As a young child growing up at home my parents instilled several values and principles. The old English proverb of being seen and not heard was the raison d’être of our existence. Despite this, my quest for wisdom, lucidity, and knowledge of the world, was attained through this disciplined state of silence.
During my time at school (Willesden High School, Doyle Gardens) my art teachers provided the space for my visual curiosity and practice to coalesce, imbuing the concept of success through failure, infinite possibilities and community – the latter would be the spine of my artistic practice.
Aristotle writes about the elements of circumstance as a way to evaluate moral actions, the what, the who, the how, the where and the why. The Park Royals project served as a new chapter and a salient reminder to honour the pre and post-Windrush generation who have been the vanguards of social change in their working community.
My young eyes were a cogent reminder of what we see and what we know is never settled but a kaleidoscope of colours, reflections and abstract forms intertwined. The subjects selected for the project imparted personal oral stories of love, sorrow and transformation. Standing side by side their lives are weaved together conceptually through interrelations, but more importantly the physical as a Jacquard weave, invented in 1804.
The first tapestry we see Lydia and Tony with over 80 years of service at McVitie’s between them thoughtful and elegantly poised looking at the camera. The second tapestry we see the elders Loleta and Mr. Rodgers from the Windrush era whose stories of racial tension and activism created the conditions for the making and assembling of these two seminal works.
I believe artists are the shapers of social consciousness who have augmented societal change and with that comes a responsibility. This community has been the author of my practice since my birth (Central Middlesex Hospital, Park Royal) and the two tapestries occupy terrain where alterity, ways of seeing and freedom of expression is coveted to provide an appropriate testbed for their stories to be told and remembered in perpetuity.
Faisal would like to thank all participants:
Kareen Abdu’Allah-Duffus, Lydia Asamoa-Kwafo, Lloyd Baker, Mrs Dulcie Ashley, Mr Ferdinand Ashley, Martin Brennan, Lorraine Brennan, Subira Cameron-Goppy, Valentine Campbell, Theresa Frain, Loleta Hayles, Tony Howe, James Mwenewanda, Lorenzo Mwenewanda, Rudi Pedro, Darwin Ramlal, Mr Rodgers, Lawrence Shivadikar, Gregory Small, Maureen Stanislas, Sandonna Turner, Mark Wilsmore and Amanda Witter.
Community helpers: Noreen Morris and Latoya Wright
With special thanks to Jessica Nash, Tim and Barry, Kristóf Szentgyörgyváry and the staff at Brent Civic Centre.
The Park Royals by Faisal Abdu’Allah is the first Annual Art Commission of OPDC’s Great Place Scheme Programme, and was produced by Create London. The Great Place Scheme has been supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.