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An experimental new gallery has opened at Harrow Arts Centre, writes Rosy Moorhead
The wish of a small group of artists to create in Harrow a dedicated exhibition space combined with the desire of local residents to have their own public gallery – and The Gallery at HAC was born.
The experimental, contemporary new gallery, at the Harrow Arts Centre in Hatch End, has been created by Exhibit, a voluntary arts group that aims to provide artists with networking and exhibiting opportunities, in partnership with HAC, and has received funding from the Arts Council London. The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Culture , runs for three weeks this month.
Rayners Lane artist Claire McDermott, chairperson of Exhibit and the exhibition’s curator, was instrumental in the process. “I’m a local artist who saw this opportunity for a new gallery and created it,” she says.
“Initially it came about through a conversation I had with the artist and sculptor Jeff Lowe, about wanting to have a gallery in Harrow. It was a must, for me. Until now, we’ve only had corridor space at HAC to exhibit in with no security – you couldn’t invite artists to come here.”
Once she had a top artist on board, others soon followed. Sculptor Rob Ward was next, and Claire discovered that he and Jeff had worked together before, on the group exhibition at Camden Arts Centre in 1975, The Young Contemporaries , which is still talked about in artistic circles today.
“I then got four local artists,” Claire continues, “Jane McAdam Freud, Susan Williams, Erika Wengenroth and myself, and we invited two sculptors from abroad – Hartmut Stielow, from Germany, and Maria Oriza Perez, from Spain.”
This reflected the aims of the gallery to both attract international artists and provide a showcase for local ones.
“Each artist could contribute what work they liked,” Claire continues, “the premise was ‘your work is our culture’. That’s where the title for the exhibition came from – I believe that art is our culture, art influences everything, fashion, advertising, even if you don’t like it.”
Exhibit’s plan for the gallery is to have solo shows by artists throughout the year as well as group shows.
“I’d be really pleased if the public came along and enjoyed the space,” says Claire. “The idea is to draw people out of central London. If it got as big as Camden, that would really put Harrow on the map.”
- Culture is at The Gallery at HAC, Harrow Arts Centre, Uxbridge Road, Hatch End until Saturday, September 22, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Details: www.art-exhibit.org.uk