If you wander down Vallance Road, about halfway along you will see Rinkoff’s, a well-known East End bakery, part of a building comprising two shops, the other being a newsagents. The newsagents was, until recently, a precarious structure forming an appendage to its famous neighbour and had a tatty, dilapidated frontage when compared to the stylish frontage of the bakery next door.
That was why I was attracted to paint it, drawn to the structure’s fragile state in comparison to the stern expression of the original founder. He is depicted on the end wall of the bakery, forever overlooking the comings and goings on the street.
Because I work quite slowly it is 3 years since I made initial studies for this painting and of course during this period, as with so many of my works, refurbishment has started and been completed, inevitably replacing the original patina. However, I was much relieved to see that the building was not been replaced, as I originally feared, by a small block of ‘luxury apartments’ or similar as in Ben Jonson Road in nearby Stepney.
Looking at Rinkoff’s now, I realise that I have painted a kind of a memory. This has always excited me about painting images… a moment seeks to be captured, distilled and given resonance. When a feeling is realised, it can quickly be dissipated or subsumed by the constant activity of everyday life and it becomes at best fleeting… lost. I suppose that I’ve always painted from memory, that is from the thoughts and feelings I am able to gather and take away from a subject. I ask myself the question ‘does it still retain that essence even though I have left the scene’ and I believe this contributes to the power an image can hold.
Rinkoff’s 2020 oil on canvas 61 x 79cm (24 x 31”) unframed