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Watercolour? Cressida Bell painting depicts floods

Seven months after burst main devastated her home, designer Cressida is back in her kitchen

26 May, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Cressida Bell back in her kitchen

ALMOST seven months after floods destroyed homes and businesses in Angel, Cressida Bell is back in her Istanbul Grand Bazaar-themed kitchen.

The artist and designer was one of dozens of victims of the floods caused by a burst water mains in Upper Street on December 5 last year – and among the first to have refurbishment work completed.

“I really missed my kitchen,” she told the Tribune this week. “It has a good colour scheme because it’s cosy in winter and cool in summer. It’s the heart of the house really, and from here you can walk straight into the garden.”

Ms Bell is the daughter of critic, author and artist Quentin Bell and Anne Olivier Bell and granddaughter of artist Vanessa Bell. The legacy of the Bloomsbury Set, in which her family were so influential, lives on in her colourful Charlton Place home.

The flood ruined her record collection but luckily the water did not rise high enough to destroy the countless pieces of pottery – some of which were made by her late father – in the kitchen.

A new, colourful painting depicting the water gushing down Charlton Place is a dramatic reminder of what happened last year. Ms Bell’s brother, the painter and writer Julian Bell, made the work in his Sussex studio earlier this year. “It was a pretty unforgettable moment,” Ms Bell added.

Julian Bell’s painting of the floods in Charlton Place

She puts her comparatively rapid return to normality down to two things: that she was able to remain in her house, and did not have contents insurance.

She said: “I think it’s because I didn’t have to move, I had a [temporary] kitchen put in upstairs and I was able to stay here, and if you’re on site the builders move faster.”

The fact that she did not have home contents insurance meant she was able to go directly with Cunningham Lynsey, Thames Water’s loss adjusters, and has received regular payouts totalling £30,000 to date.

“I’ve been dealing with a nice man at Cunning­ham Lyndsey,” she added. “But there have been moments where you think: ‘I’m going to go under with stress.’ It has been really tough.”

The floods destroyed businesses in Camden Passage and homes in Charlton Place and Colebrooke Row before flooding gardens and wrecking basements in Devonia Road, where some residents will not be able to return until after summer.

A sticking point remains whether residents – many of whom work in highly paid, self-employed jobs – will be able to claim for hours spent sorting out their homes, working through insurance claims and coordinating building work.

Ms Bell spent 54 hours dealing with the fallout from the floods in December alone.

Other residents in her road as well as Devonia Road will not be able to return home until after summer.

Thames Water has promised to pay compensation to all traders and residents affected by the floods, and many victims have received payments.

Re-laying of just under a kilometre of new pipe to replace the burst mains has been under way since April 18.


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