‘No ghosts at Lauderdale’ as arts centre continues online

PUBLISHED: 17:04 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:04 12 May 2020

Peter Gallagher and his paintings at Lauderdale House, Highgate which go on show virtually this month

Peter Gallagher and his paintings at Lauderdale House, Highgate which go on show virtually this month


Virtual exhibitions, concerts and community outreach continue in the Highgate mansion where live-in manager Peter Gallagher hasn’t encountered the usual strange presences

Peter Gallagher and his paintings at Lauderdale House, Highgate which go on show virtually this monthPeter Gallagher and his paintings at Lauderdale House, Highgate which go on show virtually this month

Shuttered Lauderdale House is hosting virtual events and reaching out to vulnerable community members during lockdown.

Thanks to a grant from Lady Gould’s Charity, the Highgate venue can remobilise their furloughed outreach and education officer Skanda Sabbagh for three months.

And live-in Operations Manager Peter Gallagher has mounted an art exhibition in the Lower Gallery with 17 of his own paintings - some completed during lockdown.

Lockdown Lauderdale concerts by pianist-in-residence Stephen Hose are also drawing audiences on Facebook and YouTube.

Katherine Ives, director of Lauderdale House. Picture: Nigel SuttonKatherine Ives, director of Lauderdale House. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Director Katherine Ives said the £5,811 grant would go towards offering “support, engagement and hopefully positive diversion and entertainment to our community, especially those who are isolated or disadvantaged.”

“This is a brilliant opportunity for us to keep in touch with our local community and core group of visitors.”

Sabbagh will now organise creative activities for the venue’s youth group Fresh@Lauderdale, who hail from the Whittington Estate and usually meet for weekly sessions in photography, poetry, and cartooning. He will also reach out to regular attenders of Lauderdale’s classes and think up ideas to support home schooling for local pupils.

The next Lockdown Lauderdale lunchtime concert by Hose is on May 26.

“We have an average audience of 50 who attend these free concerts. They are a real oasis in the day with people watching live and also viewing it afterwards,” said Ives.

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Lauderdale’s virtual art gallery will dedicate a page on the website for each artist with up to 30 images and a profile. Private views via Facebook and YouTube will see the artist talking about their work or being interviewed via Zoom with interactive live chats.

Artists lined up to take part include Ham&High photographer Polly Hancock, Mexican artist Victor Carlin, and Islington-based painter Jack Coleman, who originally volunteered at Lauderdale House aged 16 before becoming an exhibitor.

Fifteen percent of sales will go to the House, which is a charity but has no core funding.

“We are struggling to earn anything while we are closed which is obviously a worry as time goes on, especially as our main income comes from hires for weddings and parties,” added Ives.

Gallagher, a self-taught oil painter and filmmaker who says his work is “semi-figurative with semi-abstract figures” has lived in a flat at Lauderdale House for 24 years and previously exhibited in Brazil, China and Hornsey Town Hall.

“I have kept busy making music and painting during lockdown,” he says.

“I don’t paint from life but from imagination. It’s unplanned and loose, I just follow where it goes.

“I hung some of my work in the gallery to add some colour because it looked very bare and empty. After weeks with no visitors, it’s lovely just to have something on the walls. If any sell that’s a bonus.”

Over the years, Gallagher has heard ghostly activity in the Tudor mansion including angry shouting and footsteps in the Long Gallery, the tinkling of the Steinway downstairs in the night and a terrifying encounter with a figure at the end of his bed. But since lockdown he’s heard nothing: “It’s a 16th century building and there is a presence, the house has an atmosphere, but I am very comfortable here by myself and with my own company.

“I am not freaked out by lockdown. I have kept busy painting or making music, when you do something you enjoy like art it gives back to you.”

He adds: “This is my home and I feel a real sense of responsibility for the house and its history. Over the centuries a host of important people have been here like Lord Lauderdale, Charles II, Nell Gwynne, Samuel Pepys and John Wesley. It’s still strong and surviving and I am here to take care of it.”


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