London: The Metamorphosis

by Anna Keen,  Edward Lucie-Smith (introduction)

Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Unicorn Publishing Group; 1 edition (1st of March 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1912690594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1912690596
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 10.8 inches

As London evolves into a Babylonian-style city of lofty towers, the artist Anna Keen was inspired to paint this metamorphosis, imagining its future townscape. While each new edifice heads to the heavens, the exposed entrails of these vast construction sites strangely resemble ruins. Keen’s large canvases are enriched with details stemming from her patient observation, on-the-spot sketches, and voyages around the city by helicopter, boat, road, and on foot. Like the eighteenth-century artist J. M. Gandy, who simultaneously painted London in ruins and in construction, Keen takes us just beneath the surface of the metropolis to where the emotional landscape lurks and shows us where the soul of London is heading. Internationally renowned London-based author and art historian Edward Lucie-Smith, who has followed Keen’s painting career since 1995, provides a foreword.

London Clay is malleable and shifty. Hard as dry bones, soft as liquid sludge. The Greater London Wound is driven to distraction by Architectural Shrapnel. The Shard, the Axe, the Scalpel and the Razor all gash and slash and cut. Feverish activity throbs through the veins and arterial routes of the Metropolis. Hundreds of glass and steel splinters fester in the flesh of this land.
The enflamed soft-tissues of England stretch out tenderly as far as Angels kenn, exhaling sighs which puncture the seething immensity of Thames Gateway.
Tall constructions were impossible upon this unstable ground before their foundations were floated upon concrete rafts;
buildings then behave like boats which obey the Archimedes’ principal. They are buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of displaced earth. Blake’s ‘Dark, Satanic Mills’ of Southwark were built thus.
As they burnt to the ground in 1791, devils danced in the flames.
‘London long ago’ seems as unreal and improbable as ‘London to come’. Memory alone fails us. We walk, oblivious, into a New Stark Reality, which endlessly replaces the one we once knew.
As an Artist I transform my retinal input into images, extracting data from the real world. Using geometry, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, history and anything else which will help me perform
a disentangling of what is relevant in this symbolic information;
I aim to elicit within myself the fleeting emotions I have when seeing what I aim to depict. Representational artworks are like oracular fires, testifying as to how a place looked and felt, long after its edifices
have crumbled, its rivers been lost and its ideologies discounted
as vapid mists lingering over the eviscerated and obliterated landscape.
London’s Past, Present and Future are woven together,
full of slubs, gouts, snarls and misdraws.
I effortlessly slip between the warp and weft of this strange fabric.
Anna Keen