Dramatic views of Hampstead and beyond on show at The Catto Gallery

Carreras Cigarette Factory Mornington Crescent by John Duffin

Carreras Cigarette Factory Mornington Crescent by John Duffin - Credit: Archant

John Duffin’s evocative pre-pandemic cityscapes and busy street scenes are exhibited at the Heath Street gallery

Hampstead Tube station by John Duffin

Hampstead Tube station by John Duffin - Credit: Archant

Paintings of Parliament Hill and the Heath go on show when The Catto Gallery reopens this week.

John Duffin’s dramatic, evocative oils and prints mark his fifth exhibition at the Heath Street gallery.

The show features works made over the last two years and brings Duffin’s distinctive use of colour and draughtsmanship to many aspects of London life, “from Parliament Hill to Soho and back via the river”.

He says: “The paintings and prints are the result of many drawings made on site in front of the subject and then re-imagined in my studio to try and create the sense of place that these views hold for many Londoners. They are a celebration of the city and the life it has allowed us to lead, one that we all hope to return to soon.”

Primrose Hill by John Duffin

Primrose Hill by John Duffin - Credit: Archant


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In his catalogue introduction, Sir Nigel Carrington Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London and Chair of the Henry Moore Foundation writes that Duffin’s artworks “have a particular power and poignancy in this pandemic year”.

“For John, cities are places of movement. They pull their inhabitants into distinctive architectures which offer the energising warmth of human contact. His sense of optimism is unmistakable and one cannot view his portraits of the city and its inhabitants without being reminded that the city and its buildings will be waiting for us when pandemic restrictions are lifted.”

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The precision of Duffin’s work reflects his early training as a naval architect and draughtsman before studying printmaking at Goldsmiths and Central St Martins.

His work features regularly in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and he is as a part time staff member at University of the Arts London.

“John’s style and personality, like his work, is measured and thoughtful. He is an urban explorer, reserved and careful in his precise observation of the city and the people who inhabit it. He is both in the cityscape and distanced from it, observing city life from above,” adds Sir Nigel.

“Although the architecture dominates, the city’s inhabitants are almost always there, giving meaning to the architecture. They are often hurrying and purposeful, but sometimes they simply stand in solitary contemplation, waiting for friends or lovers, outsiders looking with longing or expectation into the bars, shops, cafes and clubs which bring people together.”

John Duffin exhibits at The Catto Gallery December 5 until December 23. cattogallery.co.uk

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