This, if I am honest, was the main reason for leaving the Birmingham Main Line and taking the Tame Valley canal detour into the centre of Birmingham. My interest in representing complex spaces with multiple levels of activity and movement meant that this was a must see.
Motorways, railways and bypasses cross over and over, one on top of the other, sometimes getting to such a height that they take on the appearance of giant roller coasters supported by a forest of enormous concrete cylindrical pillars.
The canal was here first and so drifts through at the very bottom of all these stacks of modes of transport. It is a strange world down here at base level, spending time, largely unseen, underneath what you know to be thousands of people hurtling along at speed. On the boat you slowly and silently glide through this alien cathedral of artificial noise and vibration. The experience is much like being on the sewers of mankind, or in movie terms like being in the lower levels of futuristic cities in science fiction films like Blade Runner or The Fifth Element.
There is a buzz to finding a subject like this and a space like this in which to work. You feel like you are not supposed to stop here. This bizarre experience, for me, on a similar level to the Pontcylytte Aqueduct, is not talked about as a waterways highlight. It is a very intimidating space, the bottom rung, and you feel like you are breaking the rules being here, and you should be scrambling to get out, yet if you allow those feelings to wash over you and you embrace the space, it's fascinating to study the underbelly.
I am not alone in enjoying producing artwork down here, there is a real gallery of graffiti art down here, one wall in particular must have at least 50 large tags in a line. Hours and hours of work have gone into them and I found myself looking and appreciating the work more than I have previously. The abstraction, distortion and embellishment of type takes the medium into its own.
I enjoy any comparison with my 'en plein air' practice and street art. The words 'en plein air' ( in open air) are probably enough to make most street artists throw up, I am not working with type at all, and am observation rather than imagination led although I equally enjoying thrashing out an artwork in public spaces and in doing so trying to claim some kind of ownership over them.
So here is my attempt at ownership of Spaghetti Junction - Oil Painting 34 - enjoy!