The unique character of West Norwood Cemetery’s Gothic revival landscape, architecture and notable historic burials provides the reference points for an exhibition, curated by artist Jane Millar, of 21 art works by 21 artists sited around the cemetery grounds.
The exhibition evokes a sense of wonder about the site: an imaginative journey for visitors to the cemetery, uncovering intangible content and acting as a link to storytelling around the site.
Using sound, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, textiles and photography, artists create works to link their own specialism to the site.
Jane Wildgoose will create an installation in the Maddick Mausoleum, working with the historic archives held at the cemetery, and poet Chris McCabe will create a work that invites the audience to collect text from around the site and create their own poems in response.
Meanwhile landscape designer Jane Brockbank will be bringing her unique Flower Theatre to the cemetery, celebrating the use of flowers as symbols of life and mortality.
The artworks also uncover aspects such as natural history, different cultural groups and themes of mourning, loss and afterlife.
The architectural and overgrown areas of the cemetery are used to theatrical effect, with mausoleum doors becoming spaces for artists Jane Ward and Andrea Thoma to experiment with landscape and tromp l’oeil.
Based in West Norwood, Mylands are the oldest manufacturers of paint in London, and their new range ‘Colours of London’ will be showcased in a specially commissioned work by recent graduate Xanthus Andrews.
The common grave area is celebrated by historian Dr Ruth Richardson, local food producers and local people with A Grand Picnic For the Common Dead on Sunday 21st July, a free event with performance, music, poetry, feasting and a spontaneous installation to remember the hidden histories of working class Victorians.
Other pieces include ceramic work referencing the connection of Sir Henry Doulton to the cemetery, and a pedal-powered Victorian train carriage for visitor rides around the site.
On Saturday 6th July, London Dreamtime (storyteller Vanessa Woolf and musician Nigel of Bermondsey) will curate a magical evening of live music, performance and art, from 7.30pm to 10pm; tickets cost £10.
A temporary exhibition in the summer of 2013, it is designed to attract new and existing audiences, to appeal to all ages and to be fully accessible.
The Curious Art Trail is part of a major investment in West Norwood by the Mayor's Outer London Fund, which is helping increase the vibrancy and growth of high street places across London.
Tessa Jowell, MP for West Norwood and Dulwich says “This new art trail marks West Norwood as a hive of artistic creativity and promises to combine new art in one of London’s historic Magnificent Seven cemeteries.”
ARTISTS TAKING PART IN CURIOUS 2013: Andrea Thoma, Ania Tomaszewska-Nelson, Carys Davies, Chris McCabe, Gail Dickerson, Georgina Corrie, Hugh Gilmour, Jane Brockbank, Jane Ward, Jules Findley, London Dreamtime, Lucy Spanyol, Nigel Massey, Okido, Roger Hopgood, Rozanne Hawksley, Ruth Richardson, Sian Bonnell, Steven Levon Ounanian, Tim Meacham, Jane Wildgoose, Xanthus Andrews.
LISTINGS: The Curious Trail; West Norwood Cemetery, Norwood Road, West Norwood SE27 9JU; 22nd June to 28th July 2013, open daily 9am-6pm; Free; Buses: 68, 2, 432, 196, 322. Train: West Norwood. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org; visit westnorwoodcemetery.com.
Based on information by The West Norwood Cemetery.