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Professor N B B Symons


Leicester Galleries, London, New Year Exhibition, January 1947


The painter Robert Buhler RA. once remarked that 'Ruskin Spear has done for Hammersmith what Sickert did for Camden Town.' It was a succinct and perceptive summing up of both the artist’s life and style; born, brought up and working all his life in the area, Ruskin Spear’s paintings of Hammersmith owe much to Sickert’s example, both in their choice of subject matter and manner of painting. At the Barber’s Shop is a fine and very characteristic example of his work; Spear revelled in depicting scenes of everyday life - its pubs, theatres, bustling streets and shops - painting them with a swift touch and delicate tonality that is, at its best, affectionate and humorous without ever being coarse. The outcome are works which provide a remarkably vivid and intimate record of a time and a place - Hammersmith in the 40s and 50s - that has changed almost beyond recognition over the last 40 years.