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Art and the Barbican Barbicania


he Barbican is synonymous with art. In reality we are living in a large scale work of art which itself encompasses one of the world’s premier centres for art. The whole concept of the Barbican as perceived and conceived by its architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon could be considered as a magnificent artwork of its time in perhaps a way not many modern architectural installations can be, given that it is not just one building, but an interweaved and interlocking mix of architectural features making up the whole. Thus it is not surprising that the Barbican has become the home of a number of artists – some of whom we have already recognised in the pages of Barbican Life. Visual artists John McLean, Anita Klein, Mark Maxwell for example all live here and all have had articles about them or their work noted in the pages of this magazine over the past few years. Undoubtedly there are many more known painters and sculptors the editor has not become aware of yet – and then a number of others who dabble as witness those who attend regular art classes and who produce some excellent work – again a group featured in a previous article in these pages.

This issue of Barbican life has somehow become a little art focused with an article on yet another Barbican-based artist, James Sinclair, whose striking works, far from in the classical style, bring in elements of the Barbican mixed in with comic book images and science fiction amongst others – perhaps not to everyone’s taste but then nor was impressionism or fauvism or cubism or indeed any form of modern art for many in their time, whereas the modernists may nowadays eschew the classical, although all probably have a healthy respect for those who work in other genres. In James Sinclair’s case it is fascinating how his imagination takes in the Barbican’s architecture into what many will see as portraying an alien, and sometimes disturbing, environment. We also have an article on another artist with Barbican connections insomuch as Trevor Wood, whose work looks among other things at the industrial world and his native Scottish landscapes through a modern art eye – far more impressionist than the impressionists ever were – teaches exploring drawing in the Community Education Centre in Golden Lane and counts a number of Barbican residents among his pupils and adherents.

But of course it is not just visual art which draws people to live in the Barbican. In our community we also have actors, musicians, architects, writers, photographers and others who are also artists in the true sense, all drawn to the complex with its artistic associations with the Barbican Centre and its theatres, art galleries and concert hall, as well as with the Estate’s whole contextual ethos. Indeed in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama we have a training ground for sections of what is also an integral part of the artistic community. There is also the International Organ School operating out of St Giles church and the headquarters of the world renowned London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is based here too. (One just wishes the Royal Shakespeare Company was still here as well.) Art truly begets art. Lawrence Williams


Lawrence Williams Editor

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