After years of doing funny scribbles with a watercolour wash I’ve finally got into painting with oils. As always, it’s people – rather than landscapes or still life – that interest me, and so I’ve set about creating a series of paintings entitled ‘Working Class Heroes’.
This is an attempt to re-create my memories of the working men of my childhood in the back streets of 1950s Birmingham. The cloth-capped men who worked in the factories that churned out goods for the world. The men who clocked on at eight and who worked until 5.30, often doing mind-numbingly tedious repetitive jobs. They were men who smoked like factory chimneys and liked their beer. They’d been through a war (or two) and spoke their mind.
Like the factories they laboured in, these men seem to have all but disappeared. By using old black and white photographs as reference I am trying to bring them back to life. My paintings, I hope, will depict them in their favourite habitat – haunting the smoky old public bars and pubs that have also disappeared.
It’s early days yet – and I’m still trying to find a style I’m happy with – but I’ve done a few paintings that I quite like, and I’ve put them below.