The artist and the punks of West Hampstead

In April 1977, Tony Drayton moved to London from Cumbernauld, a new town in Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh. From 1976 to 1979, Tony was the editor of the early punk zine, Ripped and Torn. He lived in London, Paris, and Amsterdam and had a very varied career, including fire eating. In the summer of 1978, his sister Val joined him in London. After living in several squats, in the autumn of 1979 they met some punks in West Hampstead. One was Adam Ant’s (Stuart Goddard) ex-wife Eve (Carol Mills) and one was Kevin Mooney, a bassist who later joined Adam and the Ants. They let Tony and Val move into an empty flat at 33 Sherriff Road, a house run by the West Hampstead Housing Association (WHHA).

Also sharing the house were Andi, the singer, and Ross, the bass player, of Australian band The Urban Guerrillas, and Dave Roberts, later a member of the band Sex Gang Child. There were more: Leigh Kendall, Andy Groome and Malcolm Baxter, who were members of The Last Words, another Australian punk band. They earned £6 a day by delivering leaflets and Tony said they spent most of it drinking in the nearby pub, The Railway, or listening to the punk bands at the Moonlight Club which was run at the pub by Dave Kitson from October 1979 until 1993.

Brett and Val on Westbere Road c1981

Tony began to edit a new punk zine and the first edition was produced for Adam and the Ants’ 1980 New Years Day gig at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. The run of 500 copies sold out on the night and had to be reprinted. Tony and his friends, who called themselves the Puppy Collective, produced six issues up to 1983. Tony also wrote articles for the Record Mirror, New Musical Express, and Zigzag. In the summer of 1980, Tony and Val moved to another WHHA house at 39 Westbere Road. Artist Jo Brocklehurst lived in the same street and saw them as they passed by her home. She thought they looked fantastic and invited them to her studio where she made wonderful pictures of them.

Tony Drayton, fire eating c1986 (Tony Drayton archive)

Jo Brocklehurst moved into 12 Westbere Road in the 1960s and stayed there until her death on 29 January 2006. She was born Josephine Blanche Brocklehurst in Lambeth in 1935. She was a very good athlete, and in the 1950s she competed for the Selsonia Ladies Athletic Club in the shotput and discus.

A precocious talent, Jo first entered St Martin’s School of Art shortly before her 14th birthday, on a junior art scheme. Having left the school at 18, she was a regular visitor to the costume life classes in the fashion department. From the late 1990s, Howard Tangye, then St Martin’s head of women’s wear and a close friend, invited Jo be a visiting lecturer to work with his students.

In the 1960s, Jo sketched jazz musicians such as George Melly, and worked in commercial fashion before becoming swept up in the punk scene. She is best known for her paintings of the early 1980s and her subjects included the punks in West Hampstead, The Blitz Kids, Siouxsie Sioux, Marc Almond, Philip Salon, Boy George, and, in Berlin, the dance company of Pina Bausch.

Her first one-woman show was in Amsterdam in 1979. Following her big breakthrough at the ICA’s Women’s Images of Men show the following year, Jo had considerable success with her drawings, showing twice at the Francis Kyle Gallery in London in 1981 and 1982, and later at Leo Castelli in New York and the Connecticut State University Gallery.

In 1994 the V&A (which holds a collection of her work), showed a series of her figure drawings in Street Style. Brocklehurst began to spend more time in Europe, especially in Amsterdam and Berlin where she sketched in the clubs.

Her friend Isabelle Bricknall said, ‘She liked Berlin because it was very punk in a lot of ways; it was before the wall came down. There’s so little known about her here, but in Germany and Poland at the arts festivals, they all knew her. She played artist in residence – she’d be sketching on a daily basis for newspapers such as Berliner Zeitung, drawing different acts from theatre to art. She also made some very good friends in Berlin.’

Although sometimes compared to the Austrian painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918), Jo was an original and she drew people without the aggression of Schiele’s work. Jo was always drawing. She never minded being stuck on a bus for hours in traffic, as she always carried paper and pens. She drew places, situations and people. She enjoyed landscape, and would regularly cycle to Hampstead Heath.

Tony and Val at the Jo Brocklehurst Private View, 1980s

In her house in Westbere Road there were vibrant pictures of characters from Alice through the Looking Glass, each with more than a hint of the fetish club. She was fascinated by Charles Dodgson’s alternative persona as Lewis Carroll and called the work ‘Brocklehurst through the Looking Glass’.

Isabelle Bricknall met Jo through Colin Barnes, a lecturer at the Royal College of Arts, St Martins, and Nottingham Trent where Isabelle studied for her MA in fashion and textiles. Jo was a lecturer with Colin Barnes in fashion illustration.

Isabelle worked in the fashion industry with many top designers, such as Zandra Rhodes. She has been a fashion designer, textile designer, artist and model, working in many art different mediums including fabrics, glass, steel, film, and photography. This drew Jo and Isabelle together to create with each other’s art work. Starting with Isabelle modelling her own designs and Jo drawing them, to working on art exhibitions and other art projects, and helping Jo to archive her work. She and Jo visited clubs together and their creative relationship lasted until Jo’s death.

A retrospective exhibition of Jo Brocklehurst’s work, Nobodies and Somebodies, was shown at the House of Illustration, King’s Cross London from 3 February to 14 May 2017. It was co-curated by Isabelle Bricknall and Oliva Ahmed.

We would particularly like to acknowledge the help of Tony and Val Drayton, and Isabelle Bricknall. Anna Bowman helped us with information about the WHHA.

Mt Rushmore

From Kilburn to Mount Rushmore: The story of Gutzon Borglum

Mt Rushmore

Mount Rushmore: Photo by Brian Sandoval on Unsplash

It’s Thanksgiving in America, so what better time to dig into the link between Kilburn and the man behind one of the most iconic landmarks in the US.

American artist and sculptor Gutzon Borglum lived and worked at Harlestone Villa in Mortimer Road, Kilburn from about 1897 to 1902. The property was later renumbered as 6 Mortimer Place but was damaged in 1944 by the V1 flying bomb which destroyed North Hall, the house next door. Both buildings were demolished and today the site is covered by Halliwell House on the Kilburn Gate estate.

While at Harlestone Villa, Borglum painted murals for private homes but he is best known as the sculptor who produced the giant heads of US presidents carved into the summit of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum in 1919

Born in a frontier town in Idaho in 1867, Borglum was of Danish extraction. His father was a Mormon with two wives who were sisters. Borglum ran away from home to study art in California, and at the Julien Academy and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was influenced by Rodin.

