Friday, January 22, 2010

David Hepher's beautiful tower blocks

Currently on display at Tate Britain gallery is this painting by David Hepher (born 1935). 'Albany Flats' (1977-79) depicts the Bradenham block on the Aylesbury Estate (not the Albany Estate as is erroneously stated in this otherwise informative description at the Tate Website, though they are off Albany Road).

The painting is one of a series depicting tower blocks in South London, with others including ‘Peckham Flats’ (1975–6), ‘Walworth Flats’ (1976–9), ‘Stockwell Flats I’ (1974–5) and 'Camberwell Nocturne' (1984)- below - featuring Habington House, a block on Camberwell's Elmington Estate.
He has said: ‘ I like best to work from council blocks, preferably stained and eroded by the dirt and the weather, where the facial appearance is continually changed by the people who live there, their comings and goings, and the changing decor. I would like to think that the pictures could make people look differently at the flats around them, to see beauty in objects that they normally dismiss as ugly.’
Naturally this put me in mind of South London militant modernist Owen Hatherley, generally appreciative of high rise beauty - though I notice that even he draws the line at admiring the tower blocks on the Aylesbury.


Hepher studied and taught at Camberwell College of Art. There's some pictures of his studio in Camberwell by Pete Marshall here.

6 comments:

RUINIST said...

Habington House has now joined the ether, all the big blocks of Elmington Estate SE5 being knocked down about 3 years back. The Ruinist still enjoys high-life living that can look down on the vacant land where Habington was - full of grasses, sandy soil, foxes, birds and local flytipping. Soon to join this dust memory - the Aylesbury itself, being the subject of 'regeneration' where (as is pointed out on Hatherly's blog) 'is social cleansing'. Anyone know much about David Hepher?

Transpontine said...

Don't know any more about him than posted here, he taught at Camberwell and presumably is still going judging by Pete Marshall's photos. I quite like this stuff, there seems to be a sense of respecting the individual dwellings, i.e. a block like Bradenham is not just an anoymous lump of brutalism, it is a place where people from all over the planet live out their lives in different ways. I guess nobody is going to the barricades to save the Aylesbury, but it's not just a 1960s planners horror story - many of the residents appreciate the space of the flats, and worry that however bad it is, whatever is rebuilt will result in less living space.

RUINIST said...

He started off painting suburban des res in Dulwich before moving onto tower blocks....

Anonymous said...

Pete marshall excellent photos

ex South London (Tooting)

Karl

Anonymous said...

Profile update - Professor David Hepher - recently retired from The Slade - one of the nation's finest living artists, likened to an urban day Constable. Still painting continously and producing outstanding pieces.

Flowers Gallery said...

His work is currently on show at Flowers, Kingsland Road featured here in The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/hei-fi/entertainment/estate-of-the-nation-6297776.html

http://www.flowersgalleries.com/exhibitions/4342-lace-concrete-and-glass-an-elegy-for-the-aylesbury-estate/