Everyman & Picturehouse Cinemas

Here’s a couple of new cinema studies, not independents but London movie theatres with long histories. I’m sharing these as the news settles regarding the (hopefully temporary) closure of Picturehouse cinemas. A lot of cinemas have attempted to welcome back visitors after lockdown… and we had the joy of attending screenings for movies in Southampton and Winchester. Each occasion was perfectly observed with social distancing and any anxieties about the environment and it’s risks were quickly put at ease. But with limited visitor numbers and so few big titles available to showcase it perhaps isn’t a surprise to hear the closure of the Picturehouse chain. This pair of paintings features a well known gem from their list of wonderful venues…

The Ritzy Cinema

The Ritzy is one of the Picturehouse Cinemas situated in Brixton. It’s much loved for its friendly staff and authentic atmosphere. It was opened on 11 March 1911 as the Electric Pavilion. It was built by E.C. Homer and Lucas for Israel Davis, a noted cinema developer. It was one of England’s earliest purpose-built cinemas, seating over 750 seats in a single auditorium. The neighbouring Brixton Theatre was completely destroyed by bombing in 1940, which allowed the Ritzy to expand into the vacant space. In 1954, it was renovated by noted cinema architect George Coles and was renamed The Pullman. It was later known as The Classic, before it’s closure in 1976. After this, it was re-invented as “The Little Bit Ritzy”, run in collaboration with the London Cinema Collective. Today, the cinema is owned by Picturehouse Cinemas, operating as a multi-screen complex officially named the ’Ritzy Picturehouse’. As with the others in this series this artwork has been painted with acrylic and ink on paper, presented in a 25 x 25cm box frame. It has a single layer, cut out and raised slightly from a black backing paper.

The Screen on the Green

The next movie theatre to show you is The Screen On The Green, a single screen cinema run by the Everyman group. It faces Islington Green in the London Borough of Islington. The current building was opened in 1913 and it is one of the oldest continuously running cinemas in the UK. It is distinctive in the local area due to its façade outlined in red neon, along with a large canopy used for advertising current and upcoming films and events. It’s another building with the longest history… Cinematic entertainment began at number 83 Upper Street, when the Pesaresi brothers ran their original animated picture show in the then vacant shop. They demolished the old shops and built a new purpose-built electric theatre designed by architects Boreham & Gladding, which opened in October 1913. Renamed from The Empress Electric Theatre shortly after opening, the new cinema seated 600 on a single floor. It was closed, refurbished and re-opened in December 1951 as The Rex before it’s final incarnation as The Screen On The Green opening on 13 September 1970

Aside from films, the cinema is probably most widely known for its ‘Midnight Special’ on Sunday 29 August 1976 when The Clash and Buzzcocks supported The Sex Pistols in a showcase event.

My painting is another acrylic and ink study but with the addition of collage. I used small prints of real movie posters for the featured titles – La La Land, Little Miss Sunshine and The Shape of Water.

I’ll be painting more little cinemas in the weeks ahead. You can follow this #cinemas series on the blog. Drop me a line using the contact form or say hello online with facebooktwitter or instagram.

These paintings have also been included on the artist support pledge tag (#artistsupportpledge).