On 22 and 23 June Camberwell Artists opened their doors to the public marking a historic 25 years since the first Camberwell Arts Open Studios programme and the birth of Camberwell Arts Festival. 2019 was my first year as Summer Open Studios manager so I had a keen interest in making it to each and every of the 43 artists spaces – which I managed with minutes to spare and some blisters developing!
Each studio complex has a unique character, where by design or nature and only by experiencing them all do you get a real feeling for the breadth and depth of the creative industries in Camberwell.
Vanguard Court, the hulking complex hidden behind Peckham Road is brimming with accomplished makers, jewellers, painters, carpenters and potters. Each artist finely tuned and commercially savvy creating gems for the discerning consumer market.
Graces Mews is awash with colour! This tucked away corner of Camberwell bosts not only Speos Photography School and Grace Westerdales’ workshop studio but a unique hosting space by CAF committee member Debbie Allen. Each year Debbie invites a selection of artists to turn her architectural wonder-house into an exhibition, and always with homemade treats to boot!
Warrior Studios is the avant-garde leader of Camberwell, just on the border with Brixton. Their space is not just a studio but a way of life, a treatise on nature of art-making. Entering through an unassuming alleyway under Loughborough bridge you encounter a collective underpinned by the ethos of alternative but sustainable art practice.
Denmark Place is a painters paradise full of sumptuous edible canvasses. Its the most ‘traditional’ studios space from the inside but to find it you need to locate the red door behind the Baptist Church. A special treat is Martin Masterson’s gothic enclave – a dark and brooding space within a space.
Empress Mews is a masterclass in mixed-use space with many artists living above their studios in this purpose built complex. These clear modernist studio pods inspire the artists engagement with the programme with both Gabriela Szulman and Kip Perdue offering craft workshops alongside their studio displays. The artists in 2019 all showed small but inspired craft works.
Special mentions deservingly given to three more studios who took part as single entrants into the programme – Art in the Park, Clockwork Studios and the Remakery. Art in the Park is home to a group of artists, but also functions as a working community space – this year inviting local children to collectively create a large canvass under the caring insturction of Ange Museka. Clockwork Studios celebrated their communal practices with a weekend long exhibition of studio artists work in their enviable courtyard space. And the Remakery – the home of upcycling and remaking in South East London – invited the public in to witness their artists in situ in their expansive and well tooled workshop.
I’m deligthed to say that 2019 was also a blockbuster year for artists pop-up studio spaces, with Marie Lenclos in Daily Goods, John Yabrifa in Theatre Peckham, Rachel Kay in Blue Elephant Theatre and Silvia Righetti in Blue Turtle Oasis.
Photo’s courtesy of Silia Vit & Francesca Gallo