Back o’ the houses

Watercolour painting of suburban houses backing onto Gledhow Valley Woods in Leeds 8
Trees and houses face each other. The leaves are out, the trees will win – if left to their own devices.

British suburban houses

Houses on Coppice Way This watercolour of houses across the street came about from wanting to paint something that was uninspiring – because painting is painting, whatever the subject – and painting can transform your view of things. It was supposed to be an exercise in letting my hand do the thinking.

But the picture fits within the British landscape tradition – and might even fall into the category of suburban art. These houses were built in 1937. Painting them led me to read Stevie Smith’s poems about the suburbs – and about the place and contribution of the suburbs to twentieth-century British culture. “Round about the streets I slink / Suburbs are not so bad I think…”

Showing paintings of British suburban houses to Saudis – BBC News Magazine, 2012 “The Suburban Classes” by Stevie Smith
“Suburbs are not so bad I think”: Stevie Smith’s Problem of Place in 1930s and ‘40s London by Kristin Bluemel, 2003

photo - the street