A hanging offence?

Last week WNOL’s Emily Dent criticised the new gallery at Harrow as a waste of space. Sally Feldman, Head of the School of Media, Arts and Design, replies.

London Gallery West, our newly named and launched gallery at Harrow, will be holding its first public exhibition starting on May lst. It’s a combined show of two complementary artists: the sculptor Keith Wilson who is a research fellow of our School, and the painter Stuart Cumberland.

This exciting show marks the culmination of years of planning and campaigning for a dedicated gallery space on campus. And it’s something that many staff on campus have been arguing for for years.

We have very high hopes for the gallery and are expecting it to perform many roles: a showcase for student and staff work; a chance to bring cutting edge art to the campus and to the wider community; an opportunity to put the Harrow campus on the map; a way to attract new students and enrich the environment for existing ones; support for research and for student employment. That is the vision – and it’s already beginning to work.

Last month an interim exhibition showed the work of David Bate, course leader of the MA Photographic Studies. David also gave a gallery talk on his work and its relationship to contemporary photographic practice. Polly Challis, a Year Three student on BA Contemporary Media Practice, is currently on work placement with the gallery’s curator Michael Maziere. Other students interested in curating, in press and publicity or in the business side of the gallery will have plenty of opportunity to work with Michael, and he has also started to give tutorials on aspects of curating and the contemporary art world.

A group of BA Media Studies students will be interviewing the artists, filming the installation of the exhibition and its private view for their final project, and a Photography student will be documenting its progress as well.

Art and design is such an important part of our curriculum, including some of our most valued founding disciplines like photography and ceramics. But until now there hasn’t been a suitable space to house all our graduation shows, and that means that fellow students miss out on seeing the fantastic work being created here. This year, the gallery will be the focus for all the shows and that will give everyone a chance to enjoy them, including applicants to courses and students from other disciplines. And students mounting the shows will have the benefit of a resident curator to help them.

We are also offering opportunities to local artists to show their work, and a very exciting schedule of exhibitions is being planned.

What is it costing us? Nothing at all. The gallery and its staff have been funded for two years by a charitable trust, and we’ll be using that time to put in place measures to make sure that it can fund itself in the future.

Far from being a drain on the campus we are extremely proud of it and hope the whole community will come to value it as art in action.

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