The Artists' Studio

Welcome to the Artists' Studio!

The Gas Tower Gallery has attracted an incredibly diverse range of art, from paintings to films to photography. Here in the Artists' Studio we have gathered together the most "painterly" of these works, where artists have looked beyond the real life image to interpret the tower in a fresh way. Some of these are paintings and drawings in the traditional sense, and we are thrilled to be able to include paintings from as early as 1922 in the Studio. But digital art offers an entirely new medium for artists, while photography is not always used to show you exactly what the naked eye can see, especially with the availability of unusual filters and editing software to create something new!

Tower Memory - by Emma Major

Emma is a blind wheelchair user and digital artist. Before she became blind the sight of the gas tower always welcomed her home on the train from London. This digital painting is the tower as she remembers it.

More of Emma's work can be seen on her blog and on Instagram: @emmuk74

Tower Monster- by Talespotter

Talespotter is an art project to spot stories that explores the mixed media of photography and digital illustration. It's not necessary to travel far to find interesting tales, and something interesting certainly arose in Talespotter's reimagining of the gas tower!

See more tales at

Views from the River - by Sayani Drury

In Sayani's watercolours, the gas tower and its surrounding industrial remains are part of a bigger landscape of water, trees and sky.

Instagram: @shi_sketcher

Tower in Sepia - by Leon M C

Leon's two toned landscape almost seems to be split between the past and the future - brilliant green modernistic grass in the foreground, with the river, the tower and the railway line belonging to an older, less highly coloured time.

See more of Leon's work on Instagram.

Reading Gas Tower Print - by James Taylor

In James' print the tower is modernistic and clean, an architect's view of an attractive destination at the end of the bridge.

More of James' work can be seen in his Etsy shop

Instagram: @jamestaylorphotoart

Wonky Tower - by Tamar Chambers (aged 11)

Tamar's photos of the tower experiment with wobbly lines and unexpected colours. And just where are her street scenes taken from?

The View From Katesgrove - by Jo Romero

Helen Copping commissioned this watercolour sketch from her friend Jo Romero. It shows the view from Helen's window in Katesgrove, which she has really come to love over the course of lockdown.

Helen says "I've loved the sense of distance I get from it, and knowing that the big wide world is still out there. The gas tower is a real focal point on the skyline as I look out across this view, and I'm really going to miss it once it's gone."

Instagram: @sketcherjoey

Twitter: @LoveBritishHis1

Before The Snow - by Jan Hearn

Jan based these evocative paintings on photos taken by her son Simon on the Sunday morning before it snowed. There was a misty dawn before the sky turned red.

Handmade Books - by Janina Maher

As well as her series of monoprints (which you can view below), the gas tower has inspired Janina to produce these distinctive handmade books.

Janina's gas tower project and other work can also be viewed here, and items, including books, can be purchased from Folksy, as well as from Janina's website.

The Gas Tower's Trees - by Tamar Chambers (aged 11)

Tamar is a keen artist and is learning to use watercolours. Here she experiments with the different textures of the water and the trees, as well as the silhouette of the gas tower and fence in watercolour pencil.

Tamar will miss the gas tower because it's been a very important landmark in her life and it has always shown her the way home. If she can see the gas tower she knows where she is.

Gas Tower Monoprints #2 - Janina Maher

A second montage of gas tower monoprints by Janina (see her first set of monoprints here). Again, these are all 8” by 10” and made using hand cut stencils and acrylic paint on paper. We love the combination of different colours and textures, and how the geometrical gas tower shape contrasts with the more fluid shapes of the leaves.

Janina's gas tower project and other work can also be viewed here, and items can be purchased from Folksy, as well as from Janina's website.

Late Afternoon Gas Tower - by Ryan Elias (aged 8)

Ryan's striking drawing of the gas tower stands out against the background of the railway bridges. We love the energy of his setting sun, and the way he's used different colours to add perspective and make the tower look three-dimensional. Thank you Ryan!

Gas Tower By 15 - by Janina Maher

These are 15 individual monoprints that I have combined into a single document. Each is 8 inches by 10 inches and printed using hand cut stencils and acrylic paint.

I can't pretend that the gas tower has played a huge part of my life, only really noticing it when walking or cycling across Reading from time to time. However, when I heard it was to be demolished I was very saddened. It’s such a striking silhouette against the sky that I wanted to capture it. I’ve been inspired by the other artworks in the gallery, and by how the mood of the building changes so much with the changing skies.

Two of Janina's individual prints appear below in more detail.