He arrived in London in 1896 and rented a studio in West Kensington before moving to Kilburn. Although gaining recognition as an artist he was not earning a lot of money. He said, “I have had the disturbing pleasure of being called Master by the French critics and some Americans, yet at the moment I cannot spend sixpence without wondering where the next one will come from.”

In 1901, the daughter of a Californian friend came to stay at Harlestone Villa. Her name was Isadora Duncan and at a party she danced for Borglum on the villa’s large lawn, scattering rose petals behind her.

Borglum received a commission for twelve painted panels to be installed in the Midland Railway Company’s new hotel in Manchester. The fee was five thousand guineas (today worth about £550,000). In 1903 he supervised installation of the panels which were made in America. They depicted scenes from ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’ and the court of King Arthur.

Returning to America, Borglum became a very successful sculptor. His politics were crude; he was anti-immigrant and a racist. He criticised other artists and even called for the destruction of a public statue. Borglum courted the press and they loved him. In 1915 he put his reputation on the line and promised to make a huge monument to Southern Confederacy at Stone Mountain in Georgia. His patrons, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, did not have sufficient funds so he mortgaged his 500-acre estate in Connecticut. But after ten years he had completed less than a tenth of the carving and was fired by the Stone Mountain Association, accused of wasteful expenditure and having an ungovernable temper. The Association claimed ownership of his models and put out a warrant for Borglum’s arrest. He destroyed the models and became a fugitive, deeply in debt and publicly humiliated.

Doane Robinson, a South Dakota historian, had read about the large numbers of people travelling to Georgia just to watch Borglum at work. He believed that a mountain carving could put the little known South Dakota on the map. He wrote to Borglum suggesting a project in the Black Hills, perhaps carvings of the western explorers Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill and Chief Red Cloud. Borglum replied that national heroes would be better and it should be the Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt (a personal friend of Borglum). But the attempt to raise $50,000 as seed money from the public only realised $5,000. The project became a joke. One paper said, “Borglum is about to destroy another mountain, thank God it is in South Dakota where no one will ever see it.”

President Calvin Coolidge was persuaded to spend a summer holiday in South Dakota and this helped raise the total to $42,000. Coolidge pledged the government would provide additional funds. In 1929, Borglum began work with only about a tenth of the money he needed. He didn’t even know if the project was feasible as it was 500 feet to the top of Mount Rushmore and the weather in winter would make work impossible. Using jack hammers and dynamite Borglum thought the figures would take four years to complete. But money ran out and work slowed down.

In 1931 the Rushmore Association was in debt with little chance of raising any further funds during the Depression. Worse was to follow, after a severe drought created the Dustbowl. People left the state in droves and work stopped completely in 1932. Borglum and Senator Peter Norbeck persuaded influential contacts to obtain federal funds from the National Park Service and work recommenced after a year’s delay. Borglum’s 21 year old son Lincoln, who was very popular with the 400 workmen, was the site supervisor when his father was away.

In March 1941, just as he was completing the sculptures, Gutzon Borglum died suddenly from complications after surgery. He was 73. Congress stopped all funding as the United States joined the Second Wolrd War that December but Borglum’s son Lincoln finished the project, which had taken 14 years and involved removing half a million tons of granite to form the four 60-feet high figures.

Here is a film showing Gutzon Borglum working on the mountain:

A different kind of Insight: with artist Lora Verner

Lora Verner is an eighty-something artist and photographer who has lived in West Hampstead since 1979, and whose vintage Biba photographs feature in the V&A Museum’s permanent collection.

Born in New York in 1929, the only child of Russian Jews who had fled the pogroms, Lora grew up in Philadelphia where she studied Abstract Expressionism, and became a student at the University of Philadelphia. In the swinging sixties Lora moved to London, where she trained in photography through the Inner London Education Authority with her work influenced by the striking photography of Bill Brandt (who lived in nearby Belsize Park).

Image thanks to Lora Verner

While working as a teacher at the Holland Park School, Lora heard about a new shop called Biba, located near the school and popular with her pupils. Taking her Roloflex camera, she visited the now-iconic, dimly-lit shop. As she disliked using flash, she had to return another time with a higher speed film, which would achieve the high contrast black-and-white images she was after. Fascinated by the mannequins, which reminded her of Surrealist art, Lora took several photographs of the Biba display, saved them, and forgot about them. For fifty years.

Image thanks to Lora Verner

During the 1980s, sometime after her move to West Hampstead, Lora bought a round-the-world ticket and travelled to Japan and China, where she took colour photographs for the first time. Her photographs of Japan were exhibited at the Camden Arts Centre, and she submitted her photos of China to the Photographer’s Gallery in a competition – and won. The prize was an exhibition of her pictures, which drew favourable reviews from The Guardian among others. In later years, Lora travelled often to India, and created a series she entitled ‘Faces of India’.

For personal reasons Lora stopped taking art classes but, in 2011, at the suggestion of a friend who was taking an art class at the West Hampstead Community Centre she went along and started painting again. The depression she had been suffering from began to lift. Over the next three years, Lora created more than 30 portraits from imagination, and in September 2017, she was offered the chance to show her ‘Not Your Usual Portraits’ in a glass kiosk below the Edgware Road/Harrow Road crossing – the Joe Strummer Subway.

Image thanks to Lora Verner

And the Biba pictures? Lora said, “ I had been thinking one day that I should do something with them. I called Christie’s to have them appraised. Then I called the V&A Museum and they said they were very interested.” Lora’s initiative was perfectly timed: the V & A was working on a retrospective of Biba for the fashion label’s 50th anniversary, and they bought several of Lora’s pictures. Three of them are now in the V&A, and her work is featured in the book ‘The Biba Years 1963-1975’.

Image thanks to Lora Verner

What does Lora like most about West Hampstead? She smiled and said, “We have everything here… the different restaurants. We have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian.. we’re spoiled for choice, really!” For this world traveller and photographer, West Hampstead is picture perfect.

Miss Compton Collier – West Hampstead’s pioneering society photographer

3. Miss Compton Collier with her plate camera_top

For fifty or even sixty years, Miss Compton Collier, based at West End Lane, Hampstead, has toured the English countryside. With her haversack of heavy photographic equipment, wooden camera and tripod she has stalked the great English families in their lairs.” – Cecil Beaton.

In The Tatler magazine from 1916 to 1948, photographs regularly appeared by ‘Miss Compton Collier, West End Lane’. The earlier pictures were of popular actresses, and then from 1920 onwards they were of society celebrities in their houses and gardens. At the time, she was one of the few woman photographers.

