Artist creates work inspired by the hidden tales of Kensal Green cemetery

Rosalie Schweiker talks about her work as the new artist in residence at the Intervention Gallery

Walking through Kensal Green cemetery, graves of different forms, styles and functions nestle next to each other providing a snap shot of thousands of lives – and deaths.

Strident modernist plinths soar skyward next to coliseum-like chambers decorated with elaborate engravings of the Virgin Mary, which stand beside simple, unadorned crosses.

It is what these grave designs say about the people buried within them, and how they shape communication between the living and the dead, which forms the central questions Rosalie Schweiker explores in her residency at the cemetery’s Intervention Gallery.

“I am really fascinated by the cemetery. There are grand dukes buried beside ordinary people whose graves are spotted with plastic flowers”, explains Rosalie.


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“Artists try to convey a message through what we create. While, in choosing how decorate these graves, people are using things to communicate with people they can no longer speak too. That is very similar to what artists do.”

The Intervention Gallery opened in June, and operates out of the graveyard’s chapel.

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And while its exhibitions only run from March to October, because it is too damp and cold the rest of the year, they have artists in residence during the winter who create art inspired by their surroundings.

Rosalie, who is originally from Germany but studied in England, was invited to work at the Intervention’s artist in residence after the gallery’s director, Kate Keara Pelen,

spotted her work at the Camberwell MA graduation show in the summer.

For four months, Rosalie is spending time at the cemetery and creating work inspired out of her experiences there.

She has begun making on a model of the shed which stands at the entrance to the crematorium, where two gatekeepers stay, and hopes to display it there.

She said: “I just love sheds. Anyone can put on a show in a gallery, but sheds have different connotations. To most people, they are a place in your garden where you can pursue your own interests.”

Rosalie said part of her fascination with the cemetery’s shed is rooted in the gatekeepers, Carol and Jim, who work there.

She said: “This ties in with a question I am exploring – how do you I, as an artist in residence, make connection with a place, and the people within it?

“By making this reproduction of the shed I am trying to get into the shed and connect with the people in it.”

And, in an interesting twist to the art catalogue which accompanies all exhibitions, Rosalie plans to create her own guided walks through the cemetery in which she will talk to the public about what she has found there, and how it has shaped her art.

“It is about trying to find out about our relationships – to places, each other, and the past.”

For more information about the Intervention Gallery at Kensal Green cemetery and Rosalie Schweiker’s residency, visit www.interventiongallery.org or email intervention.gallery@gmail.com

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