to the popular image of the “Grim Reaper” the personification of Death – a dark hooded figure that flickered in-and-out of a person’s vision shortly before they died. There is a current school of occult thought that proposes that these “Flicker-Ghosts” are somehow the guides that lead a person’s soul to the afterlife. The reality is that nobody really knows why or how individuals see these things but there is no doubt that many millions do. In fact, so many humans see them that they treat them as just-one-of those-things that, you know, just happen.

Presence - oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Presence – oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Can objects contain ‘spirits’ I wonder? The Japanese have a wide variety of ghosts including those who inhabit objects such as ships. The above painting holds multiple meanings for me and a positive and guarding energy normally emanates from it but on one occasion it was the source of a ‘flicker – spirit’ which caused a visitor’s dog to leap up and run after it. My current series of work has involved issues of absence and perceived presences:

Visage oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Visage oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Haiku - oil on canvas - Lee Campbell

Haiku – oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

What does a ghost look like ?? Each culture has it’s own concept of what a ghost looks like and it’s interesting to note that the image of the floating white/grey figure as a ghost has only existed in British culture since Victorian times along with seances and ectoplasm.

Hammersmith Ghost 1804

Hammersmith Ghost 1804

BrownLady

 

 

ghost-of-kanada-koheiji Japanese Ghosts All 3 images represent Japanese Ghosts and I wonder which of these my readers feel to be the most representative to their own personal idea of a ‘ghost’?

 

 

 

http://www.markoftheparanormal.com/articles/files/Download/japaneseghostsandspirits.pdf To read more on this subject see

Finally – CATS!!

Charla White: charla@theshadowlands.net One for cat lovers:

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/8873/2/

http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2013/01/220113-sneaky-cat-parasite-takes-over-human-brains-science/

baby01

27
Sep
12

Feb. 2013 News

 2013 News

Tribute - oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Tribute – oil on canvas Lee Campbell

February News

Where Angels Dance -Lee Campbell

Where Angels Dance –
Lee Campbell

NEW WEB SITE – http://www.leecampbell.co.uk

My old site had ‘expired’ so I was forced to either employ a designer or have a go myself – so with much technical help by Steve –  we managed to put a new site together last weekend. It’s fairly basic and we’ve had to sacrifice the video but I think it does the job.

 Raisin Hell – Grape and Rasin Toxicity in Dogs

Did you know that dogs can be killed by eating grapes and the dried fruit derived from them??

Well, fortunately we did – but were unable to communicate this to Holly (our Saluki). On one of the rare occasions that she was left alone she decided to punish us by eating a whole malt loaf (with raisins)- she had ignored the dog treats on the bench.
We rushed her to an emergency vet where she was made to vomit and spend 48 hours on a drip. Happily she survived and is safely back at home – she treated the experience as something akin to a detox weekend at a health spa thanks to to 2 lovely Belgian vets (both called Julien) and the nurses who made a huge fuss of her. Not an experience I would like to repeat though.

http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/toxicology/f/grape_raisin.htm

Eel Pie Open StudiosDec 2012

Eel Pie Open Studios
Dec 2012

Thanks to all the visitors (and organisers) who braved the cold to make the Open Studio show the best ever! Thanks also for the ‘Twickerati’ for his photo and excellent Twickenham blog: http://www.facebook.com/pages/twickerati/125429094134238

Mailing List

If you would like to be invited to future exhibitions and events on Eel Pie Island please contact me.

News – Nov

Delighted to see one of my older paintings on the cover of the Times Literary Supplement in November. The rights were purchased from The Bridgeman Art Library:

"Quiet Place' - Lee Campbell

‘Quiet Place’ – Lee campbell

This autumn I returned to an old theme – Battersea Power station seen from the Pimlico Embankment, but this time in a misty damp evening light – a view I remember well from living in Dolphin Square in the 1990’s and cycling up to Grosvenor Dock along the Embankment. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was the architect who designed both the iconic phone boxes and Battersea Power Station.

