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Smallpox Hospital, Kings Cross, 1806

​Smallpox Hospital, King's Cross, 1806. Engraving by William Woolnoth.

Past and Present at Kings Cross

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) was delighted when the artist Anne Howeson decided to make use of the LMA graphics collection for a new series of artworks. The engravings and drawings that she chose became the foundation stones for her exploration of Kings Cross, considering how this area, now more than ever the crossroads of London, has either blended or collided with its own history.

Taking eighteenth and nineteenth century views of the area, which were selected during time spent at the archives, the artist alters, adds, removes and reworks the originals to create emotionally complex images which layer old and modern topography.  

An exhibition Present in the Past held at the elegant Collyer Bristow Gallery in Holborn during February presented more than 30 of the resulting works, which are mostly crayon and gouache drawings on paper.

Jeremy Smith of the LMA Graphics and Digital Collections team took part in an evening event at the gallery at which Anne Howeson spoke of the instinctive ways in which her work draws from archives and literature. The recent growth in the use of archives as a potent source for visual ideas was discussed, with a survey of some of the ways in which London archives have inspired or provoked artists - or have themselves been the subject of new artwork.

Anne Howeson sketched and photographed Kings Cross throughout the transformations of the last decade, and before. Her work draws from this pool of immersive observation, reading and archive research.

Published:
19 May 2015
Last Modified:
26 September 2018

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