15 October 2011
The Art of Walking
Last Saturday I went on one of Fox&Squirrel's walks. F&S offer 'lifestyle walks' all over London themed around fashion, architecture, food etc.
This one was an art walk in Peckham, an area of London that is now bursting with creative talent, no doubt brought on by cheap rent and available space.
Our guide was Natasha, a very erudite and knowledgeable young lady, who met us outside the award-winning Peckham Library. First we visited Peckham Space, opposite the library and then she walked us up the road (passing a relevant bit of cement graffiti) to the lovely Passmore Edwards South London Art Gallery – a free purpose-built gallery space built by the great philanthropist. I was much more interested in the building than the art inside it. I loved the As and Hs on the sign on the front of the building, and found the old Pugin-esque floor tiles, the painted sockets and the old sign board in the back courtyard way more inspiring than what was on show.
Then we walked down Lyndhurst Way and stopped to look at the cleaned-up house that was once a famous squat for artists. Around the corner I noticed a stink pipe. Relevant? Then to a space functioning as both a home and a gallery where we watched two looped films of images of cars and lorries going down the freeway but manipulated into endless tunnels. It was mesmerising. But again, free, though the fella had opened the door especially for our group as it wasn't normally open on Saturdays.
Bells were ringing in my head about whether this 2 hour walk was good value (I spotted an old alarm bell casing showing the old Bishopsgate telephone code!) – after all nothing had an entrance fee, and using a South London Art Map this would cost nothing at all. But I was having a nice time with nice people...
And so to the Hannah Barry Gallery, almost buried amongst a sea of semi-derelict buildings in an old industrial estate. The highlight of my day was meeting the wonderful Hannah Barry herself. Diminutive Hannah belies her size and age – she is a powerhouse of ideas and enthusiasm. She talked eloquently and sensibly about art and galleries. And I loved the metal sculptures there by James Capper.
Then to a bar in one of the arches under Peckham Rye Station for art chat.
A nice afternoon. Thanks.