Why I had to paint the Rivoli Ballroom


Brockley-dwelling artist Marc Gooderham made straight for SE4’s iconic venue when he moved to the area



Rivoli Ballroom by Marc Gooderham.
Rivoli Ballroom by Marc Gooderham.
London has many obscure gems but the Rivoli Ballroom may just be one of the city’s best kept secrets. This decadent 1950s venue has sat quietly and unassumingly in south-east London for many years.

In the past it played host to many legendary club nights and some pretty decent gigs (I was lucky enough to see Damon Albarn play here recently). Its incredible interior has been utilised by many film crews.

When I moved south of the river, it was the first place I searched for. You can’t miss the Rivoli, with its art deco facade juxtaposed against the row of local convenience stores.

More often than not it’s in complete darkness, which only adds to its charm and mystery. The treasure trove within is breathtaking – under lock and key for certain eyes only.

There’s a calmness about the Rivoli Ballroom. Outside walls are painted in soft pastel tones with elegant dancers above it’s doors and a suitable amount of decay too, which I love. Missing letters and peeling paint, it seemed like the perfect subject matter.

However, I wanted to capture it in its full glory: those rare nights where hustling queues form outside, the glow of the lampshades stream through the doors out into the night air giving it a heightened feel of celebration.

The Rivoli Ballroom is from a bygone era, and continues to impress today: a beautiful anachronism.

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The painting is currently on display at The Arterie on North Cross Road, East Dulwich. To buy it head to marcgooderham.co.uk. Follow Marc on @MGooderham

  • Show Comments

  • EastLondonGroup

    What a super piece Marc belowtheriver MGooderham RivoliBallroom You must be very pleased with it.

  • RivoliBallroom

    EastLondonGroup belowtheriver MGooderham of course, it’s beautiful. I just wonder what night you took your observations on.

  • EastLondonGroup

    Ah yes! RivoliBallroom A question for MGooderham no doubt. belowtheriver

  • MGooderham

    EastLondonGroup belowtheriver RivoliBallroom Thanks very much indeed! Yes, pleased with this piece. It’s a special place.

  • MGooderham

    RivoliBallroom EastLondonGroup belowtheriver Ah, as I’m very local now, it was more than one occasion I stopped to draw (and make notes).

  • MGooderham

    RivoliBallroom EastLondonGroup belowtheriver Thanks for your nice comments. Would really like to do an interior piece at some point too.

  • EastLondonGroup

    Excellent MGooderham A well written piece too, Marc! belowtheriver RivoliBallroom

  • RivoliBallroom

    MGooderham yes that would be lovely perhaps you can pop in early next year ?

  • MGooderham

    EastLondonGroup belowtheriver RivoliBallroom That’s very kind. Thanks again.

  • MGooderham

    RivoliBallroom Ok great! I shall be in touch again in the new year. Many Thanks.

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