What's My Weekend: Antony Micallef

The award-winning artist reveals his favourite London hangouts


Antony in his studio by Thomas Butler




I like to grab a pizza at Pizza Metro, above  (147 - 149 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LF, 020 7727 8877, pizzametropizza.com), a charming, bespoke, family-run business straight from hustle and bustle of the Rialto Bridge. It’s always filled with Italians, which is the great litmus test. I’ve had so many pizzas and ice creams here I almost feel I should have shares in the place, or at least be included in the family fresco painted on the wall.

Later, my local, The Groucho Club, above  (45 Dean Street, London, W1D 4QB, 020 7439 4685, thegrouchoclub.com), is calling. I love this place dearly – it is like an extension of my living room. I know it’s a members’ bar but I like it, not for the exclusivity, but for the warm welcome I get not only from the staff but from everyone inside. The walls are filled with the aristocracy of the British art world and it has a unique history - no other establishment can compare. It’s like the Tardis but with a bar… I’ve lost days in there!



I wake in Linden Gardens, the cul-de-sac where I live in Notting Hill Gate, where I have two flats opposite each other and one is my studio. I have a morning ritual of checking on my paintings, above,  to see if I I’m happy with my last day’s work. It's like checking in on my child, making sure she is content before I leave her alone for the day.

Paul Rhodes (26 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3HX, 020 7221 1440, paulrhodesbakery.co.uk) is on the very corner on where I live. The staff are always a little bemused - like lost rabbits in a newly formed warren  - but they make the meanest cappuccino and are always the friendliest people.

My first stop is to call in on my dearest friend, the milliner Victoria Grant, below, victoriagrant.co.uk at her Notting Hill showroom. She’s milliner to the stars, making hats for the likes of Beyoncé, Madonna and Testino. She has one of those rare touches so whatever she makes just exudes couture. I get asked to work with different people all the time but she’s only person I’ve ever collaborated with.


Photo: Anthony Lycett

The second ritual for me is walking into town through Hyde Park, taking the scenic route via the Serpentine across from Kensington Palace (hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace). I’ve become absolutely fascinated by watching the swans and water wildlife. Apparently birds have the same respiratory system as their Jurassic cousins, and in my head this is a quick dose of escapism, while I imagine my feathered friends are actual dinosaurs and just takes me to another place. I’m not sure if this is just a case of me getting older...but it’s free, It’s enjoyable and it’s my movie right?


I then pass the 10 meters high bronze green horse’s head in Marble Arch, another monument that awes me. I always imagine the whole body is like some distant relic from another age – if the whole body was there, it would be something from Jason and the Argonauts!

Then it's time for my  beloved Wolseley 160 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EB, 020 7499 6996, thewolseley.com) for breakfast. I’m a huge romantic at heart, so this beautiful example of art deco always makes me swoon. I’m just happy to sit there, especially as it’s where Lucian Freud used to dine every night, so it’s nice to feel some magic from such a great presence.


I then head to Foyles (107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DT, 020 7437 5660, foyles.co.uk), one of the best book shops in London, to browse through their art section. There is something very tangible about books, so I spend at least an hour caressing the binders and covers, as if they were brail,  before I even read anything at all…Did I mention I was dyslexic? Well, I’ve learnt to love it and the alternative avenues it takes my brain down.

I’m then off into Covent Garden to Forbidden Planet (179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR, 020 7420 3666, forbiddenplanet.com) and Magma Books (117-119 Clerkenwell Road London EC1R 5BY T, 020 7242 9503, magmabooks.com), which I always see as a treat. I’m a closet geek but proud of it. It’s where I bought my first graphic novel as a kid, so I go here out of respect. It’s one of the few places you can still think like a child and not feel guilty, as other male ‘adults’ are all doing the same thing!


'Envy Me' hat by Victoria Grant 

I then meander down to Hauser and Wirth (23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET, 020 7287 2300, hauserwirth.com), which, for me, has to be one of the most exciting exhibition spaces in London. The work they have on display is always so ‘physical’, strong, full of passion and HUGE. I never leave without feeling inspired and wanting to work.

By this time I’m starting to feel quite peckish and a regular haunt of mine is Dean Street Town House (69 - 71 Dean Street, London W1D 3SE, 020 7434 1775, deanstreettownhouse.com), their ribeye is one of the best in town.

I’ll pop into The Groucho again and finally Gerry’s bar (52 Dean Street, London W1D 5BJ, 020 7437 4160, gerrysclub.com)…If you’re still standing at 3am and that little devil on your shoulder is telling you to carry on, this is the place to go. There’s a secret knock at the door before you are allowed in. I never know how I manage to decode it, but I just seem to appear at the bar.  It’s a proper drinking den and one of the last relics of the past, where old Soho ghosts can be seen flirting with its new clientele.


Photo: Getty

Whether I’m hungover or not, I start my day with a walk into Holland Park. The Kyoto Garden (100 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UA, 020 7361 3003) is exquisite -  a beautiful, well-kept place that resembles a stately garden more than a park. So much love has gone into these grounds you can’t help but be seduced. If I were a grey pigeon I would quite happily spend the rest of my days here among the peacocks and the Koi carp. Why scrap for fast food remains in Trafalgar Square when you can feed on the organic leftovers  Kensingtonites eat?

From there I like to wander down to Portobello Road, above.  I’m a huge antiques hunter and the area where the best gems can still be found is at the Golborne Road end. If you have a good eye you can still find a vintage pieces which would cost thousands anywhere else.

A great place for another coffee pitstop is Talk House (275 Portobello Road, London W11 1LR, 020 7221 8992, talkhousecoffee.com). Not only is the coffee great but I also think they have the set-up just right. It feels like a friendly science lab but with a Scandinavian warmth that reminds me of Bergen. They have the right  balance of design and human touch without being pretentious or too try-hard.  

While I’m near Portobello I like to say hi to my friend Sophie Merchant, who has the most amazing shop, Merchant Archive, above (19 Kensington Park Road, London W11 2EU, 020 7229 9006, merchantarchive.com).  Not only is she one of nicest people in the fashion world, she has a quiet confidence. I’ve always said the key to fashion is about just having an eye. I think this is something that can’t be learnt and separates the followers from the taste-makers, and Sophie is definitely one of the latter. She just has that ‘knowing’ ability.

A real nice treat is the Electric cinema (191 Portobello Road, London W11 2ED, 020 7908 9696, electriccinema.co.uk). They have only one film playing all week, which can be frustrating if it’s not the one you want, but there is something to be said for having to wait for something. It has an atmosphere that makes you feel the medium of film is special. It’s spacious, intimate and encourages you to kick back.


Originally from Swindon, the son of working class Maltese parents, Antony lives in Notting Hill and  has  shown at the Tate Britain, the ICA and The Royal Academy.  Steve Lazarides took Micallef’s work to Los Angeles in 2007. The show sold out in 30 minutes, bought by the likes of Christina Aguilera, James Franco, the Olsen sisters and Angelina Jolie, who asked him to paint a family portrait  (he refused).

Antony Micallef’s new solo show, entitled Self, comprises a series of figurative self-portraits. Pieces from the show have already sold to Peter Gabriel and Jude Law.

Lazarides Gallery, 11 Rathbourne Place, London, W1T 1HR 0207 636 5443, lazinc.com, until March 19, 2015

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