Jeremy Vine unveils new piece of community artwork for Chiswick

Jeremy Vine unveils ‘A Quiet Sarnie Under the Tree of Life’ by Suzan Inceer

Broadcaster and Chiswick resident Jeremy Vine unveiled the new community artwork for the ‘W4th plinth’ on the railway embankment at Turnham Green Terrace on Sunday (27 June).

Every six months a new community artwork goes up on the wall, courtesy of environmental not-for-profit Abundance London, who invite artists to submit their work to be judged by a panel which includes another famous Chiswick resident, artist Sir Peter Blake.

The outgoing Stay at Home created by students at Chiswick School during lockdown in 2020, was replaced by community artist Suzan Inceer’s A Quiet Sarnie Under the Tree of Life, which, said Jeremy Vine, was symbolic of the community of Chiswick coming out of lockdown.

Image above: Artist Suzan Inceer with Director of Abundance London, Karen Liebreich MBE

Suzan describes herself as a ‘community artist’:

“I’ve done a lot of community art work. Having been pipped at the post by an orangutan in 2019, I am absolutely thrilled that they’ve chosen A Quiet Sarnie Under the Tree of Life”. 

She was referring to Penny the orangutan, which replaced the first community artwork on this site, Sir Peter Blake’s collage of Empire House, in March 2020.

Suzan described her piece:

“It’s a dude in a pink jacket and a two tone shirt just sitting underneath a tree listening to music, and the faces in the branches celebrate the diversity of life in London”.

Image above: A Quiet Sarnie Under the Tree of Life, at the piazza, Turnham Green Terrace

One face, she told The Chiswick Calendar, was of a harmonica player she’d seen. Others are characters she’s spotted about London. There are friends’ dogs, a robin, a toucan and a self-portrait (long dark hair, to the left on the main branch). Speech bubbles with random bits of language are characteristic of her work.

“I just love language” she said.

Earlier this year she also won a major art competition organised by the Sun newspaper, the Great Big Art Exhibition, judged by Sir Anthony Gormley, the artist who created the Angel of the North.  The initiative was ‘to cheer up Britain’s streets by displaying art works of animals in our homes during lockdown’. Suzan’s winning piece was a sculpture of a dragonfly.

Suzan has always enjoyed painting. “At nursery school I’d keep painting until the paper disintergrated.”

Born in Shipley West Yorkshire to an English mother and Turkish father, she did a Foundation art course at Bradford, followed by Fine Art in Liverpool and Illustration at Central St Martin’s in London.

“I love London and I am obsessed with Istanbul.

“Finally moved to London – Turnham Green in the late 1980s. Took my portfolio around everywhere and anywhere. Sold my textile designs for fashion fabrics in New York and L.A via some very dodgy agents.

“I met someone at Bartle Boggle Hegarty Ad. agency who suggested I apply to the postgrad illustration course at Central St Martin’s. Before college in the morning  I would give out Girl About Town magazine to commuters, and after I’d fit in jobs like hand decorating T- shirts in an assembly line in time to Hip-Hop music, spray paint shopfitting props and lots of waitressing”.

Image above: Theatre rigger Rory Ferguson with Steve Nutt of Abundance London, (wearing high vis vests) who managed the unveiling

“Murals are a speciality”

Suzan began working as a freelance illustrator mainly for magazines and kept working in hospitality for catering agencies.

“My work is influenced by these experiences – I love to depict people eating, dancing, carousing in bars etc. Often I’d work a breakfast, lunch and dinner (all in different places) and very late at night some, of the better agencies would let me shove my bike in a black cab and speed home with a bag of the best leftovers imaginable”.

Having dropped “very hot buttery potatoes in a man’s lap, appropriately at The Skinners Guild” and “overturned a whole flat of butter-beans on the red carpet, en route  to the top table at  a  Booker Prize Dinner at The Guild Hall” she concentrated more and more on her art, travelling extensively in the 1990s.

“I finally fulfilled a long held desire to live in Istanbul. I worked  as an illustrator for an airline magazine and taught English conversation in the evening”.

A massive earthquake on the outskirts of the city forced her to head home, where she has taught art to community groups and pursued her interest in community art.

“Murals are a speciality inside and outside –  some with the input of children and staff… many in school playgrounds”.

For her, having her work on display inthe place where she first lived in London, is coming full circle. She now lives on the south coast and was delighted to have a reason to return to the place where she used to “hang-out” in the 1980s.

Image above: Students from Chiswick School led by Eloise Davis (second from right)

Before the unveiling, students from Chiswick School led by Eloise Davis sang Ben E. King’s Stand By Me. The community artwork which occupied the space since December 2020, Stay at Home, was created by students at Chiswick School under the direction of teacher Tommy Robinson during lockdown conditions and expresses the students’ feelings about being locked down. It will now be hung at Chiswick School.

Comparing the experience of lockdown and the pandemic with the First World War, Jeremy Vine quoted from the First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg, who tragically died at the age of 25.

What in our lives is burnt
In the fire of this?
The heart’s dear granary?
The much we shall miss?

Three lives hath one life—
Iron, honey, gold.
The gold, the honey gone—
Left is the hard and cold.

Iron are our lives
Molten right through our youth.
A burnt space through ripe fields,
A fair mouth’s broken tooth.

He thanked Karen Liebreich MBE, Director of Abundance London, for organising the community art initiative and said what a great place Chiswick is to live, just as a woman walked through the crowd of onlookers, head down, totally oblivious to anyone around her or what was going on, declaring loudly into her phone “this is just such a great part of west London”.

A tube train rumbling past obliterated the rest of what he said – but we got the gist.

A Quiet Sarnie Under the Tree of Life will remain in situ for the next six months.

Image above: Karen and Jeremy, doing a Michelangelo

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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