New wall for Dulwich Outdoor Gallery by Mad C

What happened to that lovely bee (or was it a fly, an ant….?) that was sitting on a throne with cups of tea/coffee in its hands?  It was much loved, and then one day there was scaffolding in front of it, and later, a pristine white wall.nunca Dulwich 2013smPlough wall blank2015

Then, last week, a boom lift appeared in front of it, and a young girl, with boxes and boxes of spray paint set to work.  In 4 days she had created a stunning, almost abstract artwork, completely different in style, concept, form and colour from the 2013 bee.

smMadC early on IB

MadC-in-Londonwith designDulwich Outdoor Gallery organises the vast majority of the street art in the Dulwich/Peckham/Nunhead and Forest Hill areas, and had commissioned the Brazilian street artist Nunca to paint the end of terrace wall in the car park of the Plough pub at the junction of Lordship Lane and Barry Road, as part of the 2013 Baroque the Streets street art festival. But the wall was damp and needed fixing, which hugely damaged the bee.  People, including the wall owners, were sad to see it go.

The building is owned by Windsor Walk Housing Association and is used as a half way house for patents leaving the Maudsley Hospital enabling them to live under supervision before they fully return to independent living.   They were really happy to have another art work on that wall and fully approved the proposal by Mad MacC marcoProsch2

sm MacC marco Prosch

MadC-in-London-3-865x577Dulwich Outdoor Gallery’s walls are all inspired in some way by the 17th and 18th century paintings in Dulwich Picture Gallery‘s permanent collection.  Take a look at how all this came about and see the other walls and associated Baroque paintings here.  The artists need to choose a painting that suits their subject matter and can relate to the shape of the wall.  Here are Mad C’s words in Widewalls.

“To base your work on an old masters painting without loosing your own style is quite a challenge. I went through the Gallery’s collection and settled on the painting of Venetia, Lady Digby, on her Deathbed by Sir Anthony van Dyck. The story around it is pretty sad and mysterious.  The painting is calm and powerful at the same time, so I decided to drop my letters for once and make an abstract version of the painting’s composition instead.”

Photo: Marco Prosch

Venetia, Lady Digby, on her Deathbed by Van Dyck.  By kind permission of the trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery

Compare these two images and see how Mad C has used the composition and colouring of the original but maintained her signature free flowing style.

However MadC painted one small detail from van Dyck’s original in photographic realism – the pink rose, its fresh petals pulled off and scattered on blue and white.
Why did she do that?

smRose MadC

Rose Venetia Lady Digby on her Deathbed 1633 by van Dyck. dpg194
She understood the symbolism of the rose, and how it illustrates the crux of the very sad story of how the original picture came to be painted.   A rose is a symbol of love and beauty, and in these paintings its petals have been pulled off and it has been destroyed while still young.

MadC paints a Mural in London. Photo: Marco Prosch

Dulwich Outdoor Gallery map

Dulwich Outdoor Gallery Facebook

Click HERE to find out how Dulwich Outdoor Gallery came to be, and the other walls with their DPG inspirations.

About this article


About Ingrid

Co-Editor and ex-Chair of the Friends Committee. I’m a teacher. I’ve worked in the education department of Dulwich Picture Gallery for 14 years, guiding, lecturing and teaching anyone from 7 years old to degree level. I have run a number of education projects (in a remand home, a prison, a local primary school) and am now the e-learning project developer. I commission articles rather than write them and am mainly in charge of the Gallery related articles.
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One Comment

  1. Shapa Begum 30 Sep 2015

    Sad to see the bee gone! But I’m loving the new abstract wall and the calming colours.


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