Dorothy Marguerite Cuisset Collier was born on 24 January 1899 at 1 Goulton Road Clapton, near Hackney Downs. She was the only child of Edward Allen Collier who was a distillery manager. By 1911 the family had moved to 28 Victoria Mansions in Willesden.

In November 1919, at St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn, Dorothy married John Davis, a 35-year-old business manager who lived at 22 Kilburn Park Road. She had left home and was living at 115 West End Lane. The witnesses at the wedding were Owen Nares and his wife Marie Pollini, both very popular actors. For most of the 1920s, Nares was Britain’s favourite matinée idol and silent-film star. Dorothy had befriended them during her work for The Tatler, and her photo of them appeared in 1918.

Owen and Marie Nares, Tatler 1918

Owen and Marie Nares, Tatler 1918

In 1922 Dorothy and John moved just six doors down to 103 West End Lane. Dorothy continued to use the professional name she had created of ‘Miss Compton Collier’. Sadly by 1931, their marriage failed and the couple divorced.

In 1966, renowned photographer Cecil Beaton wrote an article called, ‘The Woman who made me want to be a photographer’. This provides the best insight into Miss Compton Collier, and how her pictures influenced the young Beaton:

Many of my adolescent glimpses of the grand world came through the photographs in The Tatler which bore the credit line ‘Miss Compton Collier’. They invariably showed us delightfully fair-haired ladies caught in a silvery light enjoying, in a leisurely manner, the herbaceous borders, clipped yews, stone garden seats and sundials of their country houses. Pouring over these reproductions week after week I came to know Miss Compton Collier’s taste extremely well.

Daphne Du Maurier, Tatler, 4 July 1945

Daphne Du Maurier, Tatler, 4 July 1945

Wherever possible she chose to photograph her subject standing on a piece of flagged path… Balustrades, terraced steps and rustic bridges were also other favourite haunts. Occasionally Miss Compton Collier would sprinkle a successful actress or two among her aristocratic sitters, but these too, would be photographed as far as possible from the atmosphere of the theatre and would be found on holiday, leaning against a gate surrounded by cow parsley, or holding a sheaf of corn in some stable yard. In fact, my earliest family snapshots were mostly made in emulation of Miss Compton Collier…Trying to appear the Ladies and Honourables, or stage stars ‘on holiday’, my wretched schoolgirl sisters would then be made to pose by garden urns or sundials, or among the Japanese anemones and harebells. But, try as I might, my sepia prints, brought from the wash basin of hypo, never acquired the silverpoint effect of the original inspiration.

Other photographs that appeared in The Tatler were attributed to ‘Rita Martin’ and ‘Lallie Charles’ and ‘Basano’, so why, I wondered, should it be ‘Miss Compton Collier’. Who was this lady? I was intrigued to discover her whereabouts but I knew of no one who had ever met her, and her name was not listed in the telephone book.

It was many years after Miss Compton Collier’s photographs had ceased to appear that I heard that she had continued her career with unimpaired zest, and each spring would send to people of high rank an itinerary of her summer tour stating that she would be in the neighbourhood during a certain week in case she were needed for an ‘at home’ sitting. I was intrigued to know that this mysterious lady still existed, so I wrote to ask if she would deign to include me professionally in her schedule and take some pictures of my mother and myself in the garden at Broadchalke. Miss Compton Collier graciously announced her willingness to oblige me. [Ed: this was in 1955].

Miss Compton Collier with her plate camera

Miss Compton Collier with her plate camera

Miss Compton Collier proved to be an extremely agile spinster of over seventy with a pale brown face of minor distinctiveness with the flesh solid and shiny. She was dressed in old-fashioned clothes, somewhat like a land girl of the 1914 war, with large felt hat and flowing skirts. She projected a personality that brooked no nonsense, and no interruption; her main objective was to seek out the nearest flagged path and the most lichen-mottled stone garden ornaments. A slightly forced giggle was part of her stock-in-trade. This softened any of her criticisms and enabled her to make all sorts of observations that, without it, might have caused offence; it was certainly not a giggle from the heart. I felt that Miss Compton Collier did not approve of the decoration of my house; she was only interested, and that for utilitarian reasons, in the bathroom, and the quicker outside the better.

Miss Compton Collier is extremely knowledgeable about gardens: ‘After all, I have photographed eleven thousand of them!’ She knows her England well: ‘Dorset has the best little manor houses. Oxford is where the nouveaux riches live in gardens planned by Sutton’s. That thatched wall is typical of Wiltshire; we must take it quickly – but, oh dear – the horrid sun is coming out! I hate the hard light it gives. Such a bad week last month – sun every day! I loved the summer before rain all the time! People can’t believe it when I photograph them in a downpour. But I say: “I’ll give you your money back if you don’t like it!” Recently in Scotland she had placed a whole tribal family in the garden under umbrellas, and at a given moment ordered the gillies to rush up to take away the umbrellas while the exposure was made.

Miss Compton Collier took pictures of my mother and myself obediently sitting on an old stone seat with the dog at our feet. Behind the camera her performance was dynamic – even acrobatic. In order to stimulate the interest of her subjects she would jump up and down, wave an arm, squeak a rubber dog, and hum in a high musical voice. Suddenly, with a heavy click, the shutters of the lens would open and close. ‘Got it!’ shouted Miss Compton Collier in triumph. Her face was now a matter-of-fact, rather sullen mask. The switch from such inspired enthusiasm to the merely businesslike was somewhat of a shock.

At lunch she told us that for many a donkey’s lifetime now she has lived in a small house in West End Lane, Hampstead, tended by an old servant of seventy-six. Miss Compton Collier appears so strong and healthy that one knows it is true that when she goes to bed it is to sleep so soundly that nothing will disturb her: – not even a bomb. In fact in one raid when the roof was blown off the house and all her rooms but two were destroyed, Miss Compton Collier went on snoring. [Ed: this was the V1 that hit West End Lane in June 1944].

‘Every day of my summer is taken up with work; from April to October I’m busy, so I leave everything else that has to be done to my winter months. I only do shopping in January: if a cup gets broken it has to wait till the first of the year. But I hate shopping in any case – it bores me. Now these clothes I’m wearing were bought fifteen years ago. I never read the papers: they’re so vulgar. I’ve never listened to the radio; I hear everything I want to hear. And I wouldn’t dream of doing the usual things like filling in a census or having a ration book. I just haven’t time. I hardly ever go to a play, but when I do I ring up and find out first if it’s got a nice happy ending because I hate all these squalid dramas that are so much the fashion. I loathe magazines and won’t contribute to them any more now that they’re full of Communist propaganda. I’ve never worked for the Press; if, in the old days, my pictures were used in The Tatler, it was I who chose the people to photograph: I never took people especially for the paper.’

