South Bank-born David Watson’s representations of a bygone era centred on steel, shipbuilding and sport have only come to prominence over the past decade.
Much of Watson’s work recreating twentieth-century industrial Teesside embodies the community’s passion for the beautiful game. His work on football portrays workers both as spectators at Ayresome Park and at play on the recreation grounds and fields that were the breeding grounds of future Boro legends.
‘Matchday at Ayresome Park’, now in the collections of the National Football Museum, transports the viewer to the crowded stands of Middlesbrough FC’s former home set in a dark, industrial town with fans sporting flat caps and with not a hint of Boro red in sight. Like tens of thousands of Boro fans in the twentieth century, the men could have easily just arrived at the match straight from a Saturday shift at Dorman Long manufacturing steel for famous bridges, or from a morning painting a ship at Smith’s Dock - one of artist David Watson’s former jobs.