This atmospheric oil painting of Vere Strret in Soho, London, is by Huddersfield-born artist David Tindle. In a letter held in the Walker Art Gallery archives, Tindle decribes regularly walking through Vere Street on his way to Oxford Street.Tindle liked to draw everything he could see around him as part of his daily life as reference for his paintings. He made a number of paintings of London streets, shop windows and reflections between 1961 and 1962. He wanted to record his physical experience and the feeling of excitement he got from walking down a busy London Street.
This painting was worked up from a drawing he made on location in Vere Street. Tindle was particulalry interested in the way the sky struck down in a V shape and seemed to slide around the buildings. He writes that 'the dust seemed to cling to the surfaces, everything was so heavy,almost slowly pulsating under my skin'. In this work the paint is applied thickly and quickly, probably with a palette knife, like several other landscape works that TIndle produced in the 1960s. However, Tindle is best known for his softer, meticulous paintings in egg tempera, that emphasise the stillness and emptiness of interior spaces.
The 'Vere Street' shown in this painting is not the location of one of the most famous 'molly houses' (male brothels) in British LGBT history, 'The White Swan'. The public house was located on a different Vere Street in Covent Garden, which was demolished in the 1900s to make way for Kingsway. It was operated as a meeting place for gay men, a male brothel and even a same-sex wedding venue by the propreitors Yardley and Cook, for six months in 1810, before they were raided by the police and arrested. Labelled the 'Vere Street Coterie' seven men were taken to the pillory for public punishment, where they were pelted with rotten fish, dead cats and blood.
Tindle has produced many portraits of well-known people, including one of DIrk Bogarde commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. He has also been the subject of several portraits by artist friends. In the early 1950s Tindle befriended the gay artist John Minton. In 1952 Minton painted a half-length portrait of Tindle as a youth, which now hangs in Pallant House, Chichester. The intensity of the painting reflects Minton's claim that 'a man will paint only of himself and of the things he knows, loves, hates, desires'. Though not gay himself, Tindle became part of a circle of influential LGBT artists that included Keith Vaughan, John Craxton and Francis Bacon.