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Photographer Bruce’s beautiful souls

Who's been making the news round your way this week?

03 February, 2017 — By Gabe Evans

Bruce Wang and one of his photographs

Bruce Wang, who has been a resident of the Peter Bedford Housing Association (PBHS) for 39 years, is holding his first solo exhibition of portrait photography at Outpost Community Hub in Holloway Road, opening next Thursday. Influenced by Hollywood film star stills from the 1930s and 40s, Bruce aims to capture and reveal a certain magic in his subjects, though with a distinguishing modern twist. “The Eye of the Beholder” exhibition features people and personalities in Bruce’s life – primarily from Islington and Camden – who deviate from conventional notions of beauty. “I’ve tried to photograph beautiful souls,” says Bruce. “My first experience of photography was of Hollywood stills. I used to stare at them for ages and ages and think I wish I could to that. Now I think back it’s quite easy to take good pictures of attractive people, so this phase of my photography focuses more on the ordinary and odd.” Born in Hong Kong in 1953, Bruce came to London when he was 10 and has worked in accountancy, carpentry, as a nurse and an actor, as well as studying architecture and furniture design. He has struggled with bipolar disorder for 40 years, helped during some of that time by PBHA – which holds charitable status as an Industrial and Provident Society working with socially excluded adults in London – though the past seven years have thankfully been free from incident. Bruce has been taking photographs since he was 13, self-taught with a little help from his late older sister who had a BA in photography, buthe feels he has only just found a topic which can truly make a statement. The exhibition runs from February 9 to March 31 at Outpost, 546 Holloway Road, N7, 020 7281 3620. http://peterbedford.org.uk/outpost

Lavish Persian feast saves time!

An amazing £1,000 was raised at the Union Chapel’s Persian feast fundraiser on Tuesday night to help fund the repair of their clock in Compton Terrace, previously featured in this column. “We had a full house for dinner and quite a few people who had never been to the chapel before but were drawn by the menu,” said events administrator Emma Stell, who has spearheaded the cause to get the hands ticking again. The Chapel’s resident chef Iraj Valizadeh – a former trainee at the Chapel’s Margins Project paid café training programme for people who have experienced homelessness and crisis – served up an Iranian banquet fit for kings. “The lamb was a particular highlight,” said Emma. “It was slow cooked for about five hours with plums and dried rose petals – so fragrant and tender. Iraj, our resident chef did himself proud. He, along with his two kitchen assistants, Gary and Tyrone, got a resounding round of applause from the diners.” £11,000 of the £40,000 needed has now been raised. To find out more or donate visit www.unionchapel.org.uk/get-involved/donate/help-repair-our-clock/

Whittington Park ceilidh rocks

Accordionist Nicola Hadley at the Whittington Park ceilidh

Whittington Park Community Centre might have been mistaken for an old village hall last Saturday at their second annual ceilidh fundraiser. Accordionist Nicola Hadley – former music teacher at Yerbury Primary school – along with a double bassist, fiddler and energetic caller got the crowd of 7 to 70-years-olds swinging round the dance floor, arm in arm. With daffodils, candlelight and some obligatory tartan, “its like we became a village tavern for the night,” said Loan Tran, project developer. “Well, with an edge – this is Holloway of course.” Support from local businesses and organisations, including the Tufnell Park Tavern which contributed prizes for the raffle, and Arsenal in the Community which gave out goody bags, helped to secure £400 pounds which will go towards the refurbishment of the centre’s halls, including the installation of a lift so that Upper Hocking Hall can be reached by everyone. Explore the WPCA at http://whittingtonpca.org.uk/

Scene change for Canonbury artist

Gary Power with some of his paintings at Candid Arts

Our man behind the easel in Canonbury Square has some new paintings up at the Candid Arts Trust Outsider Art Exhibition in Torrens Street by Angel tube station, showcasing local artists who wouldn’t normally have the chance to exhibit. Gary Power, 51, has deviated from his familiar Islington scenes and taken to some more abstract work of late, subconsciously inspired by the First World War exhibition – War in the Sunshine: The British in Italy 1917-1918 – currently showing at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art,in Canonbury. “I was just obsessively working away at this work which came from I don’t know where in my mind and a friend said ‘You realise you’re painting what they’re showing next door’,” he says. “The blues and oranges certainly evoke similar moods, displaying what could be petrified trees or distorted windows, certainly exploring an eery subconscious surrealism.” The Candid Arts show ends on Sunday and is well worth a trip. See https://candidarts.wordpress.com/exhibitions/outsider-art-2017

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