Want to have a nosey at the capital’s best loved buildings – all within the elegant splendour of Hampstead’s Burgh House?
Well, Tufnell Park-based architectural portraitist Liz Mathews can help. A studio potter and lettering artist, her new show, The Prospect Of Happiness, depicts historic piles including Willow Road, Fenton House and Kenwood, as well as Freud’s House, Keats’ House, Euston Arch, Kentish Town Baths, Dickens’ House and even her own house in Tufnell Park. Well, why not?
Some backstory? Liz Mathews has been making house portraits and architectural studies to commission since way back in 1986, from cottages to castles. Her artist’s books are collected by the British Library, as well as the National Library of Scotland and the National Poetry Library; and she’s a selected member of the Crafts Council Directory.
In this exhibition, her detailed miniature portraits in clay and paper are set in the landscape of the imagination, seen by writers and artists who love the city and have lived in the houses.
The ‘prospect of happiness’ itself is the famous view across London from the heights of Hampstead Heath conjured up by Frances Bingham, while Virginia Woolf also visited the Heath and the newly-opened Kenwood. Dr Johnson, Constable and Keats all commented on the local scene, while Winifred Nicholson colourfully invoked the essentials of a happy home, and Maureen Duffy had a vision of the floating city before plunging into the old Round Reading Room of the British Museum.
And the show has been delayed more than once. “It’s been a long time in the making for me,” says Liz, “having been postponed twice due to successive lockdowns — now it runs from 6th to 17th July.”