Janina's gas tower project and other work can also be viewed here. We'll also be presenting more of her art soon, including beautiful handmade books, which can be purchased from Folksy, as well as from Janina's website.

Crossrail and Reading's Rivers- by Sally Castle

This painting is one of a series that Sally did documenting drastic changes in her local area: Cross Rail electrification marching across the landscape while other icons are under threat.

Further below are Sally's "Reading's Rivers" linocut and two watercolour sketches, showing the gas tower, the horseshoe bridge and surrounding area.

More of Sally's work can be seen on her website

Facebook: Sally Castle Studio

Instagram: @sally.castle.92

Reading's Last Gas Tower: Daily Walks - by Lorraine Barraclough

A watercolour sketch of the striking gas holder no. 4 from Lorraine's daily walk sketch book.

Instagram: @browndographics

From The Turbine House - by Lynda South

In September 2018, I had an exhibition at the Turbine Gallery with Michael Garaway. We were asked to make some site-specific work.

The view from the Turbine was the Gasometer and it was an obvious choice for me.

I was interested at that time in capturing the changing industrial landscape: Gasometers and Cooling Towers in particular.

I admired them as architecture in their own right.

As these structures are disappearing from view, I decided to use a medium which is also impermanent (or prone to fade) and captured what I saw using cyanotype or 'sun prints'. I enjoyed the fact that I was using the sun (as a source of energy) to make prints of the buildings that had produced the energy.

The gas towers are often viewed as ugly but in other countries (especially Germany) they have been repurposed into flats and appreciated for their form after their function has ceased to be relevant.

I wish our planners could open their eyes to their inherent beauty and leave at least some of them in place.

Tower and Bridge - by Lizzie Harwood

Lizzie Harwood's painting captures that glimpse of the tower as you come around the corner at the end of a walk. We love the textures of the water and the trees, the light and shade on the path, and of course the tower against the sky beyond it all.

In love with a rusting chunk of metal - by Leslee Barron

I’ve lived in Reading thirty-two years and Cumberland Road for twenty-two of them.

Since then the gas tower has been a symbol of my adopted home; returning from my hometown of Sunderland, or holiday, on the train, I’d look out for the tower and it would tell me to gather my stuff ready to get off the train.

One evening, in the summer of 2019, I was met by the most vibrant sunset at the bottom of my street (Cumberland Rd), I was struck how the gas tower looked, black, against the orange sky.

The photo I took on my phone diluted what I'd seen, so, the next day I decided to paint it from memory. That was 'my first sunset’ digital painting.

After that, I created a Facebook group called 'Cumberland Road Gas Tower’ where I asked people to upload their photos of the gas tower for me to paint, and they did. 'Simon’s Sunset' is one example.

Upgrading from my iPhone to a Nikon 3500 DSLR camera, I started documenting the gas tower; I have hundreds of photographs of the metal giant.

I shared my images on my Facebook page and have been absolutely humbled by people buying my prints. By chance Mary Chambers sent her story, Alina Saves The Moon, to me and upon reading it I immediately visualised the image 'Alina at the Window'. I sent it to her and we then started this wonderful collaboration.

Facebook: @LesleeBarronDigitalArtist

Instagram: @lesleebarrondigitalartist

See more of Leslee's work on her page. For enquiries and to order prints, please contact Leslee.

My first sunset

Fiery sunset

Simon's Sunset (from a photo by Simon Peter French)

Guinness at the Jolly Angler's (from a photo by Cathy Mars)

From the River Thames

Alina at the window

First painting of the tower

16th January

Say Goodbye - by The Fusion Art (Cezary Wasilewski)

I have lived in Reading for 7 years. For me, the Gas Tower has always been there. Not so long ago I thought it would always be like that. But well ...

At first I was overwhelmed by this mountain of metal - my first address in Reading was Avon Place - the Gas Tower took up half the sky.

I decided to make friends with it. The more and more I looked at the Gas Tower, the more variety I saw in it. I tried to capture it in photographs and digital graphics created on their basis.

And suddenly I found out that friendship is over. The Gas Tower will be demolished to build multi-story apartment blocks.

It is difficult for me to take it indifferently. I started the project "Say goodbye" - a series of posters showing the Gas Tower. So far, two have been created, the third will be printed soon. Several more are waiting to be refined.

Follow Cezary's work on Facebook or Instagram @the_fusion_art_reading_uk

Cognitive Lines - by Kallum-Andrew Smeesters-Kirkwood

This work was inspired by David Hockney, the photos used to create this collage were taken over the space of 21 days (3 weeks) from morning to evening. Along with this art piece I am curating a public submission online collaborative collection called Strike A Match in celebration of the Gas Tower's life and history. Follow the collection or add to it by following Str1ke_a_match on instagram or my personal art account

Gas Pipe Linocuts - by Penny

Based on her gas pipe images in our main gallery, Penny's linocuts transform the paraphernalia of industrial machinery that went with the gasworks into an eye-catching work of art.

