Forest Gate community members feature in life-size portrait exhibition

PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:27 23 March 2017

Andrea Mercer,  her portrait and artist Eleanor Pearce

Andrea Mercer, her portrait and artist Eleanor Pearce


An artist and gallery director is exhibiting life-size portraits of 
the Forest Gate community.

Eleanor Pearce, 37, of Forest Gate, has created 20 pieces of artwork of the people who shape the community, including teachers, business owners, artists, volunteers and police officers, to showcase at the Gate Library.

The artist, who is also a director at Islington Arts Factory, started the project in an aim to meet her neighbours and create stronger bonds.

“My aim was to work with people, who are not in the limelight, but have unrecognised contributions,” she explained.

“People seem really happy about it and it’s really nice as people are recognising each other in the street.”

Eleanor moved to Forest Gate three years ago and soon decided to start drawing portraits of key community members to help her get involved in the community.

“In an effort to get more connected in my community I invited people to come and sit for me,” she said.

“I asked for volunteers to come sit, then word of mouth spread and I had regular offers.”

She found that most of the people, who volunteered their time to been drawn up, had never sat for an artist before and found herself facing some new challenges.

“The artist and sitter relationship is a very particular thing, a situation unlike any other,” Eleanor added.

“The essence of the person is amplified by the intense focus on them, and the encounter leaves a lasting impression, on the mind as well as the paper.

“Some people see it as a time 
for stillness and reflection, musing on the world, or even a confessional.”

She also teaches new art classes for children and over 50’s at the library, in Woodgrange Road, but admitted her ultimate dream involved the BT portrait awards.

“If I could get a Forest Gate resident into the BT portrait awards, that would be an amazing feeling.”

The exhibition is free entry and open until Monday, April 3.

Visit to preview her work.

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