Camberwell Comes Alive With Expanded Summer Arts Festival

Camberwell Student Florence Goodhand-Tait takes a tour of Camberwell Arts Festival 2016. The Camberwell Arts Festival is a yearly event celebrating the art community in Camberwell, South London. This year’s theme was “Metamorphosis”.  It therefore explored themes around transformation and celebrated the changes happening on Camberwell High street.

 Camberwell Open

The Camberwell Open exhibition displays work from artists associated with SE5. The work shown is both professional and created for the sake of it. Seeing the artwork side by side like this celebrates the art community as a whole and brings people together. All the artwork is for sale and is being enjoyed by those who came to see it as well as by people who happen to be in the leisure centre, where the artwork is displayed. The casual venue allows people to look at the art without the fear one sometimes gets when stepping into a gallery setting. I think this exhibition is definitely worth a look at, even if only on your way to the swimming pool. The work itself is an eclectic mix including portraits; mosaics; political art; photography; collages; paintings – some are playful and whimsical. There are a lot of different styles and, therefore, something for everyone. A piece that stands out is a painted cushion by Andrew Ekins: experimenting here with combining materials. Other pieces I enjoyed were the fun and futuristic illustrations of London by Evan Cunningham and Coloured Thoughts  by David A. Burrows, which were paintings on fabric sewn together.

Made In Camberwell Arts Market

As part of Camberwell BA Illustration class of 2016 we decided to sell our work on a stall in the Camberwell Arts Market to fundraise for our external exhibition (which will be happening 30th June – 3rd July in Copeland Gallery, Peckham). As we have been taking part in a lot of markets this year we have got into a routine of arriving early and unpacking our stock in the most appealing way. On our table we displayed zines, ceramics, postcards and prints; but my favourite part of selling in art markets is engaging with the other sellers. For example Sarah Simmons, who was conducting a screen printing workshop on the stall next to us. Sarah graduated Camberwell College of Arts six years ago and has since been working on multiple art projects which use screen printing as a means to engage with communities. This work has even taken her to India. I would really recommend taking part in art markets to creative people in London, as Sarah is just one example of the inspiring people I meet at these events. Art markets also give an opportunity to see how the public respond to your work and seeing the same faces at markets makes you feel like part of a community. Being sold on other stalls was handmade jewellery, prints, scarves, ceramic work, bags, cards, and much more; all made by artists and makers who have a connection with Camberwell. The continuity with the rest of the festival is also there as I spot artists whose work was also at the Camberwell Open exhibition.

Open Studios

As part of the festival, many art studios in Camberwell opened themselves up to the public. I spent a day looking around them and here is what I found:

Clockwork Studios

I started at Clockwork Studios and although I was slightly early for the opening time, I was welcomed in and navigated my way around the small studios finding fish themed ceramics by Rafael Atencia; handmade soap labelled “father’s day gifts” and paintings. Looking at a studio makes me feel like I have inside knowledge of how an artist works. It’s interesting to observe how they lay out their supplies on their desk, how they position themselves so natural light can pour in just the way they like it. I also observe how completely different artists can co-exist in one studio; one room is full of paintings of scenes of trees and buildings while another (Brian Merry’s space) is full of handmade t-shirts, scarves and cushions with clown faces and patterns. The print and textile artist has also worked on canvas and upholstered chairs. Upstairs I find a table full of models of food. Josephine Picket-Baker explains to me that the “Complete Fab” company made them for TV commercials. Looking around the rest of the upstairs I see posters, jewellery, bags, socks, ties, scarves, cards and more paintings.

Coldharbour Studios

Along the same road I find the Coldharbour Studios. The first things I see are portraits by “Yildiz and I”. Moving along I find photographs of rows of books by Tom Leighton that have also been developed into greeting cards. He explains they are old books he collects from car boot sales. In the same room the illustrator and printmaker Kat Gordon makes observational images of people on the tube as well as more detailed portraits. In another room Mickel Van Bellegem makes jewellery using knitting techniques with thin wire. The pieces, he explains, look delicate but are actually strong.


Warrior Studios

I continued the art trail to Warrior Studios, where I saw projections of patterns and beautifully carved wood and a sculptural piece by James Alec Hardy using moving shapes on small cube like TVs. As he was also a Camberwell graduate, we chatted and he told me some stories of what Camberwell was like back in 2002. He talked enthusiastically about how important it is to rent a studio space in order to keep your artistic practice going. Jane Campbell’s space was full of experimental weavings and homemade looms. Upstairs were mini t-shirt cut outs and paintings exploring shapes by “Surface Noise”.

Empress Mews

In Empress Mews, “Mini Moderns” had made kitchen linens, mugs, lamps, tote bags, napkins, gift- wrap, chopping boards, cushions and rugs. Pauline Amphlett is a printmaker who was displaying mostly etchings exploring natural forms such as dandelions and birds. Several pieces were observations of the trees outside Tate modern, which, she explained, she has been observing and making into prints since they were first planted. Rashad Saleem displayed rugs made by the Iraq women’s collective and pieces inspired by traditional Iraq boat designs. Gabriela Szulman makes playful dolls with a bird cage theme as well as framed collages, customised boxes, chairs, trays, jewellery and plates. Emanuele Gori makes large sculptural pieces and watercolour paintings. Paul Draper is an architectural illustrator interested in reimagining London, according to old historical plans. His work includes drawings of Winsor castle, Covent Garden and other historical buildings and areas.

The Remakery

The Remakery is a new studio space just opening. The volunteer run project aims to run workshops with people with an interest in up-cycling and reclaiming material. Members of the Remakery will have full use of their screen printing, sewing, wood workshop, and desk space facilities. The volunteers have worked very hard restoring the building from the old garages it once was and they want to encourage more artistic people to come help out and run workshops!

Joiner’s Yard

Joiner’s Yard is shared between two artists: Nick and Simon. Nick studied at Chelsea College of Art back in 2000 and showed work from several different projects. His work included pencil drawings, collages, and mixed media pieces that explore colour and ideas of dual identities. Simon collects postage stamps, collages and paints.


Vanguard Court

The final studio I visited was Vanguard Court. The studio contains artists with a range of talents: Jennifer Levet Millinery makes hats; Michelle Clare explores metal; Haru Sakai makes jewellery; Susan Wainwright does silverwork; Henry Pim creates scaffolding inspired sculptures. In his area I see a pin up board of inspirations, including a poster from last year’s Agnes Martin exhibition at Tate Modern. Robert Cooper creates mixed media and ceramic pieces, experimenting with processes, combining found objects such as broken plates and candlesticks. Sarah Woolfden works in ceramics, sculpture, print and drawing, exploring rock forms using simple shapes and lines. Ruth Franklin makes collages. Flux studios runs jewellery courses with discounts for Southwark residents. Black Cactus, who was also in the Camberwell Arts Market, shows the space where she creates her pots, purses, broaches, card holders, wrist cuffs, key-rings and more, all made from hand printed leather. Brothers Leo and Hugo (AKA Lion) make illustrative prints; Alisa Garlick makes jewellery; Kyoko Wainai makes bags; Laura Carlin makes ceramic tiles; and Catherine Marie Longtin makes quilts.

As I wander back, my feet hurting from a lot of standing and walking, I’m happy to be a part of a creative community like Camberwell and I look forward to attending the festival again next year.

 Words/Photos  Florence Goodhand-Tait © Artlyst 2016

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