I am a painter – I trained in Fine Art followed by a brief incursion into Design followed by a much longer period as a Senior Lecturer in Spatial Design on the Foundation Course at the University of the Arts.  

How long have you lived in the area? 

I have lived in Forest Hill for 22 years. Previously my husband and I lived in Wandsworth where we barely knew our neighbours. We heard about Havelock Walk – a small industrial Mews where many creative people lived and worked – from a friend. We came to look at it very early before work on a cold rainy winters morning, and as we were walking up and down there was a workshop open and a gentleman poked his head out and said “would you like a cup of tea?” That was it. My husband is an architect – we bought a shed which stored fridges – pulled it down and built a house and studio. 

What has changed most during that time? 

Unfortunately, wherever artists are in residence the price of properties go up which means artists no longer can afford them – so over the years for different reasons we have a lost a few much loved artists but it is still enough of like-minded residents to create a vibrant community which is very much in evidence during Dulwich Festival Open Studios – making it a great port of call. 

What do you most value about the area/street you live in?The people who live and work here – everybody knows everyone else. During Covid we were able to go outside and chat to people keeping the required social distance – but also then able to help anybody who was isolating. 

What one thing would you change? 

Flytipping / rogue bins appearing / cars and trucks blocking the entrance. 

Do you belong to any groups? 

I belong to South London Swimming Club based at Tooting Bec Lido – and probably would be described as an obsessive swimmer – (along with two more Havelock Walk artists Lenka Rayn and Rob Lowe) – and swim early morning most days. Tooting Bec Lido is a place of instant wellbeing – and brings a structure to my day. 

What is your favourite place to eat? 

For best pizza – Pizzarte at the bottom of Brockley Rise – Big Cheeks for Thai food –  Canvas & Cream for combination of Art & Food – and their constant support during Open Studios – Tea Pot for breakfast  – Aga’s Little Deli for the best toasted cheese sandwiches ever.  

Coffee or tea? Where? 

Galao – New coffee shop recently opened opposite the Gym in London Road – a very welcome addition to Forest Hill and excellent coffee. 

The best kept secret… 

Havelock Walk – the number of long-term residents of Forest Hill who still say they never knew Havelock Walk. Though so close to the South Circular it is quite hidden and surprisingly quiet. 

Where’s your favourite place to walk? 

Horniman Gardens – a life saver during Covid. Sydenham woods when its not too muddy. Mayow Park – and a bit further afield Kelsey Park Beckenham with its abundance of wild water based birds. 

The book I’m reading at the moment..  The Oppermanns by Leon Feuchtwanger – I have a friend of many years standing with whom I exchange 3 books every birthday and Christmas and he always manages to find the most obscure books – having said that someone will probably say I read that ages ago! 


Instagram @philippatunstill