Art Project at St Mary’s Open Weekend

The exhibition links two local communities: St. Mary’s Church in the Parish of Wanstead. and Wanstead House Community Association,  and  classes run by Redbridge Institute of Adult Education with tutor Anna Bisset.
As artists we set out on this project to challenge ourselves: to open the imagination, expand our experience of looking at the world around us and to compose from life; a contrast from working in the studio where much is created from existing pictures, photos and still life set-ups.  We hope to give a flavour of what art can do.

The church is a repository of local history including the building itself, the interior memorials and the headstones in the graveyard. St Mary’s Church is the only Grade One listed building in Redbridge. Designed by Thomas Hardwick in the Georgian style, the church was built in 1790, as part of the Wanstead Park estate. The building reflected the prosperity of the owner of Wanstead Park, whose memorial stands in the chancel. Many elements in the church, such as the pulpit with its’ palm tree supports, relate to the imperial wealth on which Wanstead Park was founded.


From an artists point of view, St. Mary’s provides numerous possibilities for compositions from the furnishings and memorials to the different views of the inside of the building.  Some of the group felt that the style of the interior was austere and, with it’s “family” box pews and galleries above, implying the authority that the church would have had at the time, as well as a rigid social order.

The exterior has many features of interest from the bell tower and the front portico to the gravestones enhanced by nature around: the trees, the ivy and the effects of time.

The media used include pencil, charcoal, acrylic, watercolour, pen and ink.

Some works in the exhibition were completed on-site in June and July this year. Some were created at home from sketches and photographs.

Anna Bisset – tutor