For 2015 I thought it was time I started spreading the word about Art Post beyond Bristol. An effective strategy, I decided, would be to find and make contact with concentrations of artists and arts organisations. I found such a geographical knot in East London, which has become known as London’s Artist Quarter, at the centre of which is Bow Arts Trust. Their excellent website enabled me to discover a plethora of artist’s studios and galleries.
A street encounter and curb side theory
Towards the end of my exploratory trek through Bethenal Green, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Shoreditch I bumped into 3 students conducting filmed interviews on a street corner. They were on a journalism course and researching the public’s view on the ‘gentrification’ of the area I was in, near Brick Lane. I explained that I was visiting from Bristol so couldn’t comment on this specific area. After a little conversation we decided that gentrification as a principle went on all over the place so I could provide an angle for their project. I had already noticed the fresh style of shop front design, numerous coffee shops and chic pubs with sophisticated menus and realised the gentrification process ( I prefer the term re-generation) was underway around us. Its interesting that coffee and food often seems to lead the way. I took the stance that ‘gentrification’ was a good thing, having not thought about the issue in depth at all. The students asked good questions but the last one made me think. ‘What is the best way to bring about improvement in an area’. I thought of situations in Bristol, and being on a cultural day out, naturally suggested the encouragement of cultural, creative and arts organisations and activities could play a considerable part. I realised after the event why, of course, culture can actually be a good starting point. Culture begins and ends with people and its people that make the commitment to an area. The buildings and infrastructure, however, which are probably owned by remote commercial organisations as investments, may pass from hand to hand with no genuine commitment to the location beyond how well their investment is performing. Well thats my theory, I wonder what results the students came up with.
My tour continued, on to a late lunch on Brick Lane and visits to a couple of the galleries there, perhaps themselves indicators of ‘gentrification’. I got very gratifying responses to my descriptions of the qualities of Art Post so, who knows, perhaps it won’t be long before a group of artists will be using them to make use of interesting or neglected spaces in East London and in doing so play a part in the re-generation. As I have found, Art Post works really well enabling artists to show work in neglected spaces, opening them up to the public and giving these spaces new purpose as well as being inexpensive venues. In my experience art is presented wonderfully well against all manner of backdrops like the ancient stone, worn brickwork and corroded steel of neglected church buildings, old factories or warehouses. Art Post allows all sorts of artwork to be installed creatively and flexibly anywhere.
I stumbled upon a lot of really fantastic arts projects and venues spread across East London, especially the interesting and exciting people I met at Bow Arts Trust and The Nunnery Gallery, Espacio Gallery, Bang & Lessin and the Brick Lane Gallery, my thanks to them for their comments and appreciation of Art Post.