Halima Nałęcz – Kaleidoscope: A Celebration of Colour

On Tuesday 7th September, Westminster City Council installed a Green Plaque in honour of the life and legacy of the iconic artist, Halima Nałęcz. The plaque is located at 5 Porchester Place in our very own Connaught Village – the original site of Halima’s most renowned gallery, Drian Gallery.

The Westminster Green Plaque scheme launched in 1991 to commemorate the diverse cultural heritage of Westminster and the people who have lived or worked here. It highlights buildings associated with people of renown who have made lasting contributions to society.

Born in 1914 in Antonowo, near Vilnius (then, still part of Poland) Halima Nałęcz arrived in England in 1947 and became a prominent part of the London art scene of the 1960s, subsequently working as gallerist and painter for the next forty years. During this time, Halima helped to jump-start many high profile careers and became an accomplished artist herself. She gave the first major exhibitions in the UK to John Bellany, William Crozier, Michael Sandle, Leon Zack and Joseph Lacasse – amongst so many more.

As an avid supporter of the arts, Halima had a strict rule that she would buy work by someone else to add to the Drian’s permanent collection for every painting of hers sold. By 1983, this rule meant she could donate a staggering 565 works to Polish national museums, including 80 of her own. Halima sadly passed away on 25th September 2008 but her legacy certainly still lives on.

To celebrate the installation of a Green Plaque in honour of Halima, the Church Commissioners funded a modern day recreation of the Drian Gallery at neighbouring 14 Porchester Place. The gallery hosted a brand new exhibition entitled Kaleidoscope: A Celebration of Colour, curated by art critic and admirer of Halima, Robin Dutt.

Robin Dutt’s exhibition payed homage to the late artist who, when asked about her work in an interview, famously said “I believe in the medicine of colours”. In a bid to emulate what a modern day Drian Gallery may have looked like, Robin was enlisted to curate the pop-up gallery. After extensive research, the artists and works selected for the exhibition were chosen by the way they demonstrate how their differing passions – figurative to abstract, plain colour fields to symbolist motifs – utilise the variance and power of colour.

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