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Wendy Dison: Crossing Place - Tricycle Gallery

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION of paintings by Wendy Dison, Crossing Place, will be on display at the Tricycle Gallery from September 7 to October 10, 2009.

This is a revised version of an exhibition that was part of Liverpool Independents Biennial in November 2008 while that city was European Capital of Culture.

Wendy Dison is delighted by the opportunity to show this work in London and more particularly in Kilburn. There has been Irish migration to England since at least the 12th century and by 1900 there were 100,000 Irish in London. At the 2001 census this figure had risen to 220,000.

The Kilburn area is still strongly associated with its Irish population and culture; 13% of the population were born in Ireland with an even higher percentage of Irish descent, giving it the highest Irish population of any London area.

Dison, whose grandfather was Irish, grew up in Liverpool surrounded by immigrants from every continent, and on looking back to her schooldays realised that many of her classmates’ surnames were Irish ones. She has lived near Bantry in West Cork for over ten years and her work as an artist is rooted in that experience. The theme of Crossing Place grew out of the ongoing concerns of her work and her engagement with the landscape and history of her home.

As Dison explains:

“What did I think about when working on these paintings? I thought of the families in the west of Ireland broken up by economic hardship. Families of ten children born in a farm house like ours who grew up knowing that the land could not support them all and that most would have to leave. The eldest boy had the farm; a son might become a priest or teacher, there were jobs in service or the shops of the nearest towns but the other children, as they reached adulthood, had to emigrate.

“I can imagine the wait at the cross roads for the bus that took them further than they’d ever been before, the card board suitcase containing clothes and a loaf baked early that morning by a red-eyed mother who hadn’t slept. The boat to Liverpool might only be the first stage of a journey to London or New York. These great cities must have seemed frighteningly large and busy, England more bewildering and foreign than the land of opportunity they thought they were coming to.

“This was what I was thinking of when I painted the larger canvases. I imagined country people being dwarfed and overwhelmed by the city, the alienation they must have felt. Most of them would eventually find jobs and make their way in a new environment but others were always lost.”

While growing out of an Irish perspective, the several currents which interact in these paintings have a wider and more universal resonance. They are about resignation and hope, exile and the possibility of return, about memory and a deep connection to the home place.

Admission: Free.

Times: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 10pm; Sunday from 3pm to 9pm.

Tricycle Gallery, 269 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JR