Ealing Project: The brand new community cinema, gig and exhibition space opening on Thursday

By Isabel Millett

28th Jun 2022 | Local News

Ealing artist Stella Tooth, who has her home studio in Northfields, has written the below piece for Ealing Nub News about the opening of the Ealing Project seen through the unique lens of her art and fascination with musicians.

 

A new three-screen community cinema, gig and art space is set to open on Thursday (June 30) on the ground floor of the Ealing Broadway Centre.

 

Ealing Project, housed on the site of the old Karma Club, is Ealing Broadway's first movie theatre since the Empire cinema closed in 2008, and will host a stage for live music and comedy with a capacity of over 200 people, as well as a 10 metre long art gallery. 

Promising a programme of newly released blockbusters and a range of independent films, the cinema will offer £6 tickets throughout July, with 'Elvis' as one of its first screenings.

It will be the first of two new cinemas to arrive in Ealing, with an eight-screen Picturehouse due to open later this year or next in the Ealing Filmworks development. 

Ealing Project will also be used as an events space, bar and café during the day, collaborating with local musicians and organisations like the Hanwell Hootie and The Ealing Club to curate its live music schedule, as well as other community groups like the Bollo Brook Youth Centre and the Borough of Ealing Art Trail.

The project is the latest venture from Really Local Group, an organisation which aims to create and restore cultural infrastructure through the regeneration and renewal of the UK's high streets.

I asked Nick Vergara, Director of Culture, Engagement & Partnerships at the Really Local Group, what the Ealing Project will bring to the borough.

"Landing as Ealing Broadway's first cinema in 14 years and as one of the few live music & arts venues in the borough, will open many avenues to working with the local people of Ealing to showcase many forms of creativity that exist on our doorstep, from local filmmakers, to musicians, comedians, artists, markets and more," he said.

The Ealing Project's launch coincides with the borough's July beer, music and comedy festivals in Rock's Diamond Year, which celebrates 60 years since the founding of the 'Ealing Blues Club' in 1962.

Robert Salmons (stage name Hokum), co Director of The Ealing Club, and founder of the Ealing Blues Festival, said: "Ealing has the heritage of the two defining art forms of the second half of the 20th century: cinema via Ealing Film Studios and British rock music via the 'Ealing Blues Club'.

"It was also a vibrant centre for entertainment, with multiple cinemas and music venues, nearly all of which are now gone. 

"However, in recent years, awareness of Ealing's iconic past has been growing via projects from within the community, such as the film, 'Suburban Steps to Rockland: The Story of The Ealing Club', the book  Rock's Diamond Year: Celebrating London's Music Heritage, and music festivals like the Ealing Blues Festival and the Hanwell Hootie [10 years old this year]. 

"We hope that the Ealing Project can give a much-needed boost to Ealing's cultural scene and provide an all-year round venue for all types of live performance, cinema and more."

 

Robert Salmons was honoured earlier this year with a UK Blues Award for his work in promoting live music and Ealing's music heritage. 

My oil on canvas portrait of him in lockdown, and a digital painting of Don Craine/Downliners Sect who died earier this year, feature in one of the events staged to celebrate Rock's Diamond Year -  The British Blues Exhibition founded by Darren Weale, which has now moved on from Brentford's Musical Museum to the Barbican Music Library in an expanded form until 19 September.  

A now flourishing art scene, with the formation of the Borough of Ealing Art Trail in 2015 and the opening in 2020 of the Open Ealing Arts Centre, has its roots in the past, with Ealing Art College attended by notable musicians Freddie Mercury, Ronnie Wood and Pete Townsend.

Alex Ebdon, Chairman of BEAT, welcomes The Ealing Project, "Our experience with building the Borough of Ealing Art Trail has shown how just how important the arts continue to be to the residents of our borough. So it's very exciting to have a community space in the Ealing Project where there's such room for artistic expression, through art, film, music and more, right in the heart of Ealing. 

"We're particularly excited about how it can help us develop people's experience of BEAT and the artistic talent that lives and works in the borough. This year we will be holding a showcase of BEAT artists' work in a special exhibition in The Ealing Project, across the two BEAT weekends in 10/11 and 17/18 September."

About Stella Tooth

 

An artist who specialises in portraits, particularly of musicians, Stella feels lucky to live in London, where the British electric blues movement grew up in the club scene of the early to mid-1960s.

 

Her studio is a 20-minute walk away from where Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies started Britain's first rhythm and blues club  the Ealing Blues Club, in Ealing Broadway in 1962. Devoted to "electric blues music", it began a revolution that would influence other Jazz venues like Twickenham's Eel Pie Island and Richmond's Crawdaddy Club - key in the careers of the Rolling Stones, The Who and others who recreated the sound of American blues guitarists.

Meanwhile, in nearby Hanwell, Jim Marshall, nicknamed "the father of loud", set up Marshall Amplification. And, by the end of 1962, The Beatles launched their Merseybeat sound in Liverpool. The following year south-west London's the Half Moon Putney began hosting live folk and blues sessions, and has continued to host live music ever since. Stella has been Resident Artist at the Half Moon for the past seven years, portraying blues greats like Geno Washington, The Animals, The Pretty Things and Albert Lee.

At the end of last year Stella formed a new collaboration with Ealing Getty Images rock photographer Solomon N'Jie, whose photographs of rock stars at the height of their fame in the 80s inspire her latest artworks - digital paintings.

Stella and Sol will be staging the Ealing Project launch exhibition – Art & Sol – an artistic collaboration featuring around 45 photos by Sol, of Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Sting, Freddie Mercury, Madonna, Prince and Mick Jagger, alongside nine of Stella's digital paintings inspired by them. To see videos of them being created, click here.  The exhibition will run until Saturday 30 July at 3pm (tbc).

 

Sol will also be giving a talk on Saturday 2 July at 7.30pm at the Ealing Project on how he become a Getty  Images rock photographer. Sol will provide the background story on how he captured photos, using a classic 35mm camera, and encounters at concerts, to produce rare and unseen images of iconic 80's bands that become global phenomena. 

     

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