How did you become a photographer?’ I asked. ‘I had a weak heart at school and wasn’t allowed to play games. Someone gave me a camera and I suppose that the artistic feelings, always in my family, came out in my generation in this different way. In another century I would have been a painter.’

Cecil Beaton by Miss Compton Collier, 1955

Cecil Beaton by Miss Compton Collier, 1955

Miss Compton Collier does most of her own photographic processing, and said she was up till three o’clock last night developing plates. All her paraphernalia is entirely obsolescent. She climbs under a dark red velvet cloth attached to her wooden 1895 camera with its long rubber tube with ball-shutter release. Hanging from the wooden tripod is a large bag containing a menagerie of toy dogs, mice and other pets to attract the attention of her aristocratic children and animal sitters. Miss Compton Collier has never visited a photographic exhibition, and shows complete ignorance of the work of other photographers. She had never heard of the work of Steichen, Bill Brandt or Cartier-Bresson. Although she has no further ambitions, she is never bored with her work; each sitting is a thrill for her.

In the silvery prints that resulted from her visit to Broadchalke both my mother and I appeared calm and leisurely, our faces smoothed and our hair silken. We were not only amused, but delighted.

Miss Compton Collier lived in her own closed world with little regard for current events. She took no newspapers; did not own a radio and did not watch television; she relied entirely for news of the world on her Kilburn bank manager. Her bank manager, not unreasonably, said: ‘I shall need some guidance, Miss Collier. If I am to provide you with news of the world, could you give me examples of what you mean?’ ‘Oh, yes’, she said, ‘it is perfectly simple. I mean the death of the sovereign or the outbreak of war’.

103 West End Lane, May 2017

103 West End Lane, May 2017

Dorothy continued to live at Number 103 West End Lane until her death on 27 June 1977 at ‘Chilton House’ a nursing home near Aylesbury. She left £60,361, worth about £340,000 today.

Be a tourist in Kilburn’s dispersed art installation

Think you know Kilburn? A new art project invites you to (re)discover Kilburn High Road and the surrounding streets.

Sculptures by Yunsun Jung

Sculptures by Yunsun Jung

For the project, entitled You Are Here, the organisers have brought together artists and local businesses to create a number of diverse artworks scattered throughout shops, cafés and public spaces. It runs until November 2nd.

Kingsgate Project Space, on Kingsgate Road, has been transformed into a “tourist information office” for the duration of the experiment. When I dropped in on Sunday, the day after the project’s launch, I found it complete with postcard racks, maps, and welcoming “Tour Agents” on hand to answer questions about the art on display around the neighbourhood.

A map of exhibits and selection of Kilburn postcards

A map of exhibits and selection of Kilburn postcards

One of the tour agents, or project organisers, was Sam Mckeown, who told me many of the artists had been inspired by Kilburn and their surroundings, and hoped to engage with the community through what they had created. He said the hope was “to get people visiting places and seeing things they might usually just walk past”.

After taking a brochure and map, I set off, excited to be sightseeing in my own area. After checking out the artworks on display in and around the Kingsgate centre itself, including some sculptures crafted from discarded cardboard found on the streets of Kilburn, I made my way to Folkies Music on the High Road – a fascinating shop in its own right – where artist in residence Vesta Kroese has spent the past few weeks working with the shop’s spaces and contents to create an exhibit entitled 13 Ways of Looking at a Guitar. 

Down the road at Cara Cosmic Coffee, there’s an installation by Chloë Morley, a video installation in the basement, and an interactive drawing game for families intriguingly titled The Doughnuts for Peace Union.

It is an interesting and quirky celebration of an area I thought I knew well, and I liked having the opportunity to slow down and discover some of the shops and sights I’d usually walk past, whilst finding hidden artwork in and among. There are many sculptures, installations, performances and other art in various locations, so it is possible to visit just one or two, or devote more time to following one of the self-guided art trails. Whichever you choose to do, I’d recommend the tourist office at Kingsgate Project Space as a good starting point.

So in the words of the tour brochure, why not “Come and celebrate Kilburn High Road’s uniqueness before the inevitable onslaught of gentrification!”

The "tourist office" entrance

The “tourist office” entrance

Object idea by Vesta Kroese

“Object idea” by Vesta Kroese, on display at Folkies

Shop basement transformed into gallery space by Vesta Kroese

Shop basement becomes gallery space for Vesta Kroese. Even the door that’s ajar is art!

Read more on the You Are Here Tumblr page or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Wall of sound: Art guitars on display at local restaurant


The Wet Fish Café on West End Lane often showcases artists’ work on its tiled walls but, for another week, there’s a different kind of artwork on display.

West Hampstead resident Steven Marlow, builds professional-quality guitars for musicians, celebrity clients and collectors from all over the world, working closely with each customer to create bespoke instruments to their specifications. His guitars are in many celebrity collections, including those of Queen’s legendary guitarist Brian May and The Kooks’ frontman Luke Pritchard.

For his ongoing Art Guitars project, he collaborates with established and up-and-coming artists, most notably leading British artist Stuart Semple, to create these unique and striking works.

Steven said the Wet Fish Café was the logical place for his latest exhibition as “I’ve been going to the Wet Fish for years”.

For anyone interested in seeing Steven’s work, you have until 30th October to go and check out these beauties over brunch…


Steven Marlow, guitar maker, with Wet Fish Café owner André Millodot

Steven Marlow, guitar maker, with Wet Fish Café owner André Millodot

Bradley Wiggins honoured in Kilburn at last

Wiggins Sculpture

It’s been a long time coming but in the wake of Bradley Wiggins’ astonishing achievements in 2012, his secondary school in South Kilburn now looks out over a shiny new sculpture that commemorates these and the rest of his illustrious career.

If you’ve been on another planet for the past few years then you’ll still have been aware of Sir Brad’s palmares. It would be hard to top being the first Brit to win the Tour de France, but Brad, who grew up in South Kilburn and went to St Augustine’s School, went on to win gold in the men’s time trial at the London Olympics, adding to his already impressive medal haul from previous games.

In the aftermath of this, everyone was clamouring to claim him as their own and there was a push for a victory parade down Kilburn High Road. Sadly this never came to pass but, on the eve of Wiggins winning the Tour of California (proving there’s plenty of life in the old mod yet), a sculpture has been unveiled at St Augustine’s sports centre, across the road from the school.

