At the beginning of what will be a very artistic week in Ealing (BEAT begins this weekend - read more about it on page 40 of the Autumn Issue), we speak to Ealing-based artist, Bonnie Gibbons.
Bonnie is an artist working primarily with landscapes. She works from life, whatever the weather, ideally outdoors and has a very small studio space in the form of her van which allows her to travel around and paint and illustrate in all sorts of environments.
At what stage in your life did you first move to Ealing?
I moved here for a few months when I was teaching in the knitwear workshops at Kingston University, and then moved back here in my mid twenties. My partner was born in Ealing, which is how I discovered it. I love to be able to walk to work through all the parks in Ealing and Hounslow when I freelance at Pitzhanger Manor and Boston Manor Park.
If you were telling someone about Ealing who had never visited, how would you describe it?
A place with a calmer pace than other parts of London, a great community and masses of green public space. People come to live and tend to stay.
There are so many pockets of creativity and history; from the Rolling Stones in The Red Room in the 60s, to The Creative Mile today. My father in law loves to tell anyone who will listen how Freddie Mercury went to Ealing College.
I could also get quite boring about the Lizzie line and how easy it is to get to Hackney and Soho. I love falling asleep on the Central line and waking up at home.
Do you have a favourite Ealing watering hole?
The Shanakee is always a fun one. Beerkat has the best selection of beers. The Plough Inn, The Duke of Kent and The Drayton Court all have great big gardens. Lord Nelson and Black Dog Beer are on my hit list.
Where have you had your best Ealing meal?
The best lunch is Yaffa Falafel Box - on the highstreet opposite BrewDog. I will never not appreciate the luxury of a fresh smoothie and bagel after midnight from Bagel Bite opposite Ealing Broadway.
Do you have a favourite Ealing independent store?
Harrisons Wine and cheese shop on Pitshanger Lane - in summer they have tables outside to sit, drink and snack till the suns gone. Homeware and gift shop Mooch is also there, Pitshanger Bookshop - essentially all the shops on Pitshanger Lane are brilliant.
Is there a part of Ealing that you find particularly inspirational or where you find peace?
I always draw and paint from life (whatever the weather), so access to nature is essential for my work. Being near water, big horizons, and somewhere I can park the van studio helps too. Horsenden Hill and nearby canals are a favourite. I keep threatening to walk the full canal path to Paddington, but haven't yet. Canals in general are really good for my art and brain. They force a slower and healthier way of moving and thinking. The Brentford waterside is also brilliant for this, with Johnson's Island Artist Community, the live music and local food at The Brewery Tap, and Duke’s Drive-In Cinema.
Tell us what you're up to & what's next for you.
I am currently exhibiting at Picture Summer Exhibition in Shepherds Bush. My next exhibition is at The Turner House in Wales, and in 2024 I will have the first solo showing of my work at Parliament Hill Lido, in their cafe.
Day to day, I will be focussing on teaching, commissions and my own art practice. I create art for individual customers and for larger organisations too. The next one on the schedule is an illustrated Nature Trail for Boston Manor Park.
This autumn I will take the van studio to the landscapes of the north coast of Cornwall. I am working with a creative film studio, White Frame, to create a short film about this process.
I am lucky to move around a lot. Follow my latest work and travels in my moving studio @BonnieAnneGibbons on Instagram. Sign up to my newsletter for event invites and art workshops updates at www.bonnie-gibbons.com