The long awaited Boxpark mall began trading on Wednesday 30 next to Shoreditch High Street station.
A mass of slick black industrial units over two storeys, BoxPark houses lifestyle brands such as Levi’s and Vans. The second storey is home to an array of eateries, including a ‘froyo’ shop selling Frae Frozen Yogurt, and the charities Amnesty and Art Against Knives.
Workers were still hurrying to put the finishing touches to the exteriors of the upper storey shops when EastLondonLines visited on Wednesday. Boxpark features mostly national and international brands, but for Art Against Knives the spot is very close to home.
The charity was founded by Katy Dawe and Oliver Hemsley when Oliver was stabbed by a gang of six youths in an attack three years ago. The attack happened just seconds away from the Boxpark site.
Their new home at Boxpark will be an exhibition space to showcase the work of local young people, who get involved with AAK’s many workshops, alongside the work of more established artists. All profits from the sales go back into the charity. Young people have been involved throughout the creation of the new space, and will be able to use the office at the back of the unit.
Katy Dawe is keen to show the youths the commercial side of the art business as a way of giving them “long term skills”, and has been taking groups to spend time with other Boxpark brands to help them understand the marketplace.
The AAK showroom is filled with an eclectic grouping of donated art work, from the postcards from the London School of Communications’ MA photography students to a piece by established artist Gregg Eason, whose brother was involved in a knife attack. Then there is a canvas layered with rizlas to form an artwork by John Costi, AAK’s graffiti projects leader who studied art after spending time in prison.
Boxpark appears to be almost ready for its opening party this Saturday. As the final touches are primed and pressure-washed into place, workers from Mexway restaurant, across the decking from AAK, pop round to proudly hand out their first batch of burritos. It may be a mish-mash of international brands and local projects, but you can’t fault the sense of community here.
Boxpark holds its grand opening party this Saturday, trading is between 3-8, and a 20% off voucher for many of the brands can be printed off from its website.
AAK are grateful for any donations or artist’s work to sell, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.