A local artist aims to bridge the gulf between students and entrepreneurs to give New Cross the golden reputation it deserves.
Patricio Forrester, the artist responsible for Lewisham’s ubiquitous cow bins and popular murals in Deptford and Brockley, is offering his skills to business owners and Goldsmiths College in a bid to give New Cross a makeover.
Forrester, 44, moved from Buenos Aires to London in 1995 to study Fine Art at Goldsmiths. His initial impressions of the area were not favourable.
“I’d only been to England for a week before that and I didn’t like it,” he recalls, “so I thought it was going to be a challenge.”
Yet 16 years later he considers the area his home and is keen to change perceptions by creating a more inspiring urban space.
As a member of the art collective ‘Artmongers’ he is involved in creating a ‘circuit of public art’ around London, with the purpose of brightening up spaces by transforming mundane objects – ultimately in the hope of improving people’s esteem of their surrounding environment.
‘New Crossing’ is Patricio’s latest brainchild: a project conceived to help Goldsmiths “promote better integration with New Cross”. At the heart of the idea is his experience of the local area being badly regarded by students and outsiders, and completely removed from the image that Goldsmiths projects of itself.
“The majority of building investment at Goldsmiths is at the rear of the college. Little is done to improve the areas that interact with New Cross, and so the front sends the message of an abandoned train station.”
Creating visually exciting projects in the neglected front spaces is key to Patricio’s project, and his vision is informed by a populist view of art: “Art really should be out there for everyone. You shouldn’t need a previous knowledge to enjoy it.”
His philosophy is already being enacted on New Cross Road – and not only by the quirky bovine bins.
In a part of ‘New Crossing’ that he calls the ‘harmoniser’, Patricio has encouraged owners to choose individual but complimentary colour schemes for their shop fronts, to create “a symphony of colour integrating shops from all different backgrounds”.
Histead Launderette has already received a full facelift in the form of a 3D mural adorning its front window that gives the viewer the sensation of a classic 60s launderette stretching backwards.
And he believes the eye-catching retro façade is starting to have the desired effect.
“A lot of people photograph it,” Patricio says, “If people are taking cameras out in an urban environment it shows there is something interesting. We’re building focal points, changing expectations.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the project or getting involved Patricio and his Artmongers partner Catherine Shovlin can be reached by email on firstname.lastname@example.org