Petrol station

I love petrol stations. Beacons of bright, fluorescent light set against the dark night sky. Yellow, red, blue or green (never a pastel shade) – these are landmarks crying out for our attention like the Blackpool illuminations. Modern stations never blend into their surroundings; there is no polite blend of Victorian columns or Tudor timber framing, not even in treasured, historic settings. Instead we see functional, mighty geometric shapes: pumps, lights, signs, and a shop like a goldfish tank. The shop, a long galley set behind plate glass, is always lit, and stacked with every essential for the journey: boiled sweets, antifreeze, pork pies…

Petrol stations punctuate my memories of travelling to school, weekend trips to the Lake District, or journeys to visit relatives in Cheshire. They’re essential; petrol is modern civilisation.

Petrol stations are an irresistible painterly motif, following in the footsteps of Edward Hopper’s artwork. We can admire the modern, efficient self-service station as a sign of progress and development, always there to serve us, around the clock. But there is a dependency there too, and we would be lost without them. It is perhaps a little too easy to take them for granted.



  1. Hi Dave,
    Excellent approach! Modern and angular. The avoidance of smoothing over the jagged starkness and the geometrical nature of a man made constructions is both refreshing and invigorating. It gives you a unique artistic standpoint which meets contemporary life head on and isn’t afraid to portray corners and deliniation. Edouard Manet once said that there are no lines in nature. That may be true in the case of nature. However, Petrol Stations, Victorian columns are not natural and these are the objects which surround us on an everyday basis. Why shouldn’t these commonplace scenes be the subject of our art?
    Very bold and innovative Dave, you are gaining confidence and going from strength to strength! Can’t wait for the Swindon open studios again!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Rich!

    There’s a line that my art teacher at school would often quote, ‘Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing’ – from Camille Pissarro. I keep it in mind when I am out and about – you never know when you might spot an interesting composition!

    Take care, and hope to see you soon.

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