Showing posts with label artist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artist. Show all posts

29 March 2021

Tom Keating: The Forest Hill Forger

By Gary Thornton

Havelock Walk may be known for its community of artists, but 100 years ago, at the other end of Forest Hill, a small boy grew up to become the 20th century’s most notorious and gifted art forger, responsible for 2,000 fake painting by over 100 artists, many of which still hang undetected in galleries across the world.

Tom Keating claimed that his “Sexton Blakes” were his response to the corruption and vested interests he saw in art dealers and galleries, profiting whilst impoverished artists suffered and starved. In a practice meant to undermine these experts and give him a possible defence against charges of fraud, each painting contained a deliberate ‘time-bomb’ which gave a clue to its deception. He would write comments such as “You’ve been had!” on the blank canvas (revealed only under X-ray), deliberately use a modern pigment, or even add a layer of glycerine under the paint so that the painting would be destroyed when cleaned.

The early chapters of Keating’s fascinating autobiography, The Fake’s Progress, paint a detailed and affectionate portrait of the neighbourhood around Herschell Road, where he was born in 1917 in one of the 36 flats in a terrace of three-storey houses opposite St Saviour’s Church. It was then a poor working-class area of overcrowded and unsanitary dwellings, but where everyone looked out for everyone else. It was a nice enough place, writes Keating, better at least than the slums of the East End.

Keating’s father worked as a house-painter for the same building firm for 37 years, until the gas in his lungs from the Great War left him unable to work, and he was sent home with an hour’s pay in his pocket. The family were left to rely on the wages earned by Tom’s elder siblings for their survival.

Tom’s education started at Dalmain Road school, where he first found his talent for painting, although he soon ran away to Eltham, and spent three years living there with his grandparents. Returning to Dalmain Road, he passed the entrance exam for St Dunstan’s College in Catford. However, with his family unable to afford the fees, he left school for various jobs, selling parts for early wirelesses, and working as a barber’s assistant.

Called up to the Royal Navy for the Second World War, Keating married whilst at home on leave after his ship was torpedoed. After he was invalided out, the couple took a room in Sunderland Road. Ellen worked in munitions and Tom as a door-to-door salesman, selling Lazy Lady’s furniture polish. 

Then, in 1952, whilst studying at Goldsmith’s College, Keating met Albert Fripp, an art dealer on Dartmouth Road. Fripp’s business involved buying copies of Dutch flower paintings made by ‘little old ladies’ in Bromley, which he would age in an oven and sign before selling to West End galleries as period originals. When he realised that Tom — now living in Westbourne Drive — had a particular talent for restoring and copying paintings, he took him on, and Keating had found his vocation.

Tom scoured antique shops around Forest Hill, Sydenham and Dulwich for supplies of cheap old canvases and frames which would be the basis of his forgeries. Using descriptions found in old sale catalogues, and with meticulous background research, he would recreate ‘lost’ paintings by Dutch, English and Italian masters, French impressionists, and even German expressionists, which would then find their way into the hands of dealers, and were often authenticated using the very catalogues Keating had used to invent them in the first place.

In 1976, and by now living in rural Suffolk, he was charged with fraud when a collection of Samuel Palmer paintings in a London gallery were traced back to him, but the case was dropped when Keating fell dangerously ill. He recovered to become a minor celebrity, presenting a Channel 4 television series on the techniques of the Old Masters (Tom Keating on Painters), before he died in 1984 at the age of 66.

Since his death, the appreciation of Keating as an artist has risen, and his once worthless fakes now reach considerable prices. In a neat reversal of fortune, this has in turn fed a thriving market in counterfeit Keatings. Tom would probably have approved.

24 February 2014

February Newsletter: A new Artistic Hub for Forest Hill

V22 is Coming to Louise House in 2014. Annabel Fenwick spoke to  Reshma, V22 Programme Director about their plans...
Q. What is V22?
We are an art institution (set up in 2006) that supports art, artists and the development of both and promotes the value and positive impact of art on communities. We specialise in the collection of contemporary art, the production of exhibitions, events and educational initiatives, and provide artists’ studios and artisans' workshops.

