Holloway Fire Station on Hornsey Road

The Local Fire Station is somewhere that we walk past in our daily life, become aware of as a big red truck screams past us in the street and when we call upon the Fire Brigade to come to our aid in the case of an emergency. However we know little about the training, the daily checks, maintenance of kit, checks and maintenance of the buildings in our community and the outreach that they do. We sometimes see Fire Fighters at work when a particularly news worthy event broadcasts individuals performing heroic acts in the line of duty in often the most difficult of circumstances, but what we do not see is the day to day life of the crews as they operate around the station, relax, prepare food, eat (or not!) as they wait for a call out at any moment. This project celebrates the local Fire Service focusing on the individuals and crews that operate from Hornsey Road Fire Station, and I thank them for allowing me into their world their and being so accommodating to me in facilitating this project.

From small emails do big projects grow! As a part of a distance learning painting degree Niki was required to produce a final assignment that was to put into practice all the learning throughout the course into a project of your choice. Niki wanted to use this opportunity to do something useful with the hours of drawing that lay ahead and so contacted Holloway Fire Station on Hornsey Road to see if they would accommodate her photographing the crews as they went about their day, and then use these images as reference to produce a series of works that celebrated the individuals and all the training and hard work that the four crews do on a daily basis.

The first set of pen and ink drawings would look into the daily life of a Fire Fighter at the station as the crew on duty that day went through their daily checks and training and as they relaxed and prepared and ate food (or not!) as they waited for a call out.

The next set of oil pastel drawings celebrate some of at the individuals that are part of the crews at Hornsey Road, especially the two women based at the station.

There are four watches that operate from Hornsey Road on a rotational basis of four days on, four days off. The Station is a family made up of four smaller families, if you draw one Watch, you have to draw them all! These drawings of the four watches; Red Watch, White Watch, Green Watch and Blue Watch capture the individuals that were working on the days that I went in to photograph them and capture both the connection of the individuals with each other and donning of their kit in order to present for parade.

Attending a call out myself was not something that on the cards! On one visit I was given this photograph of Red Watch after tackling the Grenfell Tower fire, it felt like this would be the image that showed a crew at work that I would never see, but epitomized the reasons for all the training and daily checks that I saw in the initial pen and ink drawings.

I offer my greatest thanks to all the individuals that I have depicted in this project and those that helped make it happen. Signed numbered prints of the drawings can be purchased from Blue Sunflower online store in a variety of different sizes. The original drawings can be seen at Fire Brigade Head Quarters, 169 Union St, London SE1 0LL from 15th July until 2nd August 2019 and then at the Islington Museum around February March 2020, dates to be confirmed.

Fire Brigade Head Quarters Display

The drawings are on display at the Fire Brigade Head Quarters in Souhwark, London for a few weeks from 15th July 2019. This is a closed exhibition, the display in the foyer of Fire Brigade HQ is for those accessing the building only.