Tightly crammed into the basement of Deptford Vinyl, visual artist and store co-owner, Jenny Brown talks art, feng shui and a bloke in a cat suit.
Three years ago, she and fellow co-owner Ronnie secured what is now a small coffee cum record shop that boasts a gallery, workshop and performance area.
The store sees itself as a platform, playing host to those in need of a space to exhibit and/or perform.
Brown told Eastlondonlines: “Being an artist myself, I know just how difficult it is to get people to see what you’re doing. The wall space here is just enough for a solo show, you can fit six good pieces on there. And if anyone wants to put on their first show, it’s a nice intimate space to test the water.
“Everyone is welcome here- it’s all inclusive. From having worked in community arts for many years, I have learnt that it’s really important to let everybody express themselves.”
Whilst collaboration with artists, initiatives and festivals is of the utmost importance to the couple, Deptford Vinyl crave community participation above anything. Brown said: “Integrating is really important to us and integrating the community that’s here is important so we always get involved with Deptford X, the contemporary arts festival that takes place here every year. We just like to get locals doing stuff they wouldn’t normally do.”
She talks of life before settling in Deptford, saying: “Ronnie had record shops in Soho and Camden when I met him. Rent became very expensive so he dropped out with me to take the store on the road.
“We went to festivals all summer long. We got to Green Man, The Big Chill, Secret Garden Party- whatever the flavour at the time was.”
With Deptford Vinyl being a trendy, Shoreditch-esque coffee shop, they have a view on gentrification in London. Brown says: “I think the energy follows a pattern. It’s called Feng Shui. There’s a map of energy that changes every 20 years and it’s going from the north-east to the south so I’m pretty certain that’s what’s happening in London. Here in Deptford, I imagine there will be some overspill from Peckham but not too much.”
Brown passionately elaborates on Deptford’s make up, which she argues is one of the main reasons she hopes the area resists gentrification. “I like the fact that there’s a good solid transient community here. It’s just got the feel of real London. Not new London, real London.”
Giggling, she adds: “Somehow it’s still real despite all of us invaders with our coffee shops!”
Although the future of the store remains unknown, the couple does have aspirations: “Hopefully the store will become a cooperative with the artists that use this place. We’d like it to carry on as a legacy for ourselves and of course, Deptford.”
It seems there is the hope, with performance artists like Cat Boi (performing Sunday) upholding the originality of Deptford Vinyl. Brown says: “There’s this really quirky guy, a musical artist… he dresses up as a cat and you have to stroke him. He does really far out things. All of the people he brings are like that too. He’s just done jury service so this event’s called his Great Escape… it will be special.”
To find out more about Deptford Vinyl and upcoming events, visit: https://vinyldeptford.wordpress.com