Forgotten Painting Of St Michael & All Angels Returns 'Home' For Festival

The watercolour of the Church was discovered in the Chiswick Library basement

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A forgotten painting of St Michael & All Angels Church and Vicarage, purchased by Chiswick Library 45 years ago, is to go on display at the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition this week, after it was discovered on a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour to mark National Libraries Day. It is returning ‘home’ because it is thought to have been bought at one of Bedford Park’s very first art exhibitions in 1970.

The watercolour is by the late Polita Cherry and was found by journalist Torin Douglas, a St Michael’s parishioner, in the basement of Chiswick Library. It was covered in plastic bubble-wrap, alongside other artworks in the Library’s collection.

By coincidence, the artist’s son Frol Cherry was on the same tour of the Library, and he was invited to open the package and unveil his mother’s painting.

“It was the first time people had been allowed into parts of Chiswick Library that aren’t usually open to the public” said Torin Douglas. “In the basement, there were paintings in storage and I spotted a typewritten catalogue on the shelf. I leafed through the list and saw that item no 104 was labeled ‘St Michael’s & Vicarage – watercolour by Polita Cherry’.

“I whispered to Frol Cherry – ‘are you related to anyone called Polita Cherry?’ and he said ‘she was my mother!’ So we asked the librarians if we could unwrap the painting, in front of the tour group, and we discovered this wonderful watercolour.”

Frol Cherry was delighted to discover the painting, which he knew nothing about. He says his mother was a colourful local character, who lived for 35 years in Hartswood Road. Her father was a professional artist, living in Paris, where his mother was born.

“In the ‘70s, there was a flourishing Art Circle in the then Chiswick Poly, which is now the ArtsEd” he said. “It seems that the painting was done from the first floor, looking out at the Church. She used to talk a lot about her great chum (another gifted painter), who was the son of the late (and great) Tommy Cooper.

“The Art Circle must have been well considered, because I remember that when the Borough was twinned with Issy les Moulineaux in the early 80's, the Art Circle went off to Paris en masse as part of the official delegation, to attend the celebrations!”

Frol Cherry unveils his late mother's painting

Carolyn Hammond of Chiswick Library’s Local Studies Department says the painting was almost certainly bought at the art exhibition held in Bedford Park in 1970. It still has a sticker on showing the price - £30.

Chiswick Library has kindly agreed to lend the painting to St Michael & All Angels Church for display at the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition, which begins on Friday evening June 12 th and runs until Friday June 19th as a highlight of the Bedford Park Festival.

The Exhibition will also commemorate two distinguished Chiswick artists who died earlier this year, William Bowyer RA ( pictured above) and Alfred Daniels RWS. For many years, both painters took part in the Summer Exhibition, where artists generously donate a third of the price of their works to the Festival charities.

Alfred Daniels

This year’s poster for the Exhibition is of a painting of St Michael & All Angels Church by William Bowyer, below, which will be raffled in aid of the charities.

The Exhibition will also remember the ceramicist Eleanor Greeves, who was married to the founder of the Bedford Park Society Tom Greeves. A table featuring six of her Bedford Park tiles will be auctioned at the Exhibition by the Society. It was owned by the late local historian Larry Duttson, author of Mainly About Bedford Park People.

The Bedford Park Festival
Friday 12 June – Sunday 28 June 2015
31 events over 17 days
See for full event and booking detail

The Bedford Park Festival is run by St Michael & All Angels Church, with the active support of dozens of local people and businesses. It was set up in 1967 to foster a sense of community, celebrate the arts, and raise money for urgent repairs to the Church. Since then it has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities.

This year the Festival will raise money for St Michael’s Organ and Parish Rooms Appeal, Msaada which helps restore dignity to the forgotten victims of the Rwandan genocide, The Upper Room who feed and support the community in need in West London and The Mulberry Centre in Isleworth, which provides information, advice and support to all those affected by cancer.


June 8, 2015