40 years of Bankside Gallery: Drawing Bankside

Artists documenting the transformation of the Southbank

Bankside Gallery is coming up to its fortieth birthday! Over the years the gallery has not only been a place for artists to show their work, but has itself been a subject of artistic expression, and a point from which artists have ventured out to explore and draw the city. Here are some examples of artworks by members of the RWS and RE inspired by Bankside Gallery and the surrounding area, an area which has changed enormously since the gallery first opened in 1980.

 

Glynn Thomas RE, St Paul's from Bankside (including a depiction of Bankside Gallery), etching

 

Mark Raggett VPRWS has painted the river bank several times, focusing particularly on Shakespeare’s Globe. This replica seventeenth-century theatre was the brainchild of Sam Wannamaker and opened in 1997, seventeen years after Bankside Gallery.

 

Mark Raggett VPRWS, Bankside III, watercolour

 

Thanks to Joe Winkelman PPRE Hon. RWS, we can see what the building looked like under construction.

 

Joseph Winkelman PPRE Hon.RWS, The New Globe, etching

 

Tate Modern which opened in 2000, twenty years after Bankside Gallery, has also inspired several artworks by RWS and RE artists. During its development, artists from both societies as well as a group of Bankside Gallery Friends visited what was then called Bankside Power Station. Take a look at these articles about the visits and the construction project, in the Bankside Bulletin (a publication mainly for Friends of the gallery which was published in the 1990s and 2000s).

 

 Article from Bankside Bulletin Winter 1995/6 Number 13

 

Jane Stobart RE, Bankside Power Station Revisited IV, aquatint

 

Article from Bankside Bulletin Autumn 1997, Number 20

 

Article from Bankside Bulletin, Winter 1997/8 Number 21

 

Article from Bankside Bulletin Winter 1997/8, Number 21

 

Since its construction, the Tate Modern has been a source of inspiration for many artists. Whether it is the dramatic architecture…

 

Toni Martina RE, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, etching and aquatint

 

John Newberry RWS, Tate Modern, Bankside, watercolour

 

Liz Butler RWS, The Thames Near Bankside, watercolour

 

…or the opportunity it provides for a quiet sit and contemplation of the view across the river, the Tate Modern has inspired many pictures, not to mention the stimulus given by its collection and exhibitions.

 

David Lintine, Terrace Tate Modern, aquatint etching

 

Annie Williams RWS RE, Bankside, watercolour

 

Karen Keogh, St Paul's by Twilight, etching

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral is obviously one of the major landmarks visible from this side of the river, and has appeared in countless artworks.

 

Charlotte Halliday, St Paul's from St Peter's Hill, watercolour

 

Charlotte Halliday, in the Bankside Bulletin in 1997, explained her love for the iconic building.

 

 Article from Bankside Bulletin Spring 1997, Number 18

 

Paul Catherall, St Paul's II, linocut

 

Louise Davies RE, Summer on the Southbank, etching

 

John Duffin RE, River Thames - Moonlight Walk (St Paul's Cathedral), etching

 

Neil Pittaway RWS RE, St Paul's from Bankside, watercolour

 

Although St. Paul’s has been a constant feature of the landscape, the Southbank and Bankside areas have completely transformed in the time that the gallery has been here. Between skateboarding parks, temporary fun fares, and buses selling frozen yogurt, the local atmosphere is a far cry from that of the industrial area it once was.

 

Francis Bowyer PPRWS Hon.RE, Skateboarder on the Southbank, watercolour

 

Fouzier Zafar RE, Bankside Fun, etching

 

Gertie Young RWS, Yoghurt Bus on the Southbank, gouache, collage and pencil

 

The most recent developments have been the luxury flats in, for example, Neo Bankside. Their curious, geometric design caught Melanie Bellis’s eye.

 

Melanie Bellis RE, Neo Bankside, etching

 

But artists often have an ability and an inclination to see past conspicuous modern developments, to go underground and back in time to reveal a vision of the city that might not be visible to the naked eye. Here are Mychael Barratt and Agathe Sorel’s vastly different responses to the area. Both perhaps tap into a mystery and a history, an almost ghostly quality which reminds us that the city exists not only as a physical and social reality, but on an imaginative plane as well.

 

Mychael Barratt PPRE Hon.RWS, Dürer on the Southbank, etching on tea-stained Japanese gampi paper

 

Agathe Sorel RWS RE, The Bankside Underpass, watercolour

October 21, 2020