The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

Author unknown, ‘A North o’ Euston School’

Manchester Guardian, 28 June 1911.

A North o’ Euston School.
Some years ago a well-known black-and-white artist began a series of London epigrams of which “Sinister Street, S.W.” and “Queer Street, N.” achieved some notice. Working at the latter he came to know that strange and furtive quarter of London that lies beyond Euston Road, and for a time he thought that there lay the virgin soil for a really greater harvest of art than London had ever known. For a little the talk of a “North o’ Euston School” was in the air, but for various reasons the movement never gathered way. When I noticed the advertisement of the first exhibition of the Camden Town Group at the Carfax Gallery, London, I thought that the pioneers of another generation had found the place and were busy at work revealing its richness. Entering the Gallery, however, one found only a few traces of the great idea, and these were horribly concrete and literal, depending for their effect on a knowledge of police court horrors – not the epic loneliness of that mysterious jungle of mean houses with apparently no factories or workshops or visible means of support, and streets that become narrow crescents along which you march hearing the footsteps of the man before you but never seeing him. Of course one had no right to complain because Mr. Walter Sickert (for it was that veteran pioneer) happened to see Camden Town in his own way. Still it may be of some interest to recall the old project at an exhibition of a Camden Town group. The two paintings called “The Camden Town Murder Series” remind one again how his art suffers from an age that does not require religious pictures. One sees at once the zest with which he would design a great scene in Hell, showing all the tortures of the damned, and so give a real modern version of one of the few stock subjects of early Italian painting that has been quite overlooked by the ultra-moderns.
Among the other artists are Mr. M. Drummond, whose picture of Paddington Station shows a handsome decorative use of the girders and hanging cloths, and his small room interior presents very skilfully three figures that seem the very spirits of that particular place, and Mr. Spencer Gore, who in his “Stage Sunrise” finds the fittest expression of his gift for bizarre arrangements and arbitrary colour schemes. Mr. H. Lamb shows an increasing grip of draughtsmanship without loss of that wayward charm of line which appeared in his earliest work. His technique suggests that he is still experimenting with his colour made up in a few tints and applied separately, the result having a certain flat purity which serves admirably in such a work as a “Boy’s Head,” although in the larger picture of a “Man Fishing,” where there are many shapes and tones, the effect is rather piecemeal. The tendency of the group as a whole is towards a higher key of colour and a larger decorative effect. Mr. Gilman, Mr. Lightfoot, Mr. Bevan, and Mr. Pissarro are other exhibitors. The colour is noticeably good and suitable for the modern room with its strong gay curtains and china on the walls. Most of the pictures seem to arise out of real pictorial ideas, and all who care to see the newer expressions of our art ought not to miss this show.

How to cite

Author unknown, ‘A North o’ Euston School’, in Manchester Guardian, 28 June 1911, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/author-unknown-a-north-o-euston-school-r1104315, accessed 20 June 2019.