We Talk Art, Gentrification And Ridley Road Market With Artist Lucinda Rogers

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 6 months ago

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We Talk Art, Gentrification And Ridley Road Market With Artist Lucinda Rogers
One of the drawn scenes of Ridley Road market. Copyright Lucinda Rogers.

Artist Lucinda Rogers has an exhibition at House of Illustration all about Ridley Road market and the evolution of East London. We caught up with her in the gallery to find out what inspired these drawings.

Firstly, why did you choose to draw Ridley Road market?

I liked its atmosphere when I visited and decided I really wanted to come back and draw this. My intention was to capture how London's changing, through regeneration and gentrification.

Fruits and flowers, all the items on sale at the market. Copyright Lucinda Rogers.

I spent three months at the market finding scenes that interested me and sat there for many hours capturing it. Ridley Road has an atmosphere I can't describe, I've lived in London 20 years and it's a rare part of east London that hasn't changed much — it just rumbles on and everybody gets on with one another.

I like to draw parts of London that are not so well known or seen. Ridley Road fits that criteria but it's also a place of great value to many people and to the local economy. Having drawn in other parts of the world, namely New York, I feel that markets are something I identify as being very London as it's something everyone here uses.

Lucinda Rogers at work at the market. Image: Patricia Niven.

Do people at the market enquire about your work when they see you drawing?

Most people ignore me as they are going about their business. The ones that do approach tend to be supportive of bringing Ridley Road market to a wider audience. Often people like to talk about their own artistic abilities and sometimes they ask 'will you draw me?' or 'what are you drawing?'. There was one odd man who wanted to be drawn naked, but most people who you chat too are simply inquisitive.

Your work uses colour sparingly, why is that so?

I never colour everything in because it's not needed, my work is more about the composition and the detail and these can exist without colour.

Sparing use of colour because it's all about the composition. Image copyright Lucinda Rogers.

Have you drawn other parts of London?

I drew a series on industrial estates in Tottenham as I like to see where people work. It's a nice way to work myself alongside the rhythm of others working, particularly when it's manual work — that's the same feeling I get when drawing at the market. Where I'll probably go next is somewhere like Old Kent Road where regeneration is ongoing as it's an issue I want to continue exploring.

What changes have you seen in east London over the last 20 years?

In one of my works in this exhibition I've drawn a new apartment block that looms over the market — while it doesn't directly threaten the market, it feels ominous. It represents a new kind of future for Dalston. One of London's great benefits is the variety and different types of neighbourhoods, but it keeps getting rid of the places that have character. In my view, most Londoners are perfectly happy to see things built but only as long as it's of use.

Outside a fabric shop at the market. Copyright Lucinda Rogers.

What do you think of the idea that artists moving into an area ends up contributing to gentrification?

Traditionally artists need big, cheap, no frills spaces to work in, and find these in cheaper neighbourhoods. Estate agents follow the artists and start to use an 'arty' label to sell their property. Artists don't deliberately contribute to gentrification, they just want to do their work somewhere and not be disturbed. Clearly they are more often pushed out by gentrification, as prices rise. The genuine artist just wants to work in peace. In my experience artists are happy to get coffee from an ordinary caff, as it's cheap.

Lucinda Rogers - On Gentrification: Drawings from Ridley Road market is on at House of Illustration until 25 March. Admission is £8.25 for adults and includes entry to all ongoing exhibitions.

All works are 50 x 70cm and the titles of the works are: Bedding stall and Alex and Plant Guy, Fruit mountain at the entrance to Ridley road market, Red, yellow and green landscape at Gregory's stall and Outside ka-sh fabric shop.

Last Updated 08 January 2018