Ilford, as in all of the UK, has endured deep budget cuts in public services over the past ten years. In order to be an attractive place to invest in and work, the UK has seen top-rate taxes lowered in favour of a stripped down public sector. This means it's easier to be wealthy and it's harder to be not-wealthy. The idea perhaps is to encourage people who need the most help to help themselves. For some, this is possible. Commercial enterprise is one of the best ways to help oneself in any society, as we have control over our own business and methods. It is in my opinion that although it's good to encourage enterprise, it cannot be done without a great big safety-net in place. Nearly all fail the first time.
So what has this got to do with art? There was once a library in Ilford's Town Hall. This Grade II listed building has remarkable design features and stands unique among this vibrant town. It was closed down, which was unfortunate for the local librarians and visitors, however the space was opened up for something new. What happened was probably the best thing that could have been done with the opportunity. Instead of another row of offices or a mini-mart, Ilford now has an art gallery with affordable studios for creatives of all types.
Hopefully the rents from the studio space and the sales of any art sold will all contribute towards providing the local public with a free and available space to enjoy culture. HAT Projects took the contract for regeneration and were able to retain all of the unique period design. The building has also been equipped with a new entrance and an art-deco domed roof.
Architect and artist Sahra Hersi grew up in Ilford. It was only natural then to commission her to produce a display for the grand opening. Her illustration, which depicts her childhood memories of the location, stands proudly at the new entranceway to welcome all the new visitors and passers by. Regular commissions will take place which intend to support the local talent in the Redbridge area. Ilford being a cultural capital of this location arguably has a responsibility to maintain a level of cultural relevance for its citizens.
With regular workshops and events to keep a momentum going, and an annual reshape determined by the artists given the paintbrush, the Space Ilford Art Gallery will become a suitable and welcome replacement to the library. Cash for this project was awarded by The Mayor Of London as part of a scheme to invest in the capital called the Good Growth Fund, which has a budget of £70m.
Via Ilford Recorder
Nowhere is more divided than a nation with genocide in its recent history. Rwanda is one of these places, where individualism led people to commit atrocities against people of other creeds. With no respect for difference in culture and opinion and a fear of loss of one's own cultural assertion, violence became part of everyday life. The trauma and suffering caused by acts of violence are universal across all people and when the cause of the abuse lays in culture and race, the hurt and confusion runs even deeper. In the act of treating people of a certain kind with cruelty and suspicion the group of people in question can either become violent too or lose their sense of place in the world.
In Rwanda, the whole nation is coming to terms with what happened in the 1990's. A massive genocide took place which saw the destruction of communities across the nation. Now, in the aftermath of this tragedy, the government is making roads to unify the people through their story. No matter what side of the fight someone found themselves on, the same story of tragedy unifies the two. It's not an issue what religion a person follows or what their heritage is, the issue is intolerance of differing circumstances and views. Those Rwandan survivors who witnessed the atrocities and have grown up in the crater of genocide can move on in positive ways with the terrible truth behind them.
The unification of the populous begins at day one, where the unity was broken. Since peace has been declared and the violence cleaned up, those responsible punished and those caught up rehabilitated and re-sensitised the people can move forward and begin to regrow as a unified community. The shared notion of the wrongdoing which caused suffering for so many unifies the differences and puts the entire picture into a civilised perspective. The government of Rwanda is aware of this necessity and is helping to instigate a new national story that brings people together following on from division.
Across the nation, several Genocide Memorial Centres now stand as permanent reminders of what happens when personal feelings and prejudices are left unchecked. If a government becomes complacent with the hatred and fear surrounding conflicting cultural heritage then it gives the individual people reason to believe they are entitled to think and act in destructive ways. The moral impetus to get along has to come from the top as well as the bottom. Where there is a divide, natural or not, there has to be a shared vision of what is best for all. If we can't produce this, a shared vision of what is wrong for all can also do the job.
It takes a certain type of genius to see a bunch of old parts as pieces of a puzzle ready to be completed. Where there is muck there is brass has never been more true. There is value in things that have finished their original purpose if only we can find a way to repurpose them. Machines tend to not work once they're finished with so their parts can be taken and used for something else. When the part is not worth reusing, do we scrap it or do we give it to an artist as free material? Possibly the modern day alchemy of making gold from lead, we can repurpose old metals and plastics into something of real value. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of imagination.
John Lopez is a Dakota based sculpture artist who does exactly what we're talking about. He gets hold of various pieces of iron and metal from local farmers and ranch owners and uses them to build all kinds of wonderful creatures. A heavy-metal feel runs through these creations, as well as a smooth and aesthetic likeness to life.
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