Alperton to welcome artist Brian Alabaster’s sculpture inspired by Andrea Zafirakou and her pupils

Students look on as the sculpture takes shape.

Students look on as the sculpture takes shape. - Credit: St George

One of the country’s leading sculptors is about to finish an artwork for Grand Union neighbourhood - having taken inspiration from students at the local Alperton Community School. 

The bronze sculpture, which was also inspired by award-winning teacher Andrea Zafirakou, shows three children climbing stacks of unsteady-looking books in equilibrium.

Artist Brian Alabaster said: “It represents the sort of uncertainty and problems that the pupils may suffer.”

He added: “But the changes of height represent progress.”

The first step of such work began when Brian and his team spent two afternoons at Alperton’s school. There, the artist would lead a sculpting workshop.

Brian and Leyla Fakhr, art consultant on the project, were observing them. They then selected three pupils to model for the artist. 

Coming from a rural area, Brian said: “I was nervous coming into an inner-city school thinking that I would have discipline issues and getting people's attention. And I found absolutely the opposite of that. They were incredibly respectful and interested.”

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At the school, art and textile teacher Andrea Zafirakou, known for her commitment and dedication to youth, and decorated as such, created charity Artists in Residence to bring art closer to pupils. Brian worked with the charity and hopes to work more at the school in the future.

Grand Union will see 3,500 homes built in canalside in Alperton over the next few years. 

Ginny Juke, senior development manager at St George - the developer behind the project, said: “A really important aspect for us is creating somewhere that's going to feel like home to people.

“We're not trying to create a new community. What we want to do is make sure that we contribute towards that community, that we can become part of it. We're not trying to rebrand it.” 

For example, she said, a community centre will be one of the first facilities to be delivered. 

Through a community liaison group and an information centre, St George was able to hear people’s contributions. But was it enough? 

Alperton councillor Anton Georgiou said: “It is great to see collaborative work being done with Alperton Community School in this way. I’m always happy to see more art locally and hope residents will appreciate it. What we also need to see now is immediate investment in other required infrastructure in our area.”

About St George’s involvement in the community, he added: “St George has been quite active and involved in the community since they started their scheme on Beresford Avenue.”

"For example, last year, they helped with a local initiative run by WCARA that was all about giving flowers to residents who were isolated.”