We’ve spoken about The Artworks Elephant and its fantastic array of pop-ups, events and restaurants a number of times now. Bringing the Elephant & Castle community together through an eclectic mix of creative projects, we are always keen to stay up-to-date with all that’s going on. We caught up with Marketing Coordinator, Catherine, to find out what’s on the cards for The Artworks in 2016 and beyond; and by the sounds of things – it’s going to be a very exciting year for everyone involved!
Firstly, can you give us an introduction to what The Artworks Elephant is?
The Artworks is a work hub in the heart of Elephant & Castle made from repurposed shipping containers. Located on the Walworth Road near Elephant & Castle railway station, we are working to provide a home for entrepreneurs and small businesses, an open door for the local Elephant & Castle community to come to eat and relax, and an open invite to the wider London community to come and join us.
The space houses two venues:
A food and drink courtyard which has outdoor and covered seating surrounded by two bars, six restaurants, two cafes and a juice bar. The Yard offers everything from a morning snack to a fine dining experience.
The Artworks’ newly refurbished multiuse arts space, ‘The Trunk’ offers somewhere for various organisations and charities to use as a platform for any arts and business related events and classes.
Over the past year you’ve seen everything from art markets to comedy festivals take place within the shipping container walls, but what can visitors expect for 2016?
The Artworks events programme is getting busier and busier! The Art Market continues with a permanent slot once a month but we are also very excited to be starting up another new market, a community radio station and a class and workshop timetable.
The Trunk is having a grand opening of their new exhibition space with the launch of a monthly art residency from one of London’s highly recognised photographers, Edo Zollo. Edo will be launching his new night photography book on 10 March and his exhibition will run all month until the 7 April. The Trunk will continue to house art exhibitions throughout 2016.
Alongside exhibitions, The Trunk will hold a timetable of workshops and classes; from poetry workshops to Jiu Jitsu classes, children’s movement workshops, English classes and various pop up events.
This year, The Artworks management team have been working with a freelance professional to produce a brand new Saturday Marketplace. This will launch on 12 March, will continue every two weeks throughout March and April and then throughout the year. This market will include over 20 stalls chosen from budding market stall holders across London. Our main aim is to support emerging designers and makers by providing opportunities for them to sell their work and establish that Elephant & Castle is a place to come and shop locally. Expect ceramics, glassware, cloth, apparel, creams, oils, illustration, print, and much, much more.
The Artworks is launching a new community radio station called ArtworksFM. Run by a devout south Londoner, this station will publicise what is going on in The Artworks and around the Elephant & Castle area. South London is getting known for producing an amalgamation of different trends from people of different backgrounds and interests and we want Elephant & Castle to have a forum to speak about this talent – and more importantly, for these people to have a platform to speak to each other. With a focus on music in south London, ArtworksFM will start broadcasting straight from The Artworks itself as part of the new Marketplace and will host a late night music programme on Fridays.
Can you pick out three highlights from the 2015 programme?
Last year we had a series of very successful music events in The Yard which included our very own Refresh Music Festival, which hosted a mix of home grown music talent and ended in a guest spot from The Noisettes’ lead singer, Shingai Shoniwa. This year we intend to open a new season of acoustic music which will start in early summer.
We had an Easter hunt in 2015 themed around the weather, which brought children around the space hunting for eggs and shouting at the sun to come out!
Finally we are very proud of our food and drink courtyard, which houses some of the best food south London has to offer. We have spent the past year developing a good mix of talented traders who are dedicated to making Elephant & Castle a destination. We really can’t express how much we have to offer the budding food fanatic. If you are a family looking for an affordable meal to share, Elephantastic Pizza restaurant will help you with a slice or two. If you are a couple looking for a fancy meal south of the river try The Frenchie which was recently described as “too good to be true” by TripAdvisor. Or if you want to try something you can’t try anywhere else, Marcel and Sons Mauritian comfort food is going from strength to strength and has just won the Time Out Love Local Awards 2016.
The Artworks is acknowledged for its creative work spaces for businesses, but what else is on offer for families and children?
The Artworks work with our onsite library to hold regular free family friendly events which are very well attended. Another example of this would be our most recent Halloween event which saw The Artworks site come alive with children in fancy dress costumes playing games and joining in with a fashion show and a creepy crawly show with two witches to entertain throughout the day. It was a great opportunity for parents to eat, drink, work or relax in our courtyard with their friends and family whilst the children were able to run around in a safe space and enjoy what the event held.
Do you have any personal favourite spots within The Artworks that you like to visit?
Actually we spoke to a regular customer over the summer who we saw sitting in the middle of the courtyard eating a mix of different food and drink. It turns out she was celebrating her friend’s birthday. She said she loves coming and sitting in The Yard on a sunny evening and having a buffet of different food from each of the restaurants. Just being in the space we get a feeling of what the best part of the Elephant & Castle regeneration might look like – a mix of dedicated young up-and-coming businesses working together and with the Elephant & Castle community to continue to offer something home-grown.
Why do you think projects like this are so important to the Elephant & Castle community?
Elephant & Castle is a changing landscape. Our main aim is to work in conjunction with other community groups in the area, to preserve Elephant & Castle’s sense of place. We want to do that by offering a space that can be used by the community as well as offering a platform for up and coming businesses, arts organisations and food and beverage traders to work and relax together.
This is important because the area is changing so quickly we want to help hold on to what is good about it and preserve it for the future. We see the best way of doing that as supporting enthusiastic and talented professionals. We are an open space, so if you have a business, trade, talk, class, event or even just an idea, we want to hear about it and hopefully find you a place within our walls to help you get it off the ground. And if we can’t, we might be able to point you in the right direction locally.
What would you say to someone who has never been to The Artworks before?
The Artworks is a place to come and work, eat, relax and get to know Elephant & Castle.
We are interested only in working with our community wherever we can. To bring the area to life this way we open the door to actual positive change while not forgetting what somewhere was like in the first place. We want The Artworks to be busy with people from greater London coming to us because they know they are mingling with the people who live and work in Elephant & Castle.
Aside from The Artworks, where are your other favourite London hangouts?
We had a private tour of The Cinema Museum in November – talk about a walk through the movies – they have cameras from the 1890s! We also love the Electric Elephant Café, this is our place to go when we want to have some alone time, great food and local tales. Once in a while we go over the road to our neighbour, Corsica Studios, for a late night dance.
To find out more about The Artworks and everything it has to offer, check out their website or go and discover it for yourself at Artworks, Elephant Road, SE17 1AY.