Gallery 5 Ashfield is a new development: an art gallery funded by the London Borough of Enfield which shows the work of professional artists, schoolchildren and artworkers in the community. It is currently showing Masquerade (pictured right), a mixed media show which displays masks made by professional artists next to appliqued wall hangings made by primary schoolchildren and paintings by local arts groups. The gallery plans to build on the success of Enfield's 'Under One Sun' festival which celebrated multi-cultural life in its streets, parks and libraries last summer.
The gallery is at present in an empty shop. Funding from the authority's economic development committee has made the space available for art adviser Julia Page's vision of "access and ownership" for the visual arts in Enfield. The festival was "very educational for our councillors" says Ms Page, who has co-ordinated the work of the local arts forum and gained support from the leisure, education and arts departments to create what is hoped to be the first of four local galleries. Taking Rod Taylor's community art gallery Drumcroon in Wigan as a model, Julia Page and Dean Blunkell, manager of the local community arts centre Artswork, have arranged a programme which this year will include work by multi-cultural artists working in schools, work by four women artists and an artists in residence who will work with local schools. At Artswork, Dean Blunkell already arranges residencies for students from Middlesex University and helps artists turn their talents into livelihoods - for instance, helping one painter turn his hand to banner-making.
An artistic renaissance is taking place in Enfield. A huge new granite sculpture is to be erected at the north entrance to the borough. The Edmonton Stone will be in the form of a granite bell, chosen after consultation with local people. "Property and planning," says Julia Page, "are very alive to sculpture" and pieces are being considered for municipal spaces. The gallery will allow the borough to combine patronage of artists with direct stimulation of the arts in schools. "In the end," she smiles, "we can saturate people with art."