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Fine art graduate Doreen Fletcher gains acclaim for her scenes depicting east London

Fine Art

Doreen Fletcher's work was the subject of a recent retrospective exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery

Doreen Fletcher is an artist who is renowned for painting lost parts of London’s East End.  After recently achieving both her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in fine art at the University of East London (UEL), she held a retrospective exhibition in February at the Nunnery Gallery in Bow, east London, which resonated strongly with local people. 

Doreen’s exhibition, which was one of the Nunnery Gallery’s most successful shows in recent memory, featured a large selection of her paintings and included unseen pictures from private collections. A monograph of Doreen’s work was also published to coincide with the exhibition. 

While Doreen’s subject matter is largely buildings or street scenes with very few people, she feels that the two are completely intertwined. She said, “You can’t have buildings unless there are people, and they are there although not in view.”

A number of artists, including Edward Hopper, have influenced Doreen’s work, and some of Doreen’s scenes are reminiscent of Hopper’s style.

Doreen’s pieces include paintings of the wider east London areas of Newham and Forest Gate, as well as France, where she has a home.

Doreen moved to east London from the West Midlands many years ago. Doreen said she “came here for a date and stayed for 23 years,” adding that, “It felt like I had come home”. Doreen’s inspiration has come from a variety of influences. She was motivated to recreate lost parts of London, she said, because, “It disturbed me to see these shops and pubs closing and being boarded up. So I thought, ‘I must make a record of this.’”

Doreen paints from a mixture of sketches, observation, photographs and memory. Detail and light play a key role in her pictures. She said, “There is a difference in the skies in east London and I have wondered if this is due to refraction from the widening river. I think other factors might contribute, such as the flattened terrain, fewer tall buildings, the introduction of the Clean Air Act and the reduction in heavy industry.” 

As a mature student, Doreen decided she wanted to learn about etching and printmaking and applied to UEL, her local university. However, soon after she started the course, she said, she felt the urge to unpack her oil paints.  Doreen said, “That’s where the poetry begins. For me, no other medium can achieve this.”