Golden Natas, North End Road
I was struck by the elegance of the woman in the shop as she polished the stainless steel ovens. I was also struck by the delicious looking Natas. By the time I’d finished drawing them, I was desperate to eat one but alas, the shop was closed for the day. I did go back later and I can assure you they taste just as nice as they look.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Motorbike Repair Workshop, Lillie Road
On my first day I walked past the shop and noticed how busy this place was. After a few weeks I plucked up the courage to go in and accidentally walked into the section that the public weren’t allowed to go into for Health and Safety reasons. Once that was sorted, I was able to go through and take several photographs of this bike mechanic. I chose the one where he was showing pride in his skills; like many of the people that I drew, he is known well in the local community, which includes a number of bikers.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Barista, Shire Oaks Café, North End Road
This barista had a real presence as she made coffees for the customers in the cafe early one winter morning. Although she was surprised to be asked to be the subject of a portrait, she took it in her stride. I particularly enjoyed drawing her tattoos.
210 × 297 mm (A4)


Steel Pan Busker, Earl’s Court Tube Station
It was pouring with rain and some people had just refused to participate in the project. I wasn’t feeling too happy. Then I heard the sound of the steel pan and followed the music. When I got there, Jerome was just beginning to pack up, but he unpacked again and let me take a photo. I’m sure I’m not the only person he cheered up that afternoon. And I did put some money in his tin, too.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Fulham Quality Fish Staff, North End Road
There weren’t many people about that morning so they were having a chat and had time to stop for a photograph. The second most recognised portrait in the exhibition, they actually work in two different shops but they have a strong cameraderie, which I hope come across in my drawing.
297 x 210 mm (A4)


Woman Hand Sewing, The Community Hub, Aisgill Avenue
This is one of two drawings of women at the Sewing Group at The Hub. It was the air of concentration that made this subject so appealing to draw. Like every person that I drew a portrait of, she is meticulous in her working as though only she and the garment she’s working on exist in the world. I recognise the feeling, which mirrors the experience of sitting and drawing for hours without noticing time slipping by.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Passer-by, North End Road
When I was photographing Ty on the fruit stall, I sensed a presence behind me. This is Marley, who was very keen to be photographed. How could I resist? As I drew him, I was really worried in case I didn’t do his shades justice, in case they were designer ones and I got them wrong. It’s funny what you get stressed about when you’re drawing faces. I hope he likes it.
420 x 297 mm (A3)


Fruit Seller, North End Road
This was one of the first drawings that I did. You can see how well wrapped up she is against the bitter cold, but she had time for a smile. I liked the fact that she was wearing a red fleece. Later, I went to find her to give her the portrait: somehow she looked different. ‘Oh that’s my sister! Come round the corner with me and you can give it to her yourself’. On the way round, a man unloading a fruit delivery box van called over, ‘Are you the drawing lady?’ It’s the same stall as Ty, just a bit further down the road.
297 x 210 mm (A4)


Shop Worker, Trinity Hospice Charity Shop, Earl’s Court Road
What a stylish dresser! Apparently on loan from the Islington branch that day, she clearly loves her job. She is a walking advertisement for charity shop chic.
297 x 210 mm (A4)


Newspaper Stall, Earl’s Court Road Tube Station
This stall is just outside the tube station; it’s very busy almost all the time, but I managed to photograph the newspaper seller during a lull in the morning’s work. This was written in April and it’s still really cold out there; it takes a lot of stamina to work outside all day. I was glad to see that he has plenty of layers of clothing on, even now.
420 x 297 mm (A3)


Paramedics’ Coffee Break, The Hoarder Café, Lillie Road
This was on a strike day; these paramedics were based at the Ambulance Station in Seagrave Road. ‘No-one can see us down there’, they explained. There were actually three people, and I drew the ones who chatted to me. I think they were having a tough day and needed a break. The Hoarder’s tables and coffee cups are really distinctive, and they recognized them straight away when I posted this on Instagram.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Carpet Seller, North End Road
I walked past the carpet shop every day, and became fascinated by the rolls of green plastic turf; you can even buy it in red, pink or black. One day, this man was busy outside the shop, and he was delighted to be photographed sitting in the wintry sunshine. He told me that there had been an article about him the local paper, too. That grass must have magical properties.
297 x 210 mm (A4)


Repairing a Broken Window, Dad’s House, Lillie Road
This man had just finished replacing a window and was clearing up. Behind him, you can see Billy, who runs Dad’s House, in his distinctive green apron, standing in the sunshine with his phone. Billy was always up for a chat as I walked down from West Brompton to the studio in the mornings. As an artist, this was my first attempt at drawing a hi-vis jacket.
420 x 297 mm (A3)


