At a special event at Leeds Art Gallery last weekend novelist, artist and actress Sophie Parkin, author of the highly acclaimed recently published book 'The Colony Room Club 1948-2008 A History of Bohemian Soho', discussed the legendary London establishment. The Colony Room Club was home to Soho's eclectic art community for generations, famously including Francis Bacon.
The Colony Room Club was known to the local's as 'Muriel's', after the proprietor Muriel Belcher, of whom Francis Bacon was a great admirer, the artist painted her portrait three times. Muriel would pay Francis ten pounds a week to 'bring in the people you like'. Before long the Colony Room was was welcoming the likes of Dylan Thomas, Louis MacNeice, Charles Laughton, E.M. Forster, Tallulah Bankhead, as well as artists Frank Auerbach Colquohoun and Macbryde, who, like Bacon are represented in the Leeds Art Gallery collection.
Opinions of the famous artistic drinking den have ranged and changed. Brian Patten described it as 'a small urinal full of fractious old geezers bitching about each other'. Painter, novelist, and journalist - Molly Parkin (Author Sophie's mother) saw the club as 'a character-building glorious hell-hole. Everyone left their careers at the roadside before clambering the stairs and plunging into questionable behaviour'. A club member since the gift of membership as an 18th birthday present, Sophie Parkin herself intimately describes the club as 'fish tank whose water needed changing'.
For more information and to buy the book 'The Colony Room Club 1948-2008 A History of Bohemian Soho' by Sophie Parkin visit: www.thecolonyroom.com