Q. Who are you funded by?
V22 is based upon a unique shared ownership model, which aims to be sustainable, self-sufficient, and therefore independent. V22 has a diverse range of income: from its collection being listed on the ISDX-ICAP market, income generated from studios, and the support received from grant bodies including Arts Council England.

Q. I see you have three other studios in London including Dalston, Haggerston and Bermondsey - all known as creative hubs. Did you recognise something similar in SE23? Why did you decide to open in Forest Hill?

Traditionally, studio providers have been part of the archetypal regeneration cycle: studio providers by nature generate low income and are then consequentially priced out as they help to make areas more creative and attractive. This is a cycle we have been working incredibly hard to break free from by acquiring long-term leases and permanent buildings.

In this particular instance, we were lucky enough to be recommended Louise House by Arts Council England, who told us it was being put up for tender. We applied and won, and were so (and still are!) delighted, not only to have the opportunity of having a long term lease, but to have the guardianship of a very special building located in an incredibly active and creative community. These factors we believe will really help to build a strong community and cultural centre. We want to provide affordable long-term studios and encourage the creation of new relationships and networks amongst artists and creative organisations locally and nationally. Forest Hill is a great place to do this.

Q. When will you officially open at Louise House?
We hope to open the studios during early spring, although there is still some building work that needs to be done before that can happen. The public space at the back of the property we will be working hard on to get the first tentative things happening there in time for the summer. Then there is work needed on the gardens as we have some great plans for them. So I suppose the grand opening will be something we work toward, hopefully in partnership with many local people.

Q. What exhibitions are you currently planning for Louise House?
We are in the research and development stages of planning our summer programme, presenting a series of events in collaboration with artists and local groups and communities. We also we hope to launch a new educational initiative called Studio+ which will support young and emerging artists.

Q. What is planned for the community space?
 Firstly there will be a dedicated exhibitions and events space integrated into our educational initiatives; secondly a 'Community Studio' which can be used for a variety of activities ranging from art lessons, to workshops, to rehearsal space; and thirdly, a community garden which we would like to build in partnership with people from SE23 and which can be used for summer events and activities.

We are yet to gain access to the lower ground area, but we hope this will make an excellent screening room (everyone in Forest Hill wants a cinema!) and hopefully a space which can also be used for theatre and possibly live music.

Q. What do you like about the area?
An abundance of creative independent initiatives; engaged communities and active local groups; great transport links; gorgeous architecture; fabulous cafes; and the very real sense of welcome we have been given.

The Forest Hill Society could not ask for better outcome for Louise House (located between Forest Hill Library and Forest Hill Pools). The building itself will not only be reinvigorated but crucially, by having a long term lease, the organisation can offer long term support to new and emerging artists in the area.

The exhibitions and events that V22 are planning will no doubt have a positive impact on both the community and the local cultural landscape. The Society welcomes V22 wholeheartedly.

Find out more about V22 at

01 August 2013

Louise House - A Hub for Art

We are delighted to say that we have finally heard who will be running Louise House for the next three years (and beyond, if successful).

V22 Collection is an art organisation, with a shared ownership structure, which specialises in the collection of contemporary art, the production of exhibitions, events and educational initiatives, and the provision of artists' studios and artisans' workshops. V22 currently runs three studio buildings in London, providing affordable workspace for over 400 tenants.

The first property, which they have managed since 2006, provides for 27 artists and is situated at the heart of Dalston’s creative district on Ashwin Street. The second, V22 Workspace, is a massive 142,000 sq. ft ex-industrial space in Bermondsey which they moved into in October 2010 and has over 380 artists and creative professionals working in the building, a large exhibition and events space, a community cafĂ© and workshop space. They are proud of the collaborative and friendly community that has arisen there. Their third property opened recently in De Beauvoir, London, N1.

