During our Summer Salon exhibition we grabbed Eleanor for a quick 5 mins over a glass of Prosecco to ask her about her life at IAF...
What do you do at IAF?
'I am Director of Art. I also teach young people aged 4 - 16 as part of the MakeArt programme'.
How long have you been coming to IAF?
'I first walked in at the age of 11! I attended art classes here all the way through my teenage years. It was a really important part of my life at the time, offering me the space to develop my interest in art and my skills outside of school. I had a great group of friends who came to the class and I have really happy memories of those years. Years after leaving to pursue my art training at university, I was invited back as an art tutor. My involvement developed from there and I ended up leading the art department. I try to offer my students the same kind of experience that I benefitted from at their age; support, encouragement and a nurturing space for creativity to flourish.'
Tell us what IAF means to you?
'I just love the multi art environment. I think it is vital that places like this exist! I believe strongly that art has an important role in bringing communities together and giving people something outside of the everyday, to explore, be creative and find new passions in life.'
What is your favourite artwork?
'The Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio never fails to stop me in my tracks when I visit the National Gallery. I love the study of human psychology that this piece reveals, the drama and the perfect rendering of his subject.'
The Supper at Emmaus Caravaggio
Tell us something about IAF that might surprise people...
'Behind the scenes we keep and maintain a Moose, who regularly changes his dress to keep us entertained in the office. He is partial to Tutus, feathers and sequins and seems to be working his way through the Costume Department's vast collection with joyous abandon!'
What's your favourite local gem?
'Toni and Guy on Holloway road. A lovely stylist called Sylvia gave me the most fabulous restyle recently. Call me shallow if you will, but I firmly believe a good hairdo can give you all the confidence you need to move forward in life.'
Thanks Eleanor, before you get back to the throng, tell us what do you get up to when you're not here?
'My studio is in Forest Gate E7. I am currently working on a Forest Gate Portrait Project, where I make large scale pencil portraits of people who live or work in the area. I love working with communities and involving people in my art practice, either as the subjects of my work or as participants in workshops. Art is for everyone!'
Eleanor and her Forest Gate Portrait Project
*UPDATE 31/05/2017 we raised all the money we needed with a day to spare! Thank you everyone - we are so lucky to have such amazing supporters!
Help save IAF’s vital pottery department!
After 30 years of faithfully firing our kiln is on its last legs, we have been trying to pull it through since Christmas but sadly it seems the only way forward is to get a new one. We have identified the model we require and very generously the seller is willing to give us free delivery and elements for it but we still need to raise over £3000!
Our dream kiln
Pottery is such a valuable resource; it expands people’s creativity and helps them communicate in a non verbal way and the sense of achievement in creating your own piece of art workout is huge!
Our kiln is used by local children, Islington Teenagers and adults from a local branch of Mencap.
There are very few places that are able to provide pottery classes taught by a practising professional where everyone gets to fire and glaze their work and we do so within our ethos of making art affordable for all.
Last year saw us lose the last small bit of funding we got from Islington Council and though we have been working hard to plug the funding gap and cut spending where we can the loss of our kiln couldn’t come at a worse time.
Please help keep this fantastic resource open to all those who use and depend on it!
Anyone who donates over £50 will receive a thank you gift of a unique bowl designed and made by Kayley Holderness especially for this campaign.
Also we will name the new kiln after the person who gives the highest donation!
Summer Salon 2016
When Eleanor Pearce became Director of Art at Islington Arts Factory she had a new vision for our Gallery programme, one that was inclusive, supporting emerging talent and local artists and opening the doors of IAF to the community. We are now celebrating 10 years of one of her flagship programmes created in this ethos - Summer Salon!
Eleanor and Gallery Assistant Scheherezade hanging the first Salon
The Salon started in 2007 as Eleanor's response to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, she envisioned an exhibition open to everyone, free to apply with floor to ceiling hanging inspired by 18th century French Salons. She put out an open call for any 2D work without knowing what would happen. The response was fantastic, that first year we had 65 Artists and 100 works of art! Since then the Salon has grown from strength to strength and last year we had over 100 artists and 200 pieces of art filling our gallery.
Press from the first Salon
Summer Salon 2010
The Salon is now one of the most important parts of our calendar and it's something people really look forward to. A lot of artists return to us year on year keen to show their new work as part of this established community event.
“The Summer Salon embodies Islington Arts Factory’s ethos of creating an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome to participate, and providing a launch pad for local and emerging talent,” says Eleanor Pearce “The idea for the show grew from French salons where people would meet to discuss the arts and exchange ideas.”.
