“Walking early morning on these pavements, and I often film in black and white; it reminds me visually of quick ink brushwork, snatching moments in time…” Although, he says, “I can’t film like I used to in London anymore, you don’t know how people will respond anymore…”
They are moving collages, quite literally capturing the fragmented sense of urban life, the intensity of the street, the sense of isolation – and fleeting moments of beauty. He says he often sits at the Shoreditch Grind, a café on the inter-junctions of Old Street Tube, with a large glass window onto the world of the EastEnd, sketching (with I might add, a deep command of drawing) absorbing, observing.
Is he in this sense a commentator? It’s more than that, he explains. “Artists should be connected to place – and space – a sensitivity to their surroundings, almost a shamanic thing. Films are a composition as well, as I’ve said, observation into abstraction…”
I leave for the Tube again, exiting his studio and walking with Somerville through the white light of the city, commenting as one invariably does with Somerville – about the city scenes and street vignettes – the buildings, the light, the people, their habits – an analysis of the human heart – and suddenly longing to see his extraordinary work collected together in a space that would, cathedral-like, embrace this bold colour depth and vision breadth.
Heart-based, alive and lithe in brush stroke – but uncluttered, pure – there’s something deeply resonant about the emotional states Somerville distills from us all, and so rhythmically captures: my Secret Valentine – and the galleries should be queuing for a date.
MAY 2019 Sophie Lévy Burton MONK