First as a newspaper planning correspondent and then as a consultant and writer, Judy Hillman has researched and written extensively about cities, especially London. She loves photography but began to sketch and paint to try to capture more of the elusive multi-faceted nature of its people and character.
Judy Hillman, 85, a stalwart and much loved member of the Drawing London sketching group, was taken ill while hanging an exhibition of her own work for the Primrose Hill Art Trail in her local library on Saturday, August 1. She was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Free Hospital but sadly died following the insertion of a stent.
Revealingly, in a recent recorded chat with a friend and photojournalist Mimi Feunzalida, on how Judy had found the Covid-19 lockdown, she said: ‘I don’t like to think of myself as an artist’.
She clearly did not enjoy the enforced seclusion as she happily recalled how in normal days she would work as a volunteer at her library, go into London, attend a lecture or take part in a life drawing class and then lunch at the Athenaeum Club once a week. She would also often have someone in for supper.
Judy continued: ‘I’ve been here in Primrose Hill 50 years. Yes, wow, that would be 1970! I didn’t raise a family. I was a journalist for years which I enjoyed so much and I never really had time to get involved with people. I was involved with the world.’
And so she was. Judy engaged avidly for over five decades in her chosen journalistic career, first with a trade magazine Public Works and Muckspreader, Woman, The Evening Standard, The Observer and The Guardian.
Her speciality at The Guardian was as planning correspondent and thanks to the paper’s archive service it is possible to still come across Judy’s output. In a memorable piece published in March 1970, called ‘London glamour masks fading quality of life’, she described how signs of ‘an urban malaise’ could be detected and ‘most Londoners know that the common place of life gets increasingly difficult and exhausting.
‘New families continue the exodus to a life beyond the green belt. More open space is nibbled off for roads. Planes bellow their way into Heathrow airport London. The crime rate has risen. Bad development proceeds apace.’
Artistry of another sort, a way with words.
Judy’s origins clearly contributed to this truly artistic person. Born in Seaford, on the Sussex coast, with an elder sister Rosalie, now 91, the girls were evacuated to Canada in 1940 on the Duchess of Richmond – the ship which followed was torpedoed.
If not a precise version of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, life was full of the great outdoors; they learned to ski and skate. They went to a small and, according to Rosalie, ‘very good’ school at Rockcliffe Park, a suburb of Ottawa. Summers were spent at a cottage – without toilet or running water — in Larrimac in Quebec. Rosalie’s daughter, Anthea, explains that Judy was actually researching a book on the evacuee experience and by the time of her passing had accumulated a lot of material.
But back they came to Sussex where father had survived both the battle of El Alamein in Egypt and the bombing of his solicitor’s office in Seaford. Mother had spent the war in the Wrens.
Both girls initially found life in England to be comparatively restricting. After attending Brighton and Hove High, Judy won a scholarship to Roedean School and eventually became Head Girl. From there she went to St Andrews University to read economics and moral philsosophy. Meanwhile older sister couldn’t wait and emigrated back to Canada to become a layout journalist, eventually moving to New York, for more magazine work and to marry her husband, Ian Michaelson-Yeates.
Judy quickly got into journalism too and in a significant move joined the Bow Group, a Conservative think tank launched by Geoffrey Howe MP in 1960.
Judy got on well with Geoffrey and Elspeth Howe, often making up a bridge four at their home. This led to her being invited to join them at their gorgeous villa in the south of France for several summer holidays during the ‘70s and ‘80s, and where there was more bridge while Geoffrey ‘worked’. Rosalie chuckles appreciatively as she remembers Labour’s Denis Healey’s description of a political attack by Howe ‘like being savaged by a dead sheep’.
Throughout her life Judy had the misfortune of suffering from a debilitating condition called Epstein-Barr. This was related to glandular fever and would keep coming back, on one occasion causing her to stop work for a year. She kept her struggles private and managed her energy output carefully, invariably turning up for Drawing London sketching events a little late but always managing to find the group with a cheery smile no matter how obscure the chosen venue.
Judy’s professional life focused on St Katherine’s Dock, London Docklands and Cardiff Bay and she authored three reports for the Royal Fine Arts Commission. By virtue of a friendship with one of the environment ministers Judy was co-opted onto the Royal Parks Review Group for a five year spell. Other obligations came from working with the London Advisory Committee of English Heritage and the urban parks advisory group of the Heritage Lottery Fund. She was a patron of Friends of Regents Park and Primrose Hill until her demise.
One of her early ‘splash’ stories for the Evening Standard came about following a taxi journey via the Hyde Park Corner Underpass. She noticed the vehicle was suddenly inundated with water from above and following enquiries with the driver and others she established that the River Fleet had been inadequately contained during construction and was causing mayhem.
Primrose Hill was a much loved locale for Judy, as she said in her interview with Mimi in June this year, ‘It’s terribly good here, as good as it gets. We’ve got local shops, we’ve got Camden, reasonable tube and bus connections. It’s wonderful!’
