This trail is only 3km but will take you on the hills from which the views are rewarding and so is the art from the Artists’ Open Houses.
Start at the magnificent Horniman Gardens. Horniman, a successful tea-trader, collected artefacts from around the world and his museum and gardens are free to enter.
From the entrance to Horniman Gardens, cross the South Circular (A205), go left and turn right into Sydenham Rise. Almost immediately, turn left into Tarleton Gardens. At 6 Tarleton Gardens (venue 156), Alistair MacKillop will be tackling the cost of living crisis by flogging his reasonably priced artworks to friends, family and anyone else who loves a bit of abstraction. At the same venue, Emily Jo Gibbs will display hand-stitched portraits and still life works that celebrate people who make things.
Return to Sydenham Rise and climb the hill to Sydenham Hill and the roundabout at the top of the hill. Go straight across onto Kirkdale. At 4B Kirkdale (venue 158) (open 13th & 14th May only), you will find a collaborative show by artists Heidi Seetzen and Kir Westdal. The show comprises contemporary prints, drawings, and sculptures, to be enjoyed with tea and cake.
Head south and downhill on Kirkdale all the way to the junction with Dartmouth Road. In the café, The Moustache, 99 Kirkdale (venue 162), Pawel Wasek is exhibiting a new series of abstract works, displayed alongside his much-loved female portraits (including last year’s cover art for the Dulwich Festival Artists’ Open House). These new works are decorative, and perfect eye-catching pieces for interior spaces.
Coming out of The Moustache, turn left onto Dartmouth Road. Continue along Dartmouth Road, past Sydenham School on your left and just past Holy Trinity Primary School, also on your left, turn left into Thorpewood Avenue. Take the first road right onto Derby Hill Crescent. At 14 Derby Hill Crescent (venue 153), collaborating artists Nicola Bensley and David Dipré will have works combining their disciplines as photographer and painter, reworking images of the figure shot on film with paint. David Dipré will also be showing figurative paintings and works on paper.
Head north on Derby Hill Crescent and turn right onto Derby Hill. Ian Robinson, at 33 Derby Hill (venue 154) has a working studio and exhibition with retro still life artwork on a theme of collecting and of an enthusiasm for it, with records, books, and objects that convey a pastime or hobby.
Head northeast on Derby Hill and turn right, staying on Derby Hill to return to Dartmouth Road. Turn left onto Dartmouth Road, and head towards the centre of Forest Hill, but just before the traffic lights, at 10 Dartmouth Road (venue 152), on the left hand side of the road is the Framing Salon, and there you will see the works of Cyrus Colquitt, who is passionate about colour and history. Producing mono prints he works into them with oil paint, the outcomes are illustrative and abstract.
Forest Hill has several pubs and cafes for refreshments. There is also a cornucopia of artists at the Havelock Walk Studios (venue 157). From the end of Dartmouth Road, cross the South Circular and go left. Havelock Walk is just before the Guava Kitchen. Havelock Walk Studios is a thriving creative community, home to both the celebrated and the as yet undiscovered. With so many studios to visit and so much art to see, you may need to refuel with the vegan and traditional street food provided by two local restaurants. During your visit, don’t forget to purchase a raffle ticket for the chance to win one of three original artworks.
Forest Hill is a transport hub with trains and buses to take you home.
View this Art Trail on Google Maps here