Inaugural Brent Biennial launches in September after coronavirus delay

Move over Venice, there’s a major new biennial bursting onto London’s art scene in September 2020. As the recently named Borough of Culture, Brent will launch the inclusive biennial with a series of 23 commissions across public spaces.  

Lois Stonock, the artistic director overseeing the project, explained “we’ve created the Brent Biennial as a platform for the visual arts in Brent that can develop over the coming years and as one of the legacies of Brent 2020. Brent’s creativity lies in its communities, in the streets and its civic spaces.” 

The biennal was originally planned for earlier this year but has been rescheduled to 19 September-13 December 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19.  

Commissions include Rasheed Araeen’s interactive sculpture at the library in Willesden Green and a large-scale twisted paper installation by Imran Qureshi at Ealing Road Library. A lending library of selected books paired with sculptures created by Brian Griffiths will be exhibited at Cricklewood Library

A spokesperson for the charity Art Fund announced additional funding for “new commissions by Barby Asante, Adam Farah, Yasmin Nicolas, Dhelia Snoussi and Abbas Zahedi [which] explore personal and collective stories that have shaped Brent’s identity as a place where self-organising is intimately linked to care, community building, and resistance.” 

Perhaps the most eye-catching commission will be a nine-metre high mural of the singer George Michael, who passed away on Christmas day in 2016 aged 56. London-based artist Dawn Mellor plans to install the large-scale mural in Kingsbury, where the late WHAM! frontman grew up. Mellor has spent the last two decades painting portraits of influential figures, as well as other prominent LGBTQ+ icons like Madonna and Judy Garland

Brent Biennal will also present ‘Brent Culture Switch’ by ActionSpace, London’s leading visual arts organisation for artists with learning disabilities. The programme aims to celebrate the creativity of the local learning-disabled community, whilst highlighting how art has connected those isolated during the pandemic.   “We see the Biennial as an opportunity to shine a light on the rich stories, ideas and voices that reside in the borough and also a unique context for artists outside of the borough to work in,” remarked Stonock. “Our hope is it reflects the true diversity of London with all its energy and talent, and shows how art can be part of our everyday lives.”

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