Epsom’s Portraits of the Unremembered

The forgotten faces of people who found themselves in Epsom’s asylums at the turn of the twentieth century have been revealed in a dramatic new art exhibition in the town centre.

A Covid-proof street gallery has been created in empty store windows on Ashley Road, at the back of the Ashley Centre, for all passers-by to enjoy.

The work of artist Georgia Kitty Harris has been presented by the local charity behind The Horton Arts Centre, to help promote the new venue ahead of its opening later this year.

Inspired by a heritage workshop organised by the charity, Georgia has produced dozens of incredible drawings over the last 18 months. Exploring the archives at Surrey History Centre, she viewed original patient photographs from medical case files from what was then called the Manor Asylum and Ewell Epileptic Colony (St. Ebba’s), some of which were water-damaged. Each individual has been painstakingly portrayed in graphite – capturing the emotion of the moment the photograph was taken.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so captivated by the people I’m drawing,” said Georgia. “It has been a fascinating experience. I can’t wait to get back to look for more photographs when lockdown is over.”

You can find out more about the people portrayed in the exhibition from Georgia’s research notes, published on The Horton’s website: https://thehortonepsom.org/news/portraits-of-the-unremembered/

Georgia studied Fine Art and Printmaking at Kingston and the Royal College of Art. More of her work will be included in a permanent exhibition about the intriguing history of Epsom’s hospital cluster to be displayed at The Horton itself.

The Horton will be an independent, not-for-profit venue for arts, heritage and events. As well as exhibitions, The Horton will host live music and performance, and offer workshops, courses, venue hire, gardens and an atmospheric café-bar.

The conversion of Epsom’s former Horton Chapel, which began in 2019, is nearing completion and set to open in 2021. The listed building was saved from dereliction and from developers by local residents who set up the charity Horton Chapel Arts & Heritage Society in 2016.

Their vision is to bring this stunning building back to life as a valuable social and cultural asset for the whole community. The project is being supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The charity is grateful to W H Smith, Epsom for allowing the use of their windows for this exhibition.

For more information visit: thehortonepsom.org

The Horton Arts Centre, Haven Way, Epsom KT19 8NP

Alice Maud Davis
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