Arts pop up shop to give Kilburn a boost

Artists will run workshops and stage exhibitions over four months in the innovative project in Peel Precinct

ARTISTS are to give a new lease of life to a struggling high street by opening a pop-up arts centre in an abandoned shop.

Renamed Workshop 24, the shop is one of a row of rundown outlets in Peel Precinct, off Granville Road, South Kilburn.

But organisers say they hope to transform this once neglected corner into a cultural and artistic hub.

Dan Thompson, a member of ArtistMakers, the group which is taking over the shop, says the project will provide an important opportunity for Kilburn artists to exhibit, while linking their work to the area’s landscape and heritage.

He said: “It has been a bit of a neglected corner of Kilburn and it is great to see it reinvigorated.

“We have a real passion for reclaiming empty spaces and have run projects like this in Brixton, but this will be our longest, and give us a chance to get to grips with the area.”

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The four month long project is funded by the South Kilburn Neighbourhood Trust as part of ongoing schemes to regenerate the area.

Guest artists will take up residence at the centre, and produce work inspired by the project, while residents can tap into their creative talent by taking part in art classes there.

At the end of the project organisers will produce two books, one called Made in Kilburn, which will showcase the work of artists living locally.

They will also produce a history of Kilburn using the testimonies of generations who have lived and worked in the area.

Speaking about the South Kilburn Estate, Mr Thompson said: “I love local history, and Kilburn is particularly interesting because of the level of redevelopment over the years it is as if the estate doesn’t have any roots.

“The challenge is to create this.

“I met one lady who was the first tenant in Austin house and she can tell you what every shop in this parade has been over the years – that is the kind of thing that doesn’t get written about in big history books, but it is interesting to local people.”

Mr Thompson said the project signalled a new ‘people focused’ type of regeneration.

He said: “It is just really nice to know that there is a strong community there that wants to get involved.

“In the past a lot of regeneration has been based on buildings and spaces, but I think we are learning now that they need to be more about people and their experiences.

“That is where projects like ours come in.”

Activities ranging from chess clubs, knitting groups and book classes will also be run at the workshop.

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