Categories
Blog Post Education Local History Projects

Opportunity for Mosaic Artist for new Navigator Square public art

Artist Brief

Background

In 2022, Islington Heritage Service partnered with the London Irish Centre to create the first Islington Irish Month. This month-long programme of heritage activities included schools workshops, trad music sessions, heritage walks, a charity céilí and open air concert in Navigator Square, Archway. The month celebrated the impact the Irish community has had on the London Borough of Islington and beyond. The month coincided with the appointment of the first Irish-born Mayor of Islington, Cllr Troy Gallagher.

Navigator Square in Archway (located on the border of Junction and Hillrise wards) is an area of significant Irish heritage. Navigator Square (known as Archway Close until 2018) is named after the predominantly Irish builders, known as ‘navvies.’ St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, the Whittington Hospital and several contemporary and historical pubs also have connections to the Irish community.  In 2022, this area of Islington was marked with a free Family Day with music and performers, part of the first Islington Irish Month.

According to most recent census data, Islington has one of the highest levels of people who identify as Irish, along with Camden and Brent. In the years following the Brexit Referendum, applications for Irish passports have surged. From 2016-2018, the Irish Embassy in London issued 176,000 passports, and the 2018 record was broken once again in 2019. Many people in Islington now identify as second or third generation Irish, and the surge in passport applications reflects an acknowledgement of this generational trend.

Project Overview

The Archway Mosaic is a legacy project of Islington Irish Month, to be completed and installed at Navigator Square in March 2023.

Islington Heritage Service undertakes community development projects to support the lives of residents, creating opportunities for inclusion and development, while improving wellbeing and reducing social isolation. We work with demographics such as families and under-5s, young people, over-55s as well as the general community in Islington.

The Heritage Team are working with colleagues in Local Economy to produce this mosaic. The artwork is part of the wider community development plan of Archway’s local economy. The aims include promoting Archway as a desirable place to visit; to support the local economy and increase footfall; to provide a sense of placemaking, and for residents to feel that their heritage is recognised and celebrated.

Community Engagement – Mosaic Artist

The wall space is approximately 14m of this 18m wall, avoiding the electrical box. The Mosaic itself will not be 14m long but could consist of 4 boards, representing to work or influence of each school. For example, these could be 1.5m x 1m and spread out.

We wish to engage a local mosaic artist to work with the 4 schools in the area to create a work of public art, a mural depicting the legacy of the Irish community in Islington.

The completed artwork will be installed on a wall at Navigator Square, which has been earmarked for the mosaic. The wall has 14m of space available, but the mosaic does not need to be this size. The mosaic could consist of 4 boards, representing the work or influence of each school, as well as work from the artist. For example, these could be 1.5m x 1m and spread out. The colourful mosaic will serve as a tribute to the Irish community in Islington. The mosaic will also include aspect of wayfinding for residents and those visiting Archway, to direct them to key locations such as Archway Station, Whittington Hospital and Archway Library.

Prior to the creation of the artwork, the artist will undertake art workshops at 4 local schools in the area and the outcomes of those workshops will help inspire the creation of a work of public art. The art will draw on the Irish heritage of Archway and Islington, exploring both traditional and contemporary depictions of Irish culture and the legacy of that community in Islington.

The artist will be paid a set fee of £5,000 for the creation of the mosaic and £200 per session in each school (12 sessions, 3 at each school, a combined total of £2,400).

As part of the agreement, the artist will:

  • Receive the costs of materials used to create the main artwork
  • Receive appropriate guidance to effectively lead activities with school groups
  • Lead approximately 12 workshops at 4 schools
  • Explore the history of the Irish community in Islington and undertake appropriate research for inspiration

The artist will work closely with Islington Heritage Service, with support from the Heritage Learning Manager as needed.

Candidates:

  • We seek an artist with experience in creating mosaics who is experienced in leading workshops and educational activities. The successful candidate will gain support and guidance in the methodologies, but it is essential that candidates have some experience in leading workshops/classes
  • It is desirable that candidates with a connection to Archway and/or Islington apply

We look forward to receiving applications from candidates who feel they fit the requirements, and encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds (race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class background) to apply.

