Coming soon

25 February 2021: Exploring Animal Histories at the Edges of the City talk

The city can seem like a monument to everything the animal world is not. Hard, shiny, noisy and towering – versus soft, tangled, stealthy and burrowing. 

Animals meanwhile appear a memento of everything the city forgets. We see them on our television screens in grave warnings about climate change, on our streets in the form of scavenging foxes, and of course in our homes as pets and occasional pests. But what about the edges of the city, where perimeter fences are grown over with meadow flowers and golf courses edged with woodland? 

This online discussion, chaired by researcher Alistair Cartwright invites three speakers who have explored these spaces through poetry, art, historical archives and personal experience to delve into the often overlooked edges of the city, starting with our very own borough of Hounslow. 

While the explosive growth of cities and industry has driven all but a few species away from centres of human population, the same development has made animals all the more visible – through the work of naturalists, collectors and animal welfare activists in the 19th century, to our own awareness of ecological collapse.

Hounslow is a place where these different forces come together, often clashing but also throwing up unique ecologies of their own. From the rare species of snails found on Isleworth Ait, to the thousands of animals entering the UK through Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, to the famous Chiswick House Menagerie and the migrating birds of Cranford Park – Hounslow past and present is rich with animal histories. 

Join us for this very special, online event as we take a closer look at the edges of the natural and human-made worlds, asking whether these unique places can offer clues to a more culturally and ecologically diverse, hospitable, sustainable urban environment. 

This event accompanies the Animal Stories exhibition, part of the Creative People and Places Hounslow Visual Arts Programme. Places cost just £4 per person.

Paul Farley was born in Liverpool in 1965. His first poetry collection received the Somerset Maugham Award and a Forward Prize in 1998. His second collection won the 2002 Whitbread Poetry Prize, while his third book of poems, Tramp in Flames was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His co-authored non-fiction work Edgelands (2011) charts a journey into England’s overlooked wilderness. As well as receiving the Royal Society of Literature’s Jerwood Award, Edgelands was serialised as a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Paul recently helped lead the project ‘Places of Poetry’, prompting reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales. 

Kathryn Rooke is the archivist at Gunnersbury Park Museum, a local history museum based in the former home of the Rothschild family and set in 185 acres of beautiful parkland. She is also Assistant Archivist at the Natural History Museum. Kathryn has worked previously at Lancashire Archives, The Clothworkers’ Company, The Barber-Surgeons’ Company, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). After spending a few years in Taiwan, she now lives in West London and loves to be outdoors with her pug dog Horatio and her children, watching birds, climbing trees and camping. 

Alistair Cartwright is a writer and historian based in London. He recently completed a PhD on postwar London’s rented rooms. He is Publicity Officer for the Architecture Space and Society Centre at Birkbeck College and writes on housing and the city for 

Amber Cooper-Davies is a collage illustrator and stop-motion animator, working with intricate cutting techniques and delicate paper puppets. She graduated from Middlesex University in 2013 and has been enjoying freelancing ever since, contributing her work to books, magazines, theatre, online, campaigning and augmented reality projects.

Past events

16 and 19 December 2020: Animated Animal Stories Workshops with Amber Cooper-Davies

Learn a simple technique for animating your own paper animal puppet with illustrator Amber Cooper-Davies. Taking inspiration from our Animal Stories exhibition, you can tell your own stories of your favourite animals, guided by Amber’s instructions and limited only by your imagination!

Places cost £6 per person. Sign up by 6 December to receive a pack of materials to use in the workshop by post, but you can also take part using your own paper and pens if you prefer. You will need your own scissors, and a mobile device or tablet.

18 November 2020: Calming Calligraphy Workshop with Laura Edralin

Hounslow-based artist Laura Edralin takes us through a Calming Calligraphy workshop. Inspired by her Creative People and Places exhibition Hounslow’s Hidden Heroes, this workshop provides an opportunity to take part and try your hand at calligraphy.

Get a cup of tea, print the sheets (download here), find a felt tip pen and join in!

28 September 2020: Online Launch of Hounslow’s Hidden Heroes by Laura Edralin

Hounslow’s Hidden Heroes by Laura Edralin launched online with a celebration event.

Featuring portraits of local people, this project celebrates the ordinary people in the community doing extraordinary things. Many are helping to support and unite society through distributing food, helping people in need of advice and by improving their local area.

The portraits are made digitally using continuous lines, symbolising the ways in which we are all interconnected. Each person featured has been nominated by a colleague, friend or family member for their remarkable contribution to the community.

Laura is an artist specialising in calligraphy, and continuous line portraits. Working in a high-profile arts and music industry for many years, she explored mindfulness and creativity to support her mental health and wellbeing journey. After reconnecting with her creative outlet and love of line drawings, her work has become a popular space for celebrating flowers, figures and faces, using unbroken lines to create these pieces. Laura is passionate about improving people’s wellbeing, she has worked with organisations, such as the Royal Albert Hall, to establish and develop wellbeing committees and strategies. Laura co-founded the UK National Arts Wellbeing Collective, a platform for organisations and individuals within the Arts, Heritage, Cultural and Production industries to find wellbeing resources and support.

22 June 2020: Meet the Artist (online) with Rehmat Rayatt

Rehmat talked about her practice, including her Creative People and Places Hounslow commission Music & Me which links two of her biggest passions – music and photography.

Rehmat’s work has been published in The Guardian and The Telegraph as well as being exhibited at the Southbank Centre and broadcast on Sky Arts. She is based in Hounslow, and works all over the world.

7 May 2020: Meet the Artist (online) with Gerald Curtis

Listen to an extract from our Meet the Artist with Gerald Curtis online event. Hear Gerald talk about his creative process and the ideas explored in his exhibition Regeneration on Hounslow Heath, a series of works that document the aftermath of a wildfire on the heath.

Gerald works with performance, painting and photography. Graduating from the Performance Pathway at the Royal College of Art in 2017, Gerald has created a practice centred around public spaces, their use and importance.

Recently, he has been working with London Creative Network and Photofusion to develop projects using photography as a means to document works that last beyond conventional exhibition time frames. In particular, he is interested in looking at the process of walking and its uses in public space.

20 April 2020: Meet the Artist (online) with Aleesha Nandhra

Listen to an extract from our Meet the Artist with Aleesha Nandhra event.

Aleesha is the artist behind Neighbourhood Tastes, our exhibition exploring food, culture and sharing. In this talk, she explains her creative process for making illustration, and her approaches to working with communities.

Aleesha is an Illustrator and Printmaker from London, whose works manage to carefully tread the line between being whimsical and being highly emotionally evocative. A graduate of the Cambridge School of Art, Aleesha’s work manages to capture the spirit of several cultural phenomena, be they from home or abroad, and also manages to spark fun and life into objects that are otherwise considered mundane. She continues to create works on a freelance basis for clients including: Google, LA Times, The Barbican and more.