The sculpture is the work of artist Sophie Marsham, who was helped by Year 8 students from St Augustines, and the project was supported by Groundwork London and the South Kilburn Trust.

The Detmold twins: Artistic genius and depression

Charles Maurice (known as Maurice) and Edward Julius Detmold were twin brothers with outstanding artistic ability who worked at the Sherriff Road Studios between 1902 and 1905.

They were born at 97 Upper Richmond Road on 21 November 1883. Their parents Edward Detmold and Mary Agnes Luck had married in 1881. Mary was brought up by her uncle, Dr Edward Barton Shuldham. He was born in Bengal where his father was an officer in the Indian Army. Mary’s parents may have died when she was a child: in 1871, aged 10, she was living in Croydon with Edward and his wife Elizabeth, who had no children of their own. Dr Shuldham was to play a major role in the Detmold story.

Edward was the son of Julius Adolph Detmold, a colonial merchant from Hamburg; ( Detmold is a town in Germany). It seems Edward decided not to enter the family business. Instead, in 1876, Julius placed his son as a ‘pupil’ with farmer Samuel Butcher in Hampshire, to learn the business. Ostensibly, theirs was a partnership but Julius remained in control. When the business failed in March 1879, Julius settled its debts by paying 20sh in the pound and the bankruptcy was annulled. Butcher said he’d always had sole management of the farms and was paid money for Edward’s keep. There’d never been any profits. Samuel later took Edward to court, accusing his ex-partner of stealing papers and other property from his farmhouse. Butcher said Detmold had threatened him and his wife Jane: “He placed himself in a fighting attitude and said “I’ll punch your head and thrash you both within an inch of your lives.” Detmold countered, saying he believed the papers were the property of his father. Both parties were bound over to keep the peace for six months.

A couple of years later, the 1881 census showed Edward still living in Hampshire, where he was sharing a house with his brother Henry. Henry was an artist while Edward had remained a farmer, with 250 acres employing five men and two boys. Dr Shuldham and his wife Elizabeth were the witnesses when their niece Mary Luck married Edward a few months later. The newly weds moved in with the Shuldhams in Upper Richmond Road and their first child, Nora was born the following year. The 1883 baptism record of twins Charles Maurice and Edward Julius describes Edward as a stockbroker, so he’d abandoned farming. He tried various jobs and became an electrical engineer: in the 1908 phone book he is listed as ‘Electrical Signs’, at 7 Warwick Lane.

The Dictionary of National Biography entry for the Detmold twins says their mother probably died shortly after their birth. This is wrong, Mary died in 1954. Rather, it looks as though the marriage failed and in 1888 Edward left and the three children and their mother stayed with Dr Shuldham.

Dr Shuldham graduated from Trinity College Dublin and was a physician at St James Homeopathic Hospital and the editor of ‘The Homeopathic World’. He wrote several medical books and was interested in stammering. Lewis Carroll, a convinced homeopath and a stammerer was a friend of Shuldham. Several of Shuldham’s medical books are in the British Library: The Family Homoepathist (1871), Headaches: their causes and treatment (1875), Clergymans Sore Throat (1878), Stammering and its rational treatment (1879), and The Health of the Skin (1890).

Shuldham was also an artist and the Victoria and Albert Museum has a landscape by him in their collection. He loved natural history and Japanese painting and agreed to educate the twins after their father had left. Part of each year was spent at Ditchling in Sussex. The Detmold boys showed early artistic talent and some time after the age of six, they briefly studied drawing at the Hampstead Conservatoire in Eton Avenue. This was the only formal training they received, but Dr Shuldham took them on regular sketching visits to the Regent’s Park Zoo and the Natural History Museum. Their uncle Henry Detmold, an artist of some renown, played an important role in helping the twins develop their natural talent. They won prizes in a nationwide art competition before they were eleven years old.

Dr Shuldham moved to Hampstead from south London and is shown at 15 Frognal (renumbered as 42) from 1891 to 1896, and then at ‘Katwych’ 49 Fairhazel Gardens, (1897 to 1906). This was followed by a series of moves downhill – literally and in terms of the value of the property he occupied. From 1906 to 1910 the family was at 13 Inglewood Road in West Hampstead. By the time of the 1911 census he was at 5 Priory Court in Mazenod Avenue and then he moved to number 7 where he stayed until his death in 1924, aged 86. Rather surprisingly, previously relatively wealthy, he left only £14 to Mary Agnes Detmold.

Number 42 Frognal (on the left), is a substantial 14 room house and one of a pair of semi-detached Victorian properties. Originally the roof line and front entrance would have mirrored number 40, (right).

Number 42 Frognal (on the left), is a substantial 14 room house and one of a pair of semi-detached Victorian properties. Originally the roof line and front entrance would have mirrored number 40, (right).

As child prodigies, at the age of 13, Edward and Maurice Detmold were the youngest people to exhibit watercolors at the Royal Academy. These were displayed ‘on the line,’ in other words at eye level, a great accolade. They also sent drawings to the Institute of Painters in Water Colours, where the doorman, seeing two children, refused them entry. He asked; “Whose pictures do you want to see – your father’s?’” They replied, “No, our own.” He fetched the secretary, who let them in.

Edward Julius Detmold, pencil sketch by Maurice, 1899, NPG

Edward Julius Detmold, pencil sketch by Maurice, 1899, NPG

Maurice Detmold, pencil sketch by Edward, 1899 NPG

Maurice Detmold, pencil sketch by Edward, 1899 NPG

Working jointly on their illustrations and etchings, in 1899 they produced a book of illustrations for Pictures from Birdland, which had rhymes by Edward Shuldham. With money from their sales, they bought and installed a printing press at their studio in Sherriff Road and produced a large number of prints. Their talent was obvious: a June 1900 review of work then on display at the Fine Art Society, described the “clever boy artists” as possessing “very remarkable genius. No reproductive process could quite do justice to their skilful brushwork and the quaint charm of their coloured etchings.” This critic concluded: “If they are not entirely submerged by juvenile success, if they are strong enough to survive precocious popularity and its attendant vices, they are sure to be heard of again.”

In 1903, at the age of twenty, they created a portfolio of sixteen superb watercolors for Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Their original drawings are in Kipling’s home ‘Batemans’ in Burwash, Etchingham, East Sussex, and the British Library has a set of the astonishing prints in the rare book collection which I went to see.