Collection day 2016
The call for entry for Summer Salon 10 is now open, see our Summer Salon page for details or contact us on 020 7607 0561
Josh is our newest member of staff and like most of us he was a Islington Arts Factory user before he started working here. We caught up with him at reception to get to know the newest face at The Factory...
Josh! Welcome to the IAF, so what do you do here?
'Well right now I'm being the Office Assistant but I also dance here 3 times a week (Ballet and Contemporary).'
So far what is your favourite thing about IAF?
'I like how friendly and inviting everyone is.'
Aww thanks Josh! How long long have you been coming here?
'Just over a year'
What does IAF mean to you?
'IAF is a very significant part of my life now. I have and continue to develop here as both a dancer and a person in general'
What's your favourite Art work?
'Leonardo Da Vinci's ''Study of Crabs''.'
What have you learnt about IAF that surprised you?
'There are way more rooms and studios than you'd expect'
Where is your favourite place in Islington?
'I just recently discovered Cookies and Scream on Holloway road and their staff and food are amazing!'
What do you get up to when you aren't here?
'I'm studying for my A Levels at SMMA Sixth Form so a lot of my time is spent doing homework, but when I am free I go around London with my friends discovering new places'
Thanks Josh! We are so happy to have you.
Josh performing at last years Montage
Children's Dance Company is one of the projects that we do here at IAF that we are most proud of, and having just finished a fantastic Contemporary Company this half term we are now getting ready to revive Princess in the Sky which was the first performance Ballet Company ever created. so whist we were refreshing the story in our mind we thought we would share it with you! Are you sitting comfortably?
Princess in the Sky
A long, long time ago there was a Queen who was very busy creating the Sky and everything in it, the Sun, Moon and Stars. The Sky started to make mischief for the Queen but luckily she had a daughter, the Princess. The Princess had a magic touch so she helped the Queen make the Sky beautiful and calm. In return the Princess was allowed a holiday but only if she promised to return.
On her travels she came across a lonely cloud where she met a Boy and they fell in love. She was so happy that the Sun, Moon and Stars decided to follow her to the lonely cloud. In the meantime the Queen started to get angry as the Princess hadn't returned and the Sun, Moon and Stars had left. So the Queen called some Crows to search for the Princess and tell her to return
The Crows found the Princess and asked her to return, but she refused. The Queen was furious as a promise had been broken.
The Queen cast a spell to make the Princess return and separate her from the Boy. The Princess and the Sun, Moon and Stars all became very sad. It rained and rained. The Sky became dark and miserable. The Queen realised this was no good so she made an agreement with the Princess that on one day each year she could go and visit the boy on the lonely cloud. So once a year on this special day the sky becomes more beautiful than ever before and everyone celebrates.
Princess in the Sky is based on a classic Japanese fairy tale 'The Weaver Girl and Cowherd'.
Dan is our technician here at Islington Arts Factory, we took 5 minutes over a cup of Earl Grey and a biscuit to chat to him about his IAF...
Hi Dan. So what do you do at IAF?
'Everything! Sometimes all at the same time. I fix microphones, unblock toilets, make tea, eat soup, make music, deal with bands...'
What's your favourite thing about IAF?
'The people who use the space. I love the fact that anyone one can and does use our spaces - our users are so diverse'.
How long have you been coming here?
What does IAF mean to you?
'It's a place to come and be creative'
Who is your favourite IAF user?
'There are a couple of regular bands that I really like, Adia Victoria and Bikini Faso'
So tell us one thing about IAF that might surprise people...
'It has some of the nicest Art Nouveau fireplaces I have ever seen.' (they aren't in the public bits unfortunately).
What's your favourite place in Islington? (apart from IAF obviously!)
'St Pancras Old church, is that in Islington?' I think it's Camden... 'Well I live near the canal and love the bit between Kingsland road and Angel, and also Islington has lots of lovely old man pubs'.
What do you do when you're not here?
'Cycle around, drink coffee with friends, buy records, go to exhibitions'.
Thanks Dan! And finally what's the strangest thing you've ever overheard at IAF?
' ''Why can't I throw water over people?'' A good question I thought!'
Not all of you will know that our Director of Dance at IAF is the immensely talented Francis Angol, extraordinary teacher (just check out one of his classes and see for yourself) and Creative Director of Movement Angol Dance Company. We think he is brilliant, you can tell because we made him our banner image, not only as a dancer but as a colleague he always enlivens the office with his infectious humour. He also sidelines as our IT guy.
