Palaces of light: Louis Daguerre, Young people and Old Diorama Art Centre.
On July 11, an orange Milk Float with home-made canapés and a chef on board was driven to Regent’s Place and parked outside the Old Diorama Art Centre, at the corner of Drummond Street, in West Euston. The Art centre opened its doors to the launch of the GG intergenerational photography exhibition as well as phase one of the diorama project, a community project that will populate the hoarding in the eastside corner of Regent’s place. The photo exhibition was a story of the intergenerational sessions that were hosted in the Skip Garden and in Regent’s Place over the last year. Each Diorama will tell a story of community engagement and also community dreams
Often I ask myself why certain things happen in certain places and at certain points of life. And I ask myself if there is an invisible connection between everything, a connection that we just have to reveal…..
The relationship with our friends at the Old Diorama Art Centre (ODAC) started back in March when Jacob Stevens, Creative Director and Katherine Reilly, Assistant Manager, offered to host our nomadic campsite for a few weeks until we could find a new home. And from that time we shared common needs of rewilding things, softening the sharp edges of the corporate world we live in, giving a stronger voice to the unusual and taking the lid off some aspects of the past that are hidden away in boxes.
With Katherine and Jacob, we decided to dedicate one of the Diorama Boxes to the history of the ODAC. This would appear along with two other dioramas; one dedicated to the workshops we run in Richard Cobden Primary school and the other to the Milk Float’s history.
I was honoured to be entrusted with the digging up of archive boxes that contained some materials from the beginning of the 1960’s, telling an incredible story of bravery, passion and commitment; the story of a group of artists and people who wanted to have a space for art and therapy, who wanted to help others, create community and keeping heritage and fight for beauty around Regent’s Park.
Through the readings and the gathering, the selecting and the cutting, the designing and the building, I discovered something about myself too. I didn’t remember that the past is our invisible guide, that everything is evolving from something else, from somewhere else.
My passion for introducing photography to young people and my desire of curating the content of the diorama boxes in Regent’s Place had roots back in the 18th century when Louis Daguerre invented the first Diorama and became father of what we today call Photography.
How could I not have thought about Light? Photos and Graphos means Drawing with light - exactly what Louis Daguerre was trying to achieve. Seizing the light and stopping its flight. Is this not what we try to do with gardening, photography and art?
How did I not think of Louis Daguerre when Jane asked me if I wanted to curate the diorama boxes; how did I not click with the name of the art centre and its life that started in the Diorama building facing Regent Park?
When people around us and also inside GG asked us about our recent connection with Regent’s Place and our work there, I should have thought about light: we are there because we have always been there and somehow, we had to be there.
Through photography, through clay and wood, through nature as mother for our thoughts, GG had always a road leading to Euston. Light is what passes through the pores in our skin, on the leaves, in our eyes and cameras, in a diorama, through our windows.
And Light shines when young people have the chance to be present in the making of communities and places. Light shined in the pressed flowers that decorated the pictures of the exhibition, in the colours of the handmade felted wool leaves that decorated the walls of the space, light shines in the Generators words and through the windows of the Old Diorama Art Centre.
With the wind of history behind us, the energy of young people and facilitators who work with them like Fiona Eva (UCLH), Mariam Hassan (Surma Centre), Ellen Pratt and teachers at Richard Cobden Primary School and Lavinia Cascone, Community Dance artist, the photos and the dioramas contents witnessed community work, witness history and future.
Each artwork was and is truly a choir of many voices, a work of a hundred hands, a map of different journeys and a product of light in all its forms.
Regent’s Place might look grey and with sharp edges, but there are palaces of light that get constantly created. And for all the support given, the RP team and especially Rose Alexander, it is itself a palace of light.