I’ve been lucky enough to work on a project that the Empty Shops Network and South Kilburn Partnership are running. Dan Thompson (artist, writer and founder of the Revolutionary Arts Group) is heading up this particular initiative. You may have heard about it already, or perhaps you’re working on it too!
Window vinyl designed by Steve Rowland of Made Labs, Workshop 24
The Peel Precinct, (Carlton Vale, South Kilburn) is an area which is being regenerated in several phases. At first glance you may notice a deprived inner city London borough. However, like most things in life, once you start to scratch the surface; talk to people and work alongside local residents: an inherent beauty becomes apparent. Workshop 24 is a pop-up shop/arts centre/community space/venue/hangout situated on the housing estate precinct. Until recently it was a derelict shop which has been transformed into a bright, lively and inviting space. People come and go, drop in for tea, learn new skills, make, mend, do, write, paint, sew, garden, read, draw, film, record, observe, chat, tell their stories and chew the fat.
After a day at Workshop 24, I come home feeling lifted and enthused. It’s strange, after a while you look beyond immediate surroundings and concentrate on the spirit of the place and how it can be improved.
So what, you may ask have I been doing there? Well, as someone who does ‘stuff’ with gardens, runs workshops, improves outside space and writes about it, I’ve been cleaning and greening up the precinct. The photo below shows me clearing and weeding the planters with the help of two lovely lads from the local Islamic School. These kids stayed with me for over an hour, got their hands dirty, weeded, hoisted bags of rubble and were a pleasure to meet. We had a good old chat about their lives, their school and their futures. Their expectations are high: They’re studying hard to get into university and I’ve no doubt they’ll get there.
My mantra is: “If you’re going to do something, you may as well make a start.” Although this was a freezing December afternoon, and not your typical gardening weather, we ’ve been greening, cleaning, weeding, clearing, preparing and planting areas of the Peel Precinct. I also planted a load of red tulips in the raised planters. These were very kindly donated by the Millbrook Garden Centre, Gravesend, Kent. Many thanks to the management of the garden centre for supporting us.