Why does the Whitgift Centre have an artist-in-residence?


By - Friday 3rd October, 2014

Artist Hale Man is in residence at the Whitgift Centre. So what’s that all about?  Osheen Shrinivas explains


Phoenix rising – Hale Man’s inspiration for Croydon.
Photo author’s own.

In June 2014 Hale Man set up shop in an empty shop on the ground floor of Croydon’s Whitgift Shopping Centre. She’s using this pop-up space to create art with the people of Croydon, young and old, under the theme of the five elements of Chinese Feng Shui – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – from which the project, Elements of Transformation, takes its title. She aims to engage with diverse audiences and draw as many of us as possible into the studio, art gallery, workshop and event space she has created.

She’s been staging activities to raise cash funding towards an application for an Arts Council grant for future projects, and developing a programme to reach out to new audiences. Parents bringing their children along to Whitgift Weenies art and craft activities have found workshops in Hale’s studio on offer, along with art tours to view work in progress. She’s been out and about too, working with community groups during this summer’s Croydon Heritage Festival such as this day of guided reminiscence through art for seniors in Whitgift care homes, and producing an interactive wind chime installation using clothes hangers for Purley Festival.

Windchimes at Purley Festival 2014.
Photo author’s own.

It’s all about involving the people of Croydon in artistic activities in their everyday lives, breaking down barriers between those participate in the arts and those who can feel excluded. Hale is passionate about creating opportunities for high quality experiences for all, increasing access to fun and running interactive arts workshops – she believes that the benefits can be enormous for everyone.

In particular, she believes that as Croydon faces change and transformation, bringing the community together and creating a shared identity among people from diverse backgrounds is very important. Her work draws inspiration from her Chinese heritage to explore themes of identity, migration, and transformation.

Right now there’s a whole new programme for autumn bubbling in the pipeline, so watch out for the following:

  • Art jamming: team-bonding through tailor made,interactive, fun and artistic activities. This is aimed at Croydon’s businesses and other organisations
  • Art caveworkshops for families with young children through to teenagers and also for school groups. Content has been developed to fit in with the requirements of the National Curriculum
  • Art mix: creative art activities for community groups
  • Art experiencea chance for students and adults to get involved as volunteers and make a difference through the arts

Fees apply – for details call 07740 165987.

Hale Man in her Whitgift Centre studio.
Photo author’s own.

Hale Man trained at the Royal College of Art. In 1994-5 she studied Chinese Painting at Hangzhou’s Fine Art Academy 1994/5 with a Postgraduate Scholarship awarded by the British Council, along with a PGCE. Her artwork has been exhibited in several London venues such as the Transport Museum, the Museum of London and the Horniman Museum, in Shanghai’s Lui Hai Sui Gallery and Fringe Club and in the Visual Arts Centre and Gallery 7, Hong Kong.

Here in Croydon she is developing her two dimensional art forms in painting and drawing as well as exploring printmaking and three dimensional metal sculptures and installations. But above all, she is spreading positive and creative energy through the arts!

Right now she is developing a video to showcase her art project and chart her journey and progress. It’s about how the copper phoenix which was commissioned from her by the Museum of London leaves the museum and travels to Croydon. Here, through the Elements of Transformation art project, the Phoenix rises again and is regenerated. Hale sees great resonance between this story and the changes Croydon is undergoing.

Interested? You can find out more about Hale on her website and follow her on Twitter@hale088man. You can also meet her in art studios in Units 50/51 at the Whitgift Centre which is open to the public on Mondays from 1-2pm and make appointments on other days – call 07740 165987

Osheen Shrinivas

Osheen Shrinivas

I have a keen interest in global environmental and social issues and am currently majoring in Environmental Studies with Human Rights and Development at Skidmore College, New York. I am a resident of Croydon and this summer holiday I chose to volunteer with Hale Man's Artist studio and her amazing new art project, Elements of Transformation - I had not seen anything like this before in Croydon and will continue to write and support it from New York. I enjoy working with children and have had previous experience working with children with mental and physical disabilities. Art and social issues are my two main passions: I enjoy creating art (painting and sketching) and writing poetry. My work has been published in The 405 online magazine.

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