This triptych depicts the underside of the A40(M) (Westway) interchange at White City. When the artist Oliver Bevan's car broke down on the motorway in the snow, he took the opportunity to photograph the interchange from different angles. Bevan later worked up an elaborate drawing, based on the photographs, which led to the triptych shown here.
The viewpoint is from beneath the elevated intersection, looking up to the underside of the motorway and the skyscrapers in the distance. Each panel is primed a different colour: rust, ochre and ice blue, working from left to right. As a group, they present a strong visual record of the monumental structure of the motorway, devoid of traffic and people.
A number of artists have been attracted to the subject of urban motorways. Described as London's 'most dramatic work of engineering', Bevan believed the Westway 'has a kind of awful beauty. I can't paint anything that doesn't fill me with conflicting feelings.' He 'wanted each panel to have a separate identity, a climate, and to be a complete painting in its own right while at the same time linking up with its neighbours.'
Although the painting is monumental, Bevan has said that he was influenced by intimate, small-scale Japanese woodblock prints. A landscape and cityscape painter and photographer, Bevan trained at the Royal College of Art between 1960 and 1964. This is one of several works by him in the Museum's collection.