Kaa the Python, illustration for The Jungle Book by Maurice Detmold, 1903

Kaa the Python, illustration for The Jungle Book by Maurice Detmold, 1903

A review of the their work in 1907 said: “Many mediums are within their authority: etching, drawing, fresco and glass-painting, brushwork and wood-printed blocks in the Japanese fashion. In everything they do there is evidence of close observation, accuracy, strength and a wonderful sense of composition.”

But their productive partnership came to a sudden end in April 1908 when Maurice Detmold committed suicide. He was found in his room in Inglewood Road by his brother, in the bedroom they shared. Maurice was lying on the bed with a bag over his head and a cotton wad soaked in chloroform. There were three bottles of chloroform nearby and two dead cats in a box. He had left a suicide note which read: “This is not the end of a life. I have expressed through my physical means all that they are capable of expressing, and I am about to lay them aside – Maurice.”

The body was identified by his father Edward Detmold. At the inquest Dr Shuldham said the boys had lived with him since they were young. He said they were about to go to the country (presumably to Ditchling). He had given the brothers chloroform before to kill half-starved stray cats, so he was not suspicious when Maurice asked for more. When Edward Julius was asked if he knew why his brother had killed himself, he replied: “I cannot tell, except that he had done all that he wanted to do. He was most cheerful as a rule, and was exceptionally successful in his work.”

The verdict of the jury was: “suicide whilst of an unsound mind.” Maurice’s suicide appeared to re-unite his parents Edward and Mary, who started to live together again. The 1911 census shows them in number 5 Priory Court , a block of flats in   Mazenod Avenue. Dr Shuldham and his wife occupied number 7 with their unmarried daughter Nora. Edward Julius, Maurice’s brother, was still living with the doctor but he later moved in with his parents. They left Priory Court for 137 Broadhurst Gardens , about 1932, where Edward Detmold senior died in 1938.

The captive, by Edward Detmold, 1923

The captive, by Edward Detmold, 1923

Edward Julius Detmold was stunned by his brother’s death, but he continued to work at the publishers Hodder and Stoughton and at the Rossetti Studios in Flood Street into the 1920s and 1930s, creating etchings, drawings and paintings, and coloured block prints. Then he largely withdrew from public life. After the death of his father the family moved in 1940 to ‘Bank House’, a large house on the edge of Montgomery, North Wales where Edward lived with his mother and sister Mrs Nora Joy, the artist Sidney Lawrence Biddle and the musician Harold Rankin Hulls. Biddle and Hulls had lived with the family in West Hampstead. His mother Mary died at Bank House in 1954. Three years later on the morning of Monday 1 July 1957, like his brother Maurice almost fifty years before, Edward committed suicide. He shot himself in the chest and died of a haemorrhage.

At the inquest Hulls said that he had owned the single-barreled shotgun which Detmold had used to kill himself, and he kept it in his bedroom. The local doctor said he had treated Detmold for arterial disease which caused fainting attacks, and depression was a common symptom in such cases. Then the coroner read a statement from Mrs Joy who was too upset to attend the inquest. She said that after Hulls had left, her brother had returned to the house and kissed her and gone into his room. This was not unusual because they were an affectionate family. Then she heard the sound of a shot and she rushed into his room. Her brother staggered towards her and fell at her feet. She said that in the past year Edward had lost the sight in one eye and the other eye was deteriorating rapidly. This, combined with his blackouts, had caused considerable depression. The coroner’s verdict was: “death by self-inflicted gunshot wound while the balance of the mind was disturbed.”

The Roc which fed its young on elephants, for The Arabian Nights, by Edward Detmold, 1924

The Roc which fed its young on elephants, for The Arabian Nights, by Edward Detmold, 1924

The twin’s art work, influenced by Japanese prints, particularly those by Hiroshige and Hokusai, was highly original. In 2002 at a Sothebys book auction The Arabian Nights with illustrations by Edward Detmold, was estimated to reach between £100,000 to £150,000. Today their work is greatly prized.

The sculptor Fred Kormis

Fritz, or later as he called himself Fred Kormis, was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1897. Shortly before the outbreak of WW2, he came to London where he lived and worked for almost fifty years in West Hampstead and Kilburn.

Fritz was fourteen when he began an apprenticeship in a workshop specializing in decorative sculpture and mouldings. In 1914 he won a scholarship to the Frankfurt Art School but was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army when WWI broke out. He was wounded and captured by the Russians in 1915 and sent to a Siberian prisoner-of-war camp. This terrible experience provided the inspiration for much of his later work. Kormis escaped from the camp and returned to Frankfurt about 1920 where he earned his living as a portrait sculptor. He married Rachel in 1924. As a Jew, Kormis was no longer allowed to work once Hitler came to power in 1933, so he and Rachel went to the Netherlands and then to England in 1934. Here Fritz anglicised his name to Fred.

Kormis lived in 41 Broadhurst Gardens (1935-1937) and then at number 9, Sherriff Road Studios (1938-1940). His studio was destroyed in a raid during 1940, but we don’t know its location. Sherriff Road never experienced any serious bomb damage, but many of the houses in Broadhurst Gardens were demolished during a September raid. Fred may still have been renting space there as reports speak of his ‘larger works’ being lost. Having moved briefly to Hampstead Garden Suburb, he was at 3b Greville Place by 1944, where he stayed until his death in 1986.

3b Greville Place today

3b Greville Place today

Built about 1822, number 3 Greville Place was a large and extended property, home to artist Sir Frank Dicksee and prima ballerina Madame Lydia Kyasht, before being split into several flats and studios in the 1930s. John Hutton, artist and glass engraver (Number 3a) and Dolf Reiser, artist and fellow refugee from the Nazis (Number 3i) were neighbours of Kormis. Briefly (1964-1967) Kormis also rented number 3h.
Once settled in London , Kormis’ reputation continued to grow. About 1945 Willesden Council commissioned a sculpture for the new Church End redevelopment. In 2006 Reg Freeson donated the sculpture ‘Angel Wings’ by Kormis to Queen’s Park. It stands in the quiet garden, in the south east corner of the Park.

Angel Wings, in Queens Park

Angel Wings, in Queens Park

Kormis was especially well known for his bronze portrait medallions which were highly regarded. Subjects ranged from politicians to royalty and entertainers, and included Edward VIII, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin. Kormis exhibited a total of 41 pieces at the Royal Academy .

