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Lordship Lane station, Dulwich

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A personal view by Michael Rosen

The picture does several things for me all at the same time. At a gut level it reminds me of my childhood in the suburbs, where steam trains puffed through a mix of fields and houses from the 1890s onwards. The picture reminds me of the way in which the industrial age linked town and country and altered the bits at the edge of towns and cities forever. Because trains were and are my older brother's 'big thing', then it also reminds me of him. What's more, he lives near Lordship Lane today. There is also another level at which the painting pleases me. It was only a few years' ago that I realised that impressionism wasn't simply or only about capturing and representing light. It was also about replying to the Paris salon art with representations of the new world emerging in the second half of the nineteenth century. So the full range of impressionist paintings is full of pictures of the industrial edges of towns and cities, just as Pissarro's 'Lordship Lane' captures this new hinterland. My copy of the picture is on the wall in our bedroom and every morning I like the way the train rushing towards us feels as if it's competing with the green slope, pushing it to one side, and loudly saying, 'I'm here.'

Michael Rosen

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Michael Rosen

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