‘Thames Embankment’  Lee Campbell

‘Eternal’ oil on canvas Lee Campbell

‘Beyond’ oil on canvas Lee Campbell

New Series

 When I was at the Royal Ballet School last year I was enchanted by the patterns the dancer’s feet made on the polished studio floors. The layers of texture was made even more mysterious by the daylight piercing the darkened interiors and creating reflective pools of light – I photographed it at the time but only recently made the connection between these textured layers and the tissue collages that I make:

'Ghost Dancer' collage - Lee Campbell

‘Ghost Dancer’ collage – Lee Campbell

Mixed media collage - Lee Campbell

Mixed media collage – Lee Campbell

I began the new series by doing several small oil paintings based on the photos:

Traces series - Lee Campbell

Traces series – Lee Campbell

These were followed by a larger piece which sets the ‘traces’ within defined cylinders:

Triadic Optics - oil on canvas Lee Campbell

Triadic Optics – oil on canvas Lee Campbell

This image links in turn to an earlier body of work entitled ‘Rothko with Altitude’ Rothko-inspired abstracts with an upper band of skyscapes and will hopefully lead to more work along these lines.

Meanwhile, I wanted to bring some light and colour into the winter studio so painted these pieces:

Nasturtiums - Lee Campbell
Nasturtiums – Lee Campbell

Always good to have some ‘warm’ paintings to liven up the studio on these chilly days so I’v been using the last of the nasturtiums in the canoe garden outside my studio as subjects. They’ll be gone with the first frost.

Studio Eel Pie Island

   Commissions Welcome

If you have a photo of a special place that you would like translated into a painting email the image and the dimensions and I will send you quote. I also have a staggered payment plan with the final payment made when the painting is delivered

Student visit

Last year Laura Tosh visited my studio as part of a uni project photographing people on the island in their place of work and took the following shots – a real snapshot in time : 

Holly ‘the muse hound’ continues to provide good company and a presence obvious only by the occasional snoring from the corner of the studio. Many visitors are unaware she is even there until she rises to stretch – perfect studio dog.

Appreciating the History of Twickenham

With thanks to our great local blogger Twickerati : http://twickerati.wordpress.com/

TwickenhamMuseum:www.twickenham-museum.org.uk/detail.asp?ContentID=213

Image

Image

Trolley bus to Twickenham http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iySshjjujog

Eel Pie Island’s early history 

The island was previously known as Twickenham Ait, and before this, in the Churchwardens’ Accounts for 1608, the Parish Ayte, reflecting the ownership. In earlier times it was actually in three parts and Jean Rocque’s map of 1741 shows two parts.
It has been claimed that the island was once connected to the Twickenham bank by a pre-historic causeway. Mesolithic/Neolithic artefacts: flints, horn implements, axes and hammers have been found in the river bed and on the island.
It seems to have been a place for recreation as early as the beginning of the 17th century. Moses Glover’s map of 1635 notes a plot of land as “hath bin A Boulding Alley”. Only accessible by boat it still supported a public house first named The Ship, later The White Cross, during the 18th century. Henry Horne (1724-1814) is noted as the licensee of the White Cross in the Ayte for a number of recorded years between 1780 and 1795. In 1781 Mary Horne was the named licensee and in 1801 Elizabeth Horne owned the licence in company with William Fielder. The earliest mention of a public house of this name is in 1775 although there was, in 1737 one called Ship in the Ayte. No doubt this hostelry catered for passing river trade as much as the local population.
 

Image

Samuel Lewis’s map of 1784 shows the inn in the centre of the Ait inscribed “Mr Horn”. Henry Horne was also a waterman: in 1788 he took the lease of the from Lord Dysart, renewing this until 1803, for the last time.
The White Cross was replaced with a much larger establishment in 1830 and the island became a popular resort for visitors and boating parties, some brought by steamer. A watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson gives a flavour of leisure: various boats coming and going and visitors enjoying alfresco refreshment beneath the trees. The eel pies served were famous and led to the renaming of the island although with increased pollution the eel population declined and pies are no longer made.

