It is rare to encounter colour on any grand scale in the city, which is dominated by shades of grey. One major exception is yellow, which infiltrates the urban environment, from road signs to street markings and lighting. By contrast, the parallel world created by painter Peter McDonald is depicted through a vivid play of colours. Familiar settings such as airports, snooker halls and bakeries are populated by figures absorbed in their regular activities. Their coloured heads seem to take a shape that alludes to the particular task at hand.
McDonald has been artist-in-residence at Southwark Underground station. His discussions with station staff, visits with them to Tate Modern, and a fascination with the station’s role in providing a connection to the theatres and galleries in the area have inspired a new series of paintings. London Underground’s pioneering heritage of commissioning artists to create posters that highlight the City’s cultural assets has been an additional source of inspiration.
McDonald has made two new paintings for the billboards outside Southwark station on The Cut and Blackfriars Road, which play with the idea of transforming a public space into an art gallery. A selection of McDonald’s other studies, representing daily life at the station, have been produced as badges for staff and customers to wear.
Artist Jessie Brennan, who has been working along side McDonald, has developed Impossible Buildings: Interpreting Place a project with London Underground staff and students from The Charter School that explores the station’s architecture and the local environment through activities based on looking, drawing and making. This has resulted in a special leaflet available from Southwark station.