Once upon a Time – Paintings on glass and paper by John Workman

9 May 2019 – 16 Jun 2019

Cost of entry


Poplar Union

England, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • By bus: 309 (stops H & A, Broomfield Street); 277, D6 or D7 (stops WP & WQ, Pixley Street or stops WO & WR, East India Dock Road); 108 (Fawe Street)
  • By DLR: Westferry (16-minute walk), Langdon Park (13-minute walk), All Saints (16-minute walk), Poplar (16-minute walk) By National Rail: Limehouse (17-minute walk)

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Visual artist, John Workman, exhibits his new work Once Upon a Time at Poplar Union’s Library gallery.


The exhibition takes its title from a glass painting in which the silhouette of a mysterious cloaked figure holds out an unidentified, hovering object to somebody in a periwig. A story is evidently being told, but what? Who are the characters, and what is going on?

On the main walls of The Library gallery, small sheets of glass painted with images of 17th-century landscapes are hung. Behind these, carefully composed scenes of colour or pictures from different eras are layered meticulously, creating completely new stories suspended in an uncertain time or place.

A collection of traditional English watercolour paintings are displayed in the glass cases located within the bookshelves of The Library. These images, crafted by separating the previously cut-out layers, reveal the illusion of depth like small toy theatre sets.

Positioned on the same bookshelf, a vintage safelight box sits – initially used in darkrooms and later made redundant by the arrival of digital photography – housing an illuminated landscape which reveals a surreal impression by cleverly juxtaposing thin coats of paint to create a shallow 3D effect.


Paolo Fiorentini

Exhibiting artists

John Workman

Taking part


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