The former Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia has been under hoarding for some time now, awaiting a wholesale mixed-use redevelopment. Late last year a group of local artists twigged that the iconic building was about to disappear with all its secrets and embarked on a last minute crusade to create work about the building, its history, and previous and future occupants.
The developers granted them unlimited access to the site over a string of Saturdays prior to demolition. The resulting work in progress, Fitzrovia Noir, is a fascinating mix of odds and sods, ephemera, photographs, paintings, audio and video. It's community history, memory and art installation all stuffed into a small artist's studio on Wells St, just down the road from the hospital site itself.
There are compelling portraits of people who formerly worked there, photographed back in the abandoned building, a collection of children's paintings found discarded, ward signs and x-rays, keys and staff notices, paintings of the building by a local artist who lived opposite the East Wing. A 16mm film installation evokes the emptiness of the derelict hospital while stunning photographs of the Byzantine Chapel in the grounds - which will be preserved - conjures up the grandeur of times past.
The artists have permission to access other buildings which were part of Middlesex Hospital so happily this unique process of documentation and the collection of remnants, stories and original artwork will continue to grow.
Go and see the first stage of this project for yourselves this Saturday, 26 July between noon and 5pm at Studio P&D, 70-71 Wells Street, W1. Entry free.
Image of one of thee children's wards in the West Wing courtesy of Garry Hunter.