"Wade's rusting city is foreboding. It perpetually threatens to engulf us: to collapse on us or to swallow us. At times the view is claustrophobic: steel structures threaten to close in and blot out the sky and whatever remains of life."
- Diarmuid Peavoy
The importance of this period has already been outlined. Masterly technique and a deepening vision were brought together in enviable synthesis. The human image was almost entirely forsaken for that of the industrial city. Although these paintings represent a very great advance on earlier statements, certain elements remained unchanged. Wade's lack of interest in colour was confirmed. The same neutrals predominate but with a subtle change, for here they have all taken on a very distinctly metallic appearance. The only exception to the greys of steel and the tarnished rust reds and browns is the oppressive white-grey of the sky. The squeegee technique remains also, but greatly extended in range. Gone are the weaknesses of earlier work; these pictures were no longer motivated by a naive desire to shock, no longer overtly literary, no longer vague or contradictory in the moods they sought to convey. They are relentless in their cold and bitterly controlled fury. The concept of control was perhaps the most important lesson Wade had learned. There is all the difference between letting off steam - simply releasing tension in a totally indiscriminating and take-it-or-Ieave-it manner - and allowing tension to build up, safely contained until it can be unleashed with most devastating effect.
Although it is not quite accurate to describe the 'Urban Landscapes' as variations on a theme, they do bear certain strong resemblances to one another. For they are all views of the same great metaphorical city, and should, where possible, be viewed in groups. What sights await the traveler to Wade's city. There are the sprawling shanty towns, for instance, depicted in a series of paintings bearing the general title 'Habitat'. The Habitat pictures are among the most obviously expressionistic of all the urban landscapes. Formal clarity is forced very definitely and deliberately into second place. And the sheer ugliness of surface to be found in a painting like 'Habitat IV' (plate IV) proves that Wade could drop all of his aesthetic preoccupations when it was necessary. The paintings depict vistas of impossibly ramshackle cabins piled with perilous unrestraint on top of one another, and rows of rotting tenements in the process, apparently, of succumbing to some unspeakable and virulent growth.