Events Features

New art for Edgware High Street

This week will see the launch of three new artist-led projects to bring vibrancy and colour to Edgware High Street. 

A group of people work on lino prints
Lino printing workshop led by Ruth Beale at Edgware Library. Image: courtesy of UP Projects

On 23 November 2023, UP Projects and Barnet Council will mark a key moment for the 100 Years of  Station Road programme, with the activation of three distinct artist-led projects on Edgware High Street:  Stop and Smell the Flowers by Holly Graham, Care & Magic by Ruth Beale, and Burble by Emma Smith.  Activities for the launch of the three projects will take place from 2.30pm – 4.30pm along Edgware High Street. 

The three artist-led projects are curated by public arts organisation UP projects, who have been commissioned by Barnet Council as part of a programme designed to explore the role creative practice can play in  bringing communities together and activating the High Street. 

Stop and Smell the Flowers by Holly Graham is developing a new public artwork at 158 Station Road that considers environmental sustainability and Edgware’s collective future. An interim  installation will be unveiled, showcasing a series of campaign posters created by young people at F.U.S.E Youth Project, students at Edgware Primary School and Northgate School, as well as visitors to Edgware  Library in workshops led by Graham.  “I felt keenly aware of the  fact that certain already marginalised groups are impacted more heavily than others [by environmental issues] , and that children  and younger people are more heavily affected by poor air quality than other age groups,” said Holly Graham.

“Speaking about the very real and direct consequences of air pollution presents challenges in terms of managing climate  anxiety; but I wanted to explore these ideas with young people in Edgware, thinking about their current  experiences and countering concerns by thinking through action – considering what we could do to  address these issues.”

Brightly coloured posters on environmental themes
Posters developed in workshop with young people at Edgware Library, led by Holly Graham, 2023 – Image: Maël Hénaff

The  interim display is the first step  towards the creation of a new more permanent artwork by Graham which will be installed in early 2024. 

Care & Magic by Ruth Beale takes inspiration from the modernist  fixtures of Edgware Library  as well as the library’s photo archive, and will will create a series of lasting “care”  interventions, including a new rug for the children’s library, reworking the original 1960s wallpaper, and  a new vinyl artwork for the exterior of the building, informed by the conversations and drawings that  have taken place through the events held with Edgware Primary School, Stonegrove Community Centre,  the Youth Justice Services and the library staff and its volunteers.  

An archive photograph of Edgware Library
Photographer John Maltby, courtesy of Barnet Archives, copyright London Borough of Barnet.

Talking about Care & Magic Ruth Beale said: “Looking into the history of Edgware Library, I was really taken by photographs of the library when it  opened in 1961. There are photographs of it being built, of the concrete fins being installed, then of a  really beautiful modernist space with ercol furniture and what looks like cork floors. There was obviously  a real civic ambition around creating this generous public space for reading and for the community. I see  this within the context of Edgware developing as a metroland suburb – its history of art deco semis and  proximity to the green belt.

“The library also has a lot of photographs of special events happening in the  library in the 1980s – a police horse visiting the front lawn, the Royal Ballet running a dance workshop in the children’s library, and a visit from a harpist – they’ve been a really good talking point with local  people about their memories of the library and the area. I’ve been trying to recreate some of this sense  of magic of those events, alongside small acts of joy and care in and around the library.” 

Ruth Beale will be giving a talk at the Library at 2.30pm on the day.

Burble by Emma Smith is a site-responsive performance inspired by the social spaces and sounds of  Station Road in Edgware.  The work brings together the music of voices from along the length of Station Road creating a site-specific song cycle, in seven languages. A score based on these recordings will be performed  as a multi-part choral song collaboratively produced with local singers to bring voices of the street  together. The work will be performed  by singers from MDX (Middlesex University, Barnet). 

Speaking of the piece, Emma Smith said: ““Music belongs to everyone and we all make it all the time without realising, when we speak to one  another.  This work brings a diversity of voices from Station Road together at the same  time and gives space for us to attend and listen to this magical element of what we do when we talk  together. People of all ages have contributed from early years to the elderly and across a wide range of  languages. Congratulations to everyone involved – we are really looking forward to sharing it!”

Visitors can hear the performance at Edgware station at 3.30pm.

Councillor Ammar Naqvi, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Arts & Sports at Barnet Council said:  “Arts and Culture play an important role in creating a sense of place, instilling a sense of pride, as well as  inspiring change. As part of this we are pleased to announce an innovative new artwork celebrating the  centenary of Edgware, a collaboration with local schools and communities, showcasing the talent and  dedication of our young people to our greenspaces, climate and what a sustainable future for Edgware  could look like.”  

Full programme details available are at centenary-programme

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