Gas Tower in Black and White - by Lynne Wilkes

I did this drawing of the Gas Tower in the mid 80's. It was for a calendar - The Reading Calendar. I chose 12 drawings of different buildings in draw in black and white. This one was my favourite and I have lived in East Reading for 35 years and have always enjoyed it's presence in the iconic piece of architecture.

A Painting of Reading’s Gas Works and Holder - by Michael John Quinn (c. 1955?)

I have been asked to answer a very common question. ‘Why paint an ugly gas works?’ It was John Constable who gave us the answer. “I never saw an ugly thing in my life! For lest the form of an object be what it may – light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful”. I can only hope that I have kept to Constable’s requirements for beauty.

But more than that, the Herring and Goodey side of my family was inextricably bound up with the growing gas works from 1880 onwards. Great Grandfather Goodey married and came to live in a cottage on Kennet Side opposite the gas holder. He had a boat moored by the cottage, and made a living from wealthy spectators at Henley and other water festivals by ferrying them around. His two daughters Ethel Mary and Eliza were described to me as ‘handsome’ and dressed well. Great Aunt Eliza married well to the keeper of Brighton golf course, but had no children.

Ethel Mary was not so lucky. She married Robert Herring, and very soon they came to live with their growing family in a damp slum house at the very end of Cumberland Road, 149, again overlooking the gas holder. Having got money from somewhere he took over a public house in Silver Street, and was said by the family to have drunk away any profits, and in the process drinking himself to death. But not before leaving Granny Herring with five children without means in a slowly rotting house. (It was bulldozed away as uninhabitable on Granny’s death, opening a clear view of the gas holder). Nevertheless, with the help of her eldest child, Winifred (my mother – who became a stand-in mother to the rest) Granny worked – becoming a Post Lady in the 1914 to 1918 war.

My first memory was of a cheerful wedding at 149. Almost in tears at the waste of such beauty, aged 3 or 4, I gathered up all the confetti. A few years later I would often walk over the weir and the Thames path to visit Granny, always to be given a boiled egg, which oddly smelt very like the leaking gas! Sadly, much later and still in the same damp house she was very old and very ill. Her widowed daughter Nellie came to look after her. But in the end she had to go in to Battle Hospital. Her home was not a house to die in. Recently married, my wife and I went to see her for the last time. Distressingly, poor Granny could only remember the hospital as the workhouse, which it once had been. She pleaded in tears for us to take her home with us to end her days. Was it impossible? Perhaps it was – but I have always regretted our failure. I never knew her father. Unable to face his slow death from cancer, he took his boat to the weir of his beloved Kennet, where he sank the boat, and drowned with it.

All of this, and much more, is buried in my painting. It expresses my love, and my regretful failure to Granny, who deserved so much more – even from me.

Michael John Patrick Quinn

The Thames at Reading - by Albert Henry Barlow (1922)

As part of my family history research I became acquainted with the grandson of my grandparent's neighbours (Stewart Grover and Nora Grover nee Winzer) who lived in Wykeham Road. The painting attached was created in 1922 and is from Nora's scrapbook of the time. It may have been a gift to celebrate the wedding of Nora and Stewart in the same year. At the time of their wedding they lived in Liverpool Road before moving to Wykeham Road. It clearly shows the gasometers of the gas works by the Thames and was painted from about where the Thames meets the Kennet I think. The painter was called Albert Henry Barlow, b.1899, and who lived at 107, Liverpool Road. He was a painter and decorator by trade. A big thank you to Mr and Mrs Grover's grandson Andrew Clinch (who now lives in Canada) for sharing it with me and for giving permission for me to send it to you to display in the digital exhibition. (From Pete Harwood)

Gone - by Michael Garaway

This painting of the Gas Tower, which combines watercolour and acrylic, was commissioned by Susan Rivers in 2019 to commemorate both the tower and her mother.

More of Michael's work can be seen at and on Instagram: mgarawayartist.

Reading Gas Tower Twist Infusion - by Tina Panting

Tina Panting is a local photographer from Earley who is very inspired by Reading's architecture, as well as photographing lots of local areas. Tina has created a Reading 2021 Calendar, which is available from her shop. For the gas tower, Tina wanted to do something a little different, and has contributed this collection of photos with a twist.