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Archive for May, 2011

The Kensington Magazine meets Dorrit Dekk – One of Kensington’s oldest artists

We met Dorrit Dekk, a delightful ‘older’ resident of Kensington as we wanted to interview her for our Hidden Talent page in the June edition. Dorrit still paints regularly, mainly using gouache and collage. Her work, as can be seen below, are bright and fun and at 94 she has just held a most successful private exhibition – her work is gaining fast in popularity.

Originally of Czech descent she moved to Austria and studied at the Kunstgewerbe Schule from 1936 – 1938.   Sadly the war intervened and her professor encouraged her to leave as the school was no longer allowed to take Jewish students.   She came to London with her mother and brother and Dorrit continued her studies at the Reimann School.   Her best known and recognised work is probably that which she did whilst at the Central Office of Information from 1946-1948 which included the well known ‘Coughs & Sneezes’ poster.

From the 1950s she ran her own very successful design practice. One day a chance conversation led her to designing a stand entitled ‘People at Play’ for the Land Traveller part of the Festival of Britain. The subject of the stand was British Sports and Games and included a large mural across the stand. This proved enormously popular and Dorrit is one of the few surviving contributors to the Festival of Britain exhibition.  (A video interview of her for the anniversary of the Festival of Britain can be seen on You Tube.)

Dorrit has lived in Airlie Gardens since the 1960s and as such she is one of the few people who can remember the beautiful Victorian water tower and the line of oak trees (now Kensington Heights). From her roof garden she used to be able to see as far as Highgate Cemetery.  It still clearly irks her that in the 1970s Sir John Betjeman would not support a band of women chaining themselves to the oak trees in order to prevent the planning permission of Kensington Heights!

The paintings below are of Uxbridge Street and Hillgate St. Kensington.  The latter featuring on our June 2011 front cover.

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