Hertford Union Canal, Fish Island, Oil on Canvas (2022)
Hertford Union Canal, Fish Island, Oil on Canvas, 85 × 75cm (2022)

Veering between reality and fiction, my work explores east London locations that are in some way agitated or persuasive, or possessed by qualities not immediately identifiable or explicable. An urban entanglement loaded with histories and associations—some barely perceptible or ‘only in the eye of the beholder’, some immersive and inescapable.

My work is informed by the dense network of tension that pervades much of east London. In recent years, I am aware that property development and the construction industry contribute to this atmosphere in no insignificant way, setting up new dynamics on ground already affected by change and history. I engage with such locations through a process of reimagining—my paintings become an interpretative mirror or filter, an investigation of place that aims for a shared vantage point and direct communicatory approach. I want the paint to carry the atmosphere of the location to the viewer, not hide it from them.

The resulting images are perhaps latent landscapes—the flip side of any cursory glance or superficial view, enabling place/landscape to reveal both itself, and our situation within it, anew.

Stephen is an MA graduate of Central St Martins and lives and works in Hackney, East London.

Stephen in the Studio
Stephen in the Studio (2023)

No good is going to come of these churning clouds and atmospheric lesions. Or, for that matter, of the land and water beneath them. Stephen Harwood’s pejorism is as thrilling as it is despairing. The style, ‘the marks’, are uniquely brutal. But then so are the subjects they represent or, rather, invent. This is painting as menace.

Jonathan Meades

There are few painters who have so well divined the true life of the city and, by an act of astonishing intuition, have been able to unite the past and present, mythology and reality, in artistic communion.
Stephen Harwood’s work is filled with the energy and momentum of the city itself… He is one of London’s finest interpreters.

Peter Ackroyd

Marvellous pictures—really fantastic landscapes. The best London townscapes of all time!

Gilbert & George

Your work is not my cup of tea.”

Paul Godfrey aka ‘The Gentle Author’ of Spitalfields Life