A piece of Bedford Park’s artistic history has returned to the suburb after finding a home in a perfect setting within St Michael & All Angels Church. Four watercolours depicting Blenheim Road, Marlborough Crescent, Queen Anne’s Gardens and Woodstock Road were unveiled at a ceremony in the Church on 6 November.
The paintings, completed in 1983-4, are the work of Fenja Anderson (née Gunn 1941–2020), donated by her husband Anthony to the Bedford Park Society. Fenja and Anthony lived at 33 Abinger Road from 1973–96 during which time Fenja was extremely active locally. She played a key role in the launch of the Open Gardens event, now part of the Bedford Park Festival, and wrote and illustrated Gardening in Bedford Park for the Bedford Park Society.
Fenja worked first as a freelance fashion artist. After her history of cosmetics, The Artificial Face, was published in 1973, she started painting watercolours of street scenes and houses, many on commission. Gardening then became her main interest.
She provided the illustrations for The Illustrated Garden Planter by Diana Saville, researched, wrote and illustrated Lost Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll and wrote many articles for magazines. The Andersons moved in 1996 to Bradfield in West Berkshire where Fenja designed and planted a celebrated garden, Mariners, which attracted visitors from all over the world.
Nigel Woolner, President of the Bedford Park Society, who was responsible for finding a suitable site and arranging to hang the paintings, said: “We are delighted to have been able to find a location for these wonderful paintings in the Church at the heart of the community, which is just what Fenja would have wanted. We are very grateful to Father Kevin for agreeing to hang them in a place which displays them to great advantage and gives a new dimension to the staircase when visiting the Sacristy. The paintings can now be enjoyed by Bedford Park residents and visitors for generations to come.”
The four watercolours, displayed on the staircase wall opposite the Sacristy, were unveiled by Anthony Anderson at a ceremony attended by members of Fenja’s and Anthony’s family together with representatives from the Bedford Park Society and St Michael & All Angels.