The abandoned Annie McCall Hospital and its environs in Stockwell, South London,
have inspired and consumed the work of Geoff Routh since he and fellow artists
transformed the wards into ‘Stockwell Studios’ over twenty five years ago. It had
originally been built in 1915 as one of the first specialised maternity hospitals in
Europe, although its use as a hospital came to an end in the 70s. In 1987 the derelict
building with its imposing red-brick Edwardian façade, was a perfect sanctuary for
the inspiration of artists and musicians. Today, Geoff Routh’s studio is still there and
continues to be the muse for his work.

Over time, Geoff Routh has painted a visual biography of the building, meticulously
exploring the architecture and its growing relationship with nature. Routh insists on
painting from life all year round, exploring these beautiful, man-made architectural
facades being slowly taken over by natural life; weeds making their way through
cracks in the windows, moss growing uninhibited on the brick walls by the drain
pipes, and tendrils of ivy creeping up walls to the light. However, in this fragile,
protected environment there is the constant looming threat from the violence of
development. It is this sense of risk that feeds Routh’s desire to record the minutiae of
the place.

The most recent series of works by Geoff Routh, however, includes a fresh
exploration into the nitty-gritty depths of this South London setting through the urban
ponds that populate the environment. Routh’s creative vision incorporates his own
familiar theme of overgrown natural life, yet takes this new direction into unknown
waters. There is an uncanny reality in the reflections of the pond, that draws you
closer to the painting and nearer to understanding the history of this place forgotten
by time.


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