Across the Atlantic – indeed across the English Channel – it is quite normal to put your family name on the entrance of your house and to use its number alone for postal purposes. To give the house itself a name like “Green Gables” is a peculiarly English trait, and so the “Picker One” boldly engraved in stone at the entrance to Stanley Picker’s house in Kingston was in 1968 both a statement of individuality, the antithesis of the typical English reserve that craves anonymity, and the presaging of changes to come in the post-war world. Today the house stands as a rare monument to a changing time.
Successive trustees of the Stanley Picker Trust, and caretakers of the house, have taken the utmost care to preserve the house and collection intact, not because Stanley directed that they should – he was not seeking a memorial for himself when he set up the charity – but because they have recognised that the house and art collection powerfully retain the essence of their talented, generous, affectionate and cultured former owner, and that as such they would one day be important in their own right.
For nearly thirty years the Trust has quietly provided guided tours to visitors, trying to maintain that delicate balance between accessibility on the one hand and preservation on the other. At the same time the trustees have been stewards of the endowment of the Stanley Picker Trust, which was created to fulfil Stanley’s wish to maintain the house and collection and in addition to nurture young talent and endeavour in the Arts. Thus the Trust has not only funded the fellowships in fine art and design at Kingston University but also funded the building of the Stanley Picker Gallery at the University’s Knights Park Campus, to serve Kingston University (http://www.stanleypickergallery.org/) and the wider community, and provided bursaries to students at many of the country’s leading conservatoires and art schools.
Unfortunately, we are having to suspend all of our tours to the Stanley Picker House in April and May due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We will be reviewing the situation at the end of April.