A challenge to re-imagine the appearance of familiar buildings in High Barnet's town centre -- such as the parish church, Tudor Hall or the twin towers at the entrance to The Spires shopping centre -- produced some dramatic results at an art workshop.


London Festival of Architecture sponsored the event which was organised by New Barnet art teacher Heather Ellis (above) who was delighted by the attempts to transform well known views in the High Street.

The theme of the festival was to ask Londoners to re-imagine their urban environment and buildings.

All comers were welcome. Those joining the workshop were asked to set work to use their imagination to transform a photographic image through collage, drawing or painting.

Heather wanted those taking part to take risks in giving a makeover to a familiar building.

She thought the transformation of the entrance to The Spires shopping centre by deploying the twin towers to create a valley at the seaside was the very leap of imagination that the festival of architecture was encouraging.

The workshop was held at The Stable community cafe in Salisbury Road where Heather holds monthly Wednesday sessions of the Looptheloop Art Club.

Once she had obtained sponsorship to take part in the London Festival of Architecture, she advertised the workshop emphasising that no experience was necessary – “just your imagination to enjoy an afternoon of creativity”.

“Everyone who took part worked from a colour photograph which they could then transform, perhaps with paint or by cutting it up and re-imagining how it might look.”

She advertised widely on social media including the Love Barnet website and at Chipping Barnet Library. Over 25 people attended including some from the Stepping Stones adult centre in Arkley.

“It was inspiring to see so many newcomers at the workshop and was easily our best attended and most imaginative event.

“We were taken aback by the way some of High Barnet’s much-loved buildings were re-imagined, such as the Tudor Hall.”

A highly imaginative reworking of Barnet parish church, linking it to the London skyline, was widely praised.

Heather established the workshop at The Stable community cafe 18 months ago.

She has an equally imaginative programme for future workshops. Pop art is the theme for July; seascapes in August; and vegetables in September.

This an opportunity to do a painting in water colour or acrylic, perhaps a collage or print making.

Heather, who retired from teaching art in 2021, was a former head of art at Ravenscroft School (now Totteridge Academy). She now works from a studio at her home in New Barnet.