Hammersmith & Fulham Law Enforcement Officers, North End Road
I met these men one afternoon; they stood out from the passers-by because of their hi-vis jackets, which were challenging to draw but also fun. I never thought I’d see them again but one afternoon, when I was invigilating the portrait exhibition in the gallery, I saw the chap on the right on the other side of Lillie Road and ran over the road. He was delighted to have had his portrait drawn.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Cat and Ball, Aisgill Avenue
One very cold day in February as I was heading towards the studio, I noticed a little boy on his own playing with a ball in the football area. With him was this beautiful Bengal cat. Cats can’t play with balls like dogs do, but this cat knew that the boy needed company, and was doing its best to join in with the game. It was an essential worker, just like the humans I’d been drawing.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Woman with Sewing Machine, The Community Hub, Aisgill Avenue
This portrait is of a member of The Hub’s Sewing Group. Their morning sessions were always busy and productive. I took several photographs and made two portraits. This one shows a very happy woman who is enjoying her work a lot.
420 x 297 mm (A3)


Fruit Stall, North End Road
When I first started to explore the area, I started with North End Road, where I’d been told there was a vibrant market. Stalls were rather thin on the ground on bleak January weekdays, but this man was a bundle of good-natured energy, out in all weathers and with a very loud voice. Ty’s portrait was the most-recognised one in the Gallery show. Everybody knew him, and talked about him with a smile on their faces.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Flower Seller with Lilies, Fulham Broadway
My ‘beat’ extended all the way to Fulham Broadway tube station. I had to ignore the man with two huge lilac macaws on his shoulders (not in my remit!), but this man was standing next to a huge display of lilies, guarding them as much as selling them. At one point I almost abandoned the portrait, because the lilies seemed to take over. Sometimes they look so aggressive with their shouting mouths, but he had worked out a truce and had an air of calm about him. As soon as he was present in the drawing, I knew he had the upper hand.
297 x 420 mm (A3)


Workmen in Hard Hats and Hi-Vis, Earl’s Court Road
On Earl’s Court Road one freezing but sunny Friday morning, I was looking for working people to photograph. The man on the left gave me a huge smile. I couldn’t resist asking, and he got his pals to come over too (but the manager walked off in the other direction). Three such different men, but you can see that they are really good mates; their friendship is touching. By the next week they’d gone, and I never managed to thank them or give them their mini-portrait.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Bingo Caller, The Community Hub, Aisgill Avenue
I’d heard that the bingo sessions on Thursday evenings at The Hub were extremely lively, and I went along to see what was happening. I took a lot of photographs, but this woman really caught my eye. I found out later that she was filling in for someone else that particular night. It is the care she is taking before the game begins, and the concentration on the matter in hand, that made me choose her to draw a portrait of. Look at her jumper, too. I heard that she was very pleased with her portrait.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Scout Leaders, The Community Hub, Aisgill Avenue
Finding hidden gems was part of the task I set myself. Nobody seemed to know much about the Scout Group who meet on Wednesdays at The Hub, but then I found out that one of the Scout leaders actually works there. I was getting close to the end of the project, and only had one Wednesday left before I started to frame the portraits. It was a tube strike day, and I also had 18 frames to transport by car from where I live in High Barnet. One five-hour round trip later, I had my photographs. Here are three beautiful women with a pride in what they do. It was really worth the journey.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Street Cleaner, Philbeach Gardens Area
This was a really, really cold grey morning. The cleaners were like beacons in their hi-vis uniforms. One of them retreated, but this man was happy to be photographed. He is taking such care over what he is doing. I found out later from his cousin (I was walking the streets looking for him to give him his mini-version of the portrait), that he’d not been working long for the council, and had told his cousin that a woman had taken a photograph of him one morning. I hope he liked his portrait: the original is the largest of all of them, at A2 size. I’m now fascinated by council street-cleaning trolleys.
420 × 594 mm (A2)


Sound Engineer at The Troubadour, Lillie Road
The Troubadour is a really important venue in the night-time economy of Earl’s Court. I arranged to photograph Nick, the sound engineer, one evening as he was setting up. All musicians (and I’m one) know that the sound engineer is the most important person at the gig. Without them, the sound, and hence the audience’s experience of the gig, is terrible. I tried some solo photographs, but in this one Nick is telling the artist (who?) that if he uses this little sound processor, it’ll blow a fuse in the mixing desk. It’s a classic pre-gig conversation, and I hope I’ve captured it here.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


TFL Staff, Earl’s Court Tube Station
Just after the Friday morning rush hour the tube staff were in a really good mood. I hope I’ve captured that in this portrait. I thanked them for making my day.
297 × 420 mm (A3)


Delivery Driver, Earl’s Court Road
He was the very first person who agreed to be photographed. I saw so many people delivering parcels during the residency. It’s a stressful and difficult job, and I was grateful to this driver for stopping for a moment with his spectacular and varied pile of packages. What a joy to draw.
297 x 210mm (A4)


Portraits of people in the local community of Earls Court

Caran D’Ache Crayons
Smooth Cartridge Paper 130 g/m²

Copyright © 2023 Helen McCallum

The Earls Court Development Company Residency