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The Review - FEATURE
Published: 25 September 2008
Tracy, Angelica and Billy Weddell in the West Wing
Tracy, Angelica and Billy Weddell in the West Wing
Artists have an X-ray vision for hospital archive project

RUDYARD Kipling lay in state in its chapel, Peter Sellers died there, Marie Stopes and Prince Monolulu were treated there, as were gangsters suffering shotgun wounds, and a Soho stripper is recorded as a patient suffering a snake bite.

But it’s the ordinary, extraordinary staff that made up the Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia, who will be honoured in a project planned to mark its closure two years ago.
Fitzrovia Noir is the name of a group of five artists who formed in late 2007 to create an archive of work, and an art project using photographs and paintings of its demolition and of the people who used to work in the Middlesex and its outbuildings.
There are a huge number of mementoes and ephemera from the place which have been incorporated into the work. If the interim exhibition held in July is anything to go by, this project will be a small sensation when it is completed in three years’ time.
The group hopes eventually for a book, and to showcase the work in the new flats being developed by Candy Brothers on site . Meantime, it will be a movable feast.
So far, 40 former patients and staff have been photographed back in situ, within the semi-derelict parts of the former hospital.
The curator of Fitzrovia Noir is Lucietta Williams, who also works for Photoworks in Westminster, and it is her collaborative vision with Garry Hunter which has pulled the show together. She was born in the hospital, while Garry has lived in the area for more than a decade and his studio was home to the show.
He has put up X-rays and displayed pictures using the old hospital lightboxes. Then they are joined by a photographer, Peter Makertich, whose large format black and white photographs of people, were made using an old 1940s camera.
Pamela Furness recorded the voices and memories of those photographed and made an eerie silk hanging of the chapel. Graham Carrick, who lived opposite the hospital when it was open, made paintings inspired by site visits.
He also created some haunting work which was left inside on the walls of the building, a process which was documented on video.
The future looks good for this ambitious project but only if funding can be made available.
The artists initially need between £5,000 and £10,000 to further their aims.
So money is needed for materials and processing for large-scale equipment, because, to date, all their work has been unpaid and voluntary.

If you would like to share memories, or have a Middlesex Hospital staff connection, call
020 7636 7566

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