THE FIRST STAGE: MEMORY AND DEMOLITION
The First Stage : Memory and Demolition
An interim exhibition of site specific photography, painting, sound, film and assemblage produced at the former Middlesex Hospital site.
Fitzrovia Noïr is Garry Hunter_ Lucy Williams _Peter Mackertich_Pamela Furness_Graham Carrick
Image of one of thee children's wards in the West Wing courtesy of Garry Hunter.
Fitzrovia Noir: Memory and Demolition at Middlesex Hospital
The former Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia has been under hoarding for some time now, awaiting a wholesale mixed-use redevelopment. Late last year a group of local artists twigged that the iconic building was about to disappear with all its secrets and embarked on a last minute crusade to create work about the building, its history, and previous and future occupants.
The developers granted them unlimited access to the site over a string of Saturdays prior to demolition. The resulting work in progress, Fitzrovia Noir, is a fascinating mix of odds and sods, ephemera, photographs, paintings, audio and video. It's community history, memory and art installation all stuffed into a small artist's studio on Wells St, just down the road from the hospital site itself.
There are compelling portraits of people who formerly worked there, photographed back in the abandoned building, a collection of children's paintings found discarded, ward signs and x-rays, keys and staff notices, paintings of the building by a local artist who lived opposite the East Wing. A 16mm film installation evokes the emptiness of the derelict hospital while stunning photographs of the Byzantine Chapel in the grounds - which will be preserved - conjures up the grandeur of times past.
The artists have permission to access other buildings which were part of Middlesex Hospital so happily this unique process of documentation and the collection of remnants, stories and original artwork will continue to grow.
Go and see the first stage of this project for yourselves this Saturday, 26 July between noon and 5pm at Studio P&D, 70-71 Wells Street, W1. Entry free.
Tracy, Angelica and Billy Weddell in the West Wing by Peter Mackertich
Artists have an X-ray vision for hospital archive project
RUDYARD Kipling lay in state in its chapel, Peter Sellers died there, Marie Stopes and Prince Monolulu were treated there, as were gangsters suffering shotgun wounds, and a Soho stripper is recorded as a patient suffering a snake bite.
But it's the ordinary, extraordinary staff that made up the Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia, who will be honoured in a project planned to mark its closure two years ago.
Fitzrovia Noir is the name of a group of five artists who formed in late 2007 to create an archive of work, and an art project using photographs and paintings of its demolition and of the people who used to work in the Middlesex and its outbuildings.
There are a huge number of mementoes and ephemera from the place which have been incorporated into the work. If the interim exhibition held in July is anything to go by, this project will be a small sensation when it is completed in three years' time.
The group hopes eventually for a book, and to showcase the work in the new flats being developed by Candy Brothers on site . Meantime, it will be a movable feast.
So far, 40 former patients and staff have been photographed back in situ, within the semi-derelict parts of the former hospital.
The curator of Fitzrovia Noir is Lucietta Williams, who also works for Photoworks in Westminster, and it is her collaborative vision with Garry Hunter which has pulled the show together. She was born in the hospital, while Garry has lived in the area for more than a decade and his studio was home to the show.
He has put up X-rays and displayed pictures using the old hospital lightboxes. Then they are joined by a photographer, Peter Makertich, whose large format black and white photographs of people, were made using an old 1940s camera.
Pamela Furness recorded the voices and memories of those photographed and made an eerie silk hanging of the chapel. Graham Carrick, who lived opposite the hospital when it was open, made paintings inspired by site visits.
He also created some haunting work which was left inside on the walls of the building, a process which was documented on video.
The future looks good for this ambitious project but only if funding can be made available. So money is needed for materials and processing for large-scale equipment, because, to date, all their work has been unpaid and voluntary.
Hospital window by Graham Carrick