Pio Abad: Remember This House

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Remember this House, created as part of the Brent Biennale 2020, has now been unveiled. Located on the Kilburn High Road, these two murals reveal an unexpected history by bringing together artefacts from the Brent Museum Archives, ornaments of personal significance shared by local residents and items that Abad photographed on the high road. Among them, an ashtray from the Empire Windrush, a face mask made from African wax fabric, a hand-painted Romanian Easter egg, a traditional Somalian leather bag decorated with seashells and a wooden clock from Fiji in the shape of a turtle. 

These are the first permanent public artwork by Abad, a leading British-Filipino. Abad’s practice is concerned with the social and political signification of things. His work, in a range of media including textiles, drawing, installation and photography, and his strategies of appropriation reveal alternative or repressed historical events and draw out threads of complicity between incidents, ideologies and people. 

The Kilburn High Road murals are inspired by vanitas still life paintings. Emerging as an art form in the 16th century, vanitas paintings intended to symbolise the fragility of human life through the depiction of objects, which were mainly goods and artefacts that were coming into Europe from the colonies for the first time. Abad shares this interest in the lives and meaning of objects which he looks at as carriers of narratives, each one able to contain an entire collection of histories, geographies and emotional journeys. 

In creating these contemporary vanitas murals, Abad commemorates how the complex,  and often painful, history of colonialism has shaped the communities living on Kilburn High Road, while also celebrating the people from the area, whose stories are embedded within the objects.

The murals are available to view now and to discover more about Abad’s practice, please see here.