Friday, March 16, 2012

Crossfields artists on update on Tidemill...

A couple of Crossfields residents are presently showing their work in two different local spaces.

Deepa Chudasama from Holden House is one of six artists showing at APT Gallery, 6 Creekside, in a show titled Jam Tomorrow. The show runs till 1st April and is open Thurs-Sun, 12-5pm, and opens late on 30 March till 9pm for SLAM Last Friday.

Untitled and Hula by Deepa Chudasama

Stephen Mason (Wilshaw House) is showing with four others in Paraphernalia which opens tonight at the Utrophia Project Space on the high street, and runs till 28th March. Look out for the Art Dispenser from which you can buy some 'art' made by the Paraphernaliens for a quid.


The five 'Paraphernaliens' are in their final year at East London University, but three live locally. Stephen grew up in Reginald Road, attending Tidemill Primary and Deptford Green School.

Talking of Tidemill...

Last Saturday, a handful of locals picked up an invitation to an event at the old school, now being inhabited by Newbould Security. For one night only (6-8pm), with the title Project Zero: Changing of the Guards, the 'Newbould Collective' presented work about childhood, "in keeping with the former use of the school".  Says the blurb, "The presentation investigates the use of unused spaces within our communities and in transition remains sympathetic to the history and memories associated to these buildings."

The curious locals, arriving separately,  were met with varying degrees of inquisition at the security gate then ushered in to a friendly environment in one of the school's halls. There they join Newbould Collective's friends and followers, to look at art work by the six resident artists. We're told that musical entertainment commenced at 6.30, with a jolly rap artist rallying the audience for participation in a manner verging on the evangelical.

The artists and performers are living in the school (with a classroom each to work and live in) and were selected from Newbould's waiting list of creative types, who pay a 'license fee' rather than 'rent' (we wonder if they pay council tax?). It seems they were all really nice and the work wasn't bad, but the locals sensed an almost imperceptable air of a cult, as though they had walked into an Alpha course at Bear Church. One described feeling a heavy sense of betrayal, whilst being cajoled to "Smile!" by the friendly alien newcomers.

The blurb goes on, "Newbould Guardians is one of London's leading vacant property protection companies specialising in using disused buildings across the capital. We pride ourselves on the ability to create affordable living for London's artists. We believe that increasing a town's art can have an invaluable effect on an area....We believe that art builds community and we hope that these guardians will have a lasting effect on the people, culture and art within Deptford."

Cough, splutter...You might well ask, what the **** do we need more bloody artists for? Haven't we got enough already?!!! We hear that Anthony, who runs and manages the studios and spaces at the Old Police Station (and soon, Resolution Studios) had been looking at the school and its potential to house 100 artists (there is certainly room enough). Another studio manager was invited to look at the building but declined. It's not clear why they did not want the building, but it may have something to do with the temporary nature and uncertain future of the space, though that has usually not stopped artists studio groups in the past. However, it seems only a couple of people were approached, and it was certainly not made public (perhaps for fear of squatters). So instead, Lewisham Council has chosen to bring in some people from Camden and house only six artists, despite the fact that other artists groups in the area are soon to lose their work spaces which are scheduled this year to be developed.

The organisers of Deptford X (which kicks off in July), are hoping that they might be able to use the large spaces at Tidemill, since such spaces are in extremely short supply. If Newbould are able to open their doors for longer than two hours without frisking the visiting public at the gate, we'll eat our (rather cynical) hat.

Local artists searching for space must be sick as parrots. Many would say that Lewisham Council's regeneration plans in Deptford have parasitically fed on the "artistic buzz" created by the existing art community to make themselves look good and attract the developers, whilst giving very little back. Inviting Newbould to look after the school is a bewildering and hurtful step.

Meanwhile, someone has broken into the school keeper's house (between the school and Frankham House)...Nice work, Newbould Guardians!


  1. Frankham HouserFriday, March 16, 2012

    I live in Frankham House and last Saturday those people had a loud party going on till 11pm at least. It's bad enough with the Birds Nest, but we're used to it being quiet on the school side. Anyway, it wasn't just 6-8pm.

  2. I have to agree that I would rather my council tax pay for local art to grow instead of importing from Camden.
    Only 12 people in the school is a shame, it is also gated off like a posh pad and have you noted a few of the great cars parked behind the gates ? not the usual poor artist types....
    interesting link to who they are below,we don't need to import fakes we have the real thing home grown thank you but no thank you!

  3. I tried to go in and have a look round on the night in question but was refused by a teenager on the other side of the iron gate because 'I wasn't on the guestlist.' When I explained I was a local resident just curious about what was going on I was refused again, this time more forcefully, on the grounds that 'we've been advised not to let strangers in'. If the whole art thing doesn't pan out for him he could always become a doorman at the Venue.

  4. Hi Sue, I think Tidemill School is occupied by artists already have you got an email address so I can show you some more stuff I found out about tidemils recent occupied space

    Thanks Xulin

  5. Xulin, please email

  6. This general negativity is very hurtful for us residing in Tidemill. I am an artist in Tidemill. We had two weeks to prepare that exhibition and we tried the best we could to get locals into the place....i'm sorry if you found the door strict.

    I'm the rapper you describe as being evangelical, and yes i ask people to smile. Sorry for trying to make people feel good, i didn't realise it was something i needed a license for.
    I've worked as an education artist in Lewisham and Deptford, as well as with EEA (Uks largest outdoor theatre company) on carnivals across this borough for the last 10 years. I've run community festivals and been part of massive projects including greenwich festival, eltham lights festival and have worked with young people in The Albany and around schools in Deptford. I was very excited to move here because i feel i can make a positive impact to the local community.

    These sort of blog posts create unwanted friction and slow down the progress of arts in the whole community. If i was you i would consider how to work together and share what we have, that way, everyone can move forward together.


    1. Hi Arji, many apologies for the negative tone in the report, but surely you can understand the initial feeling locally was a little hostile since your event was so poorly publicised and the door policy was so strict. Although it may not have been intended, the impression locals got was not one of 'working together'.

      It is good to know you've worked so much locally, and now you're living here you are as local as anyone else, but you are in a fortunate (if a little strange) position and should show some humility for the shock some people felt that such a beautiful building is housing so few. Your sunny personality may not allow for criticism, but anyway such criticism was aimed at Lewisham council rather than yourselves. For instance, the building could be rented to a studio collective, providing an income to the local authority, but instead, the tax payer is funding Newbould to be there, as well as you guys paying Newbould to be there. Win win for Newbould.

      Aside from this unpalatable fact, we look forward to hearing your suggestions as to how we can 'work together' and 'share what we have', and how your presence can benefit the community (since we are all paying for you to be there! Nothing personal!). You have at your disposal some great spaces for events and exhibitions that we would definitely like to share. But since your role as guardians is to protect the space from intruders, can that be possible? Perhaps for your next event you can access local mailing lists (such as Deptford X) and inform local blogs etc, so that everyone knows about it. Have you a plan or programme of activities (educational or otherwise) that offers access to all? Can the building be used in such an open way? There are other studio spaces in the area that are just as fortress-like, but most have a public space and an education programme. Come on, open up and let us in!

      Why not get a website for Newbould Collective that details your activities in or outside the building that is separate from the corporate Newbould Security website and is just about you. Cut out the middle guy! Meanwhile, see you down the pub!