Winston Churchill, by Kormis, 1941

Winston Churchill, by Kormis, 1941

Waiting for a life dream to come true
Since escaping from Siberia , Kormis had been working on studies for a memorial to prisoners of war, and later, to include victims of the concentration camps. His unsuccessful design for the British Holocaust memorial was a beautiful figure with two arms stretching up from the earth; (he gave a model of the work to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem ). A bequest from a relative in Germany allowed Kormis to move his dream forward. Sculpting a series of figures, he looked to install them in a building bombed in WW2, but the search for a suitable site proved fruitless until his friend and leader of Brent Council, Reg Freeson, suggested the figures might find a home in the Borough. Kormis wanted the work to be erected in a depressed area, to act as an incentive to continued improvements. Various locations were put forward: Willesden High Road, Canterbury Road, Granville Road and Gladstone Park. Nothing was decided until February 1967, when Freeson (then an Alderman and MP), told the Council’s planning department, “This is a very generous gift, I think it is one of the finest pieces of work I have seen”. The Council decided to accept the memorial figures but no site was agreed.

The following month, the local paper interviewed an impatient Kormis at his Greville Place studio. Four of the figures were now complete, the sculptor explaining that each was intended to illustrate an aspect of his war experiences. “First there is the numb shock of realizing you are a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. Then there is the dawning awareness of your predicament and the primitive conditions. The next phase is the thought of escape and freedom. After that many succumb to despair and a sense of hopelessness. Others overcome their dejection and manage to escape.”

Kormis had two designs in mind for the fifth and central figure – a figure with outstretched arms, alive and hopeful for the future, or a seated woman, face in hands, sunk in deep grief. “I prefer this but I must admit it is a very sad study. It could be too depressing.” But before going any further he needed to know where the memorial would be placed, so he could adapt the design accordingly.

Gladstone Park Memorial, standing figure and three of the seated figures

Gladstone Park Memorial, standing figure and three of the seated figures

Gladstone Park, four seated figures

Gladstone Park, four seated figures

Memorial plaque

Memorial plaque

Brent decided a “shabby site” would be unworthy of the piece and chose to place the memorial in Gladstone Park, in a position chosen by Kormis. The five male, fibre glass figures were unveiled on May 11, 1969. Sadly their condition deteriorated over the years and the site became neglected. When the sculptures were graffitied with bright yellow paint, the simple ‘repair’ consisted of over painting them in matt black. Then in December 2003 the figures were seriously vandalized: all were decapitated and one sustained further severe damage.

Fortunately, as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund restoration of the park, there was funding available to properly restore the memorial. A search revealed four of the vandalized heads thrown into surrounding undergrowth. One was missing but archive material allowed it to be replicated. Under expert guidance the figures were split open, foam filler removed and their internal structure replaced with stainless steel. The black paint was cleaned off and their original bronze finish restored, the resulting increase in definition allowing their features to be clearly seen for the first time in many years. The memorial is located close to Dollis Hill Lane , just a short walk downhill from the car park. Today the bronze finish has deteriorated but the impression given by the group, in particular the seated figures is very powerful. The standing figure is perhaps a version of the one Kormis described in his interview.

Rachel Kormis died in December 1971 and Fred died on 17 April 1986, still living and working at Greville Place. The couple are buried in adjacent graves at Bushey Cemetery.

Godzilla in Hampstead

If you’ve been to Camden Arts Centre over the past few weeks then you’ll have seen the rather amazing T-Rex/Godzilla sculpture by Serena Korda. If you’ve looked more closely you’ll have spotted a couple of harnesses inside it – yes, it’s designed to move!

This Saturday, the 9ft-tall latex beast will embark on a procession from the Arts Centre on the corner of Arkwright Road and Finchley Road up to Hampstead Heath where the performance will culminate with a re-enactment of The Battle of the River Plate in Whitestone Pond, where the monster will be waiting. This one took a while to get council approval but it promise to be one of the local events of the spring.

The excitement kicks off at 3pm at the Arts Centre and they’d like you to let them know if you plan to participate.

Korda’s beast in Blackpool

Big Bamboozle promises great afternoon out

Looking for something different to do on Saturday? Want to keep the kids entertained or try out some great food? Don’t want to stray too far from home? The Camden Arts Centre’s special open day may be the place to go. The Big Bamboozle runs from 2-5pm and there’s an amazing range of things to do, see and eat.

In case you’ve not been paying attention of late, the Camden Arts Centre isn’t in Camden Town it’s right here in our own bit of north-west London on the corner of Finchley Road and Arkwright Road. It’s a five minute walk from Tesco in fact.

The day is built around the “overlooked” artist Finchley Arkwright-Keslake-Esssendine (work with me here people), and the centre is going to be transformed into her home while the garden (weather permitting) will be where Street Feast traders will set up stall. Although there is a fundraising element to the day, it also offers a great opportunity to see the centre and perhaps get involved in activities – almost all of which are free and many are open to all ages. So if you want to decorate a clock, learn about the art and craft of diary keeping or immortalise your index finger in plaster you know where to come.

The galleries themselves will also be open if you want to look at the latest exhibitions.

There’s also a special evening event, which is not free. Tickets are £99 each for that, which gets you more food, and all manner of entertainment.

WhampArt: Guided tour at Camden Arts Centre

STOP PRESS: This event is now full. If you’d like to go on the waiting list then by all means contact me, and leave a mobile number.

We’re a cultured bunch in West Hampstead, right? We know our Matisse from our Magritte, our Monet from our Manet, and even our Munch from our Munk if we’re very cutting edge.

So it’s time to push the boat out a little. Time to expand those artistic horizons. All you need to do is come along to #whampart at the Camden Arts Centre on the evening of Wednesday, February 6th.

This is our first collaboration with the Camden Arts Centre (but hopefully not last, so behave yourselves!). We’re getting a special guided tour of the Film in Space exhibition, and then we can retire to the rather nice café/bar for some wine and incredibly intellectual discussions about what we’ve seen. Or we might talk about the weather or kittens or US foreign policy in Obama’s second term.

Here’s a bit about the exhibition from the Camden Arts Centre’s website:

Film in Space is a group exhibition selected by British artist-filmmaker Guy Sherwin. The exhibition focuses on expanded cinema, a film movement which came to prominence in Britain in the early 1970s, at the time Sherwin started making films. The movement was closely associated with the London Filmmakers’ Co-operative, an organisation set up in 1966 by artist-filmmakers to exhibit and produce experimental film work which challenged mainstream cinema. Sherwin worked at the LFMC in its early years and was highly influenced by his experience. For Camden Arts Centre he has selected a number of key works from this period and is showing them along with works by younger artists who are continuing to experiment with the versatility of analogue media, as well as others who have started to take on board the advent of digital technologies. Throughout the exhibition there is an emphasis on film, light, and sound as material to be constantly re-worked, manipulated and experimented with.

