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Artists in Waterloo #1 - Joao Simoes-Brown

Every Tuesday for the duration of Waterloo Festival 2020, we'll be meeting an artist who either lives in or is connected to Waterloo. First up is Joao Simoes-Brown.

Writing this blog post for the Waterloo Festival is an intriguing experience. I feel a little exposed, even though I’ve lived in Waterloo for well over twenty years with my daughters and husband, but I am also confident in the kindness of the many friends we have made here, in this unique community at the heart of London.

For the past four years, I got the chance to develop my painting practice by attending fine art courses, namely at Morley College and I am currently studying Fine Art Painting at Camberwell College of Arts. The encouragement and kindness of tutors, peers, friends and family are sustaining me on this journey.

Pillars, Elizabeth House (York Road, Waterloo) (2020)

If you happen to be near York Road, have a look at the Morley College & Waterloo, Past Present and Future installation there. I have some work on the pillars of Elizabeth House, along with that of other artists from Morley College.

The architecture of the urban landscape inspires me. It has a transient quality with which to explore feelings, history and memory, the surface and what is below - the invisible visible.

Visits to museums and galleries (remember when those were open?) are great ways to learn and be inspired as well, and, in normal times, these opportunities are abundant in London (check them online now!).

Recently I delved into the Mithraeum, situated under the Bloomberg building in the City. It is an atmospheric place that showcases the Roman Mithras temple, uncovered amongst the rubble of the blitz during the archaeological excavations in the 1950s. Going through the underground levels of the museum is an informative and immersive experience through the different layers of time in London. Worth a visit, if you like history that is, when public spaces reopen.

For now, follow this link:

I was also thrilled when the White Cube in Bermondsey showed the new work of Anselm Kiefer last year, Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot. The link is shared also here if you want to have a peep:

Snapshot of a statue on top of a building (London)

I like to take snapshots of architectural details when out and about in London. Some of those photographs may later inform my paintings, together with collages and sketches.

Experimenting with different materials and media is part of the creative process.

In lockdown, I have been using the time allowed outside, for exercise, to cycle along the Thames. I take mental notes of the surroundings and the strange days we are all living in this state of liminality. I started to write down those disparate thoughts and they have become a diary of sorts. Most entries have now become drawings made with charcoal, pastel and ink on round recycled cotton rag paper that I happened to have at home.

Strange Days Diary (22/3) - Charcoal, ink and linseed oil on recycled cotton rag paper, diameter: 30cm (2020)

In lockdown experimentation, resourcefulness and creativity have been stretched to an unprecedented global level, to say the least, as people and communities try to find ways of supporting each other and keeping in touch in these strange days. We are making great use of the technology available.

The Waterloo Festival (online) is a testimony to the resilience, creativity and hope of the human family. Thank you Euchar, thank you Giles, and thank you to the support team that made this platform possible!

Joao Simoes-Brown

28th April 2020

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