London through the eyes of an artist














The-Latest continues its feature on inspirational photographers who share with us their images for your enjoyment. Brian Usher, our Picture Editor, introduces the work of artist and photographer David Western, the fifth in our series.

David Western born 1959, Horsham, West Sussex. Influenced by his father Michael Henry Western, a cartoonist who worked on The Eagle, Buster, TV 21, Valiant and Battle amongst many other classic British comics, David began model making and drawing from an early age.

He studied at Horsham Art School and at the West Sussex College of Design, specialising in printmaking, graphic art and photography.After college David worked as an architect's assistant and as a visualiser for the Synoptics audio-visual company.

In 1983 he moved to London and became a freelance illustrator and photographer, working mainly within the music business. Clients included A&M, Mute,Virgin, Polydor, City Limits, D/K, Chatto & Windus, NME, Melody Maker and De Wolfe publishing. He also worked as art director for FM magazine contributing cartoons and photographs, and as a political cartoonist for Workers Power magazine.

Throughout this time, David's creative obsession with documenting his local area and London in general, has produced a substantial archive of photographs and drawings and it is this library of images that he utilises to produce exquisitely detailed paintings charting the history and documenting the changing face of London's streets. It is this work that we will be featuring over the next few weeks.

David Western has exhibited at Sussex Artists, Clarendon Gallery, Pullens Centre, Sussex University, Tate library, Norwood library, Urban Art, and was short-listed for the Royal Academy summer show in 2007.

This is part two of David's photo essay titled The South London Series. The first instalment can be viewed here.

Photography: David Western  

Abandoned shops on the Pullens estate, Kennington. SE17.

Usually I find street pictures by chance and rarely plan anything in advance. Sometimes a good photograph will occur almost by accident. The flat even light and the strong colours were perfect and I was composing this shot when the little girl ran into the frame.  

My impulse was to catch the motion when she was between the fence and the pillar box but by the time I'd focused she was almost gone. Renowned French photographer Cartier- Bresson referred to this as the "decisive moment".







Taxi rank at the Elephant and Castle. SE1.

One of the most unloved buildings in South London is the famous shopping centre in the middle of the Elephant and Castle.   The "shocking" pink   wall of this cab office is a reminder that the entire precinct was once the same colour.









London Park Hotel. Elephant and Castle. SE1. [Reference for a painting].

Recently demolished as part of the Elephants regeneration scheme, this austere hotel ended its days as a hostel for the homeless. The Elephant and Castle with its busy twin round-abouts is the hub of South London.   Largely flattened during the Blitz and redeveloped in the 1950s, it was for a time the model on which the "new towns" were styled.  








Atlantic Road, Brixton. SW9.

The station at Brixton is right in the middle of town and the steps leading up to it afford a panoramic view of Atlantic Road. The night was quiet with little traffic, so I waited for this solitary figure to enter the pool of light in the middle of the road to take my snap.










Bridge on Milkwood Road. SW9.

During the Blitz, Loughborough Junction was an important target for the Luftwaffe who made repeated attempts to hit the railways.   Many buildings in the area were destroyed or badly damaged.   I used to live near by in a 60s block which was built on one of the bomb sites. The flat was close to the line and seemed to resonate as the heavy goods train crawled past in the dead of night.    


*View the work of our first, second, third, fourth and sixth Featured Photographers.