Tag Archives: Coldharbour Lane

New art gallery: Coldharbour London

A new gallery opened in SE5 this week. Coldharbour London is a low-ceilinged warehouse space on Southwell Rd with two floors of artists’ studios attached. It is the creation of Director Lucy Baxter and Creative Director Aretha Campbell.

The building was originally a print works and you can still see the imprints on the floor from where the printing presses stood.

In the opening exhibition ‘Illuminations’, five contemporary artists play with the idea of light.  The artists range from recent graduates to those already fairly established on the art scene.

We interviewed the gallery’s 28 year-old director, Lucy Baxter:

What was the motivation behind setting up the Coldharbour London gallery?

I’ve had the building for some time. It was derelict and I didn’t have enough money to turn it into flats. There’s a guy who runs artists’ studios on the same road, so I thought ‘why not turn this into an art gallery?’  It’s an incredible gallery space, so I approached the Creative Director, Aretha Campbell, with the idea.

Do you think South London is becoming a new art hub in London? Why?

South London is up and coming in the art world with galleries like the Hannah Barry galllery. Dalston is amazing for things like that but it’s saturated now. And I think with art comes rejuvenation in an area. South London is different to the rest of London. It’s got a real vibe of excitement about it. You walk down Coldharbour Lane and there’s a real buzz. It’s also cheaper so lots of artists live here. What’s good in south London is that there’s lots of local initiative too – things like the Brixton Pound. I grew up in Wimbledon and Streatham so it’s all very local for me.

What kinds of exhibitions and events have you got planned?

We’re going to have Open Studios in October and an exhibition with selected works from the artists who are based here. Around here there are lots of young guys and girls who are creative but don’t have the revenue to do anything with that, so we’re running workshops with the Lambeth College A-Level Art students on how to make a living out of art – the business side of art.

We’re also going to be doing some stuff with London Fashion Week and OxJam are putting on an exhibition here too.

How are you funding the gallery?

I work two jobs! For the first three years the studios should bankroll the gallery and I also hope to make it a rentable space.

What’s your relationship like with other galleries in the area?

Hannah Barry is going to do a pop-up show here and I’m really pleased about that. I didn’t want to arrive and be like ‘here we are and we’re not going to talk to anyone’. It’s all collaboration – lots of our artists are from the area and we want to work with other art galleries too. The arts cuts couldn’t have come at a worse time for us, so it’s best to support each other as much as possible.

Coldharbour London, 26-34 Southwell Rd, SE5


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Young man shot dead in Tulse Hill last night

A young man was tragically killed in a shooting in Tulse Hill last night. The victim, thought to be in his late teens, died at the scene near Purser House in Tulse Hill.

It’s not yet clear whether this was a gang-related murder, but the incident is the third shooting in the area within the last two weeks. Alper Pasha, 43, died four days after being attacked outside the KFC on Coldharbour Lane on 26 May. A man has now been charged for his murder. Sadiq Adebiyi, 25, was killed in a shooting near the Stockwell Gardens Estate last month and two men have now been charged, according to the BBC.

Do you think such crimes in the Brixton area are on the up? How do you think we can stop so many shootings happening? Please do leave your comments.


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Living Bar

Living Bar is re-opening! After almost four years of closure – in which ‘Lobo Fisheries’ moved briefly into the building – the bar is officially opening again on the weekend of 27/28/29 May (that’s another bank holiday weekend)

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REVIEW: The Duck Egg, Coldharbour Lane

Another year, another occupant of 424 Coldharbour Lane. Guest blogger, Carmen Allen, reviews The Duck Egg for Brixton Blog

The Duck Egg Cafe will satisfy breakfast and brunch nerds. Forget oily omelettes and overcooked scrambled eggs – The Duck Egg cafe sources all its produce from the Brixton Market and its duck eggs come free range from a farm in Norfolk.

We went there on a miserable Saturday morning, but the bright tablecloths and art work on the walls immediately cheered us up. I ordered the smoked salmon with the hash brown, hollandaise sauce and tomatoes and my partner ordered the same with bacon and sausage instead of smoked salmon.

There’s a choice between hen or duck eggs, but really the duck eggs are a must – not eating them is like going to a winery and drinking a pint. The yolks explode on the plate when your knife cuts into them and they’re much bigger than a hen egg. The salmon was fresh and the sausage full of tasty herbs.

