Scenes from Post-War London 1946 – 1960
The Early Paintings of Terry Scales
9TH May – 10TH June 2017.
WEST GREENWICH LIBRARY
146 GREENWICH HIGH ROAD, SE10 8NN.
Tel 0208 858 4289.
Artist talk - details to follow shortly.
In 1945 I returned to London from a carefree childhood as an evacuee in Devon. The contrast between the steady continuity of farming and fishing communities and devastation of London resulted in a culture shock stimulating my first serious works depicting scenes from war-torn Bermondsey. These were mainly pen and ink drawings, made immediately on entering Camberwell School of Art as a junior student at age 13.
The school was then in its finest period. The staff formed two opposing camps; the Euston Road Group under William Coldstream, who bought my first picture sale, and the Neo-Romantics under John Minton, Keith Vaughan and Susan Einzig. The mantra of the Euston Road Group was ‘Always study the particular’ and this detail is very evident in my early pen and wash drawings where a cracked drainpipe clings to a bombed out building, street urchins squabble and black clouds race over dismal railway arches.
While the sober Euston Road group gave sound drawing instruction, for me it was the Neo-Romantics who supplied the vision. They spoke to my soul which as a child had soaked up the sensations of Devon countryside; observing one day the rich markings on an adders back and on another the intense red of the clay cliffs. Minton often drew along the Thames shoreline close to where I then lived, and it is true to say his rich, detailed observations were a strong influence on me throughout the late 1940s.
My new city life both fascinated and repelled me. This is the context for these early paintings. Later influences into the 50’s and 60’s after National Service and a short brief as a commercial artist were, most significantly, joining my father as a stevedore in Surrey Commercial Docks where I worked all the wharfs between Tower Bridge and Woolwich. This experience not only provided a wealth of insight and material for later work, but I also became the sketch artist for the personality page of Surdoc magazine under the name ‘Justice’. Many of these early works will be on show. By 1960 I had been asked to join the teaching staff at Camberwell where a new chapter began...
In forming the idea for this exhibition I realised I kept asking the question ‘but why show works made in my teens?’ Perhaps it is something to do with tracing ones first creative impulses and discovering whether time had filtered some of these emotions into my present paintings. Overall there is a strong feeling that ‘memory is identity’.
Tower Bridge from Cherry Garden Pier.
Greenwich Library Opening Hours;
Monday: 2pm to 7pm
Tuesday: 9am to 5.30pm
Thursday: 9am to 7pm
Friday: 2pm to 5.30pm
Saturday: 9am to 5pm
On the Call.