Art and history of Fairfield Halls goes on display at Clocktower

Two exhibits, the Fairfield Collection and The Art of Fairfield, are open at the Museum of Croydon in the Croydon Clocktower from Tuesday.

The sculptured bust of Arthur Davidson, part of the Fairfield art collection. Davidson was the conductor whose series of concerts introduced generations of Croydon children to classical music

The Fairfield Collection brings together archives and objects collected from Fairfield Halls when it closed for its £30million refurbishment last July. From programmes to props, the nostalgic collection of memorabilia showcases a range of items guaranteed to evoke memories and provide a window into the venue’s 54-year history – including a fascinating glimpse backstage.

Visitors can be transported back in time by listening to a range of oral histories, collected from individuals connected to the venue. Actors, staff, musicians, community groups and audience members all tell their stories and recall historic moments. Among them are official photographer Fraser Ashford, who snapped the stars that graced the venue in its heyday; actor and former Croydon resident Martin Jarvis; and a staff member who reveals what went on behind the scenes the night Fairfield hosted a live screening of Frank Bruno vs Mike Tyson.

Excerpts are included in the exhibition and the full interviews will be accessioned into The Fairfield Collection and held permanently at the museum.

Other exhibition highlights include the statuette given to Dame Peggy Ashcroft when she won an Evening Standard theatre award, and the signature book signed initially by the Queen Mother, followed by many performers at the venue. On loan to the exhibition is a bronze entitled Winged figure 2 by John Farnham, which is a model of the full-sized bronze displayed on the forecourt of the Fairfield Halls from 1988.

Artist John Farnham with his model for the sculpture which adorned the Fairfield Halls forecourt for nearly 30 years. The model is among the exhibits at the Museum of Croydon

Meanwhile, The Art of Fairfield exhibition showcases a selection of artwork formally on display at Fairfield Halls. Some of the paintings were from the borough’s historic collections, while others were purchased or presented to reflect the artistic programme and the civic and cultural life of Croydon.

Fairfield Halls also created its own artwork in the form of designs for promotional material. The exhibition features works by Norman Partridge, Ken Head, Anne Murray, Jill Levick and the cartoonist Jak.

The exhibitions celebrate the outcomes of a project delivered in partnership between FAB Croydon and the Museum of Croydon. They have worked with volunteers who were previously members of Fairfield’s corps of stewards. Heritage Lottery funding has supported work to list and organise the collections and train volunteers to collect oral histories.

  • The Fairfield Collection is on display in the Croydon Now Gallery, until Saturday November 4.
  • The Art of Fairfield is on display in the Exhibition Gallery until Saturday October 28
  • The Museum of Croydon is at Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, Croydon, CR9 1ET, open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am – 5pm. Free entry, suitable for all ages.

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