Safe Haven: The Robert Grace Trust, Brunswick Gallery
London’s Brunswick Centre paints a unique picture on the Bloomsbury landscape. A cream concrete village square, lined with glass-fronted shops and overlooked by 70’s-style flats, it offers a little bit of everything.
Its original architect Patrick Hodgkinon, refurbished the complex in 2006. He took the opportunity to make the building closer to his initial vision, which had been diluted by 1960’s planners.
On Friday night, the legacy of another architect was at work at the centre’s gallery, as the Robert Grace Trust held their Safe Haven event.
Robert Grace died of AIDS in 1986. A year later his friends set up the Robert Grace Trust in his memory. The charity works hard to provide practical help to people with HIV/AIDS and their carers.
Safe Haven was billed as an evening of art and movement and the bright, whitewashed gallery space was awash with evidence of both. A sandpit, large paper-chain ball and bold, multi-coloured blocks were dotted around the room, revealing the event’s family-friendly approach.
The aftermath of Rupert Record’s The Big Draw children’s workshop was splattered across the floor. A long stretch of paper canvas was decorated with everything from smiley faces and painted hands to sprinkles and fruit-printed stamps.
The mild sense of the workshop’s organised chaos lingered too, nicely captured by the actions of two small children.
A little boy was wielding a large wooden broom, attempting to brush up all the sand from the nearby pit, while a sand-covered young girl was being equally industrious in throwing the contents back out.
The main event of the evening was a little more grown up; a viewing of works from seven award-winning artists, generously appreciated by a healthy crowd.
The range and diversity of the artwork on show was impressive, from Jaroslaw Soltan’s intricate wicker structures Praying Machine and Praying Body to the large, angular oil scenes of Benet Spencer’s Angel Town and Modern Church 2.
Rupert Record’s vivid acrylic self-portraits were both extraordinarily detailed and tantalisingly abstract; the warmth of the merging colours combining to radiate the mood of each piece.
Young, London-based artist Konrad Wyrebeck’s oil paintings provided bold and striking images with a comic book-like quality. The subtle shadings of grey amongst the black and white added real depth. Thick brush finishing, coupled with clever use of shapes and soft lines combined to make Wyrebeck’s work a highlight of the exhibition.
Jane Jones added a range of styles, from prints to collages and her work showed great variety and skill. Chris Koning’s richly detailed and sumptuous oil painting, along with Max Mosscrop’s multi-layered watercolours completed a strong line up.
Among the professionals however, there was an altogether more important collection from some amateur artists.
The Robert Grace Trust regularly supports St Paul’s Children’s Rescue Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Their art-based training workshops give the orphanage’s children the opportunity to enjoy creative learning. The artworks produced are then sold at the trust’s fundraising events.
A wide selection of jewellery was on show, ranging from colourful, beaded bangles to simple necklaces and outlandish earrings – all made by the St Paul’s children. The quality of the children’s creations was a testament to their talent and a great reflection of the trust’s work and initiative.
The community spirit of the organisers shone throughout the evening as their band of helpers scurried around, making sure all of the guests were fed and watered.
If the attendees donated as enthusiastically as they appreciated the art on show, then it will have been a successful evening for all involved.