Meet artist Kitty North, whose latest exhibition celebrates Chelsea’s wonderful landscapes. Words by Charlotte Pasha.
Kitty’s art tells the story of Chelsea from the river to the rooftops.
Growing up on Tite Street, and cycling to her Art Foundation course at the Chelsea School of Art on Lots Road, Kitty fell in love with Chelsea.
While she now resides in Yorkshire, Kitty has spent the past 18 months living at 75 Flood Street, immersing herself in the area while painting everything she sees.
You can visit her exhibition Chelsea: Rivers to Rooftops, at 370 King’s Road, until November 17th.
“I had a few commissions just off Sloane Square, and I started walking over Albert Bridge and back over Chelsea Bridge.
“I thought how much I would like to paint it and tell the Chelsea story, from the river to the rooftops,” Kitty says.
She adds: “I am a landscape painter and Turner and Whistler, who lived here, have always been heroes of mine.
“The landscape of Chelsea has interested me as much as Chelsea itself. I find the tide completely mesmerising. It’s all in the detail.”
Kitty has been doing much of her painting from Cadogan Pier, working through the seasons.
“I’ve gone through spring, summer, autumn and winter and then back again. Even in February I was able to stand outside painting for three hours and not mind – it’s much colder up in Yorkshire!” Kitty laughs.
The colours have progressed as the seasons did, too.
“I love colour. The watercolours in the winter are quite wintery. When I started, the Thames water was almost indigo, but as the seasons went on and as I got more confident, the colours have got brighter,” she says.
“I did hours of sketching, day after day, at the river. That’s what allowed me to do these great big six-foot paintings. I observed the tide and the light and I saw snow and sun and then went back to the studio to put it all down,” she says.
The pictures celebrate all that Chelsea is. Kitty depicts the area’s landscapes, people, cafes, and vibrancy, in huge canvases with bright acrylic and en plein air watercolours.
Look out for landmarks like Chelsea Old Church and the Royal Hospital, as well as homes and streets – Cheyne Walk is a favourite.
Exhibition in Chelsea
Given the absolute focus on Chelsea in the paintings, of course it makes sense that Kitty would exhibit them in Chelsea, too.
“I’ve always previously been associated with a gallery or museum, but to tell the story of Chelsea, it has to end here,” she says.
Kitty will also take Chelsea commissions, she tells me, of particular houses and views.
And despite having soaked in the rooftop views for 18 months, Kitty’s not done.
“There is still more to do in Chelsea, I feel totally embedded in it,” she says.
Chelsea: Rivers to Rooftops, 370 King’s Road, until November 17th.