Posted on 15 Comments

Park Fish Bar: The Story of two Paintings

This post has been prompted by the response & comments I got on Instagram when I posted a photo of a painting I had reworked.

Park Fish Bar 2015 version

I came across this early painting when I was sorting through my crowded attic studio. I had forgotten I had it. It took a while to work out how long ago I painted it. It was 4 years ago! It was part of a series of night-time paintings of Brynmill, Swansea, I did in the course of winter of 2015-6. I later went on to develop a series of daytime paintings in the summer of 2017, which formed by the Hollowed Community” exhibition as part of the Made in Roath, Cardiff, Arts Festival of that year.

I looked at my painting with my 2019 eyes. Sometimes a period of separation enables you to see the painting the way others do. Often this is a happy experience. Not in this case. I liked the light and the shadows but I thought it was a little untamed. The red brick pub opposite the chip shop, The Ryddings pretty much workedThe sky, however, was a bit too messy for me. I don’t usually rework my paintings but this one was bugging me. I nearly worked beautifully, but it didn’t. So I set about to repainting parts of it. Some window sills also needed straightening. The double yellow lines at the bottom of the painting certainly did. The sky then needed “flattening” to create a calmer and tighter painting. After I had done this, I felt a lot happier with the painting. It still has some of the exuberance of the original but it was more disciplined. It has more presence. 

Swansea painting
Park Fish Bar 2019 Version


This chip shop has a long history; much longer than I realised. The Park Fish Bar used to have a sign out the front that says it’s Wales’s oldest chip shop (I’ll have to check it see if it’s still there the next time I pass it). It think it said “Since 1977”  When I posted a photo of the reworked painting on Instagram Matt (@seamatt79) wrote that it had been a fishmonger or fish shop called “Park View Fisheries” since 1918. Apparently, they sold fish during the day and cooked the fish with chips in the evening. That’s a century of fish and chips in Brynmill. I don’t think there was a centenary celebration last year, which is a shame.

Matt said that he was there in the 1990s the Waterloo Place-side window was replaced (window on the far left of the white building in the painting). An old man who lived in Trafalgar Place came by and told the story of how he helped put the window in as a young boy when during World War Two a German bomb “landed on the corner of Marlborough Road and blew out all the glass”. The corner of Malborough Road is just to the left of the painting. A lot has happened since I painted the original in 2015. Jeff who ran the chip ship since the 1980s had retired and the shop has had two different managers since then.

I was also asked on Instagram by James Potter, another Swansea artist, what the original painting looked like. There are some things you just can’t explain properly on Instagram, so here it is on my WordPress blog!

Happy Christmas to all my fellow bloggers, followers, and readers alike!




15 thoughts on “Park Fish Bar: The Story of two Paintings

  1. I think you made a lot of judicious decisions in your rework of the painting and that they were all justified. It looks a lot more “of a piece” now.

    1. I think so too, thank you Alli

  2. Beautiful painting! I do like coming back to artwork with fresh eyes. Thanks for sharing your process it was nice to see the before and after! Have a wonderful Christmas holiday Emma!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020 to you too!

      1. Thank you 😊 Happy New Year! hope you had a wonderful holiday

      2. Thank you, Jennifer. Yes, I enjoyed the rest but not the cold I came down with on Boxing Day. I think its starting to shift now!!

      3. Oh no definitely not a great gift to receive on boxing day… wishing you a quick recovery Emma!

  3. the warmer colours make the scene more welcoming to me Emma!

    1. Thank you, Wayne. Yes, nicely said. I liked the contrast between the red bricks and the white building – they were a nice balance of warm and cool.

      1. perfectly balanced Emma!

  4. The sky is much improved now, calmer and unified. The first sky seemed to have activity which was probably unintentional. I often do those and then have to add another coat when the first is dry. A job worth doing in this case
    The revised sky sets off the white building better, which now looks more illuminated
    You seem to find drama and interest in the simplest of subjects

    1. Thank you, David. The first sky was probably an attempt at gradation (a hint that the sun had only just gone down, maybe, I am not sure, it was a long time ago I painted it) and the second version is more static/stable. Where there is light there is drama!

  5. I really like your blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and very interesting blog. I’ll come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon.

    1. Thank you Angelilie.

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