Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Long and Ryle Gallery, 4 Islip Street, SW1P 4PX

None of the images I put in the screen in my blog do justice to the work, but this time in particular it's hard to capture Routh's crisp, sensitive painting, and so feel the squelchy, blurred  water-edges where nature takes over the man-made architectural features of the garden. The Annie McCall Hospital was built at Stockwell, South London in 1915, as one of the first specialised maternity units in Europe. Its life came to an end in the 1970s and the handsome building and grounds fell into decay until 1987 when artists and musicians transformed the wards into studios.

For the past 25 years Geoff Routh has been painting a visual biography of the building and its grounds: weeds edging through cracks in the windows, ivy fighting to get to the light; moss on the brick walls by the drain pipe. They are paintings of fact, observation and record. Their dense surfaces are alive with passionate description. It's hard to put into words. But look at the water in the picture above. Joss Muir, from Class 2 in Stromness Primary School in the Orkneys  was looking at a painting by Margaret Mellis. I like the way he describes what he saw: 'the blue bit is like water hanging down'.

 The Guardian 13 February 2012 has an article by Peter Walker on the controversial future of the site which is likely to be developed for housing
If you search for Geoff Routh, you'll find a number of snatches of video and text about his work.

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