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Chapel in Kensal Green Cemetery reopens with exhibition

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 January 2017

Vicky Caplin, curator of Dissenters' Gallery in Kensal Green Cemetery

Vicky Caplin, curator of Dissenters' Gallery in Kensal Green Cemetery

Archant

An 18th century chapel in the heart of Kensal Green Cemetery is re-opening as a gallery with the launch of a series of art exhibitions.

Nadine Talalla, artistNadine Talalla, artist

The Dissenters’ Gallery, in the Harrow Road cemetery, is hosting “Haunted Beauty”, curated by Vicky Caplin.

It launches on January 27 with a solo exhibition by Nadine Talalla, open for one week only.

The cemetery, which was founded in 1832, is a historic resting place, with tombs of the rich and glamorous, decrepit stone graves and modern monuments.

Ms Caplin, who lives opposite the cemetery, said: “I walk in the grounds a lot and the beauty of architecture and some of the tombstones that go way back which are unloved and grown over with ivy have a haunted beauty about them because they are representing people who are long gone.

The courtship of Catherine Tylney-Long by Nadine Talalla at the Dissenters' GalleryThe courtship of Catherine Tylney-Long by Nadine Talalla at the Dissenters' Gallery

“To our modern eye they are beautiful with a lot of emotional depth to them and the more modern tombstones which may never age because they are made of granite not stone, have less of a story to tell.”

She added: “I invited these women to come to the cemetery and to be informed by it in the work they produce, it doesn’t mean to say they have to paint tombstones, it just means reflected in some way in their art.

“It’s also to let the community know that Dissenter’s is a vibrant space.”

Nadine Talalla, who was 38 weeks pregnant as the Times went to press, is moving to Kensal Green in February and the exhibit is her first solo show.

Catherine Tylney-Long has second thoughts  by Nadine Talalla at the Dissenters' GalleryCatherine Tylney-Long has second thoughts by Nadine Talalla at the Dissenters' Gallery

Her chosen subjects are three women buried in the cemetery or connected in some way. Sarah Fairbrother, the illegal spouse of the last Duke of Cambridge, was unrecognised by Queen Victoria. Her husband chose to be buried next to her not in Windsor.

Catherine Tylney-Long, a “Wiltshire Heiress, is not buried in the cemetery but was treated badly by her husband William Pole-Tylney-Long Wellesley, 4th Earl of Mornington who is. Her situation changed the case law of child custody after she died, aged 36.

James Barry is the third, the first qualified Female British Surgeon, found to be a woman after her death.

Ms Talalla’s vibrantly coloured paintings focus on the Grotesque, “ugly women”. The 36-year-old said: “They’re heroines of their own story; they lived quite unconventional lives and managed to challenge the gender norms of their period. The Victorian and Regency period was a period of contradictions and a time where sex and promiscuity were covered up with morals and tradition and therefore a fascinating time to research a persons’ life.”

She added: “I found the commission a very humbling experience as I’m about to give birth. Of all these people in the cemetery many have had children, and they’ve been born, it’s very humbling experience to be associated with mortality. It makes you realise how precious life is.”

The exhibition is free, from January 27-February 3, 10pm-6pm.

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