Art Exhibition Review:
Ed Gray's Private Show At Searcys, 30 St. Mary Axe, 'The Gherkin,'
London EC4, Thursday 6th December 2012
Searcys | The Gherkin present

A Private Show of The Works of Ed Gray

Searcys | The Gherkin
30 St. Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP
aka 'The Gherkin'
By invitation only for non-members of Searcys

Date of Review: 2012/12/08

Exhibition attended 2012/12/06

All images by kind permission of the artist and © Ed Gray. All rights reserved.
Img. of Elephant Exit, Ed Grey
Ed Gray, Elephant's Exit (print, original painting: acrylic, chalk and charcoal on canvas, 120cmx100cm)
Ed Gray's Private Show At Searcys, 30 St. Mary Axe, 'The Gherkin,'
London EC4, Thursday 6th December 2012

By invitation of the artist, I attended Ed Gray's Private Show at Searcys at 30 St. Mary Axe, popularly known as 'The Gherkin,' a couple of days ago, on 6th December. Having been most impressed by Gray's recent exhibition aboard the Thames river cruiser Dixie Queen, I was very eager to take up this opportunity to see more of this highly gifted artist's work, even if mostly in print form only. Unlike aboard the Dixie Queen, these had the great advantage of not being displayed behind protective glass.

Img, Ed Grey, Bewick Street
Ed Gray, Berwick Street Market, Soho (print, original painting: acrylic, chalk and charcoal on canvas, 100cmx80cm)

Searcys, an exclusive club occupying the 38th to 40th floors of 'The Gherkin,' has a viewing gallery going around roughly one third of the building on the 38th, giving spectacular views of the north east to roughly south of London, and The City in particular, which also served as the main exhibition space. This somehow gave added context to Gray's images, given that his specialty - and the vast majority of the prints shown here - is London life and street scenes. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a more ideal exhibition space for Gray's wonderful images! Regrettably, it is of course hard to see how a public show could take place in such a private space in a building with no public access.


One image that was not of London particularly caught the eye and commands special mention was a small original painting of Manhattan from Upper West Side. This captures the dense claustrophobia as well as the immense energy of Manhattan like no other image that I have encountered. It is a most remarkable painting indeed that is at once almost frightening, somehow repellant, and compellingly attractive and fascinating for the sheer vitality and energy it exudes.

It is, of course, also very distinct from Gray's usual street scene style in almost every way possible. Not a reportage street scene, it condenses Manhattan very tightly. The usual fine detail is largely replaced by an atmospheric impression of the whole.

Img, Ed Grey, Manhattan from Upper West Side
Ed Gray, Manhattan from Upper West Side. Acrylic and pencil on paper, 30cmx25cm

However, by and large it was Gray's London reportage images that captured the attention. Some of these had been previously seen at the show aboard the Dixie Queen, most had not.

In particular, as previously, it is Gray's immense powers of observation, and his equally immense attention to detail, that captivates and holds the attention. Photography, even at its very best, never came close to this kind of reportage.

Img, Ed Grey, Sledgers Primrose Hill
Ed Gray, Sledgers Primrose Hill (Original painting: acrylic, chalk and charcoal on canvas, 150cmx110cm

This is London as it lives and breathes, London as it can be seen any day. London as one loves and sometimes loathes it. London in all its variety, in all its multicultural glory, in everyday ordinariness and in extraordinary scenes such as the Notting Hill Carnival, or snow on Primrose Hill.

One cannot but marvel at the detail, such as the almost ubiquitous litter and pigeons on the ground, or other birds both in flight and on the ground, the almost palpable heat or cold. The characters in foreground and background, characters that often do not seem to penetrate the consciousness of most passers-by such as a homeless person and his dog. (They do exist, they are still people! Yet so many walk by and do not acknowledge their existence!)

Img, Ed Grey, Nighthawks
Ed Gray, Nighthawks (Original painting: acrylic, chalk and charcoal on canvas, 100cmx100cm)

Then there is of course Gray's frequent use of distorted perspectives to accommodate more of the background, or sometimes the foreground, another trademark. Another prominent feature of his work is the fullest use he makes of the great versatility of his chosen medium, acrylic paint, to suit his subject to perfection.

With a style that is uniquely his own, major influences such as Breugel and Hogarth and certain 20th century cartoons, as well as more general ones are nonetheless discernible.


Gray's images not only capture London life but also are alive. The viewer is drawn into the scene, looks at it from within and becomes part of it, as it were. These paintings capture a moment, or a series of moments, with unparalleled brilliance.

Each and every single image in this show would merit full description and analysis, but time - and perhaps most readers' patience - alas dictates otherwise.

Having completed viewing of Ed Gray's Private Show at Searcys, the opportunity seemed to good to miss visiting the bar on the top 40th level underneath the glass dome of 'The Gherkin.' With its breath-taking 360 degree view, this gave a final added dimension to the viewing of Gray's superlative images, and as the lights came on in The City of London and beyond in the twilight provided a fitting close to the experience.

Limited edition high quality prints are available of each painting at what seem very reasonable prices and should prove a good investment. Edition sizes 95 and 195. For sales and enquiries contact Gray's gallery.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Ed Gray for affording me the opportunity to view this unique show, and Searcys for their warm welcome and kind hospitality.

© 2012/2013 Rainlore's World / Rainlore. All rights reserved.

Acknowledgements and Info

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Ed Gray for kindly supplying the images shown here.

All images are © Ed Gray and all rights reserved.

More on Ed Gray here:
Ed Gray Art (@edgrayart) on Twitter
PA to Ed Gray:

Img, Ed Grey, Blackfriars
Ed Gray, Skittles, Blackfriars (Original painting: acrylic, chalk and charcoal on canvas, 140cmx110cm)
All original content except where stated otherwise © Rainlore's World/Rainlore.
All rights reserved.

All original art, web design and realisation, except where stated otherwise, by Logo - scarlet Eyebis . All rights reserved.