New public artwork inspired by Windrush generation unveiled in London

Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has today unveiled the winning entry of its Annual Art Commission, The Park Royals by visual artist and Harlesden-based barber Faisal Abdu’Allah.

In the form of two large jacquard woven photo-tapestries, reworked from a series of photographs of 22 residents and workers from Park Royal, the artwork intricately weaves together the lives, stories and struggles of two generations who make up the area’s industrial heart.

Park Royal, located in northwest London, is today home to a thriving community of makers and creators, supporting around 43,000 jobs and supplying one third of all food consumed in the capital.

Born and bred in Park Royal, Faisal is a descendant of the Windrush generation. He studied art at Central St Martins and the Royal College of Art, and his work has been exhibited internationally.

Now officially on display at Brent Civic Centre, The Park Royals, produced by Create London and created in collaboration with the local community, pays homage to London’s diversity as we mark Black History Month and paves the way for Brent's year as London Borough of Culture in 2020.

Commenting on the unveiling of his artwork, Faisal said:

It’s an honour to be chosen for the OPDC Annual Art Commission. My aim with The Park Royals was to pay homage to the Windrush generation, who were integral to creating the community where I grew up and making it the great place it is today. Working with local people was really important to me and helped with the process of creating the artwork, making sure that it was their stories that were embodied in the work. 

I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in The Park Royals and for the support of OPDC and hope that Londoners come to see the community’s work for themselves.

Loleta Cameron, pictured in The Park Royals, added:

Faisal embodies the talent and creativity of young people in Brent and continues to champion and support the success of local people. I am incredibly proud to be both a part of this project and the community of Harlesden and Park Royal.”

Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said:

Faisal Abdu’Allah’s work is a real celebration of Park Royal and a fitting winner of OPDC’s art commission. London’s diversity is our strength and this artwork tells our story brilliantly. I’m delighted that it’s on display ahead of Brent’s year as our London Borough of Culture.

Liz Peace, Chairman of OPDC, commented:

Local communities are at the heart of Old Oak and Park Royal’s regeneration and are integral to shaping its future. We are delighted to unveil Faisal’s artwork, which brilliantly captures the area’s rich heritage and diversity.

Through the Annual Art Commission, we are showcasing the depth and breadth of artistic talent that exists, helping aspiring artists to have a platform. We were impressed with the high calibre of entries received and hope that the scheme continues to inspire artists and communities to engage with this once-in-a-lifetime regeneration opportunity for London.

The Annual Art Commission is a flagship project of OPDC’s Great Place Scheme, an ambitious three-year cultural programme being delivered with local people, businesses and organisations in Old Oak and Park Royal. The programme aims to uncover, connect and showcase the culture, creativity and heritage of London’s largest and most vibrant industrial area, Park Royal.

Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Great Place Scheme is delivering £1.5 million worth of community-led art, culture and heritage activities across Old Oak and Park Royal.

The Old Oak and Park Royal development is one of the largest regeneration opportunities in Europe, transforming an area of brownfield land three time the size of Canary Wharf into a new sustainable and inclusive community. Engagement through art is another way of encouraging the local community to help shape the future regeneration plans for the area.

Faisal’s artwork will be on public display at Brent Civic Centre from today until the new year.

For more information about the Annual Art Commission, visit OPDC’s website.

The Park Royals - Annual Art Commission 2018

Notes to editors

About the Annual Art Commission

  • The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) was awarded funding from the National Lottery, through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of their Great Place Scheme initiative. The goal of the scheme is to ensure that art, culture and heritage are at the heart of the major development planned for the area.
  • The Annual Art Commission, which forms part of the Great Place Scheme, is open to individual artists, or groups of artists, living and working both nationally and internationally. Artists are required to have an understanding of the local area and demonstrate how they will engage with local communities through the artwork.
  • The Annual Art Commission is managed and delivered by Create London, the Creative Programming Partner for OPDC’s Great Place Scheme. OPDC is delivering a range of early activation projects which ensure co-creation and placemaking with communities are at the heart of the regeneration.
  • The redevelopment of Old Oak and Park Royal will benefit existing residents and attract newcomers, becoming home to a diverse and inclusive blend of uses, places and people.

About Faisal

  • Faisal Abdu’Allah is an Associate Professor of Art and Faculty Director of UW-Madison's Creative Arts Community, The Studio. He graduated from the Royal College of Art and completed his PhD in 2012 at the University of East London.
  • His work has been exhibited widely, including at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Gran Canaria (2012), National Portrait Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery (2009), British Film Institute Gallery (2008), Serpentine Gallery (2006), and the Chisenhale Gallery (2003) in London, and Studio Museum Harlem (1997).
  • His works are in the collections of Tate Britain (London), the V&A (London), the National Maritime Museum (London), the Chazen Museum (Madison), CAAM (Gran Canaria) and the British Arts Council. 
  • Faisal was awarded First Prize at Tallinn Print Triennial, Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant, Mayor of London Arts Award and the Romnes Faculty Award. Abdu'Allah was featured in ’Get up Stand Up (London) 2019 and will feature in the Foto-Fest biennial central exhibition African Cosmologies (USA) 2020.
  • Faisal is a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is represented by Autograph (ABP) and Magnolia Editions. He maintains studios in London/Madison and currently resides in the USA.

About the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation 

  • Old Oak and Park Royal is one of London’s largest Opportunity Areas with a new High Speed 2 (HS2) and Elizabeth line (formerly Crossrail) station due to be constructed at Old Oak by 2026. Redevelopment of the area has the potential to deliver 25,000 new homes and 65,000 new jobs over the next 30 years. 
  • The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) is the Mayor's Development Corporation for the district and was established in April 2015 to drive forward future development plans for the area. OPDC has full planning powers within the 650-hectare site, which includes land in the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent. 

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