Chiswick Rises to the Creative Challenge of the Pandemic

Artists (Staying) at Home heads another week of culture in W4

Milly Forrest with musicians from Guildford Choral.
Milly Forrest with musicians from Guildford Choral

A record number of artists are taking part in the ‘Artists (Staying) At Home’ studios event this weekend, displaying and selling their works online. It takes place as the Bedford Park Festival enters its second week, with more virtual concerts, talks and plays, in aid of St Michael & All Angels Church and its three charities.

“Chiswick’s cultural community has really risen to the creative challenge of Covid-19” said Fr Kevin Morris, vicar of St Michael & All Angels, which runs the Bedford Park Festival. “Our artists, actors, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, writers and producers have created wonderful works for us to enjoy online, with great support from local businesses and schools – and we’re delighted that audiences have been so appreciative.”

Because of the Covid-19 lockdown, Artists At Home is being run as a ‘Virtual Open Studios’ event, with artists displaying and selling their work online. It opened at 6pm this Friday 19 June, on the website , sponsored by local estate agents Horton & Garton.

“We have 100 artists taking part in Artists (Staying) at Home this year which is a record for our event!” said Steph Norbury, a member of the steering group. “A number of our registered artists normally take a year out from time to time, due to other commitments, so when we decided to go ‘virtual', it gave everyone something positive to focus on. Those like myself, who would have been elsewhere, were able to join in again, as we found ourselves at home!”

She went on: “Our artists have been really supportive of this initiative and there are things we have learned and done differently this year that we may utilise in future. Artists at Home has been running since 1973 without a break and we were not about to let 2020 or Covid-19 stop us from creating and sharing our work!”

Several of the artists are also showing work in the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition, as part of the Bedford Park Festival Online. Instead of being displayed in St Michael & All Angels Church, these works are being shown on The Chiswick Calendar website until the end of the Festival fortnight where the public can vote for their favourite artworks – and buy them. The artists are generously donating a third of the sale price to St Michael’s and its three charities for 2020, The Upper Room, WaterHarvest and West London Welcome.

And the 29 Craft Fair exhibitors are still selling their works on the virtual Green Days website, hosted by

There are more concerts, talks and drama productions to come, as well as a chance to catch up with those that have taken place, such as ‘Dusted with Sugar’, starring Phyllis Logan and Kevin Morris, the Louis de Bernieres poetry evening, and Sophie Ellis Bextor’s lockdown kitchen discos.

On Friday 19 June, on The Chiswick Calendar website, there was a concert by the gipsy/jazz musicians, Trio Manouche, showcasing their new album ‘The Isolation Sessions’, recorded under lockdown.

Trio Manouche, showcasing their new album ‘The Isolation Sessions
Trio Manouche, showcasing their new album ‘The Isolation Sessions

On Saturday 20 June audiences watched soprano Milly Forrest in ‘Virtually Milly Forrest & Friends’, a compilation of her lockdown recordings on YouTube, with Guildford Choral and others.

On Sunday 21 June, there’s a virtual concert by the St Michael & All Angels Choristers and at 8pm the actor Eddie Marsan appears in the final episode of ‘Death of an Inquisitor’, followed by a discussion, on the Italian radio station LondonONERadio.

On Monday 22 June, there’s a talk about the great theatre architect Frank Matcham and the Chiswick Empire - which he designed, as well as the Lyric Hammersmith and the Richmond Theatre - hosted on The Chiswick Calendar website.

On Tuesday 23 June, there’s a Festival highlight. ‘Creature Features’ is a radio play for all the family, with animals voiced by several of Chiswick’s best-known actors – including Kevin McNally, Phyllis Logan, John Rowe and Lucy Briers – and Jeremy Vine playing a journalist. It was commissioned by The Chiswick Calendar and written and produced by Christina Balmer and Freya Alderson of The XV Theatre Company.

The Festival fortnight continues until Sunday 28 June when the Festival Mass will come from St Michael & All Angels Church, streamed live on its Facebook page. It will include the virtual singing of The Festival Hymn, recorded in the homes of members of several local choirs. The Silent Auction of Gifts & Promises will reach its climax that day and the traditional Bedford Park Open Gardens event will take place virtually, through photos and videos. There will even be a chance for people to order an Open Gardens Tea from The Postroom Café on Bedford Corner!

The full Bedford Park Festival Online programme can be found on the Festival’s ‘What’s On’ page.

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June 20, 2020