It’s rare for an exhibition to be housed in such a strikingly grand building such as John Soane’s beloved country home, Pitzhanger Manor. Tucked away in a bustling Ealing Broadway on a picturesque lawn, the neoclassical architect spent most of his time entertaining guests such as JMW Turner and collecting art and historical artefacts.
The manor hosts a variety of classically Soane rooms, from his personal library to his drawing room, there are endless reminders of why Soane is such an adored London architect. London Voices, London Lives, however, is not simply a celebration of his extravagant architectural achievements, it is designed to focus on the complicated stories of London life; the good, the bad and the ugly. Soane came from humble beginnings, the son of a bricklayer with a basic education and no social connections, but with his skill and wildly creative imagination he became notorious and was responsible for such neoclassical landmarks such as the Bank of England.
Hogarth – A Rake’s progress
In 1802 William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress was purchased by Soane’s wife and displayed in the still-standing drawing room. Ironically it became prophetic of the life story of Soane’s son George, from whom he became estranged. Displayed within a mock version of Soane’s drawing room are the eight depictions of the rise of fall of a young man, Tom Rakewell, who inherits a vast fortune only to embark on a profligate London lifestyle where he lost it all in frantic moments of recklessness and madness. Now 200 years later the paintings have returned but unlike ever before.
London Voices, London Lives presents a modern comparison on the micro-narratives depicted in Hogarth’s work, a contemporary discussion on the city and the people that exist within the harsh social boundaries of London. Works featured by Debbie Tucker Green, John Riddy, James Fritz, Ruth Ewan, LLSB and Faisal Abdu’Allah offer a fantastic alternative to the frenzied and chaotic scenes painted by Hogarth.
London Voices, London Lives