Paintings from Greenwich

By James Twomey

Christopher Pemberton and Alexander Pemberton Paintings from Greenwich 1960 – 2018, an exhibition that showcases the work of a father and son over a period of 60 years will open this weekend.

Alexander Pemberton and his father, Christopher, lived in Greenwich from 1959-1983, with Alexander returning in 1993.

Both artists painted images of Blackheath and Greenwich, and the exhibition attempts to highlight the changes in the area in the two different time periods through their artwork. Christopher was also an art teacher at the Camberwell School of Art and his early paintings describe scenes in the Blackheath Standard area, including Greenwich Park and Old Dover Road before the A102 cut through the neighbourhood.

Alexander said: “An aim of this exhibition is to contrast my father’s record of that time with my own record of the present. Christopher Pemberton’s early work has an atmosphere of sober grittiness, muted colour, and everyday life lovingly presented. As time went on, the palette lightened and he became quite daring and experimental with colour.

“He only ever worked from life – he had to, it was a compulsion and often a source of frustration and real struggle. His sustained effort to create something real did arrive at a kind of beauty – a poetic beauty in his struggle to get at the truth. I witnessed this as I painted beside my father on holidays, when as a teenager I began to get more serious about painting.

“I remember being impressed by his strange excursions into colour, and this is probably the side of his work that I related to best. I went to Chelsea school of Art from 1978-1981 and worked from observation, as he had, but I was influenced by a later generation of teachers. I came back to Greenwich in 1993 after living in Spain and Mexico, and then the East End of London.

“The river has become my main subject matter. I work on a series of views which are increasingly a record of the lost industrial shorelines and the new high-rise developments.

“Like my father, I find a subject with potential and work there over time, sometimes for years, on different versions. The river compels me as a subject; an aim of my work is to define and organise what is fluid and intangible.”

White Box Gallery, 5 Hare and Billet Road, SE3 0RB, from March 16th to 24th

Christopher Pemberton and Alexander Pemberton, father and son – Paintings from Greenwich 1960 – 2018
Open Fridays 2-6pm Saturdays and Sundays 11-6pm. Private view Friday 16 March 5-9pm

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