To Apply:

Applicants should send the following:

(a) An up-to-date CV (b) a project proposal and (c) select examples of previous work to sean.mcgovern@islington.gov.uk

In your proposal, please include the following:

  • Details of your previous experience with mosaics and examples
  • Demonstrate your understanding of Irish heritage in Islington and/or London
  • An outline of a proposed workshop suitable for primary school aged children

Dates:

Applications close at midnight on Sunday 31 July. Interviews will take place during the week commencing Monday 15 August. The duration of the appointment will run from September 2023 to March 2023.

For more information on the project, please contact:

Seán McGovern, Heritage Project Manager, sean.mcgovern@islington.gov.uk

Categories
Exhibition Local History

Photographic Exhibit: Islington Celebrates the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II with Mayor of Islington, Charles Frederick Rodgers, at the Islington Town Hall as part of her coronation visit to Islington, 3 June 1953

On 6 February 1952, on the death of her father King George VI, Her Majesty the Queen acceded to the British throne at the age of 25. Her coronation took place on 2 June 1953. On 6 February 2022, after serving for 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.

As part of the celebrations going on across the Borough of Islington (and further afield) a new free exhibit is on display in the Islington Local History Centre.

Islington Celebrates the Queen” includes prints of the Queen’s coronation visit to Islington in 1953 as well as snapshots of local residents celebrating Her Majesty the Queen. These photographs are a small selection of the images held in the Islington Local History Centre photographic collection.

The exhibit is on display at Islington Local History Centre, 245 St John Street, London, EC1V 4NB. Available Friday 27th May to Friday 22nd July 2022. Find opening times here

Silver Jubilee party at the Sutton Estate, Upper Street, 1977

Become part of the archives and help us create a collection of photographs of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in Islington. Send us your photos of how you celebrated the Platinum Jubilee by emailing local.history@islington.gov.uk

Photos donated to the archives will be looked at for years to come! Let’s help our future selves be able to reminisce with photos for viewing in many different ways including research projects, exhibitions and online displays. Take a look at our collection policy here.

Categories
Archive Blog Post Collections Local History

Islington’s Christmas Past: Part II

Once again we find ourselves in a festive season in strange times. Last year, as a bit of a diversion, we took a brief look at some of the Christmas ‘goings-on’ of Islington past in Pantos, Pageants and Puddings and we thought we’d take another dive into the Islington Local History Centre collection to find out more about Islington’s Christmas Past.

Rowntrees Chocolates advert in the Islington Gazette, December 1921. (Islington Local History Centre)

The First Christmas Card

Christmas cards are a great way to send a little Christmas cheer. Did you know that Islington has a connection to what is thought to be the first Christmas card? In 1843 John Calcott Horsley, at the behest of Henry Cole, designed the first Christmas card which featured a family at the centre raising a toast. One of these cards was sent by a “John Washbourn and his wife” of 22, Theberton Street, Islington.

Reproduction of the original card sent by John Washbourn and his wife that was donated to the Islington Libraries in 1955. (Islington Local History Centre)

The World’s Fair at the Royal Agricultural Hall

100 years ago on Friday 23rd December 1921 the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington held its 41st season of the World’s Fair. The Royal Agricultural Hall, affectionately known as the Aggie, opened in 1862 and for many years was host to a variety of events. The Aggie’s annual World’s Fair would open during the festive period with rave reviews in the Islington Gazette. “In this gigantic show of shows our borough once more lives up to its ancient title, “Merrie Islington.” and the villagers can enjoy skating and dancing, feasting and frivolity, innocent fun and care-free laughter to their hearts’ content.” (Islington Gazette, December 24, 1921)

Poster for the Royal Agricultural Hall World’s Fair, 1885. (Islington Local History Centre)

Find out more about the Aggie in our online presentation “Meet Me at the Aggie”


A Christmas Ghost Story

On Christmas night 1898 the Islingtonian James Chant claimed to have encountered a figure in white at St Mary’s churchyard. He, along with another person who he bumped into who had also come across the ghost, attempted to chase the figure to no avail. However, not disheartened, he declared he had every intention of returning to resume the hunt. His letter, sent to the Islington Gazette on 30th December 1898, was published in the daily edition on the 3rd January 1899.