This Sunday Movement Angol launches its 'Engage' project with a performance that looks at the realities of engaging with ageing through the consciousness of a care giver. Using Francis' distinctive language of Contemporary African dance the work gives an emotional response to the experience of the carer. The performance is supported by three exciting workshops exploring the African Diaspora and Francis' Somatics practice.
Anyone can come along and we highly recommend it, seeing Francis and his associated artists is a wonderful experience. Find details about it here or see below.
At Islington Arts Factory we believe passionately in the importance of learning from the art of the past and drawing from life.
We have just launched some new weekend workshops for teenagers: Drawing in a Gallery and Drawing a Portrait. These intensive sessions will help young artists to develop their drawing skills and broaden their artistic vocabulary.
Anyone one aged 12 - 18 welcome!
Drawing in a Gallery
Saturdays 12 noon 4.00pm
October 15th 2016: National Gallery
February 11th 2017: National Portrait Gallery
April 1st 2017: Victoria and Albert Museum
Meet at Islington Arts Factory at 12 noon
Drawing a Portrait
Sundays 12 noon 3.00pm
November 6th 2016
March 12th 2017
May 14th 2017
Islington Arts Factory
To find out more or to book on to a course just get in touch with us
A little sneak peak of what we get up to during the summer holidays
During the summer most of our regular term time classes stop and the pace of life changes round here, we put on our annual show Montage, run a bunch of Summer Schools, and excited Carnival goers fill our building making Mas. And we love it! It's also a time when we get to plan next years children's classes, and it becomes normal to overhear conversations like 'I'll dye the white tights green for the frogs and the bee tights can be used for the tigers'.
Here are a few pics of what we've been up to...
Elite Syncopations - Children's Ballet Company @ Montage our annual dance showcase. It was such a fantastic end to the year and we loved being at the wonderful Jackson's Lane, we can't wait to be there again next year.
Young artists working hard on the scenery and props for MakeArt and Move - The Beehive, the top image is them performing too. It was such a great week, we are very biased but we think our kids are pretty wonderful.
Ballerinas from our Ballet Summer School - The Princess in the Sky. They come in every day and do class for over an hour and then after lunch they work on the choreography producing a 15 minute ballet by the end of the week that they perform to Mums and Dads (and sisters and brother, and Grandmas and Grandpas....) Such a hard working lot - especially as the littlest was 4! Well done Gracie!
Painting and Drawing with Teenagers from Islington as part of Islington Councils Summerversity. Summerversity is an absolutely fantastic programme that gives teens who live or go to school in Islington the chance to try out a whole load of different actives for free, from Kayaking to Radio Production, there really is something for everyone. We ran classes in Painting and Drawing, Clay and Urban dance - it was such a blast!
These lovely Glorious Backstage Arts ladies are working hard to get ready for Notting Hill Carnival next weekend - the colours in the gallery at the moment are so vivid! We wish them all the best and can't wait to see them all dressed up on the day - keep an eye on our Facebook page for photos.
So that's what we've been up to (alongside some less exciting and definitely not as photogenic fundraising and bookkeeping). We will be shut from Saturday 27th August until Friday 2nd September. See you in the Autumn!
As time draws towards the Edinburgh Festival (you can pick up the programme from our foyer) we often get actors coming in and doing last minute practice - it's always so exciting to get a preview of the shows and we always hope that they will succeed enough to transfer to London.
Speaking of which have you noticed that Islington is absolutely chock full of superb theatres? They might not be as big and glamorous as the West End but we think they are just as special.
You can catch some hilarious comedy at The Pleasance or the Hen and Chickens or brilliant new plays from emerging talent at The Kings Head, Hope, Rosemary Branch and Newbie to the borough the fantastic Park Theatre which is constantly producing great plays as well as being an absolute asset to Islington. Then there is of course the Mighty Almeida, whose reputation for quality and innovation extends far beyond the borough. If dance is your thing then head to the world famous Sadlers Wells or if you have small people there is the award winning Little Angel Theatre for puppetry. And it's not technically in Islington but Our Friends to the North Jackson's Lane deserve a shout out, they are proudly Haringey, but they are only just up the road from us and we think they are fab!
How lucky are we? What a lot of talent Islington has. If you are lucky enough to be heading up to Edinburgh for the Fringe either as a performer or a punter have a fantastic time!
Keep up to date with all that's going on at The Arts Factory.
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