Manor Park sits in the middle of Aldershot in Hampshire. The town centre is a depressing place of boarded-up shops and visible illness. It is a ghetto, holding everything that is disavowed in the wealthy villas that surround it. Manor Park (the ‘manor’ is now offices) is a relatively tranquil oasis. To the north is a busy road through which cars and lorries roar through, shaking the Edwardian terraces on either side. Woeful municipal planting is to some extent balanced by some wild areas, and there is an old playing field that is now a community wood. Some interesting trees line the paths of the park, apparently the legacy of the army officer who last owned the manor house.
I captioned this painting ‘Silence’ because it is so eerily quiet despite the busy road that runs alongside. Apart from a play area and skateboard park, it seems to be barely used. Elderly Nepalese couples walking in single file seem to be the most regular users. Apparently it takes on a different persona at night as a venue for local youth to hang out. The odd elliptical trees – some variety of hornbeam perhaps – add a particularly surreal quality to the view. After painting the piece I thought long and hard about including a few figures, or a surreal addition of balloons or a whale. In the end, I resisted the urge, letting the uncanny emptiness speak for itself.