The Picker House & Collection: A Late 1960s Home for Modern Art & Design Publication Launch & Guided Tours

Publication Cover Image of The Stanley Picker House and Collection: A Late 1960s Home for Modern Art and Design

Back cover image of The Stanley Picker House and Collection: A Late 1960s Home for Modern Art and Design


The Picker House & Collection: A Late 1960s Home for Modern Art & Design Publication Launch & Guided Tours

A book detailing the extraordinary private house and  art collection of Stanley Picker on Kingston Hill, written  by staff from Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design &  Architecture, is to be published by Philip Wilson Publishers in October 2012 and launched at the Stanley Picker Gallery, to mark thirty years since the death of arts patron Stanley Picker in 1982.

Born in New York in 1913, Stanley Picker arrived in  England, having completed his studies at Harvard  University, to take over his father’s cosmetics business.  Under Picker’s leadership, the company developed as  a large and successful cosmetics manufacturer that  produced make-up brands Outdoor Girl, Miners and  Mary Quant, among others, and created a wealth that  permitted Picker to indulge his greatest love: the arts.

Picker’s connection with Kingston upon Thames began  in June 1945 when he purchased a factory at Hook Rise,  off the Kingston by-pass. In 1957 he then purchased  a plot of land in Kingston with the idea of creating a  modern home. His desire was realised in the remarkable  house that was designed in 1968 by British architect  Kenneth Wood. When Picker retired in 1976, he devoted  more time to his interest in art, and Wood returned to  build a private gallery in the garden, dedicated to the  more important items of Picker’s growing collection. In  1977 he established the Stanley Picker Trust to support  the education and careers of young arts practitioners.

The book draws on Picker’s extensive private  archive, charting the development of the Picker  House as a luxury home for its owner and for the  significant collection of modern and contemporary  painting and sculpture that he amassed over a  25-year period, beginning in 1957 and ending with  his death in 1982. Beginning with a biographical  introduction to Stanley Picker and his personal,  artistic and business connections, written by Dr  Jonathan Black, the book then goes on to examine  aspects of the development of the Picker House  and its interior and garden. Dr Fiona Fisher explores  the central role that Picker’s art collection played  in the creation and realisation of Wood’s design  for the house and garden; while Professor Penny  Sparke charts the remarkable project for the interior  of the house that Stanley Picker, Kenneth Wood  and staff at Conran Contracts and Conran Design  Group implemented together; and Rebecca Preston  examines the history of the Picker House site and the  garden that was created by designer Victor Shanley.

Picker’s collection of paintings and sculpture and his  artistic legacy are examined in chapters written by  Dr Jonathan Black, Professor Fran Lloyd and David  Falkner. Jonathan Black situates Picker’s collection of  paintings within the context of London’s rapidly growing  contemporary art market of the 1950s and the personal  relationships that Picker developed with galleries and  gallery owners. Fran Lloyd’s chapter maps Picker’s  acquisition of an important collection of over a hundred  modern and contemporary sculptures, and discusses  the themes and influences that underpinned Picker’s  selection of artists and works and the significance of  their staging within the private spaces of his house and  garden and the public environments of the cosmetic  company’s offices and factory. Stanley Picker Gallery  Director David Falkner’s concluding chapter reviews  Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Fellowship  scheme, established in 1977, and the responses of  recent fellows to the Picker House and its painting,  sculpture and furniture collections.  Stanley Picker wanted his house and collection to  be preserved for study and enjoyment by future  generations. For conservation reasons, the house  and gallery can only open to a small number of  visitors each year, but an important aim of the  book is to bring to a wider audience the extensive  knowledge of the house and collection the team has  developed through their research.

The Stanley Picker House and Collection: A Late 1960s Home for Modern Art and Design by Jonathan  Black, David Falkner, Fiona Fisher, Fran Lloyd, Rebecca  Preston, and Penny Sparke will be published by Philip  Wilson Publishers in October 2012. The publication  of the book coincides with the re-opening of the Stanley  Picker Gallery at Knights Park, following a period of  closure for refurbishment.

Picker House Guided Tours with publication authors

12-3pm Thursdays
11 October: Professor Penny Sparke
25 October: Dr Fiona Fisher
8 November: Professor Fran Lloyd
22 November: Dr Jonathan Black

£10 per person (including return transport from the Stanley Picker Gallery)
Booking essential. Contact Jackie Thomas or call 0208 417 4074.

Get Involved

For more information about this project and others please contact Natalie Kay on 020 8417 4074 or email