Continuing our growing trend of community reporting, here we have James Yabut with an exclusive report on the latest Portobello Road Arts Project. Thanks James! Keep them coming!
The latest installation of the Portobello Road Arts Project has been unveiled by artist Peter Dunn.“Heart of the Community” is made up of thirteen photomurals which explore the relationship between collective memory and cultural identity. This playful and imaginative take on the tradition of historical painting sees various figures and events bursting through the brickwork on Portobello Road’s north wall to remind visitors and passers-by of their contributions to life in the local area.
Opening the exhibition, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, Transport and Arts, Councillor Tim Coleridge, said the installation showed “what’s most important: that it’s people who make the community what it is.”
Keen not to celebrate only the great and the good, Dunn includes, amongst others, Notting Hill Carnival founders Claudia Jones and Rhaune Laslett-O’Brien, and pupils from Bevington Primary School alongside images of author George Orwell and photographers Roger Mayne and Charlie Phillips.
As Dunn explained: “I focused on the extraordinary acts of ordinary people who rose above the challenges life dealt them to create something of value for us all.”
The idea of the broken brickwork revealed itself early on during the research stage. Having learnt that Portobello Farm was once located behind the north wall, Dunn decided to uncover as much local history as possible. With the assistance of members of his Open Age Arts Group and the council’s local archives team, he soon found he had a wealth of material at his disposal.
After selecting and, where necessary, recolouring the images, trying to accurately match the colour of the real brickwork proved one of the trickiest parts of the project. Once Dunn was happy with the results the images were printed onto plasticized paper, mounted on aluminium frames, and then finally coated with an anti-graffiti film.
The result is a colourful tour through local history that takes viewers from the founding of Notting Hill through to the present day via the two great wars, the arrival of the Windrush, the opening of the street markets, and the breakthrough of punk and reggae. Dunn says: “I hope visitors enjoy seeing the history on display and are encouraged to find out more.”