by Robert S. Silver
They tell you – death concentrates the mind. Talk to Roshan Raghaven-Day, Centre manager at New Horizons in SW3 and she will tell you that a £70,000 shortfall in funding does much the same. Keep that up and the results will be terminal for activities ranging from chair exercise classes to current affairs along with outreach projects in sheltered housing in the surrounding area. All of which is provided for the benefit of local over 50s.
The concentrated minds at New Horizons came up with the idea of an art exhibition showing works by professionals and talented amateurs. Sadly it was only held for one day, on 13th June. Nonetheless, over 400 people visited some of whom invested in £3,000 worth of art. Two thirds of that went to the centre while the single biggest purchase was £1,500 for a painting called Joyful Climber by Singapore based artist Praema Raghavan-Gilbert (her sister, Roshan, hauled it back to this country after a trip home.) Other works were donated by the artists Paul Cordsen, and Sylvia Edwards.
In any exhibition there are themes and the predominant one is likely to be people. There were portraits – always more interesting when you know the sitter. On this occasion I knew the subject of Carly by Jacqui Campbell and can vouch that I recognised my friend. Unknown to me were the young-looking people and babies in Yonita Ward’s collage about family, in which they stand under various family crests – real or imagined I do not know – suggesting themes of inheritances and all that entails.
Another popular theme was animals. On the evidence of this show they particularly like chickens. In the case of Jenny Marshall, there is a fascination with the kinds of big beasts most of us only ever see in zoos or on telly. On the strength of Tiger and Wolf she has the kind of craft skills that enable her to depict these animals with accuracy, affection and even a little wit.
There was also an etching of a feather by Kay Dilley. Several times life-size and finely drawn it had a cool elegance that made it possible to imagine it in almost any gallery. Then, just to prove that not all art is two-dimensional there was a selection of glass. A top tip is to look out for work by the Polish artist Teresa Chlapowski, particularly her large, multicoloured bowls.
As well as providing visual pleasures for visitors this show also proved that making images is not the sole domain of a few. In fact, it is a remarkably democratic activity in which all kinds of people participate and give expression to a whole gamut of concerns using a wide variety of means.
Aside from the idea of putting on the show the other good idea was to put together a calendar made of the twelve most popular pictures voted for by the visitors. Keep an eye out for it in September. It should contain some interesting art and you can support a good cause at the same time, which has to be good.
The New Horizons Centre, based on the Guinness Trust Estate, Cadogan Street, SW3 and provides a range of activities for those over 50 and promote active lifestyles and independence.