As usual, Peter’s subjects gaze at their smartphones, the glow of the screens illuminating their faces. But rather than taking a dark approach to this eerie addiction, as in his previous works, these new paintings feel brighter, kinder, and hopeful. His subjects are smiling, unlike previous portraits where people often seem lost or even sad.
“Our phones are no longer far from us, so seeing people connected with them 24/7 is so common that we don’t take a second look,” Peter told Creative Boom. “I have always been fascinated by situational paintings and what they tell us about the time period in which they were painted. I capture life in Manchester in the 2020s in the same way Edward Hopper captured life in New York in the 1920s. “
With his latest works, there is more background this time: an emphasis on architecture and street furniture, whereas before there were only simple backgrounds, perhaps to emphasize. more the state of our addiction to devices. It’s a new take on a theme that Peter thought was relevant, given the past two years: “Manchester has changed tremendously in the last decade,” he adds. “It’s a vibrant and ever-changing city and there are so many amazing stories to put in my paintings. There has been a gentrification of certain neighborhoods like the North Quarter, which has long been known for its creativity and street art, so I keep going back there for a lot of my cityscapes. “
Since the lockdown, Peter has painted these scenes to include positive messages. “It was just perfect,” he explains. These positive messages come in the form of posters or poster campaigns from this depressing time, reminding us to stay strong and take care of each other. In a work, we instantly recognize Mark Titcher‘s Please Believe These Days Will Pass, possibly on Edge Street in the North Quarter, with a crumbling building as a backdrop. In another, we spot an encouraging campaign by Feel Good Club and Manchester’s Finest to fight last year’s Blue Monday. This makes all the contrast to the usual Peter stuff, where we see his characters looking tired or maybe overwhelmed by the catastrophic scrolling and constantly being online. Now, it looks like its protagonists are happy, savoring the benefits of technology and our ability to stay connected as the whole world has been urged to stay at home.
“Manchester was probably similar to many cities in the UK where the streets were eerily quiet for months,” says Peter. “But then, in true Manc style, as life started to wind down last summer for a short time, street performers and designers came to cheer us on with brilliantly uplifting flying posters. saw on Thomas Street in the North Quarter, I knew I just had to paint them as they represented a positive side of life in lockdown, cheering us up on a rainy day in Manchester. I think these are beautiful examples of how humanity and creativity can help us reach ourselves through the dark days. “
But it’s not just this heartwarming angle that Peter takes in his later paintings; we are also seeing a clue of what happened during the Covid-19 pandemic and how Manchester has responded to such huge global events. Like the memorable murder of George Floyd and local artist Akse masterpieces which popped up in Stevenson Square which won a lot of love from Manchester as many flowers and tributes were dropped next door.
Along with other clues to what was going on in the world, many of Peter’s paintings feature iconic street art around Manchester: the famous Invader on Faraday Street by the mysterious artist Space invader Where HammoClassic mural on the shutters of Fresh Bites on the corner of Oldham Street and Hilton Street. It’s an incredibly warm hug from someone who clearly loves Manchester as much as we do and a reminder that even in the darkest days, it’s heartwarming to know that familiar places will always stay. Unless, of course, you are familiar with the dystopian works of James chadderton, then that’s another story.
If you are a fan of Peter’s latest paintings in his Urban Realist series, then you will be happy to hear that he sells A3 art giclee prints in his online shop. Printed on 310gsm archival museum quality paper and in a limited edition of 250 each is numbered, titled, signed and stamped and costs £ 80 plus £ 6 for UK postage and packaging. United.