‘I want to celebrate a forgotten area of the borough’

Year-long residency is a rare opportunity in central London, says artist

Friday, 8th April — By Hayleigh Evans

Bunhill image11

Georgie Fay

AN artist has been given a year-long residency to celebrate the history of a “forgotten corner” of the borough.

Artist Georgie Fay, from Tufnell Park, has been awarded the residency by Bunhill Heritage, a community project funded by Islington Council.

Beginning in January, Ms Fay is the first of three local artists to enjoy the residency. During her placement, she will host community art workshops and produce an installation in Bunhill Fields burial ground.

The project will commemorate the area’s past. Ms Fay said: “It’s overlooked. It’s a fascinating area, and it feels like this forgotten corner. It’s really exciting for the local people to see where they’re from and their area being taken seriously.”

An example of art produced by a member of Ms Fay’s over-55s workshop

Ms Fay described her appointment as a “rare” opportunity for an artist, offering free studio space for a year in central London. Each artist will be paid £10,000 and can use their studio for work outside the project.

Each artist’s work will be on display in Bunhill Fields for a year, next to some of London’s famous nonconformists such as poet and artist William Blake and writers John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe.

The unhallowed burial ground for religious dissenters contains the remains of about 123,000 people.

Ms Fay will collaborate with Islington Council and the City of London on her contribution to the cemetery, which is set to be unveiled in January 2023.

“It’s a little sanctuary in the city. I hope the project will make more people go there,” she said. “I’d like to think that when they engage with the installation, it will help them understand the place as well a little bit better.”

The BH logo Ms Fay created for the Bunhill Heritage project

To engage with the community during her residency, Ms Fay hosts workshops at St Luke’s Community Centre for over-55s who have resided in Islington for most of their lives. They share memories of living in the area while writing poetry, making pottery and creating art using Ms Fay’s printing techniques.

Ms Fay is also working with St Luke’s Primary and City of London Academy Islington, where she will instruct students on sculpting and share the ward’s history. She plans to integrate art produced during sessions into her installation.

She said: “Teaching art has influenced my own practice. This residency was so exciting for me because the education side is just as important. You’re a better teacher if you are constantly making your own art as well.”

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