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Never-been seen Art by Keith Cunningham now on display at The Pilgrm

Never-been seen Art by Keith Cunningham now on display at The Pilgrm

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be shown some artwork by an artist I’d never heard of called Keith Cunningham. Artwork that had never been seen or displayed before, and was immediately moved by the dark colours and subjects in most cases as well as the heavy layers of paint used. My mind went to Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud - if they had a son, this is him! I was on the search for artwork to expand my personal collection but also to display here The Pilgrm, and the works were a perfect fit amongst the trove of precious finds and unassuming treasures we have around each corner. 

The Pilgrm was in some ways a serendipitous moment which led to the creation of a hotel; we found our way to each other and didn’t plan many of the things that were discovered like the materials used, light fittings, old radiators, parquet flooring and many more whilst breathing new life into a Victorian building. 

Coming across Keith’s work in the summer of 2016 in a old warehouse was another happy accident. A mixture of good luck and curiosity, and so I began collecting his artwork, many of which found their new home in bedroom walls at The Pilgrm unbeknownst to our guests. For years now, wanderers from all over the world have stayed in these rooms not knowing they are sleeping below magnificent, unique pieces by a master.

And that felt true to Keith. Considered by many a secretive artist, in October 2016, Apollo Magazine called him “the artist who walked away from fame”. This was namely because in his prime, he shunned public exhibitions of his paintings in favour of his teaching and design work.  

Born in Sydney, Keith moved to London to study at the Central School of Art and Design, shortly followed by the Royal College of Art where he studied painting alongside contemporaries including Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Joe Tilson. His work was praised by John Minton, who described him as "one of the most gifted painters to have worked at the Royal College". Following his graduation in 1955, Keith was invited to exhibit at the Beaux Art Galleries, and despite receiving several glowing reviews and critical recognition from international press, he decided unexplainably to withdraw from the art world and all public exhibitions.

His wife Bobby Hilson was just as shocked and confused by the decision as his peers, press and professors.

Whilst Keith went on to become a respected name in both graphic design and teaching, he only continued painting and creating art very much privately - hidden away in his studio. By the time of his passing in 2014 he had produced a large body of work that had remained almost entirely unseen by not only the public, but also his wife Bobby.

We are honoured to now be able to invite guests to The Pilgrm to enjoy some of the never-been-seen pieces by Keith Cunningham. A total of 58 of his secretive works currently hang throughout our ground floor café and first floor lounge, featuring a selection of nude figures, mixed-media collages, pastel skyscapes and more. A limited number will be available to buy.   

Where to find us: The Pilgrm, 25 London Street, W2 1HH – pop in for a coffee or stay a little longer. To enquire about purchasing any pieces on show at The Pilgrm, please email alexia@thepilgrm.com.


Jason Catifeoglou
Founder & Owner of The Pilgrm


You can find more of Keith Cunningham's unseen work currently on display at Newport Street Gallery - Keith Cunningham: The Cloud of Witness.

Never-been seen Art by Keith Cunningham now on display at The Pilgrm Never-been seen Art by Keith Cunningham now on display at The Pilgrm Never-been seen Art by Keith Cunningham now on display at The Pilgrm

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