brigid stowell


Since late 2009 I have been working on a series of paintings of my hometown, Douglas. Douglas is the capital of the Isle of Man, and the most populous town. Its streets are not a popular subject among artists. Frequently it is seen as an ugly town, a place to work in and commute to but not to value as a place of quaint beauty, in the same way that other towns in the island are. I find this attitude surprising. Douglas expanded rapidly in the nineteenth century because of the tourist industry. Many aspects now taken for granted in Douglas (the squares, grand guest houses, exotic palm trees) exist because of tourism, as a way to make the town seem more exotic and attractive as a holiday destination. Of course the tourists are now long gone, but the remnants remain and have been assimilated into the fabric of the town. The grand Victorian guest houses sit alongside more modest Manx terrace houses, creating a rich tapestry of imagery for me to work with.

I decided to focus on the streets of Douglas because I am fascinated by it. Walking through the town everyday I relished the opportunity to see the wonder in the usually perceived mundanities. The Victorian houses and mature trees are of particular interest to me at the moment. To me they show a town that is lived in, established, but continuing to live. As a devoted pedestrian I have made a conscious effort to work only on scenes that are within walking distance of my home. This further emphasises my point that there is beauty and interest all around, you only have to look.

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