Newspaper Gossip Column
The Talk of London was a popular Gossip column published every Saturday in the Daily Express during the 1920’s & 30’s, It was always signed The Dragoman. A “Dragoman” was an interpreter or guide.
Here I’ve gathered together a few stories from “The Talk of London” which gives a fascinating insight to the world of pavement artists during the 20’s & 30’s.
Talk of London Column heading (1924)
It is a curious thing that while most of London’s pavement artists work on identically similar and most conventional lines, they break out into remarkable originality when they do leave the beaten track.
There is one whose speciality is wood carving of a really high order, and yesterday I came across an elderly original who supplements his flagstone paintings by a beautifully executed model of a cottage complete with man and wife, well and bucket, crazy path, and hollyhocks.
From the fact that he labels it a “gamekeeper’s cottage,” I suspect a real-life tragedy connected with the breaking up of a great estate.
Published: Daily Express Sat. 5th April 1924
The King in Chalk
A PAVEMENT artist at work in Kingsway yesterday had copied Mr Charles Sims portrait of the King, which he described as “the most-discussed picture at this year’s Academy.” Considering that the work was done in chalks it was a creditable reproduction, although I doubt whether either the King or Mr Sims would have felt flattered. Passers-by paused to look, but I noticed few threw a copper into the hat.
Published: Daily Express Sat. 17th May 1924
Talk of London coloumn heading (1932)
London’s First NEWSPAPER Pavement Art Competition!
No feature of London life is more characteristic and none more fascinating to visitors from overseas and the provinces than the pavement artists. Their displays are, in a true sense, the art galleries of the people. And in this cloudless weather they have the chance to perfect masterpieces which are not likely to be ruined by sudden showers.
I PROPOSE, therefore, to award a prize of £3.3s. for the best display of pavement art that I see between now and next Friday. There will be a second prize of £1.1s. I shall visit personally a number of “pitches”—without disclosing my identity—and shall take account only of pictures drawn directly on the pavement.
Published: Daily Express: Sat. 20th August 1932
W J Stubbs: Talk of London Pavement art competition winner 1932
Pavement Artist Competition: RESULTS!
ABOVE you see the pavement artist who has won my award of £3.3s. He is Mr W J Stubbs, who works under the shadow of the imposing statue of Lord Clyde in Waterloo-place. The second prize of £1.1s goes to Mr A Mannix, whose pitch is outside St. Stephen’s Church, Gloucester road. They will receive cheques.
It has been difficult to judge this competition, so high is the standard attained by most of the artists whose work I have inspected. A close runner-up for the second prize was the artist in College-crescent, Swiss Cottage, who has a lively humour and draws pound notes on the pavement so realistically that you instinctively stoop to pick them up.
MR MANNIX the second prize winner covers six entire paving stones with one large landscape—exquisitely done, with trees worthy of Corot and a building whose perspective is “primitive,” in the modern French manner.
BUT as soon as I saw Mr Stubbs display I knew that I had found my winner. He works entirely in black and white, and his compositions are all original—two facts which in themselves distinguish him from many pavement artists. Most of his pictures are studies from memory, of actual scenes in Essex and elsewhere. It takes him about two and a half days to complete his “gallery,” which is arranged with beautiful symmetry.
WORKS from his brush—for he paints on canvas too—hang in many famous houses and the Prime Minister and Mr Baldwin are among the people who take a friendly interest in him. I award him first prize without hesitation.
Published: Daily Express Sat. 27th August 1932
Researched by Philip Battle
Read my related blog on WJ Stubbs: William John Stubbs (1927)
Visit my Artists of The Paving Stone page on Facebook!