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The Barbican has supported a thriving Art Group for some 20 years, but is facing eviction from its current Art Room due to Estate cutbacks. John Lumley tells us about the Group, its aims and its history and urges us to go and view its members’ paintings in an exhibition in the Barbican Library this month

The Barbican Art Group T

Art class under way in the John Griffiths Art Room

he rich heritage of Barbican Art extends back for 20 years and Residents have greatly enjoyed the social interaction that accompanies

the wide range of emerging adult learning patterns. Many have developed skills that they never dreamed were achievable, while others have progressed to further training in Art Colleges.

As most of the Residents’ amenities across the Estate have been gradually withdrawn, Barbican Art has survived flooding of an early home in St Giles’ crypt, the withdrawal of Corporation subsidies and, hopefully, the recent eviction order from its home of 13 years - the John Griffiths Art Room, in the former Engineer’s Office in Andrewes House.

The Art Room was acquired for the benefit of Barbican Residents by the late John Griffiths, when he was Chairman of the Barbican Residents Association, and has been used by courtesy of the Estate ever since. While the possible conversion of the Lilac Meeting Room into an Art Room is feasible, the effects of paint, oil paintings, clay and picture framing on the decor and on other users are less predictable. Two regular art classes have

Some examples of members of the Art Group’s output

coexisted since 1998: The “William Newton” Art Group has been meeting on a monthly basis

since September 1998. Bill is a well known professional artist, who has presided over the London Sketch Club for two consecutive years: his text on watercolour is a world-wide best seller. Classes commence at 10 am, with a demonstration by the tutor and end at about 4 pm. All members of the Group have access to the Art Room and can use the premises at any time, except when occupied by the "Barbican Art Class".

Numbers attending all group sessions are limited to 10, including the professional tutors, as the small size of the room does not accommodate the necessary equipment [e.g. easels, tables, cupboard space] for a greater number.

Membership over the years has been

consistent, with a regular turn-over: there is usually a waiting list. Certain Still Life displays are maintained in situ following the classes, to give residents the opportunity to finish their art works between classes. Additional events for the Barbican Art Group have included a 4 day painting course with its tutor in Wiltshire; also attended by local artists. A collection was made for the benefit of the horses, who had enthusiastically joined in a sketching session in Wood Street Police Station. The Group exhibited some 30 paintings for six weeks in the Foyer of


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