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November 3, 2022

Artist Warren Reilly’s exhibition recalls his happy memories as a child model

The histories of ‘ordinary’ people are just as fascinating and valuable a resource as the stories of more well-known or influential people.

Warren Reilly is a 24-year-old, queer, mixed-race (Irish & Jamaican), award-winning social designer and applied artist from Church End, Brent. In 2019, Warren completed a First Class Bachelors Honours Degree in Textiles in Practice from Manchester School of Art. As Creative Director of the ‘Fashioning our History’ project (Part of Brent 2020: London Borough of Culture), Warren has now been awarded a 2-year rent-free residency at the Artist’s Studio Company In Alperton.

Warren curates the online exhibition ‘By The Cut of Their Cloth’ (BTCOTC) which spans 300 years of Brent’s mixed-race and multicultural history through the lenses of art, photography and fashion.

Warren writes, “In THE BOY FROM BRENT section of the BTCOTC exhibition, I reflect on my experience of being a child model with the agency ‘Urban Angels’. After almost 16 years, I have reconnected both with the director and CEO of Urban Angels, Alysia Lewis – who signed me onto the agency when it was first established – and her husband and photographer, Dan Scudamore, who shot my early casting shots for the booking list which was updated annually. We have all come together to remember my happy childhood memories but also to explore the wider social context as to why the agency was first established.”

Instagram: @foh.brent @themixedmuseum
Websites: https://mixedmuseum.org.uk/BTCOTC/ https://brentfashioningourhistory.com/

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

A Fire in my house on Church End Estate, I must have only been about 4 years old but I remember my Dad carrying me outside and I looked up to the dark purple sky and looked at the stars while we waited for the fire brigade to come and put the fire out. After living with my nanny for a while, When it was safe to go back into the house, I remember washing all my toys in the bath that were covered in soot.

What did you want to be when you were young?

A Vet! I remember my mum and dad bought me this vet kit with a toy bunny, travel case and equipment! I have always loved animals and I loved that Vet Kit so much. Later on, I developed a bit of an obsession for horses and I wanted to learn to look after them. I managed to do this for real later on when I was about 12 years old when I started volunteering at Westway Stables just off Latimer Rd.

What smell reminds you of being younger?

When I was a little boy, my favourite time of year was Christmas because I would watch my dad climb up the ladder and pass my mum down the Christmas decorations. I used to adore that dusty plasticy smell from the tinsel – if you know you know – it just always reminds me of Christmas even today when I now help my mum to get the decorations down, and the job doesn’t seem anywhere near as exciting but still enjoyable.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Hands down ‘The Very Hungary Caterpillar’ designed, illustrated and written by Eric Carle. I loved the interactiveness of the book and that you could stick your fingers in it but also loved the style of illustration. I also adored ‘Rainbow Fish’ by Marcus Pfister, and J. Alison James. and ‘Elmer the Elephant’ by David McKee because they were so colourful and vibrant, I used to love all the textures, prints and illustrations along with ‘Handa’s Surprise’ by Eileen Browne (especially as this was the only children’s book I remember as a child that featured and starred a black child). I also remember a pop-up book that I used to LOVE called ‘Pop-Up Ocean Adventure’ by Anne Sharp and paper engineer Nick Denchfield. I remember this pop-up book being very magical and I think it contributed to my love of water and the sea.

What’s your favourite children’s film?

Finding Nemo, I can still recite most of the scene when they go into the deep just before they get attacked by the anglerfish. I love the story that shows the relationship between father and son and the lengths a father will of to protect him.

What career would you choose if you weren’t in fashion?

Probably a dancer or an actor, I always wanted to learn ballet as a child, but I got sucked into the world of horses instead. I think it would still need to be in something that is as expressive, creative and performative as fashion, I think those elements are innately inside me.

When were you / are you at your happiest?

I am most happiest at some kind of stimulating / inspiring event, be it a fancy dinner at my favourite Italian restaurant called Ida in Queens Park, a rave like my favourites up in manchester like Homobloc or Homoelectric or LFW / GFW, just somewhere where I can dress up and look my best and interact and share the wonderful experience with all my friends and/or meet as many other amazing, interesting, creative people as possible!

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