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Hampstead's McDonald's murals: Brothers put historic artwork of Heath and Kenwood House up for sale again

PUBLISHED: 08:53 05 June 2019

Adam and Kirk pose with the Kenwood House painting before it was re-framed. Picture: Adam Woodall

Adam and Kirk pose with the Kenwood House painting before it was re-framed. Picture: Adam Woodall

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Two of the Kate Lovegrove murals which decorated the much-maligned Hampstead Village branch of McDonalds are up for sale again.

The Kenwood House painting by Kate Lovegrove. It once hung on the walls of Hampstead's McDonald's.The Kenwood House painting by Kate Lovegrove. It once hung on the walls of Hampstead's McDonald's.

Adam Woodall, 25, bought the paintings in 2014 with his brother Kirk when, as a student, what he calls "their likeness to an Edward Hopper style" appealed to him. 
Three of the smaller paintings are on the walls of the Woodalls' family home in Worcestershire, but the two largest - of Kenwood House and Hampstead Heath - are too big for their walls.

And rather than let them rot in storage, the Woodall brothers are keen to find the paintings a new home.

Adam said: "It's just such a shame, they're real landmark paintings, and I always found the history fascinating.

The brothers are looking to recoup around £1,000 for each of the larger paintings.

Towards Heath Street by Kate Lovegrove previously adorned the walls of McDonald's in HampsteadTowards Heath Street by Kate Lovegrove previously adorned the walls of McDonald's in Hampstead

"We've got the smaller ones on our walls, but there's just not the space for the Kenwood and Hampstead Heath ones."

After 21 years in the High Street, McDonald's sold up in 2013, agreeing to part with its lease three years before it was due to expire.

It was replaced at 46 Hampstead High Street by bakery chain and coffee shop Le Pain Quotidien.

McDonald's had opened up there in 1992 after a lengthy battle with local people - led by the Heath and Hampstead Society.

Ben Williamson, aged seven, opening the new McDonald's in Hampstead High Street, in 1993Ben Williamson, aged seven, opening the new McDonald's in Hampstead High Street, in 1993

The society's longstanding chair Peggy Jay even offered to "dig herself into a hole" in front of the building to prevent refurbishment work.

When the paintings were first sold off in March 2014, Ms Lovegrove told the Ham&High she was pleased to have been able to help McDonald's open - and thought the Burger Off! campaign ran by Hampstead locals against the fast food giant was "deeply unfair".

She said: "I was approached by McDonald's because they were determined to win," she said.

"I think it was deeply unfair because there was a chain pizza restaurant opposite and, in contrast to the McDonald's shop frontage, it had large gaudy flag signs across its exterior.

"This was a big step away from the usual pink, beige and brown and very plastic interiors they had gone for previously."

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Adam explained that he was parting with the murals with a heavy heart, and he had first been drawn to them as a student who fell in love with Hampstead.

He told this newspaper: "It was in 2013, I was in London doing an internship and I discovered Hampstead, from the first moment I really loved the area.

"And I'm also quite into art."

The former City worker who now works in the wristwatch industry added: "I knew the murals were quite unusual, and then six months to a year later the McDonald's was closing and I read that the paintings were for sale.

"I spoke to my brother about it, and we were able to buy five of them.

"We'd hoped to get the sixth, but we were outbid."

The murals all depict scenes from Hampstead, with the four smaller examples all townscapes - of the Spaniards' Inn, of Church Row and two of views onto Heath Street.

The two biggest pieces are the ones the Woodalls are hoping to sell.

The artwork was commissioned in hope of giving the restaurant a "Hampstead feel" and to help overcome the misgivings of local people.

Other measures the US giant took included to play classical music at the store and installing special chairs - worth £100 each.

When the store closed, a former Hampstead Hill schoolboy who had been chosen to buy the first meal at the branch expressed his regret at having taken part in a "schoolboy PR stunt".

Ben Williamson, who was by 2013 working for animal rights charity PETA, told the Ham&High at the time: "Thankfully, times are changing and more and more people, like me, are switching to a healthy and compassionate vegan diet."

The Woodalls, who are keen to sell the paintings privately rather than at auction, are hoping to pass their custodianship of this remarkable piece of Hampstead history to someone who similarly cares for it.

Adam added: "We've had them properly restored and framed, and well, we've invested quite a lot in them and we'd want to get that back."

Interested in buying a mural of Hampstead Heath or Kenwood House? Contact Adam on 07787185340 or adamwoodall1993@gmail.com

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