This month I have been working on a project of restoration with Kate Lovegrove on Bridget Riley’s beautiful mural paintings in St Mary’s Hospital, London. The paintings are on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother building. Riley worked on the two first floors in 1987 and returned in 2014 to complete the tenth floor. There are 56m of strips on each floor and these are inspired by the world outside the wards, trying to lift the spirits of those who are in hospital there.
For three weeks this month I am restoring these wonderful paintings. They are challenging. As time passes, colours change and our work is to recreate each colour and match them to the original.
We are using the same paint as Riley, Lascaux acrylic paint, sometimes even the same paint from the time they were made!
I have leant so much about the subtlety of her colours since I started the work there. She adds a tint of blue or yellow to her colours to change their vibrancies; a yellow will not be hot anymore as she adds blue to it, making it as if it was painted on a dark background! I am astounded by all the subtleties in all of them and my eyes are often tricked. They seem to be just simple strips, but they are not!
I will finish my three weeks by restoring the work of Josef and Anni Albers in the Children’s unit. I am looking forward to this!
It is hard work: full of cleaning, filling and painting but it is also very humbling and, as days pass, I feel enormously grateful to be healthy and supported by friends and family in all I do. I believe my work will never be the same again after this encounter and I cannot wait to go back to Ochre Print Studio and see what will change!