Brief Encounter - with 'Pete the Street'

Earlier this week, just before I left London behind for sunnier climes, I found myself walking through St.James', off Picadilly and turning the corner into Jermyn St., I suddenly spotted a familiar figure. Well, I say 'suddenly' but dressed as he was from head to foot in a dull beige/grey (a colour that exactly matched the pavement!) he would have been easy to miss altogether, had it not been for the all too familiar odour of oil paint and the heavily paint-spattered clothes and cap which made me look twice as I passed by.

I couldn't believe my luck! There in front of me stood 'Pete the Street' (aka reknowned artist Peter Brown). He was bent over his easel, working in full concentration on a large canvas and seemingly oblivious to the crowds of shoppers and office workers hurrying by. For those not familiar with his work, Peter is best known for his fabulous street scenes of Bath and now London, which he always paints in situ, en plein air.

I recognised Peter from having just read a four page feature on him in the February 2009 edition of 'Artists & Illustrators', the best-selling magazine for artists here in the UK. The article had mentioned what a prolific painter he is and I remember wondering, as I read it, why I'd never bumped into him at work before, given that when in London I rarely use public transport and prefer to walk everywhere. By and large his presence in a crowded city street goes un-noticed but he is very approachable if someone does stop and offer a remark. He seems to welcome the interruption and, being completely un-assuming, self-effacing and openly friendly, he is only too happy to chat. So chat we did! For several minutes while I admired his latest painting which, he told me, he hopes to finish in time for entry into the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

I was thrilled to have this unexpected opportunity to observe such a brilliant artist at work, and as he continued to paint, he explained he had in fact started this particlar oil painting several months previously but had been unable to return to it till now. He also expressed his dismay at finding, on his return, that his original spot was no longer unavailable (due to huge shopfitter's hoarding going up in his absence) and how now, having been forced work from a different view-point, he'd had to change all of his original perspectives. He was clearly worried and almost apologetic about it all not looking 'quite right' - but, gosh! it looked absolutely perfect to me - another masterpiece!

'Peter studied a foundation in Bath in 1986 then a BA in Fine Art at Manchester Polytechnic. He has won numerous prizes for painting his trademark street scenes and his work has been exhibited extensively. In 2006 he became the first artist-in-residence at the Savoy Hotel, London. His new book 'Brown's Bath' (written with Jonathan Benington and published by Brown Fine Art ) is available at London's Mall Galleries and online from www.peterbrownneac.com.
He exhibits his work through Messum's gallery in London, see
(Excerpt from 'Artists & Illustrators' magazine ISSN 0269-4697. 'King of the Road' feature, February 2009, issue no.270)

Meeting Peter made my day and shows it's perfectly true what they say;
that 'We just never know what's waiting around the corner.....'

1 comment :

I'd love to hear from you!

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