I’ve seen the exhibition and it’s interesting but I think having the guided tour will really make it much more accessible. So even if you’re not sure that 1970s expanded cinema is your sort of thing, why not come along and learn a bit more about it. The Camden Arts Centre is such a great local resource but it’s underused by locals; here’s an opportunity to get to know it.

Sounds great! What do I do now?
We’ll need to meet in the reception area at 7.30pm promptly on Wednesday February 6th. The tour will be about 30 minutes and then we’ll head to the bar, which stays open until about 9pm.

We have 15 places and you’ll need to reserve your spot. It’s going to be first-come/first-served. As always, if you sign up then please don’t pull out at the last minute. It might be hard to get late replacements, and it’s not fair on the Arts Centre staff who are doing this especially for us.

To book your place you must with your name and mobile number. Max 2 places per person.

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Kilburn Grand Tour in October

October is “Kilburn month” at the Kingsgate Workshops.

As part of a collaboration between the front-of-house volunteers at Camden Arts Centre and the Kingsgate Workshops Trust, Kingsgate Gallery’s exhibition project is focused on the artistic exploration of the Kilburn area and its history, and especially the engagement with the local community.

What’s on? Let me hand over to the organisers to whet your appetite. You can also check out the latest news regarding the exhibition.

As well as the specific events listed below, Asako Taki’s blog project, which started in May 2012, reflects her encounters with the people of Kilburn. Throughout October, Deborah Farr installs a glow-in-the-dark mural in the Iverson Road arches, while the collective Kilburn-Mapping-Project of Cornelia Marland continues to grow within the gallery, through the help of our visitors. Also inside Kingsgate, Suits Meso’s flag-and-sound installation is displayed alongside a performance-wall drawing by Evy Jokhova. Jokhova is also making a short film that follows one day in Kilburn for 50 years using archival documents and footage filmed by herself.

So drop into the gallery Thursday–Sunday from midday to 6pm (it’s free), or come to one of the events.

October 4: Kilburn Grand Tour Opening Night 6pm-9pm

Join us for the opening night of our one month-long creative and artistic exploration of Kilburn. As with any Grand Tour we know our destination, but the journey is not set… From hidden rivers, imagined maps, and constantly-evolving art we need your help to inspire our voyage.

As the project evolves, the gallery space will change, so don’t miss your chance to see what might not be visible a week later. Help us give our project the best possible start and join us for the official kick-off of The Kilburn Grand Tour at the Kingsgate Trust Gallery.

October 6: Blue Flower River Project – Gardening Event 2pm-4pm [Ed: I think this sounds like a brilliant idea]

Join in this celebration and remembrance of the River Westbourne with a gardening twist! Guided by Helene Latey, walk the river path and see the Blue-Flower-River project along the way.

Come back to Kingsgate gallery for refreshments and a short presentation on Green living given by the Camden council Sustainability Team. Also at the gallery, pick up a river map and wildflower seeds and get involved in some guerrilla gardening of your own as you continue the river walk through the Kilburn streets.

October 13: Suit Meso’s Flag Making Workshop 1pm-4pm

Come along and get creative at this flag making workshop. Learn about flags from around the world, draw on your cultural influences and merge symbols and signs to design and make your own personal flag.

Led by artist Suits Meso and tying in to his artistic practice, this workshop will result in the creation of a large scale “Kilburn Flag” constructed from the individual flags produced on the day and to be displayed as part of the Kilburn Grand Tour exhibition.

October 14: River Talk: “The River Westbourne – Kilburn’s Hidden River” 6pm-8pm

Could there be a river running beneath your feet, or even beneath your house? Now’s the time to find out as river historian Stephan Myers, author of Walking on Water, London’s Hidden Rivers Revealed, will reveal Kilburn’s own hidden river in his presentation on the River Westbourne.

Learn the fascinating history of this now underground river, map its location beneath the Kilburn streets and follow its influence and role within the Kilburn landscape all within the art filled atmosphere of the Kingsgate Gallery.

October 19: Evy Jokhova: Kilburn Grand Tour 5pm-6.30pm

Jokhova’s Kilburn Grand Tour opens to the public with a screening of a film compiled from newspaper clippings, personal and borrowed film footage that follows Kilburn on one day in October for the past 50 years. The screening of Kilburn Grand Tour will be accompanied by a public panel discussion between artist Nicola Lane, Kilburn historian Dick Weindling and local residents on what makes Kilburn a ‘home’.

Following on from this Jokhova will create a week-long performance drawing in the gallery space inspired by the contents of the discussion.

October 19: Artist Talk and Walk 7pm-9pm

Live in Kilburn? Long to live in Kilburn? Or just want to get to know Kilburn a bit better? What better way than to come along for our special Artist Talk, and let our artists illuminate (literally) this wonderful area of North-West London for you!

Following the overground trail of the hidden River Westbourne, artists Helene Latey, Deborah Farr and Lara Smithson will take you on an hour-long walk through Kilburn, presenting their artworks along the way; an experience which will make you see your surroundings and community in a whole new light. The walk will end up at Kingsgate Trust Gallery where there will be refreshments, more art and the chance for everyone to contribute to our very own Kilburn-map.

October 26: Closing Party 6pm-9pm

The Kilburn Grand Tour’s closing party will take place on the final Friday of October. Come along for the final chance to see our artists’ completed work, catch-up with our process and celebrate the creative and artistic life and spirit of Kilburn.

If you’re not familiar with the Kingsgate Workshops Trust, it supports a wide range of arts and crafts in studio spaces of variable sizes. The workshops are a converted 19th century warehouse which provides studio space for more than 50 artists and crafts people as well hosting up to 12 public exhibitions a year.

Kingsgate Open Studios weekend

If you’ve ever cut through the back streets to get to Kilburn, you may well have walked past the Kingsgate artist studios and wondered what exactly they were. They are actually a converted 19th century warehouse that now provides workshop facilities for more than 60 artists and craftspeople. And now’s your chance to look inside. This weekend is the studio’s open days, from 12-6pm on Saturday and Sunday, and there’s a preview on Friday night from 6-9pm.

The Open Studios event will include the Kingsgate Mini Olympics housed in our education building, where children and families will be ableto participate in a variety of arts/sport workshops, such as ‘Athlete Splatlete’. Do have a look at all the details of the weekend.Creative workshops and activities will run throughout the weekend. Refreshments are also available, and entry is free.