The servings are large and they always manage to keep me full until dinner. The breakfast comes with two English muffins, which to me always taste better than toast because they don’t turn soggy.

But if breakfast isn’t your thing, the cafe satisfies other cravings too, with a lunch menu featuring traditional fare such as beef burgers, bangers and mash and spaghetti. There are also sandwiches and soup for those who aren’t famished. Or if you want to try something a little different, there’s a Mediterranean breakfast with grilled halloumi, olives, tomatoes, cucumber and pitta bread or the traditional brushetta with a not-so-traditional take – it has eggs on top.  London is not known for its good coffee, but The Duck Egg is a welcome addition to the Brixton coffee scene too.

The crowd who eat at The Duck Egg are generally in their 20s and 30s, so the cafe has a rather trendy vibe. It can get quite busy on the weekends and you sometimes might have to wait for a table, but don’t worry – you never have to stand for long and you can always have a cuppa at the counter in anticipation of someone vacating a spot.

Follow Carmen @carmentheaussie and read her blog at http://carmentheaussie.wordpress.com/

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Market madness and nuclear nightmares: Brixton’s murals

Brixton has some of the best remaining murals in London. Brixton Blog got Ruth Miller, from the London Mural Preservation Society, to take us on a tour

Ruth Miller wanted to organise a walk around Brixton murals, inspired by a thread about Brixton walks on the urban 75 forum, but when she set about researching the murals she found there was almost no information out there. So she ordered up books, searched the archives, contacted the artists and, in 2010, set up the London Mural Preservation Society. Now, finally, she can do those Brixton Mural tours – and she took me on one this month.

First up was the Brixton Academy Mural, above, completed in 1982 by Stephen Pusey. Like many of the murals in Brixton, it was commissioned by the council after the Brixton riots and its theme is obviously racial harmony. There’s something a bit tacky but undeniably  endearing about it. The children are scaled up all wrong and the colours, having been painted in pure pigment, are still glaringly bright. Pusey took part in consultations with the residents in the area and, unsurprisingly, it turned out that they didn’t want anything too depressing in the post-riot landscape. So the bright colours are fitting. “If you watch an old Grange Hill, that’s kind of what the playground in this mural is like”, says Miller. “But it really was like that – the kids were a bit poorer and people weren’t that well off to buy their kids cool clothes”.

The mural cost thousands to make, but once it was built there was no responsibility on the part of the council or the owner of the wall (in this case the 02 Academy) to maintain or repair the painting. It is now fading, peeling and being destroyed by bad weather. This is a story we will encounter again and again on the tour, and one Miller intends to put right.

Can you see all the Lambeth symbols in the mural above? The bricks represent Brixton (think about the platforms at Brixton Underground), the Swan is Stockwell, the gates are there for Gateley Rd, and the Brixton Rec logo is in there somewhere too. This painting, along with the one below, is on Bellefields Rd and was painted in 1987 by a collection of women from the London Wall Art Group.

Ruth Miller has gone to great lengths to talk to the artists involved in the mural painting project of the 1980s – and there were an extraordinary number of them. When someone added to Wikipedia the names of the artists behind the Brixton Station murals (see below) – Angie Biltcliffe and Karen Smith -, she went on a hunt to find them. But Angie has just died in November 2010 and Miller still hasn’t been able to locate Karen Smith. Their works, however, are some of the best in Brixton.

“I really like these. You can see the one at the top of the stairs when the train arrives and they both really reflect the atmosphere of the market – the diversity of foods and strange things you can find there. But they’re not even protected by a varnish or anything.”

What colours!

And now for the best of them all. Brixton’s most famous mural – Nuclear Dawn. It was painted by Brian Barnes and Dale McCrea between 1980-1981, at the peak of the Cold War, and this year it will be 30 years old. On 20 February, Brian Barnes will be giving a talk on the work at the Dogstar pub.

Nuclear Dawn was one of several ‘peace murals’ commissioned around London during this time, including Ray Walker’s peace mural on Dalston Lane. Nuclear Dawn features a frightening skeletal figure walking over London as nuclear bombs drop and, under the Houses of Parliament, the elected politicians including Thatcher hide in a bunker.

