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The Bradford Hole : Acrylic on canvas

‘The Bradford Hole (Demolition of Forster Square)’ (2015)

In March 2004 ‘The Broadway Redevelopment Project’ began and the Forster Square area of Bradford city centre was demolished with the intent that it would be redeveloped by 2007. The developers, Westfield, pulled out of the project early citing lack of potential tenants. Work ceased and the whole area has lain barren, and unchanged, until work began again in 2014.

After 10 years neglect and weathering it could not look more devastated had a bomb been dropped on it. When I first saw it I was forcefully reminded of works by Frank Auerbach such as ‘The Demolition Of Maples’ and Paul Nash’s 1st World War paintings.

Bradfordian’s refer to the site as ‘The Hole’ referencing the depth to which the area had been excavated. It is hardly surprising that it was fenced round with high hoardings to prevent access and viewing. A ladder, and some very swift photography, was necessary to get a good close view of the site!

Spontaneous things happened as I painted this scene. It had a life of its own. The deep pits began to have teeth and wanted to consume all the detritus man could proffer. Concrete foundations were like so many graves and the iron rods in them, with white plastic caps, formed like grotesque flowers. The ground bulged in areas with bubonic pustules. And yet, like so many battlefields, after 10 years nature had begun to take back what is hers. Grasses had grown. Ponds had formed and some areas had begun to look lush.

We get an idea of scale through architecture. On the far left the Wool Exchange building, with its white clock, is cathedral sized and on the far right the large hotel contains hundreds of rooms. The hole is surrounded by railings. We can stroll to the edge, lean upon the railings, and admire the view while eating ice cream or chips. After all, we are only visiting.

While the Westfield project is now nearing completion I felt it was important to record this historical scene.

You can find out more about the Westfield development here

100 x 70 cm.

Original: sold

Available as an 18, 24 & 30″ limited edition print (Print ref: Bradford Hole)