Why it matters: Saving Free Space Gallery

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Melissa Hardwick is curator of the Free Space Gallery at Kentish Town Health Centre. She tells us about their surprisingly wide range of work, and why it is under threat


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Bright and airy - the setting for Free Space Gallery
Bright and airy – the setting for Free Space Gallery

The Free Space Gallery programme is nearing its fourth birthday and is so much more than the four walls it began with.

For those of you who have been, or have yet to visit us, we’re based in the Kentish Town Health Centre just off the high street – and you may be unaware of the wealth of work that goes on behind the scenes. Apart from the exhibition area on the first floor (and the separate display area at the Queen’s Crescent Practice, the New Space Gallery) we provide weekly free creative workshops for patients and the community,.

We play host to artists in residence who work with staff and patients, open our doors to performances of dance and theatre by established and up and coming practitioners; plus we experiment with liminal art spaces in the form of our Art Shed, sitting regally in the garden.

Freespace2

In addition to arts and health activities we also facilitate a range of social and community initiatives such as a free monthly cycle maintenance workshop, a gardening project involving the special needs educational establishment the Leighton Education Project and patient initiated workshops. Previously we have funded a Citizens Advice Bureau, English language classes, dance for people with Parkinson’s and a toy library. However we have had to cut these services due to funding constraints.

The Free Space Gallery was established to give under-represented artists, individuals and organisations a space and voice in an important public building. We are free to visitors and exhibitors – all of our workshops are open to all and free.

It’s important that such a wide range of social, community and physical health and art-related activities which engage a wide range of people is allowed to flourish and to continue its development. However we are currently facing closure in a few short months – due to a lack of continued funding.

As we are a small team without the necessary experience in fundraising we are calling out to the community to help us continue our work. This kind of programme is extremely rare within an NHS facility and we want it to continue its valuable contribution. So if you have ideas as to how to fill the coffers please do get in touch.

Take a look at some of the previous exhibitions at Free Space Gallery via our Nearby pages.

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Now Showing at Free Space:

Audrey & Marilyn - new show at the threatened gallery
An Afternoon With Audrey & Marilyn – new show at the threatened gallery

Stripping back the layers of fantasy that surround Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, photographer Ruxandra Matieu has worked with Zoe Gilham, who uses the medium of cake for her art. Together they have imagined a conversation between the two sex/style icons (made up from their own words), that aims to reveal their complexity as women, beyond the usual surface-deep, pouting media representations. Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm until 14 January

Email Mel directly on mel@weirdpixels.com or call 07950 695 699 if you’d like to help.


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