ArtMongers: lighting up the New Cross art scene

Artmongers proposed light installation Pic: Patricio Forrester

Artmongers proposed light installation Pic: Patricio Forrester

A Lewisham community art group has launched a campaign to build the first public art space in New Cross.

Art collective ArtMongers, along with its subgroup New X ing, has just begun a Kickstarter campaign for their “Looking Up in New X” project that hopes to build a 3D lightbox in the ceiling of the volunteer library New Cross Learning.

The groups are hoping to raise around £5,000 through crowd-funding to finance the creation of this exhibition space.

The campaign has almost reached its half-way funding mark, but there is only one week left for the project to receive all the money required.

Prizes for pledgers include the possibility to receive prints by Artmongers or be taken around the area for a personalised art-tour for those who contribute £1000 to the cause, if the project reaches its goal.

Artmongers has been brightening up public locations for over ten years, with art pieces such as the “His n Hers” mural on Deptford High Street.

Catherine Shovlin, member of community charity Bold Vision and fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, is organising the initiative with local artist and Goldsmiths alumnus Patricio Forrester.

She said: “Although New Cross has one of the highest densities of artists in Europe, there’s very little evidence of it and there’s nowhere for the public to engage with the arts.”

The renovated ceiling in New Cross Learning will be used to host dynamic artwork featuring shadows and mobiles.  Every six months, the work featured will change allowing members of the local community, including schoolchildren, homeless people and local artists to get a chance to see their work exhibited.

New Cross Learning Centre : New Cross Learning Centre

New Cross Learning Centre : New Cross Learning Centre

Forrester commented: “Our idea was a response to the more static work featured on the front of the library. We went for a platform rather than a fixed artwork. It can be used by different people, in many ways it is like a stage, a visual arts stage”

The front of the Library was renovated by Artmongers last year. Local people took part in the artwork by nominating a book they really loved to be pictured on the façade or even inventing a cover for a book that has not been written yet.

He added: “Unfortunately, inside [New Cross Learning] still looks like an old decaying library. The ceiling is missing in places, it desperately needs a makeover. Also the biggest available space in the library is the ceiling, and thinking about the tradition of ceiling painting we decided to pick up the theme of ‘Looking up’ “

New X ing was born to create connections between the local community, local institutions and authorities, devising projects which aim to improve the well-being of those in New Cross.

Forrester commented: “It felt unfair that Peckham and Deptford had so much going on whilst New Cross was lurking behind. We want to create a perception of New Cross as a place where stuff happens, so that people feel the space they’re in is not just a passing place. That’s why we chose the name ‘New X ing’ – it’s about crossing over to the other side, doing things that you haven’t done before”.

Past initiatives launched by New X ing include ‘New X relay,’ a performance-art marathon on a pop-up stage in front of Goldsmiths library, and ‘1000 sunflowers‘, an urban food growing initiative featuring the planting of flowers in local green patches. New X ing also participated in ‘Talk To Me SE London’, a week of events to encourage local residents to communicate more in association with research carried out by the RSA in the area.



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