Sadly that bunker is now covered by graffiti and much of the mural has been damaged by trees growing too close to the wall. Ruth Miller succeeded in getting the trees cut down last year, but she is still hoping for some more extensive renovation to preserve the painting properly. “It’s my favourite mural”, she says. “As kids we were very scared of it”.

There were two more peace murals in Brixton, but they were covered over when new housing was built on Vining St and Rushcroft Rd. You can still get a glimpse of them if you look carefully:

This is by Fujiyama, facing Atlantic Rd. And if you walk in the opposite direction, along Vining Street to Rushcroft Rd, and look up, you’ll see this flash of blue:

It’s poor solace for what we’re missing out on, though. This flickr photo shows the original on Vining Street.

It would be a real shame if any more murals in Brixton were lost or destroyed. And there sure are more of them. Below is ‘Big Splash’ on Glenelg Rd, a rather joyful and idealised painting of life in Brixton. The river is based on the Effra, the vases around the side make reference to the Royal Doulton factory once based in Lambeth and the children are all local kids.

Our final mural is a surprising one. Tucked behind Acre Lane on Mauleverer Rd, it is absolutely huge. The picture below shows only one part of it. It was inspired by Brockwell Park, but the best bit about it is that a resident living opposite reputedly asked for a Caribbean beach view to be inserted into the Brockwell Park pavillion. The perfect view to wake up to every morning…

To find out more about the London Murals Preservation Society and to take part in Ruth Miller’s mural tours (which take in more than we saw here), visit the website: http://londonmuralpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/

Brian Barnes, who painted Nuclear Dawn, will be speaking upstairs at the Dogstar at 12.30pm on 20 February in celebration of the 30-year anniversary of Nuclear Dawn. See here for details.

Ruth Miller, leading the tour


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The Brixton Weekend Ahead

The winter is stretching before us with no apparent end, but it’s the first weekend of the 2011 (or rather, the first non-hangover weekend), so here are some tips to spend it wisely, healthy swim included.

Saturday: It’s the mid-winter swim at the Brockwell Lido. Vaseline, wetsuits, warm towels and a brave heart all essential. Or just go down and watch from the side. The Lido Cafe will be open and serving warming goodies afterwards. 12noon and free entry to all with charity collection. And in the evening, the Duke of Edinburgh on Ferndale Rd is hosting the Cassetique, a night of electronic DJs.

Sunday: Brunch at the newly opened ‘Duck Egg‘ on Coldharbour Lane, in the seemingly cursed premises that once hosted ‘Honest Foods‘ and then ‘Burning Bread’ in 2010. I haven’t been yet but eggs are the mainstay of the menu so it must be good. Right? Then across the road for The King’s Speech, which opened this weekend and is showing at The Ritzy at 12noon, 2.40pm, 5.15pm and 7.50pm.


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The week ahead

Top tips for this upcoming Brixton week:

All week: Take a look at the In Public’ exhibition at Photofusion Gallery. An exhibition of street photography celebrating the 10 year birthday of the In Public photography collective.

Tuesday 8: Open Mic night at Ritzy Upstairs – sing, tell jokes and perform poetry to your heart’s content. Or just listen to others do it.

Thursday 10: Late night opening at the ‘Brixton Village’ in Granville Arcade. This week’s event is hosted by the School of Everything, a website that matches people who want to learn a skill with people who can teach it. So go expand your minds – who knows, you could learn anything from karate to beekeeping. And there’s fantastic food in the various new restaurants to boot.

Friday 11: The legendary Top Cats and DJ Natty Bo return to Hootananny (and for free too)

Saturday 12: Globoloco take their world music beats to their monthly party at Mango Landin. Reggae, ska, boogaloo, Latino hiphop – it’s all there.


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Honest Foods

Anyone know what’s happening to Honest Foods? It’s turned into a mini building site. A refurb? Or closure?

UPDATE [16 May]: The mystery continues…just seen this planning application/application for extension of hours outside Honest for a company called Burning Bread CIC…

UPDATE [22 May]: Looks like Dee (see comments below) was right. “An organic kinda deli by day and an organic cider bar by night”.

The sign reads 'Burning Bread' Food and Cider


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