Image

The larger establishment took the name Eel Pie Hotel and the contribution which this establishment made to the development of British Pop music is legendary. It closed and was burnt down in 1971 while being demolished.Twickenham Rowing Club was founded in 1860 under the presidency of the Duc d’Aumale (1822-1897) then living at Orleans House and in 1880 built its headquarters on the island. Like Twickenham Ferry and, later, Hammerton’s Ferry it acquired a celebratory piece of music. Composed by W Vincent Wallace, The Oarsman’s March was scored for solo piano and dedicated to the Twickenham Rowing Club. Published by Robert Cocks & Co it was apparently published while ‘his Imperial Majesty the Emperor Napoleon III’ was still on the throne. 
In 1889 there was a proposal to establish an open air swimming pool at the upstream (southern) end of the island together with a bridge for access. Today, the island is now largely residential but sustains a boat-building and artist and craft workshop community. It also boasts a small bird sanctuary at its southern end. It remains connected to the mainland by a new bridge, though comfortably detached from the hurly-burly of Twickenham, for its residents.

27
Sep
11

Royal Ballet School/White Lodge Project

‘White Lodge’ oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

‘Frozen Light’ oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

Since August I have been working with The Royal Ballet School at their White Lodge site in Richmond Park.  Feeling at a bit of a loss since the Byrne Bros project was completed, I approached the Ballet School and was delighted when they agreed to allow me access to White Lodge over the summer. The exhibition at The Portland Gallery will contain over 20 paintings produced as I immersed myself in this fabulous environment.

I was given access to the archive where I was allowed to photograph the old ballet shoes worn by Dame Margot Fonteyn. It was a real privilege and I could only imagine how her feet would have felt at the end of a performance.

‘Dame Margot’s Shoes’ – oil on canvas Lee Campbell

The forest surrounding the lodge contains many ancient oak trees and these have become part of the body of work along with the resident deer that inhabit Richmond Park. It was gloriously hot August day in Richmond Park as I navigated my way slowly past a heard of fallow bucks who were camped on the roadside and munching happily in the morning sun and flicking away flies with their antlered heads. There are over 300 fallow deer in the park and approximately the same number of red deer.

‘Majesty’ oil on canvas Lee Campbell

‘Majesty’ is available as a print from http://www.scottishart.com

The view of the Lodge from the bottom of the hill was magnificent and I paused to admire the ancient oaks rising in a stately fashion form the bracken but I wanted to imagine how it would look dressed in autumn colours and late afternoon shadows.

‘Autumnal’ oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

The interior was equally fabulous and the first image I concentrated on was the main ballroom’s chandeliers and I attempted to capture this spectacle using mirrors and an unusual format:

‘Paradox’ oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

Continuing on a the theme of paradoxes I used ornate railings as a device to separate the dimensions within Le Reflet de la Lune which was given it’s title by my clever  student Sandra who speaks French fluently.

‘Le Reflet de la Lune’ oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

I have also used tiny shoes as a means to return to still life painting, I find this to be a necessary balance to working from my imagination. With several weeks to go now to the opening I have still to complete a painting of floating feathers and hopefully one of oak leaves.

‘Satin & Velvet’ oil on panel – Lee Campbell

‘Tiny Dancer’ oil on panel – Lee Campbell

The show has also given me a chance to explore  the mixed media collages that I enjoy in between paintings:

‘Connections’ mixed media – Lee Campbell

and to revisit the theme of bubbles:

‘The Entrance’ Oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

and works that simply suggested the ethereal atmosphere:

‘Borne on the Mist’ oil on canvas – Lee Campbell

However it was the Costume Room that provided the most colourful and rich cacophony of textures and vibrancy. I found rows of tutus stacked kebab fashion and hanging joyfully, hats, props and shoes patiently awaiting the next performance so I have returned to a technique of oil on paper to capture the delicacy and transparency of the fabrics:

‘Costumes II’ oil on paper-Lee Campbell

‘Costumes III’ oil on paper-Lee Campbell

‘Costumes IV’ oil on paper-Lee Campbell

White Lodge is a neo-Classical Palladian building and a rich history dating back to 1727 and built for George II. Since 1955 it has been home to the Royal Ballet Lower School which was founded by Dame Ninette de Valois and has just had a £22 million refurbishment.
The students are comprised of 120 11-16 year olds and among the allumni is Darcy Bussell and there are approximately the same number of staff attached to the complex.

