The Streatham Sketchbook

Streatham has been associated with the arts for centuries. Craftsmen created the fancy tiling for royal palaces from the unique clays in the Furzedown in the 15th century, the only known painting of Lady Jane Grey was found here in the 19th century, Norman Hartnell, the queen’s dress designer, lived above the Crown and Sceptre pub, yesteryear’s local artist Joseph Holland Tringham who painted King Edward the VII & Queen Alexandra to today’s local artist Sam Fellowes who won the BP Portrait Award last year and award winning Bat for Lashes recorded her latest album literally underneath the Streatham High Road. Streatham’s artist community has always been world class and virtually unknown locally.

This will start to change this year as a new book on art in Streatham, The Streatham Sketchbook, will be released later this year. A collaboration between art author and curator Mireille Galinou and local artist Jiro Osuga, the book will begin a theme of “The Artists in the City” focusing on artists in London beginning with the viewpoint of Jiro, an acclaimed artist who lives and works here in Streatham.

The author, Mireille Galinou, comes from a small town in France via the University of Bordeaux. After doing another degree in art history at Birkbeck she spent 20 years immersed in the art of London working with the Museum of London collection of paintings, prints and drawings which she curated for eight years.

Mireille published the Dulwich Notebook this past December, which focused on Dulwich as a London suburb with its history, local personalities, architecture, etc. The Streatham Sketchbook will be of similar heft and will also feature similar profile material on the profile and history of Streatham. We, however, get the additional insight by subject matter experts into the arts in Streatham and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on one when published.

One of the topics of The Streatham Sketchbook is artists opening their studios, and this is a trend that, if it didn’t start in Streatham, caught on very early here. You will have seen DOLPH featured here; they and many other artists open their studios every year at ASC Studios in Streatham Hill. Various independent artists in Streatham have opened their studios as  a part of the Lambeth Open event including Linda Firth, Akeisha Walters, Richard Pavitt and Sam Selby and Carol Grantham of Streatham and Furzedown’s “Women of the Cloth”. Jiro Osuga provides and insider’s view to all this, both as an artists, and as a colleague and collaborator with other artists.

Jiro, originally from Tokyo, is possibly the perfect collaborator for Mireille on the Sketchbook. Having spent the latter part of his childhood in London, he did A-levels at St Martin’s School of Art, a degree at the Chelsea School of Art then a Masters in Fine Art Painting at the Royal College of Art. It’s difficult to imagine a better place to start a career as an artist and Jiro hasn’t underachieved.

But nevermind the featured paintings displayed by Deutsche Bank, various London hospital trusts and, of course, The Museum of London, we were awed by his displays during the past two Streatham Festivals. In 2014 he created an amazing double sided piece specifically for the display space at Balfes Bikes in Streatham Hill, then in 2015 his piece in the large, former Oxfam space on the High Road got much attention and talk. Last year he also donated a superb piece to the festival for the fundraising auction.

If we had to choose a dream team to produce a book on Streatham art, we couldn’t do better than these two. Additionally, Mireille has brought some of her team from the Museum of London to help – Torla Evans on photography, Michael Keates the book designer and Valerie Cumming, a dress historian. When a plan comes together with a team this strong it can only be good for Streatham’s image. We look forward to seeing it.