Edgware Road takes a trip down memory lane
The rich and diverse history of the Edgware Road is to be told through an innovative art project using a range of techniques such as recorded interviews, photos, performances, paintings and film.
Photo 1907 © London Transport Museum
The Edgware Road, which neatly divides Marylebone and Bayswater, is perhaps best known for being the Arabic capital of London. However, this is only the latest chapter in the area's history. For example, it is also home to one of the first synagogues to be built in London.
The road itself is one of the oldest thoroughfares in Britain, and stretches back to Roman times. It was used by pilgrims in mediaeval times; French Huguenots settled in the 18th century; Arabic communities in the 19th; London's first Indian restaurant opened there in 1810 and Middle Eastern immigrants started putting down their roots in the 1970s.
People & Places
In addition to the melting pot of different cultures and religions that have left their mark over the years, Edgware Road was chosen for the project because it is home to several key historical sites.
Plaque for the Tyburn Tree
The Tyburn gallows was erected in 1571, where Marble Arch now stands as Edgware Road intersects with Bayswater Road.
Positioned in the middle of the road, the 'Tyburn Tree' was a popular public spectacle as well as a visible reminder of the law's wrath.
The Serpentine Gallery
Sally Tallant is the Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery, which is overseeing the project. She explained to BBC London why they are using the creative arts to explore aspects of local history.
Wouldn't it be easier to hold a series of lectures?
"Yes, it probably would be easier, but through the project we can actively build dynamic relationships between art, artists and people, and challenge expectations of where art can be encountered and by whom," says Sally.
"Our project will actively seek out new audiences for the heritage of the Edgware Road, ensuring it is as accessible, interesting and enjoyable to as wide a range of people as possible."
Sally Tallant, Serpentine Gallery
Sally hopes that by using a variety of different art forms, it will attract a broad range of people from various backgrounds 'who would not normally consider that heritage or contemporary art' is for them.
Getting locals involved
It is intended that artists will work with local participants in a series of workshops that will look at a particular theme, for example, local trading, local entertainment or architectural heritage.
The project's success, says Sally, is heavily dependent on getting local people involved. The Serpentine, which is based not far away in Hyde Park, has already formed relationships with local schools, youth groups and other arts organisations.
"We have already had considerable interest in the project from these local groups and also from individuals with a historical or current link to the project. People have made contact with the Gallery to offer their help, tell us their stories and find out how they can get involved, which is great!"
An education programme has been rolled out in local schools and from early 2009 a series of artists' residencies will begin. A website and print publication will also be created to complement the project, which is being funded with £120,500 of lottery money.
Over the next 18 months a series of talks, films, performances and exhibitions will be held in and around Edgware Road itself.
"While the area is referred to locally as 'downtown Beirut', Edgware Road is in fact home to an extremely diverse range of communities," says Sally.
"Layers of immigration over the last 600 years means that it is one of the most ethnically varied areas of the capital. It is also a place with areas of extremely diverse wealth. The project will offer local residents creative opportunities to mix with others, to experience different cultures and, hopefully, to develop new friendships."
last updated: 14/11/2008 at 13:12