Arts Bloom in South London
WHEN Harriet Harman, a member of Parliament and deputy Labour Party leader, donned a flak jacket in 2008 to tour her constituency of Camberwell and Peckham, two relatively high-crime neighborhoods in south London, flak is what she got — from the national press, local residents and opposing Conservatives.
But now as young artists flock to Peckham, attracted by large spaces and low rents, and Camberwell’s residential boom has led to a commercial one, the area is emerging as a go-to cultural destination. And the planned expansion of the East London Line, connecting Peckham and Camberwell to the London Overground system, should help attract a new wave of Londoners.
Peckham’s percolating art scene reached all the way to the Venice Biennale last year with its own pavilion, curated by Hannah Barry and Sven Muendner. It was nothing less than a sensation.
Ms. Barry opened the Hannah Barry Gallery (Unit 9i, 133 Copeland Road, SE15; 44-7850-639-570; hannahbarry.com) next to a former factory behind vibrant Rye Lane in 2008. Many other galleries and collectives have since taken root, benefiting from the increased attention, as well as the availability of industrial spaces.
Next door, the new Son Gallery (Unit 9c, 133 Copeland Road, SE15; 44-20-7635-9367; songallery.co.uk) concentrates on photography and other visual media and photography-inspired works. Last year, three art school graduates started The Sunday Painter Gallery (12-16 Blenheim Grove, SE15; 44-7946-286-277; thesundaypainter.co.uk), now installed in a permanent space next to the Peckham Rye rail station.
Starting July 1, Ms. Barry will curate the fourth annual Bold Tendencies, a sculpture show featuring local artists, held atop a mostly abandoned parking garage (Floors 7 to 10, 95A Rye Lane, SE15). The unusual location offers spectacular views of the London skyline; a rooftop bar will be expanded for this summer’s installation.
Also this summer will be the unveiling of Peckham Space (Peckham Square; peckhamspace.com), a communal art venue, and the expansion of the South London Gallery (65 Peckham Road, SE5; southlondongallery.org; 44-20-7703-6120).
West of the gallery, in Camberwell, destinations include House Gallery (70 Camberwell Church Street, SE5; 44-20-7358-4475; house-gallery.co.uk), an art space that’s also a popular spot for lunch.
Top off your evening with a pint at The Tiger (18 Camberwell Green, SE5; 44-20-7703-5246; thetigerpub.com), the pub’s original name, which the new owners discovered when they peeled away some ’80s-era renovations and found beautiful dark green glazed tiles, dating from around 1900 — a flicker of charming Victorian design in this revitalized area.