If you’re thinking of adding some new artwork to your home, in this blog we highlight three West London artists you should know about.
Artists at Home is a group of artists and craft-makers based in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush.
Horton and Garton are proud sponsors of the group and support their annual event where the artists and craft-makers open the doors to their homes to showcase and sell their work.
Each of these West London artists has a unique style.
We’ve recently caught up with Helga Stentzel, Rennie Pilgrem and Eve Pettitt to learn more about their art.
Self-styled household surrealist Helga Stentzel is one of 70 people throwing her studio open to visitors as west London’s annual Artists at Home event reverts to its traditional June slot.
Stentzel’s playful treatment of mundane objects is summed up by the way she has transformed the vast blank wall of her own house in Westville Road, W12 … bought, incidentally, through art event sponsors Horton and Garton.
Speaking about the mural, she said: “My style is comical, but I went with the most serious of the ideas that I’d sketched out. It’s a slightly funnier version of a mural than other artists might have designed. One of the neighbours said she wanted a 3D symbol of how demolished houses have made way for new builds.”
Helga’s hope is that blank wall mural painting will spread across west London, eventually creating a trail that people can follow.
Helga refers to her art as ‘household surrealism’. Russian-born, she was named ‘food art creator of the year’ in 2020. Before becoming a full-time artist, she worked in advertising and ran a children’s clothing business.
Household surrealism is, she says about ‘finding magic in the mundane, and seeing beauty in imperfections’.
Amongst the West London artists featuring, Stentzel is No54 on the artists’ map, with her work well known to more than 225,000 followers on Instagram, who love her optical illusions and experiments with perspective, turning washing lines, furniture, vegetables and windows into art.
Her ground-floor studio in Shepherd’s Bush is among those open to view from June 17-19. You can’t miss it; look for the Hungry House mural on the side of her 140-year-old Victorian home.
A multi-talented creative, Rennie Pilgrem enjoyed two decades as a DJ – performing at Glastonbury and clubs around the world – before changing gear and deciding to focus on visual art.
From his studio at the bottom of the garden of his home in Ashchurch Park Villas, Shepherds Bush, he produces whimsical limited-edition prints using a mix of graphics and photography, as well as paintings and sculptures.
The prints are mischievous and witty. The Queen is pictured wearing a pair of Crazy Frog goggles, a herring is created against a Bridget Riley-style pop art herringbone background, while a cyclist disappears over the horizon, riding across a contoured, stylised landscape.
A zebra is set against a series of black and white stripes, while in another a rowing coach – megaphone in hand – is portrayed on holiday, at night, standing in a boat and bellowing instructions to a passing duck!
“I’ve got a studio at home, at the back of the garden; it was very handy during lockdown!” said Pilgrem, who said he was delighted that the Artists at Home event was back in its customary June slot. It will be, he calculates, his eighth involvement of this celebration of West London artists.
Other artists’ works are given a surreal Pilgrem twist. Edvard Munch’s The Scream is enhanced by the central character wearing headphones, while David Hockney’s swimming pool gains the half-submerged Rolls Royce that Who drummer Keith Moon once took for a dip in a hotel.
Pilgrem, who is 61, and who has exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, also produces sculptures with a primitive, tribal art look, made from laser-cut and hand-cut salvaged wood, old church organ pipes and vintage tools.
Pilgrem is a big fan of Picasso, who was similarly influenced by naive art.
Some works are collaborations with Italian sculptor and former ski instructor Victor Redigolo, with whom Pilgrem has worked for a couple of years. Many were created from 1930s foundry patterns which were picked up as a job lot at a Chiswick car boot sale.
How does that collaboration work? “It mainly involves us insulting each other; literally insulting each other,” laughed Pilgrem. “Then somehow we come up with something we both like. I’m an ideas person, and Victor is extremely good working with wood and finding solutions.”
A shaven-headed artist with a look of Bruce Willis about him, Pilgrem also paints, while his photographs (which can also be ordered via his website) include a moody, misty view of Hammersmith Bridge as if engulfed by low cloud.
But for all his visual art, he can’t completely shake off his first love, music. As a teenager, this son of a jazz trumpeter played tenor sax and keyboards for local bands in Kent before getting into rave music with an outfit called Rhythm Section in the 1990s.
He launched his own dance music label TCR (it stands for Thursday Club Recordings), focusing on breakbeat. Lockdown proved to be an unexpectedly stimulating time for musical creativity as, after a 15-year gap, Pilgrem wrote and recorded two albums, with a third on the way. “You don’t need much gear to do music these days; a keyboard and a computer and a couple of bits. I got back into it,” he said.
For Eve Pettitt, participating in Artists at Home as a painter was a natural progression from visiting other artists’ studios as an observer.
“It’s a fantastic thing to do; it’s brilliant,” she said of the West London artists’ open studio weekend. “After visiting other studios I decided to take part myself.”
This will be a third open house for Pettitt, who lives in Wendell Park, W12.
The Artists at Home event is, she says, a chance to chat to people about her work… and share her passion for colour that shines through her dramatic oil paintings.
As a child, she always wore bright coloured clothing, and as an artist, she is driven by colour and form, but principally colour, using bold oil hues to create dramatic landscapes, semi-abstract still lifes and portraits – particularly of women.
“I find colour very uplifting,” she said. “That’s what feeds my soul, that’s what life is about.”
And women, rather than men? “I don’t think it’s particularly because I’m a girl myself, but I just find female figures so much more pleasing to paint than a male; look at the exquisite curves you find in a female figure!”
Pettitt, who grew up in the West Country, paints from life. She trained at the Royal Drawing School and the Heatherley School of Fine Art and is an elected member of the Chelsea Art Society.
In 2019, she took part in the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year event, painting the Paralympian racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Another subject was Mary Beard, who is pictured against a backdrop of cluttered bookshelves.
She has exhibited widely, including with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, The New English Art Club and The Society of Women Artists.
One of her paintings, The Bathers, evokes Picasso’s masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Others have a more wistful, reflective quality – her subjects are usually deep in thought, rarely smiling, lost in contemplation.
Although the Artists at Home will concentrate on oil paintings, there will also be several pencils and charcoal drawings on show, full of life and movement, capturing motion and mood in a few, sparse strokes.
“I am preoccupied with the wonders of nature and the human form,” she said. “Understanding colour is fundamental to my creative process; each hue sings and resonates creating a rhythm within the composition.
What interests me is making a beautiful composition, and finding the shapes, colours and contrasts.”
Artists at Home – dates for your diary
The annual Artists at Home weekend, sponsored by Horton and Garton, sees studios open their doors to the public from June 17-19 2022.
You can find a full list of participating West London artists and plan a route around the ones that interest you.
-Eve Pettitt’s studio is No44 on the map on Wendell Road.
-Rennie Pilgrem is marked on the map as No49.
-Helga Stentzel is No54.
The open studio weekend also features ceramicists, textile artists, glassmakers and jewellers.