HvH Arts

HvH Arts

HvH Arts 2560 1707 Karishma Puri

HvH Arts: Channelling Artistic Potential

Tucked away behind the leafy streets south of Gospel Oak station, lies one of the largest social housing projects in Camden. Bordered by Mansfield Road to the north and the vibrant Queens Crescent market to the south, the area is vast but with little to no through routes, few outsiders cross the area, and many don’t even know it exists. “It’s almost like an island” Debbi Clark of the Von Herkomer Arts Foundation (HVH) tells us. From its small centre, right behind Queens Crescent market, the foundation runs art workshops and classes for young people from the local estates. Or, as Debbi puts it; “We give them the access, the education, and the information to springboard into the arts”. The foundation takes its name from Hubert Von Herkomer, a renowned painter of the Victorian working class.

Woman in front of artwork

“We give them the access, the education and the information to springboard into the arts.”

Debbi Clark – Von Herkomer Arts Foundation

When browsing through the student’s work which fills the space, it’s striking the level of intimacy in the pieces, much of which directly reflects the locality of the area, presenting a view into a world that’s often overlooked. As Debbi says, “It’s like you step into a parallel universe”. HVH also exhibits their work outwardly to the community, painting murals on local shop shutters and walls, bringing a sense of ownership to communal art for the locals. Debbi’s mission, however, often goes beyond just art. The neighbouring estates are some of the most impoverished in Camden, which brings both unique challenges and rewards. “I’d have kids coming in here, having had no lunch, no breakfast,” Debbi told us “So of course, we’d feed them too. “It’s not just about art per se, it’s about their physical and mental wellbeing and I think through art is one of the best ways you can address that”.

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