Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hampstead - Flask Walk, Burgh House and John Constable

40 Well Walk, Hampstead (former home of John Constable)
pencil and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On Friday, I was out sketching with the Drawing London Group. This month we were in Hampstead as one of the members of the group, Bill Aldridge, has an exhibition on at Burgh House - closing today. Burgh House is also the home of the Hampstead Museum.

We started off at Simply Scrumptious in Flask Walk which is a one minute stroll from Hampstead Tube. Having sat down to have a cappuccino I decided I rather liked the idea of sketching the delightful plants which were being laid on the pavement in front of the shop next door. (I went back later and bought three of them!)

The front of Judy Green's Garden Store
pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

We had an absolutely delightful lunch in the garden of Burgh House. The Buttery Cafe, based in the basement of Burgh House does amazing food and also has great seating arrangements both inside and out in the garden. I had a wonderful crayfish salad which was scrummy! I'll be very happy to return to try out the rest of the menu.

In the afternoon, having armed myself with some details about local history from the shop on the ground floor, I walked east to Well Walk and located the house at 40 Well Walk (streetview) which John Constable (1776 - 1837) used to live in. There's a raised pavement on the other side of the road and I perched on my stool up there just above the steps up from the road to the raised pavement.

I hadn't realised John Constable lived in Hampstead at all until I went to the the Constable Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery back in March of this year (see my exhibition review of Constable Portraits: The Painter and his Circle.) However one of the things I loved about the exhibition were the family portraits he painted in Hampstead and some of the landscape paintings he did of and from Hampstead Heath. There's a very good overview exhibition about John Constable in Hampstead at Burgh House at the moment. Constable rented various summer lodgings around Hampstead village from 1819. He leased 40 Well Walk in 1827 and this is the only address in Hampstead with an official English Heritage Blue Plaque.
Included in the exhibition are paintings of where he used to live (eg at 2 Lower Terrace, Hampstead.) It's clear to see that he faced a problem many artists have when looking for somewhere to paint when they have a number of small children and also love cats!
I have sundry small works going on - for which purpose I have cleared a small shed in the garden which held coals, mops and brooms that is literally a coal-hole and have made it into a workshop and place of refuge.
Subsequently I came across The Museum of London's virtual website "Creative Quarters - the art world 1700 - 2000" which was developed to support an exhibition of the same name which ran at the Museum of London from March to June in 2001. It explores eight areas in London which have been associated with different artists over the years. Hampstead 1800-1830 - or the "northern heights" used to be where artists such as John Constable, George Romney and William Blake lived. You can read more about artists living in London by following the link at the end.

Sketchercise: Rather fewer steps on Friday - 5,916 steps and 2.9 miles - but lots of scope for more when I visit Hampstead again

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