Deptford's annual contemporary visual arts festival kicks off this Friday to run concurrently with the Olympics until 12th August.
There is so much to go and see it's too big a job for us to pick out what may be the highlights – so have a look at the website at www.deptfordx.org.
Apart from some big names invited by the lead curators Hew Locke & Indra Khanna, and work commissioned by Lewisham Council, there are over 50 fringe artists or projects popping up all over the place in shops and on the sides of buildings, in the streets and other more unusual places, plus gallery shows, open studios, events and performances.
There's a free printed map to tell you where everything is, which you can pick up in various venues. To find out more about the actual work on show, download the brochure from the website or buy one for a quid at Creekside Cafe (on Creekside) and Arch Materials (in Resolution Way). The map can also be downloaded. Both are indispensible if you want to know what's going on. There are also walking and cycling tours to help you navigate your way around and not miss the best stuff.
The curators' theme for the festival centres on "the decorative": "Surrender to the pleasure of the decorative. Revel in the excessive, embrace it and be dazzled...But... Layers of decoration contain levels of meaning, messages and codes – symbols of power, conspicuous consumption, signals of elitist knowledge, patterns of control and signs of social belonging..." All that glitters is not gold, perhaps?
Work is in the process of being installed ready for Friday. We spotted lead artist Hew Locke's piece going up on the side of the old Tidemill school today. Hew's piece is called Gold Standard and "uses original old share certificates to explore the history and movement of money, power and ownership". Our first thought is that it is certainly sited in the right place to comment on the bondage of capitalism – on the old school (which is privately guarded), in view of the new school (which is now privately run).
The organisers are hoping to attract extra interest from visitors to the equestrian events at Greenwich, and APT studio artist Heather Burrell (who designed the decorative gates at Creekside Discovery Centre) has picked up on the equestrian theme – look out for her life-sized galloping horses on windows throughout the area, directing visitors in an eastward direction to Greenwich. In Creekside Cafe we spotted some small coloured horses cut from metal which she is selling cheaply to help pay for the larger ones (pre-festival they are only £5). Heather's horses may be the nearest many of us will get to any of these beasts this year, despite the events going on in Greenwich (unless you're a frequent visitor to our plethora of betting establishments, of course).
Full listings at www.deptfordx.org
Also see South London Art Map.