'Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream' by David Hepher

This audio clip describes the painting Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream by David Hepher (b.1935)

It has been created for use as part of our primary school resource, The Superpower of Looking, in order to support pupils with blindness or visual impairment to take part in the lessons.

Explore the painting further in our resource, A block of flats as art.

Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream

Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream 1979–1981

David Hepher (b.1935)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

Full audio description text

This image, called Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream, looks like a photograph of a block of flats but was painted in oil paints by David Hepher between 1979 and 1981. It is in landscape format – just under a metre tall and 2.75 metres wide. In the foreground at the foot of the canvas, and offset towards the right, is the top of a garage. It is built of bricks with a flat roof. Only the top 30 centimetres of this box-like structure is shown. Like the tower block behind it, the garage is straight onto us, so there is no apparent depth and we have no idea how far it stretches back. It gives us a series of horizontal lines. A narrow strip of the flat roof is light grey, a wooden board below it is painted darker grey, then the white frame of its wide wooden door. The door itself is made of narrow upright wooden planks painted a greenish grey. It’s numbered 33: the numbers are made of metal painted the same colour as the wood, making them difficult to see. The door is locked shut by a metal catch clamping it to the frame.

Beyond the garage, is the apartment block. Row upon row of windows with turquoise green panels separating one floor from the next, rise all the way to the top of the picture. This suggests the building continues on up, beyond the 10 floors we can see. Moving across from left to right, every two sets of windows, a vertical strip of cream panelling separates one flat from its neighbour. A wider cream strip running down the centre of the block has dark grey horizontal slats that can be moved, perhaps to let air into a stairwell or lift shaft. Most of the apartment windows are screened by net curtains, but a few have colourful fabric drawn across giving us rectangles of red, pink, orange and yellow. One or two are patterned. A few have no curtains, so the windows appear as black empty spaces, framed in grey.

Part of a second tower block, to the left of the main one, is set further back, offering a glimpse all the way to its flat roof. It too has alternating criss-cross rows of turquoise and cream, this repetitive pattern giving the painting its title. Above the top of this second block, in the upper left corner of the canvas, is a small rectangle of grey sky which sets the mood of the painting.

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