Article in the Islington Gazette, January 3, 1899. (Islington Local History Centre)

…A Christmas Hoax

The ghost sighting at St Mary’s caused a bit of a stir with someone writing to the Islington Gazette to assert that the ghost sighting was merely a prank played by someone running around the churchyard wearing white. The ghost sighting went on to become even more controversial as the story began to circulate and the Islington Gazette reported that a “disorderly crowd” began to gather on the Tuesday evening into the early hours of the following morning outside St Mary’s Parish Church. However, when a reporter attempted to find the originator of the ghost sighting at the given address, there appeared to be no one by the name of James Chant in residence.

Article in the Islington Gazette, January 5, 1899. (Islington Local History Centre)

Joseph Grimaldi and Mother Goose

Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) was an actor, pantomimist and clown. His style of clowning, including face make-up and colourful dress, is now what we associate with the image of a clown. He performed in many pantomimes all year round but one of his greatest successes was his performance in Harlequin and Mother Goose (or The Golden Egg), a Christmas pantomime written by Thomas Dibdin, brother of Charles Dibdin, and performed at the Theatre Royal (later Royal Opera House), Covent Garden, in 1806.

Joseph Grimaldi as Clown in the pantomime Mother Goose, published 1846. (Islington Local History Centre)

Find out more about Joseph ‘Joe’ Grimaldi


Christmas Shows

Islington has been home to a number of venues from music halls to theatres and pub theatres and we’re lucky that there are still many around today. Here’s some posters and programmes of Christmas shows of times gone by.


The Barry Manilow Christmas Tree

And to finish off this festive journey through the past here’s some photos of the “Barry Manilow Christmas Tree” that was a feature at the Lewis Carroll Library. Created by one of the librarians who obviously like him a great deal.

Islington Local History Centre and Museum wish you a safe and peaceful festive season and a happy New Year!

Researched and written by Marlin Khondoker
Islington Local History Centre (December 2021)

Sources

Islington Museum and Islington Local History Centre Collections

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Categories
Blog Post Bunhill Fields Projects

Bunhill Heritage: Brief for Artist-Educator-in-Residence

A unique opportunity for artists in Islington

Background

Bunhill is a ward in the southernmost part of the London Borough of Islington, bordering Hackney and the City of London. It is an area with a unique history, where nestled amongst new high-rise developments are historic buildings, cultural community hubs and a significant amount of private and social housing. The name Bunhill comes from a derivation of ‘Bone Hill’, referring to Bunhill Fields, a burial ground in the ward. Bunhill Fields is a historic burial ground for religious non-conformists, dissenters and intellectuals. The name ‘Bone Hill’ indicates the site’s use as a depository for dried human bone from the charnel house in St Paul’s Cathedral in the 16th century. In 1665, the City of London prepared the field as a burial ground for plague victims but it was never consecrated nor used for this purpose. It subsequently became the main burial ground for non-comformists in London.

Bunhill Fields was in use from 1665 – 1854, at which point it became a public garden. It is the resting place for over 120,000 people, including many radical and dissenting figures such as artist William Blake, writer Daniel Defoe, writer and preacher John Bunyan, sculptor and businesswoman Eleanor Coade, and many others such as Susanna Wesley, known for being the ‘Mother of Methodism.’ Following WWII, the site was redesigned as a modern park, with the surviving tombstones protected behind high railings. Behind the railings the grass has been allowed to grow naturally, creating an area of biodiversity. Bunhill Fields is one of only a few large green spaces in the ward, but is underused by its residents.

Bunhill (the ward) is now a densely populated area of South Islington, with a mix of public and private homes. Within the ward is a large number of new developments, stretching into the City of London. At one point in Bunhill’s history, prior to WWII, it was the most densely populated area anywhere in the UK, along with neighbouring Clerkenwell. While the population has increased significantly, it remains less populated than it was at other points in its history.

Bunhill Fields, while located in Islington, is owned and managed by the City of London.