There is a Museum in the crescent wing which has been imaginatively and instructionally designed to trace the history of ballet parallel with the history of White Lodge – museum@royalballetschool.co.uk Tel. 0208 3928440

Richmond Park has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve. The royal connections to this park probably go back further than any of the others, beginning with Edward (1272-1307), when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII’s reign.

‘Park Light II’ – oil on paper Lee Campbell

‘Park Light III’ – oil on paper Lee Campbell

‘Park Light IV’ oil on paper -Lee Campbell

Exploring the building I enter through the rear of the building to discover it almost deserted except for some workmen and the security guard –
What a delight to have the freedom to explore this extraordinary interior alone. Beginning in the lower brick tunnels which link the classrooms and dance studios I crept respectfully through taking photos of all before me.

‘Light Pools’ – photo – Lee Campbell

Light effects ….on the shiny floors seemed to echo with the steps of dancers past and the kids artwork.
Moving through to the spectacular front of the house I noticed the ornate details and the statue of a dancer:

Looking out across the park to the lake I could see tiny figures moving slowly in the distant heat. The Shard which I had painted during my last project was visible trusting upwards through the heat-haze on my way up the hill.

‘Allegory’ oil on canvas -Lee Campbell

The garden  had a display of gorgeous old roses which smelled heavenly and sculptured trees statues and a summer house.

‘Misty Forest’ oil on panel -Lee Campbell

Holly the ‘muse hound’ dreams of being a dancer

17
Jul
11

The Shard & The Savoy – Byrne Bros Project

Last autumn I began a collaboration with Michelle Tilley, Health and Safety Executive of The Byrne Group to produce a body of work based on two of their current projects – one being the state of the art Shard at London Bridge and by way of contrast – the refurbishment of the much loved old Savoy Hotel on The Strand. This project is almost completed now so time to reflect and share some of the artwork produced exclusively for their head office in Teddington.  Due to the nature of the on going work it was impossible to do more on both sites other than take photos and make notes, but as with most of my work a degree of imagination becomes an enormous asset in these circumstances.

The Savoy

Working from photos taken during site visits I produced oil on paper sketches and charcoal studies of each of the sites.

‘Ballroom’ Savoy study Lee Campbell

I was fortunate to be able to visit The Savoy just before the furniture was installed and to see the completed interior beautifully lit and this formed the basis for the completed 4′ x 4′ oil painting that resulted. Using details from the interior and gold figure who stands majestically above The Strand entrance, I designed a composition which I hoped would capture the sense of history and the unique mood created by the presence of so many notorious guests and staff. The variety of different styles proved a challenge – how to incorporate the elaborate decoration of the ballroom with the stylish deco chrome pillars and leopard skin patterned carpet with gothic glamour. I have, of course also included the mysterious ‘white lady’ who has been seen disappearing into walls as recently as last year by the security men.

Study for Savoy – Lee Campbell

I also included Kaspar the shiny black cat in the lower right hand corner  – the story goes that in 1898 a South African diamond magnate by the name of Woolf Joel was visiting London and held a banquet at the famous Savoy before returning home. At the last minute one of his guests had to cancel, leaving thirteen to sit at table, which one guest said was unlucky. After a successful dinner, Joel said his goodbyes and rose to leave; the same guest then said that the first person to leave would also be unlucky and would be the first to die. Joel was not superstitious and thought this remark very amusing — but a few weeks later he was shot dead in his Johannesburg office.

Kaspar

For some years after those events, anxious not to have a similar incident that could damage their reputation, the Savoy provided a member of the hotel staff to sit at tables of thirteen, to avoid the unlucky number, but that idea proved unpopular with guests wanting to talk about personal or private matters; so in 1926 a new solution was found. A British architect and sculptor called Basil Ionides was commissioned to design and carve a three-foot-high model of a black cat, which he produced from a single piece of London plane.

Kaspar in his display case at the Savoy Kaspar awaits a party of diners Named Kaspar, the cat now resides in his own display case in the entrance hall at the hotel, but whenever a party of thirteen requires an extra guest he is brought out to sit at table. He has a napkin tied around his neck and is served every course, just like any other guest. Winston Churchill became very fond of Kaspar, to the extent that he insisted the cat should be present at every meeting of The Other Club, a political dining club he had founded in 1911, and so Kaspar has been at all the fortnightly meetings — always held at the Savoy — since 1927.

