Four Corners Brings The Capital's Cultural Diversity To National Portrait Gallery

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 26 March 2007
photo montage including several mannequins and a hand with henna marks in blue

Home and Away by the Awaaz Youth Project, west London. Courtesy NPG

London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has been celebrating the vibrancy and cultural diversity of the capital with its successful Reaching Out, Drawing In series of exhibitions.

Four Corners forms the sixth and last episode of the project, and runs at the gallery until August 5 2007. It looks to the four corners of the city to reflect the pride people feel for their own part of London and their own cultural heritage.

The NPG developed partnerships with local London galleries and cultural venues to involve local people in a series of workshops. They worked with practising artists to create their own varied artworks in different media, using the NPG’s collection and their own personal experiences of the city as a starting point.

digitally modified photograph of a man's head next to many smaller images

Paparatzzi by Aundre Pierre. Courtesy NPG

“We’ve been lucky enough to work with four very different groups of people, all of whom have really grasped the project with both hands,” said Rebecca Connock, Reaching Out, Drawing In Project Manager.

“They’ve shared their ideas, their culture, their experiences with us – and brought a fresh perspective to portraiture. We’re tremendously impressed and humbled by the work produced.”

In north London, participants with Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese heritage worked with artists Andrea Sinclair and Weng Man to produce art based on the traditional Chinese craft of kite making.

photo of a kite painted with eastern designs

Swallow (detail) by Susannah Nagata. Courtesy NPG

Members of the Hackney Caribbean Eldery Organisation in east London worked with storyteller Surya Turner, filmmaker Ken Fero and photographer Othello De Souza Hartley to create a poignant documentary tracing moments of their lives in the district.

In south London, young people on the Urban Vision programme at Brixton’s 198 Gallery created portraits of their lives as teenagers in their part of the city using photographic montages, fashion and textile design and installation art.

Finally in west London, young people from the Awaaz Youth Project in Hounslow drew on influences from Bhangra music to create a display using music and images depicting Asian culture in the west of the city.

photo of an eldery woman sat in an armchair

Geraldine Albertha Morris by Othello De Souza-Hartley. Courtesy NPG

The participants worked with artist Hardip Dhanjal and DJ Abdellah El Mansouri to producing striking photographic pieces in tandem with the sound installation.

Alongside the participants’ work are photographic portraits from the NPG collection showing prominent Londoners from each of the ‘four corners’ of the city. They include images of filmmaker Gurinda Chadha, DJ Trevor Nelson and novelist Andrea Levy.

The NPG’s project partners were Artsdepot in North Finchley, Waterman Art Centre in Brentford, the National Trust’s Sutton House in Hackney and Brixton’s 198 Gallery.

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