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