Gravesend art collective has a date with destiny

PUBLISHED: 09:27 15 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:08 15 November 2012

Tony Stanley, Sheila Kaur, Vlada Predelina, Madhu Kans, Fiona Higgins, Generoso Napoliello

Tony Stanley, Sheila Kaur, Vlada Predelina, Madhu Kans, Fiona Higgins, Generoso Napoliello


Come December 21, we could all either be rejoicing in being alive or – if the Mayan prophecy is true – life as we know it will be destroyed.

Supposedly the 5,125-year Mayan calendar comes to an end on 21.12.12, which has fuelled elaborate theories for how the end of the world will happen.

Fingers crossed, an apocalypse won’t be knocking on our door any time soon and NASA has assured that no one has anything to fear.

However, it still makes a great conversation point and it is one that has been explored by a new art group in Gravesend.

Inspiration Art’s exhibition, open to the public at the Woodville up until Sunday, and then at the Ground Zero bar, shows a selection of surrealist and abstract works.

Rather than fixating on the common interpretation of an apocalypse whereby the world is totally annihilated, each of the six artists takes a different standpoint, as Sheila Kaur explains.

“It is interesting to see what Mayan actually is and what it means to people. It may mean the end of the world financially, for another person it may mean a breakdown. It’s great for the group to have a topic, though it has plagued a few people’s minds,” she says.

The art on show is a mixture of styles, channelling the diversity that the group pride themselves on.

Having come from all walks of life, they came together when Sheila decided to start up her own art collective.

There’s Vlada Predelina, a fine art graduate whose family is Russian; Generoso Napoliello from Italy, who runs Equal Earth with Fiona Higgins, from Gravesend. They are joined by Tony Stanley, Madhu Kans and Sheila, all of whom are from Gravesend.

“I got a couple of people together and it kind of fell into place. I know Madhu through the community, me and Fiona were friends. I knew Gino through previous shows. Basically it was more fate,” says Sheila.

“The great thing about the group is we have different styles but mesh really well together.”

While they all have other pursuits, they share an ambition of carving their names into the arts scene.

With all of them using Gravesend as their base, they want to highlight the artistic talent the town has.

“It’s really important that we have a creative outlet, especially in times like these. The recession did affect a lot of people. Having an art group can bring a positive vibe to Gravesend to uplift people.

“I would really like Gravesend to be a creative and artistic area, and, since the exhibition is free, those who can’t get to London can come here,” says Sheila.

Inspiration Art is also working with youth groups in the borough, having run Olympic-themed workshops over the summer, and is planning further arts lessons to get people involved.

Inclusivity is the group’s prime objective, Sheila states, and it strives to make art accessible to a wider audience.

“Regardless of the fact of whether we have studied art up to a degree level, that does not mean a person is or is not an artist.

“Being creative is not just about painting. I think people have to break the barriers,” she added.

With several exhibitions lined up for next year, the next objective is making Inspiration Art into a Gravesend institution and taking that status to London and further afield.

Inspiration Art’s exhibition on the Mayan Prophecy is at the Woodville Halls until Sunday. Then it will transfer to Ground Zero Bar in Gravesend High Street.

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