V22 believes that artists will always be at the forefront of contemporary thought. They aim to enable better connections into the wider art ecology through their shared ownership structure.

Louise House is situated on Dartmouth Road between the library and the swimming pool and is Grade 2 listed by English Heritage. The involvement of V22 in this site is another exciting opportunity for the development of Forest Hill and we look forward to working with them.

22 April 2013

Dulwich Fesitval - Local Artists' Open Houses

Artists’ Open House 2013 is on Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th May and Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th May 11 am - 6pm

Across Dulwich and surrounding areas (including Forest Hill) artists are opening their houses to visitors to see their work. Forest Hill's open studios are centred around Havelock Walk, just off London Road.

Full details of all participating artists and other activities in the Dulwich festival can be found at 

Saturday 18th May (2pm) is also the launch of the Chelsea Fringe Edible High Road in Forest Hill and Honor Oak. More details to follow.

27 February 2013

Call for artists

This year, the 5th annual Sydenham Arts Festival will run for 16 days from Saturday June 29th 2013. The Sydenham Arts Festival, Artists Trail team are looking for people who want to be involved in this year's Artists Trail. They really want to have as many artists and places to show art in and around Sydenham and Forest Hill this year.

The Artists Trail will be held during the three weekends of the Festival: 29th/30th June, 6th/7th July and 13th/14th July. You can choose to exhibit for one, two or all three weekends, but note that the Wimbledon finals coincide with the second weekend (6th/7th July) and this might deter visitors, especially if Andy Murray reaches the final again! The last weekend (13th/14th July) coincides with the annual Horniman Museum Art exhibition.

The last few years’ experience shows that houses and studios showing more than 2 or 3 artists’ work attracted more visitors and created more of a buzz, so the Artists Trail team would urge you to be more inventive this year. If you have space to share with other artist friends please do so. If you would like the Trail team to match your home / studio with a "homeless" artist please let them know - there is space for this on the entry form.

The entry fee this year, which includes the cost of advertising and public liability insurance, has been increased to £40 per artist with a cap of £160 where there are more than 4 artists at the same venue. The increased entry fee will allow the Trail team to design something imaginative and appropriate to physically advertise each open house / studio and to attract more visitors to all the Artists Trail venues. They plan to print 12,000 Artists Trail broadsheets at the same time as the Festival brochure and to distribute them together. There will also be a website and they hope to take advantage of social media outlets such as Twitter to highlight Artists Trail activities.

The Festival brochures and Artists Trail broadsheets will be printed and ready for distribution early in May. In order to give them time to design the publicity material and to meet print deadlines they need to receive your completed entry form by Thursday, 7th March. You will then have until 18th March to pay and send the words and images for the broadsheet and website. Late entries will NOT be accepted.

If you are not an artist but would like to offer your home or studio as a venue for artists to show their work they would be very grateful. There is no entry fee for hosts.

If you wish to enter the 2013 Sydenham Arts Festival Artists Trail as an artist or a host, please fill in the online entry form. The Sydenham Arts Festival Artists Trail team (Alan Taylor Russell, Annabel McLaren, Anne-Marie Glasheen, Bruce Harrison, Mireille Galinou, Nick Haseltine, Pippa Stacey and Yoke Matze) would like to thank you for your continuing support of the Festival and the Artists Trail.

14 June 2010

Rose Award for Photography

We would like to offer our congratulations to Paul Murphy, local resident and member of the Society, on winning the "Rose Award for Photography" at this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Paul is only the second person to win this award.

The Royal Academy's annual Summer Exhibition, which opens today and runs until 22 August, is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition and attracted over 11,000 entries this year.

Now in its 242nd year, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. This year’s co-ordinators, Royal Academicians Stephen Chambers and David Chipperfield, have selected works for the exhibition around the theme of ‘Raw’.

The winning photograph, which was taken in Idaho in the USA, is from a series on Backyards which looks at how we use our outdoor garden spaces and how they describe the owners of the attached property.