During World War 2 Kaspar was catnapped by some mischievous Royal Air Force personnel and flown to Singapore, only to have Churchill himself demand its immediate return!

There are two theories as to the origin of the number thirteen being unlucky. One derives from Norse mythology, in which twelve Gods sat down to a banquet in Valhalla. The evil spirit Loki gate crashed the party as thirteenth member of the party and killed the Gods’ favourite, Balder. Thirteen also has significance to Christians, as there were thirteen people at the Last Supper, and the traitor Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth and last to arrive. As to why a cat — the animals have held an important role in mythology and superstition over the centuries, and black cats in particular are considered by many cultures to be lucky.

The refurbishment began in 2007 and over 1000 craftsmen, artists and builders had been involved in the £100 million re-fit. The whole neo-renaissance limestone facade had to be moved forward by hydraulics 0.75cm – a very complex feat of engineering. The original Edwardian style had previously been updated in the 1930s and these current sumptuous theatrical interior designs are by Pierre Yves Rochon. I was shown the sealed room No 878 where a murder had once been committed and told of the many famous guests who had graced this hotel with their presence; Monet and Whistler (a huge hero of mine) had both painted the splendid view of Thames from the hotels windows, Winston Churchill, The Beatles, Marylin Munro and Richard Harris. I was very gratful to my delightful guide Stuart Harvey, The  Project Manager, who explained that the company enforced strict rules about good behaviour and to facillitate this ran an education programme for the 800 strong workforce. A very impressive opperation.

The completed large oil painting took many months and had many transitions before reaching the final composition:

First study – Savoy – Lee Campbell

Second study -Savoy – Lee Campbell

The Savoy – oil on canvas 48″ x 48″ – Lee Campbell 2011

For additional information see:

Gilt trip: Refurbishing the Savoy hotel 8.10. 2010 – Thomas Lane

The refurbished Savoy hotel looks a million dollars – which is just as well because it cost more than £200m to do up. Happily nobody was to blame for the cost and time overruns – except possibly the owner’s insatiably lavish tastes- see images:
http://www.building.co.uk/buildings/gilt-trip-refurbishing-the-savoy-hotel/5006858.article

For a comprehensive history of the Savoy: Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savoy_Hotel

The Shard

Renzo Piano, the building’s architect, worked together with architectural firm Broadway Malyan during the planning stage of the project. Funder by Qatar the tower will stand 1,017 ft (310 m) tall and have 72 floors, plus 15 further radiator floors in the roof. The building has been designed with an irregular triangular shape from the base to the top. It will be clad entirely in glass. The viewing gallery and open-air observation deck will be on the top (72nd) floor.

Keiren Long of the Evening Standard  has written a piece examining the impact that the Shard will have on the area: http://the-shard.com/shard

Andy Bowden – crane operator has also written a piece about the experience of being at the top of his game://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/architecture/8314250/The-Shard-of-Glass-view-from-atop-the-tallest-skyscraper-in-Europe.html

When I first visited the site last year I wrote a blog about the experience of going up the side of the building to a considerable height in a wire cage and The Shard is now almost finished. In fact it is clearly visible from Richmond Park, the Thames at Hammersmith and probably from most of London. It is already truly magnificent! So what a challenge to complete a painting of an incomplete building. It seemed right to show the exposed core while simultaneously showing how the glass membrane will look. when completed on one side. Because the painting is being commissioned by the people building it, I also decided to use the main construction materials to represent the two Byrne brothers – one who specialises in steel and the other in concrete.

The textures that occur on the pillars of concrete are truly lovely and it seemed such a shame to render then with a smooth concrete over layer. The patterns on the raw steel are equally fascinating golden textures which occur as the metal oxidises.

Charcoal studies – The Shard – Lee Campbell

Oil study – Shard – Lee Campbell

Top Floor – oil study Shard – Lee CampbellGround Floor – Shard -Lee Campbell

Below – Shard oil study – Lee Campbell

The Shard oil on canvas 48″ x 48″ – Lee Campbell 2011

Finding a go