Judit Soos describes the opening of Garry Kennard’s exhibition featuring portraits of Holloway residents.
Holloway Icons exhibited 2 - 8 June at Unit 6, The Studios, 8 Hornsey St London N7 8EG
Garry Kennard’s Holloway Icons exhibition opened with a buzz on Monday in Unit 6, The Studios at 8 Hornsey Street. The works exhibited show people (and a cat!) who all live in the artist’s neighbourhood in Holloway. The portraits are painted in the style of religious icons with vibrant gold backgrounds, but at the same time they realistically present living people rather than mythological or idealised ones. This gives the viewer a feeling of familiarity with the sitters, whilst upholding a certain mystery about their personalities. They are all unique individuals, “secular icons”, yet the uniform format of gold backgrounds gives a strong sense of belonging to a wider community.
What makes Garry Kennard’s Holloway Icons exhibition even more interesting, is that it perfectly captures how people from the most different cultural and social backgrounds – Arsenal’s manager, writers, architects, local shop owners and shop assistants – are all shown next to each other. Each person is equally significant, and they are all united by being part of the local community. I believe that the exhibition perfectly captures the diversity of the people living in Holloway. Upon asking the artist about the exhibition, he said there was no particular “rule” to how the portraits are hung, with this series of portraits he wanted to show a group of people who represent the heterogeneity of the neighbourhood.
The exhibition launch was a success. Many of Garry’s models were present at the opening, cheerfully chatting while enjoying a glass of wine and delicious sushi from Kuriya Keiko next door. Unfortunately Arsene Wenger, the Manager of Arsenal couldn’t make it, but Jeremy Corbyn, MP for North Islington, happily posed for a photo in front of his portrait. The star of the evening, however, was the child, whose portrait was painted when she was only six weeks old.