This small, gouache on panel painting, just 25.5cm x 15.5cm was painted by Jock McFadyen in 1989 and purchased for the Worcester City Collection a year later.
McFadyen was born in Paisley to the west of Glasgow and south of the River Clyde, in 1950. He studied at Chelsea School of Art and in 2012 he was elected a Royal Academician. In many ways his work seems to follow in the tradition of the more expressionist 20th century figurative and landscape painters, who have lived and worked in London.
The painting was produced as part of a series of works called ‘Canal’, referring to the Regent’s Canal running North East from Limehouse Docks where it is also joined by the Grand Union Canal from the North. Like others in this series it packs a solid punch for a small painting. The figure of a woman stands on the canal towpath in front of iron railings with a church sign against them declaring, ‘Christ is Risen’ in white letters on a blood red ground. Below this is a low white wall covered in black and red graffiti, with the name ‘Danny’ scrawled in red paint, as if in counterpoint to the official red poster above. The woman is young with a dough-like pallor, as she appears to stand like a visiting spirit, shivering in the watery sunlight to the left of the more definite texts. She wears a fitted white mini skirt above her pale legs and green stiletto shoes, clutching a black purse strapped to her side over a pale blue bomber jacket and yellow collared blouse. Her thin auburn hair flies out around her face punctuated by pursed dark red lips and darkly circled eye sockets.
Behind the black railings looms the outline of St. Anne’s church in Limehouse, a Baroque white neo-classical edifice with high clock tower at the east end, rising beyond the lurid red church poster. It appears a desolate and abandoned spot that she has chosen to stand and stare as she waits forlornly for a partner or assignation on the litter strewn canal-side. The architect of the grandly classical church is the 18th century, Nicholas Hawksmoor, after whom this series of small figures studies is named, one of which is also owned by Doncaster Museum service.
Written by volunteer collections researcher, Deborah Keaveney.