It’s an odd thing to say in 2017 that there should still be street art pioneers but in Ingrid Beazley, who died last week, we really did have a leading light. She took an established medium, put a whole new spin on it and proved that it could be accessible to a range of new audiences.
Dulwich, a place which I always used to joke had more cricket pitches than houses, was possibly the most unlikely setting for street art to take root. Yet despite this, Ingrid managed to establish the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, spaces dotted around the area featuring works on walls from some of the very best international street artists in the world.
It was managed by building relationships with the locals and by ensuring that the principles of good curation were used when choosing locations and determining the images and artists who would suit a particular spot. And although the artists still had a great deal of creative control, it was just as important for the wall owners and the local community to have their input into the works which were going to be appearing.
We first met Ingrid in 2013 just after the Baroque the Streets festival in Dulwich which she has organised with Street Art London and the artist Stik. The culmination of that festival was the complete transformation of a house at 265 Lordship Lane where every room was taken over by a street artist and where every spot was painted. It was a spectacular and immersive experience and it certainly inspired us to arrange an interview with her to find out more.
Of course the name of ‘Baroque the Streets‘ should have given a clue to the motivations behind what Ingrid really wanted to achieve and that was to bring the works of the Dulwich Picture Gallery to a wider audience. The picture gallery in Dulwich is one of the oldest in the world and contains masterpieces of the baroque. She wanted to use this as a theme for the street artists to then be inspired by prior to painting on the streets of the area.
That link was important because this was about bringing communities and lovers of different mediums of art together. The average visitor to the street art galleries of Shoreditch would not step foot in the Dulwich Picture Gallery and vice versa, the two artistic worlds were far apart.
So this very definite link is the root for what would become the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery and which is really what held it together. The street artists would always visit the picture gallery beforehand so that they could seek inspiration from the masters of the baroque. The result was some of the best street art murals in London.
The project developed further and now on the streets around Dulwich, works from some of the worlds best can be seen. Centered around the area of Lordship Lane, the outdoor gallery also encompasses spots in Herne Hill, Nunhead and Peckham. To wander around the gallery will take you the best part of a day but you’ll certainly get to explore a good chunk of South London in the process.
Eventually the gallery caught the eye of some publishers and the next stage in its evolution was the production of a thick coffee table book called ‘Street Art, Fine Art‘. There the story of the gallery was told with high quality photographs of the work captured in a big, thick and impressive book. At Inspiring City we even had our own small part to play in the publication with our article ‘The Evolution of Art, when the street meets the gallery‘ appearing as a foreword as part of the introduction. The book was so popular it even ended up having a special edition run featuring unique covers from many of the artists who had been involved in the project and we of course covered the whole thing.
We’ve been privileged to have known Ingrid as she took us on the journey to bring street art to Dulwich. Her energy and passion were there for everyone to see and her legacy is not only confined to the streets of Dulwich but it is to prove that well curated street art can be brought into communities and that it can enhance those areas. It’s about allowing the public to enjoy and engage with public art and how street art, born out of the graffiti culture of days gone by, can be accepted as a more mainstream and appealing medium which enhances rather than detracts from public spaces.
As a final note, during our interview with Ingrid in 2013 we asked her about her inspiration and the reason why she wanted to do what she was doing in Dulwich, “the only reason I’ve done this area is that I live in this area, I love this area and I know Dulwich Picture Gallery intimately” she told us. “This was done as a labour of love, not because I want to reproduce it elsewhere but because I’m not in love with any place other than Dulwich”.
Ingrid Beazley passed away on 21 April 2017 she was a fellow of the royal society of arts and curator of the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery. The Inspiring City interview with her can be read here, articles on the Baroque the Streets festival, the Street Art Fine Art book and the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery can be read by clicking on the links.
Pictures from the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery