Catherine Stenger exhibition: Rediscovered art gives glimpse into Brixton’s past



Work by the Brixton 50 artist was discovered in Arlingford Road.

By Melissa Massey

The promise of new artistic ventures in Brixton is on the horizon after the Catherine Stenger exhibition last weekend.

From Friday January 31 to Sunday February 2, the eclectic works of Brixton 50 artist, Catherine Stenger, were displayed at the Brixton East gallery.

Stenger’s mysterious artwork was uncovered at 52 Arlingford Road in 2009 by a group of friends acting as caretakers before the house was renovated.

One of the self-titled ‘motley Arlington family’, Vanessa Brier, 26, said: “We are glad we decided to organise the exhibition – we have found out so much more about Catherine through the people who have come to view and discuss her art.”

From the weekend exhibition emerged a new artistic community, as old and new Brixton residents united in shared appreciation of Stenger’s work.

Miss Brier revealed that the group of accidental curators are currently in talks with those who knew Catherine as part of the Brixton 50 over the possibility of working together on a new venture.

Stenger’s artwork looked to capture the sights, sounds and colours of Brixton.

Visitors to the exhibition observed the shared Brixton community existence and identity through the mixed media art of Stenger.

Gazing at the portrait of a man Stenger painted over 20 years ago, a seven-year-old girl believed she recognised the portrait as her Brixton butcher.

Another member of the Arlington collective, Jenny Ash, 26, said: “The exhibition was a very special experience that demonstrated beautifully the links we (unknowingly) forge in shared spaces.”

Discussing the Brixton community today, Miss Ash believed increased rents had altered the environment and the demographic of Brixton.

She said: “Brixton has a proud history of social acceptance and celebration of cultural expression and as the faces of Brixton change again it will be interesting to see how this next change will manifest.”

Following the exhibition, the art will likely be donated to Lambeth archives or a similar public space. 

Another idea being considered is a “Catherine Stenger trail”, with different pieces of artwork being displayed in an array of Brixton cafes and restaurants.

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