Mornington Crescent Looking at the picture, you start to understand how ghost presences can result from material decay. That smudge of grey disturbing the stubborn white modernity of the art-deco frontage – is someone standing there taking this in? The Carreras factory, then Greater London House. Will it soon be luxury flats? This is the view from under Sickert's balcony, but I'm thinking about Auerbach's daily return to scrape the canvas and start again, to go out in the street and imagine the scene as vertical or angled lines, patches of colour overlaid and mounted on each other, just as what is seen is built over what we remember but cannot obliterate it. Rather what was there persists: the communal garden, some hidden brook perhaps heard murmuring beneath your feet.
Tim Dooley was reviews and features editor of Poetry London between 2008 and 2018. He is a tutor for The Poetry School and also teaches on the Writing in the City MA at the University of Westminster. In 2019 and 2020 he was one of the judges of the John Pollard poetry prize at Trinity College, Dublin. His collections include Keeping Time (Salt, 2008) and Weemoed (Eyewear, 2017), both Poetry Book Society Recommendations.