Tag Archives: cornercopia

The Go Game @ Brixton Market

Every Thursday, Spacemakers runs a themed ‘Night Market’ event in the Granville Arcade and some shops and restaurants stay open until 10pm. It’s proved good business, so much so that they are now campaigning for (and apparently likely to get) late opening on Saturdays and even daytime opening on Sundays.

This Thursday’s event was the ‘Go Game’ – a night of games and music around the Granville Arcade. I was pretty sceptical about the ‘Go Game’, a corporate company with over-enthusiastic employees who organise group games.  You link your internet phone up to a game that makes you do challenges around the market, such as “do five things you’ve never done before and take a photo of it”. Once we let ourselves go though, it wasn’t so bad after all.

Not a picture of us 'letting ourselves go', but rather of the super enthusiastic organisers, including a man dressed up as a cow. eek.

The best thing about the late night opening is that you can get fantastic meals on the cheap from restaurants usually only open during the day – the new pizza place in Granville Arcade, the Moroccan restaurant, Etta’s Seafood Kitchen, Bellantoni’s the Italian and Rosie’s Deli were all open.  We squeezed in at the end of one table at Cornercopia:

The sweetpea, potato and chickpea ‘Gateux’ was a little dry, but overall the food was inventive, fresh and incredibly reasonably priced. The pistachio and orange tart was especially good.

And so to the gaming. There were even makeshift games of Twister:

One group at the start of an impromptu game of Twister

@DJDanCook had organised a night of music too. “I found out about Spacemakers after I moved into the area and I approached them to organise something. My background is more electronic music and techno, but I thought I’d do something a bit different here. I’ve got a few mates who do MCing and poetry, so I got a load of people together to perform. I put some notices up on blogs and at universities and got quite a few taking part in the end.”

The final performers of the night - two hip hop MCs

As you can see, Granville Arcade wasn’t exactly heaving with excited punters, but for those who were there, it was a good thing to do of a balmy summer’s evening. We even ended up winning a free meal for two at Etta’s Seafood Kitchen … although I later found out that we only got 90 points to the overall winners’ 570.

Look here for next week’s Night Market event: a US-style block Party


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Crazy In Love @ Brixton Village (but no Beyoncé…)

Another weekend, another Spacemakers event at Brixton Village. Last Saturday was Culture Club, this Saturday was – wait for it – love-themed. Cornercopia launched the first of their Saturday lunches with a Valentine’s meal (it looked delicious, although I didn’t have the chance to try it), huge hearts were hanging in shop windows, pink cupcakes were being sold outside the sweet shop and – if you really, really wanted to – you could even sign up for speed dating. Here’s a mini photo tour of Brixton Village this weekend:

New shops in the Granville Arcade

Some awkward speed dating:

It’s not just about Valentine’s. As a result of the empty spaces projects, there are lots of new shops and projects opening up in Brixton Village:

A new permanent cafe for the market

Another shop in the process of creation:

What's it gonna be?

And, finally, I think this market stall did a better job than the pop-up shops with the over-the-top Valentine’s celebrations:

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Brixton Village pop-up shop project

Dougald Hine in Brixton Village outside a pop-up sweet shop

Dougald Hine in Brixton Village outside a pop-up sweet shop

On a freezing day in Brixton earlier this month, four women could be found performing an absurdist dance inside a market shop to bemused passers-by. The dance was charming. They made themselves look stupid, squashing their faces against the smudged window and then jumping back with their hands up to their chests in scared-bunny-rabbit impressions. One of them could barely keep a straight face.

They were a performance act at the Space Station gallery, part of a pop-up shop project in Brixton Village.  The Granville Arcade is going through troubled times, but its empty shops are now occupied by pop-up projects designed to breathe new life into the market. In October 2009, a group called the Spacemakers Agency reached an agreement with Lambeth Council and the owners of the market, the London & Associated Properties PLC (LAP), for the rent-free occupancy of twenty shops in Brixton Village for three months. The Spacemakers Agency put out a call for creative and community-friendly proposals for the first wave of projects in December. Now the second wave has brought new events, shops, galleries and performances.

Okido, the Brixton-based children’s comic, have set up their own space. Next door is Herd, a design space set up by a young architect, and the nearby Sweet Tooth is selling old-fashioned sweets.  The artinivan art collective created a life-size ‘Camera Obscurer’ in the opening week – it was a fun diversion, although pretty obscure in itself. Even the acclaimed supper club, the Underground Restaurant, came down from Kilburn on Saturday 16th to cook for 80 people in an old fabric shop. Ms Marmite Lover, the Underground Restaurant founder, said, “I think the idea of pop-up shops is fantastic. Why have an empty space, when you can use it temporarily for exciting projects?”

Well, a fun diversion is all very well, but will Spacemakers’ project actually bring long-term positive change to Brixton Village?The pop-up shops are imaginative, but we should also be worrying that the poorest residents in Brixton aren’t benefiting from this ‘regeneration’ and that those who espouse the virtues of  ‘community-initiatives’ come from, and draw to them, the young middle classes, not the whole community.

I am impressed, however, by Dougald Hine, the founder of Spacemakers who puts forward some genuinly convincing arguments about the long-term effects of the short-term shops. “We want to make this a place where people want to rent shops, because the LAP were struggling to find tenants.”  Several temporary tenants, such as Cornercopia, are actually looking to become permanent residents of the market. “At the same time, we’re finding that other people  have been attracted by fact that there’s now a real sense of energy here and are starting to go to the owners wanting to rent”. A vintage clothes shop, Rejuvenation (pictured below), opened yesterday as a permanent tenant.

The market traders haven’t been directly involved in the project, but they could benefit from more visitors and a supply chain that remains within the market.  Cornercopia sell chutneys made from market ingredients. Hine is keen for it not to “become an us and them thing”.Relations between LAP and market traders have been tricky of late, but the Spacemaker involvement has, says Hine, opened up new avenues for discussion. One trader, Tirence Randall of the Los Andes Butchers, was optimistic. “It’s something different that brightens the market up. I hope it does catch on and bring a lot more people down.” Like the Brixton pound, this is a bit of a ‘wait-and-see’ moment, but I’m erring on the positive side. As long as it doesn’t mean an invasion of East London trendies…

The appropriately named Rejuvenation, one of the new permanent shops in the market.


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