Jan 24 2013 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
ARTISTS are showing off their creations at an exhibition that brings a contemporary edge to Willesden and reflects the changes occurring at the gallery space and the borough as a whole.
The Regeneration exhibition is the first of the new year organised by Brent Artist Resources (BAR).
It is at The BAR Gallery at Willesden Green Library Centre, which is earmarked for a major redevelopment that would see part of the building demolished and rebuilt and a new gallery space created.
Gallery co-ordinator Joanna Steele explained: “I chose regeneration as a theme because it gives them the opportunity to express themselves about changes that are happening in the area through their art.
“Willesden Green Library Centre is proposed for replacement and there are lots of developments happening in the wider area.”
Visitors can appreciate nearly 50 works of art from about 20 artists, some of whom are exhibiting for the first time.
The contributors are a mixture of BAR members, students and graduates from the University of the Arts and individuals from across London, as well as others who are involved in the Meanwhile Space project, an initiative to run temporary events in vacant premises.
Ms Steele said: “We put a call out for submissions on social networks like Facebook and Twitter in order to reach younger artists. We had three weeks for people to submit their work, so it was quite tight.
“We were looking for work to be as current as possible, which meant made within the last year.”
Following entry rules more often seen in central London galleries, artists could put forward up to five pieces. Submissions were individually assessed for inclusion by a four-strong panel, which did reject some work.
“The quality was very high,” said Ms Steele. “And the staging is quite strong and so the whole exhibition feels quite high-end.
“We’ve given more space to each piece. It feels a lot more professional and the artists’ feel that it was a challenge to get in.”
The result is a collection of paintings, sculptures, installations, video art and photography – including Marcella Leone’s God Department photos.
Ms Leone, 30, who completed a diploma in architecture at Oxford Brookes University and now lives in Willesden Green, said: “I entered the competition as a non-member, but I’m planning to join BAR. The main reason I entered is that I saw there was an entry panel and there were some very talented people on it.
“Since my background is in architecture, I have tried to incorporate my training into my art. I use several media such as short films, video art, but also collage and photography.
“I have two pieces in the show. They are a set and part of my God Department installation, which I was commissioned to make for Oxford Prayer Week. It represents the regeneration theme pretty well.
“I have done a few art and architecture exhibitions but this is really quite a new start for me. There’s a mix of traditional and non-conventional modern art in the exhibition, and I would like to think there is more emphasis on avant-garde art.”
Visitors can also see a sculpture by Gabrielle Milane and Sally Buchanan’s slightly eerie self-portrait made out of a mixture of materials.
“There’s lot of organic work,” said Ms Steele. “We have installations containing grass that is growing. We also have an installation which plays on the work of artist Sarah Lucas.”
Established artist Clare Gordon, one of the BAR directors, commented: “It is fascinating to see the variety of responses to the theme. Paintings, photography, assemblages, print and other media show a wide range of practices in this community art show.
A common thread running through the work on exhibit is a celebration of the strength and passion of creative forces, continuing to find new ways of being and expression, despite adversity.
BAR has some 200 members who are guaranteed to exhibit three times a year. One such members’ show that follows Regeneration is called In Print and will feature a lot more work.
“It’s a broad theme and we left the interpretation up to members,” said Ms Steele. “It can be etching or printing, or even just on the subject on printing.”
n Regeneration runs until Friday next week at The BAR Gallery in High Road, Willesden Green. It will be followed by In Print, from Thursday, February 7 to Friday, March 1. For more information about the show and BAR, visit barnew.wordpress.com.