[Written at the end of 2009, published in Dartford Living in January 2010.]
Local artist and illustrator Rob Leach recently completed a second exhibition of his work at Dartford Library late in 2009, featuring watercolour paintings of various buildings and streets in and around Dartford. He trained at Central Saint Martin’s College in London, part of the University of the Arts of London, and attended Dartford West School where he discovered his passion for painting. He teaches at Sidcup Adult Education Centre and agreed to let Dartford Living showcase his work. His work ‘Paul’s Tyre Zone’ on Lowfield Street (formerly Atlantis Tyres) was shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Show in 2008.
A lot of Rob’s works are inspired by local scenes and buildings that represent his memories of growing up in the area because ‘it’s something I’m emotionally attached to and something that speaks to you’. He also produces work of buildings that are under threat from being knocked down. ‘When you’re drawing a building that’s dilapidated or under threat you feel you are recording it for future generations. When I was in college there was a building being pulled down in Bexley and I went back every evening to draw the progress of the destruction. Each day after the demolishers had gone it was a different scene and I captured the progress over 6 days and produced 6 pieces of work. It’s interesting how you can be painting a door that’s upright one minute and the next day it’s amongst a pile of rubble. A lot of buildings that have been built have probably never been painted so it’s giving them a sort of respect and some of these buildings have been standing for many years. In fact you don’t really look properly at buildings until you draw them. By drawing them you actually appreciate the detail’.
Rob also painted the progress of the demolition of Bexley Hospital, and other works include a drawing of Dartford Library, Dartford Park in the snow, Lowfield Street on a sunny day and the Phoenix Public House on Hythe Street.
Additionally, Rob paints portraits and is a published children’s illustrator. He cites modern illustrators Quentin Blake and Paul Cox as his favourite modern artists. ‘I admire the drawing and imaginative skills they have and the use of paint and pen.’ His advice to budding artists is to use a sketch book and do as much as possible and draw anything to get their skills and motivation up. Rob can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Scroll down for more of his work.
- Walk 14: Bexleyheath walk to Dartford (trainwalkslondon.wordpress.com)
- Thames Path Zero: from Gravesend to Dartford (thebewilderness.typepad.com)