Judy was a very popular and highly valued member of Drawing London. She was indeed an accomplished artist and I remember with gratitude how she tried to encourage me to stick with a particular style of painting. After various attempts to reinvent myself her insistence, I now know, is absolutely correct! Thanks Judy.
Judy Hillman, journalist and artist, born September 9, 1934; died August 1, 2020
*Judy is survived by her sister Rosalie Michaelson-Yeates, niece Anthea Stevens, nephews Tony and Julian, and two first cousins, one great-nephew and four great-nieces.
Judy’s sketches with Drawing London from 2008 to 2020
This page is for images of drawings and paintings made by the members of our group at each of our meeting places during the year 2020.
Roll your mouse over the thumbnail images to find out the month, location and author of each one. Or click on an image to see an enlargement and then view all of the enlarged images one by one.
Carol Savage joined the group at the end of 2019.
In March this year (2020), the Drawing London Group’s regular monthly meeting abruptly ceased with the lockdown. Not to be deterred, the group decided if we cannot have monthly meetings, then we will have weekly meetings instead! Using the magic of technology, we appear on screen, sometimes as many as 12 of us, clutching our coffee mugs and chatting about how to manage and stay sane during lockdown. After half an hour, we go off to paint whatever we can find, returning in the afternoon to show off our work. Lockdown has been kind to artists in many ways, giving us time and focus. Here are examples of work done during these interesting times!.
From July, the Zoom calls stopped and the northern and southern groups met in separate locations in July and August (Kenwood and Waterlow Park and Painshill Park)
But as the news that the pandemic was increasing, Bill wisely decided to suspend all Drawing London meetings until the end of the year.
A favourite on Facebook has been Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Week, a four hour long programme following one of their prize winning portraitists painting a well known sitter. The art, the chat, and the challenge of making our own work has been popular amongst us. The first series started on 26 April with Akram Khan and ended on 21 June with Mary Beard. A second series began on 18 October with Annie McManus
Our great friend and fellow artist Ivor Kamlish died on Wednesday 30th October at the age of 88. Read our tribute to Ivor who died on 30th October 2019.
Ivor Kamlish’ work
Studied at Leeds College of Art and at the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London, where he specialised in graphics and exhibition design. His teachers included Maurice de Saumarez, Keith Vaughan, Paul Hogarth, Herbert Spencer and Anthony Froshaug. After National Service, he joined Carter & Co in Poole, Dorset, designing ceramic and mosaic murals, as well as being responsible for the companies corporate print. In 1963 he started his own design practice, which continues to this day. His work has been exhibited in London and abroad.
Our great friend and fellow artist Ivor Kamlish died on Wednesday 30th October at the age of 88.
Ivor was a co-founder of this group. His drawing skills were a great asset and complement to our group, and when he took up the iPad and his stylus replaced his pen, he became wonderfully skilled in creating iPad drawings. Those of you who have been lucky enough to be entertained in Ivor and Marian’s lovely, bright and airy flat by Regents Park will recall the walls covered with Ivor’s drawings – street scenes from just about every cafe in Europe, it seemed!
Ivor studied at Leeds College of Art and at the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London, specialising in graphics and exhibition design. His teachers included Maurice de Saumarez, Keith Vaughan, Paul Hogarth, Herbert Spencer and Anthony Froshaug. In 1963 he started his own design practice, which continues to this day.
His design skills proved very helpful for the poster and flyer for our first group exhibition in St John’s Smith Square. Some of Ivor’s murals still exist, and some of the books he designed and edited are still in print.
Ivor was a great friend, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Every October, he would go to the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park. He was there again this year, attending all four days even though he had to use a wheelchair.
He will be missed by everyone in the Drawing London Group.
A Photo Tribute from Marcus Oliver
Can I just add what a pleasure and honour it was to sketch in Ivor’s company. He was irrepressibly enthusiastic about everything. A delight to experience! His artistic knowledge was really deep. He could talk with authority on so many different topics. I only wish I had listened more.
Ivor’s sketches with Drawing London from 2003 to 2019
Click on any of the images below to see an enlargement
This page is for images of drawings and paintings made by the members of our group at each of our meeting places during the year 2019. Roll your mouse over the thumbnail images to find out the month, location and author of each one. Or click on an image to see an enlargement and then view all of the enlarged images one by one
The Drawing London Group are artist friends keen to explore the vibrant life and colour of London. We meet every month to sketch and paint in familiar and lesser-known areas of London such as Leadenhall Market, Covent Garden , Southbank and Greenwich.
In our upcoming exhibition, inspired by the title of our show (a quote from Ben Jonson’s ‘Bartholomew Fair’) we will be showing London Life depicted in a wide variety of media including watercolour, oil, iPad and pencil drawing.
Bill Aldridge introduces our show on London Live news