London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine London. Smog 2002


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‘Reminiscences of Killer Fog’

Although pea-soup fogs seldom occur in London these days, their  romantic association with the city, and with clandestine happenings, changing identities and nostalgic vistas, are still associated with the capital. Many works by artists and writers as diverse as James Abbot McNeil Whistler, Claude Monet, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle have been inspired by fog and smog and have helped to create that sense of the uncanny that underlies the spectre of 19th and early 20th century London. At the beginning of a new Century, air pollution in our cities is mainly of the invisible photochemical variety and, pervasive though it is, it’s lack of visibility no longer inspires art or urban spectacle as it did: yet the spectre of the 'fog' continues to fascinate and intrigue.

The five paintings ‘Reminiscences of Killer Fog’ were made as part of the 50 year commemorative exhibition and conference held to mark the ‘great smog’ which claimed over 3000 lives in London in December 1952. The work combines eyewitness accounts of the fog as it transformed and disrupted the capital with paintings of images associated with films that were showing in cinemas across London at that time, mapped across theatre locations. The invasive fog could be seen as a mantle which connected both  inside and outside as well as events and people across the city. I was particularly interested in accounts of the physical conditions in cinemas where it became increasingly difficult to distinguish what was happening on the screen. The clarity of the projection being slowly smothered and replaced with a real life drama.