Project Overview

Bunhill Heritage is a community development project. Islington Heritage Service works to support the lives of residents, creating opportunities for inclusion and development, while improving wellbeing and reducing social isolation. We work with demographics such as families and under-5s, young people, over-55s as well as the general community in Islington.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have brought home the need for the local authority to help residents safely access community services and outdoor green spaces.

Using the history of Bunhill Fields as an anchor, Islington Heritage Service’s new heritage project encompasses the history of the whole ward of Bunhill. We will do this in part by partnering with the St. Luke’s Community Centre, Central Street.

Bunhill (and neighbouring Clerkenwell) have a unique radical and non-conformist history. Many of the people interred in Bunhill had radical ideas which were often not well received during their lifetimes. For example, John Bunyan wrote much of The Pilgrim’s Progress in prison, as he faced religious intolerance throughout his life for his non-conformist views.

Amongst the many thousands of people interred at Bunhill Fields include notable preachers, clergy, writers, theologians, engravers and artists. Hynmist Issac Watts, writer of “Joy to the World”, is buried in Bunhill Fields.

Community Engagement – Artist-Educator-in-Residence

Islington Heritage Service wish to engage 3 local artist-educators to work with the community in order to create 3 works of public art, exploring the radical history of Bunhill as the inspiration for the artwork.

All three completed artworks are intended to be on display in Bunhill Fields for one year of the project, with the agreement and cooperation of the City of London.

Each work of art will be created by an artist-educator: an artist with the ability to lead a number of workshops with different community groups.  The outcomes of those creative workshops will help inspire the creation of a work of public art. The art will draw on the history of Bunhill, the ward and the burial ground, with focus on some of the notable figures interred at Bunhill Fields, for example, the life and work of William Blake.

There will be three artist residencies during the project. Each residency will last 1 year.

  • Residency 1: January 2022 – January 2023
  • Residency 2: January 2023 – January 2024
  • Residency 3: January 2024 – January 2025

Artists will be contracted and paid a set fee of £10,000, to be paid at set points throughout the year.

As part of the agreement, each artist-educator will:

  • Receive access to a 24-hour studio based at the St. Luke’s Centre, Central Street, EC1 where they can undertake their own work as well as work related to the project
  • Receive the costs of materials used to create the main artwork
  • Receive appropriate guidance to effectively lead activities with different community groups
  • Lead approximately 10 workshops with different key demographics of the community (families, over 55s, mixed age groups)
  • Agree to contribute 6 hours per month of ad hoc support at the St. Luke’s Centre
  • Agree to be responsible for the care and maintenance of their studio space and to tidy and repaint the studio at the end of the year
  • Explore the history of Bunhill as the inspiration for the artwork

The artist-educators will work closely with the Bunhill Heritage Project Manager, supported by the Heritage Learning Manager.

Candidates:

  • We seek applications from art practitioners who are experienced in leading workshops and educational activities with a range of different community groups. Candidates will gain support and guidance in the methodologies, but it is essential that candidates have some experience in leading workshops/classes
  • Artists  from a range of creative disciplines are encouraged to apply
  • It is desirable that candidates with a connection to Bunhill and/or Islington apply

We look forward to receiving applications from all candidates who feel they fit the requirements, and encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds (race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class background) to apply, as well as a variety of art practises.

To Apply:

Applicants should send the following:

(1) An up-to-date CV (2) a project proposal and (3) select examples of previous work to BunhillHeritage@islington.gov.uk

In your proposal, please include the following:

  • Details of your preferred art form and why this would work for this heritage project
  • An aspect of the heritage of Bunhill and how you would use this as an inspiration for a work of public art
  • An outline of a proposed workshop with one of the following groups (over-55s, children and families, mixed adults including young people aged 16+)

We are recruiting 3 artist-educators over 3 years. If you are unsuccessful this time, we encourage you to reapply when applications open the following year.

Dates:

Applications close at midnight on Sunday 5 December. Interviews will take place during the week commencing 13 December. The duration of the appointment will run from the end of January 2022 to the end of January 2023.

For more information on the project, please contact:

Seán McGovern, Bunhill Heritage Project Manager, sean.mcgovern@islington.gov.uk

Download the full project brief