THE SECRET ARTIST

MERCURY STORES √

Kentish Town’s mysterious Secret Artist is turning her attention to the much-loved buildings of Primrose Hill and I persuaded her to come out from under her cloak of anonymity to tell me about it. But her identity must remain a closely-guarded secret.

LEVERTON STREET, KENTISH TOWN, BY THE SECRET ARTIST
LEVERTON STREET, KENTISH TOWN, BY THE SECRET ARTIST

“‘The Secret Artist’ is much easier to remember than a name,” she explained over a cuppa at the Map Studio Cafe in Kentish Town. “And it’s not about me, but about the buildings. And also, when I started, I was drawing homes and then printing out copies to put through the letterbox. I started signing ‘the Secret Artist’ so as not to spook the residents. It just seemed less ‘stalkerish’!”

L'ABSINTHE BY THE SECRET ARTIST
L’ABSINTHE BY THE SECRET ARTIST

The Secret Artist (let’s be familiar and call her SA) embarked on this project only two years ago after being made redundant from her job in the media. Not used to having spare time on her hands after a busy and prolific career in mainstream journalism, publishing and as a novelist, SA was encouraged by her husband, also a writer, to create a visual record of the listed buildings of Kentish Town. One picture led to another and SA very quickly built up an extensive body of work. With the help of a drawing app, her technique became increasingly refined and her work more ambitious; now she seeks out difficult architectural detail, she pointed out, rather than avoiding it as she did at the start.

RICHARD DARE BY THE SECRET ARTIST
RICHARD DARE BY THE SECRET ARTIST

The charming style of her pictures has come naturally to her and these characterful representations of North London landmarks have been received with general delight, to SA’s somewhat surprised pleasure. “I think it shows how much people love their local area,” she explains.

JACK O'SHEA
JACK O’SHEA by THE SECRET ARTIST

SA’s favourite buildings include the Kentish Town Assembly Rooms and the Pineapple pub, as well as the many independent shops that are inevitably slowly dying out as their owners retire. Having begun as a record of the homes of the more distinguished residents of Kentish Town, SA’s work has become a broader record of the spirit of Kentish Town itself, offering up the humble yet vital components of daily life in an urban village that give it its beating heart, such as libraries and the smaller cafes.

And now SA is turning her talents and enthusiasm to Primrose Hill. Having been alerted to the closure of the Albert on Princess Road by one of its regulars, she was able to capture it in its prime just in time. She has since turned her attention to Primrose Hill favourites Mercury Stores, Primrose Hill Books and the Greenberry Cafe, with many other familiar buildings in her sights. She regrets not having an image of Welsh’s Hardware Store, particularly as she fondly remembers popping in to buy mothballs just a couple of weeks before Mrs Welsh closed her doors for good. Maybe someone out there can help with that..?

And SA has an offer for readers of iLPH. She is offering you a 10% discount plus free P&P if you quote iLovePrimroseHill when you order any unframed print before 29 February 2016. Usually prices are £30 for an A5 print, £50 for A4 and £75 for A3.
To order contact her at secretartistnw5@gmail.com.
You can see her prints for sale and find out more at http://www.secretartistnw5.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at
@secretartistNW5.

Click on the gallery for a closer look:

And if you have any suggestions of buildings in Primrose Hill that deserve her attention, do let her know.

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