2014 then, what are we to make of all that? End of the year or just another day coming to an end? It does bookend things neatly, well it does this year. 30th December right now, we spent yesterday clearing out the old Cultivate building, it all comes down in January, will they pull it down in time for a photo to make the last page of the book? See, we really are book-ending it all, did we mention this already? I can never remember what we’ve actually said on social media and what we’ve just said in the pub. Did we mention the book already?
2014 then, it was a full on year (again), a busy year, a rewarding year, a frustrating year, a frantic year, a brilliant year, a tough year, a year full of adventures, of car parks, of seaside treats, fates worse than death, a year of battling apathy, closed door attitudes, property developers, megalomaniacs masquerading as friends of the arts as they take everything over, destroy communities and lock the doors. A year of painting walls white, filling holes, painting one hundred things, painting vinyl, painting on doors, dealing with dogs, dealing with egos, dealing with delight, the delight of art, of sharing, communicating, making things happen, watching things happen, igniting things, inviting people in. We stopped Cultivating on our Vyner Street corner back at the start of Autumn, we’ve covered all that in previous blogs, after three years and one month, it was time to move on and a couple of months on from pulling out, we’re still feeling good about it. We loved it all but time was up, we were right to hand over the keys. We knew the threat of the property developer was hanging over us, we knew the artist-led community that Vyner Street once was was being pulled apart by property developers, was poisoned by the sour taste of lime at the wharf and those who insist on closing everything so they can build more flats that no one around here can afford to rent let alone dream of buying.
We closed Cultivate back in October, three years was more than enough, but rather than close the space completely and handing the keys back to the landlord, we invited a new collective of artists to take over the space and make use of it in their own way for six months. Looks like the Project Space (as they eventually called it after a few false starts) isn’t going to last the full six months (our plan was to let them have it for six and then let someone else have it for a further six and so on until the wrecking ball finally hit). Yesterday, without too much warning, we had to clear the space out. It happened quickly, the building is already in the process of being pulled apart, we didn’t really get any official notice, just a vague e.mail a week or two ago, no good arguing about it, we knew it was coming, we though we had a bit more time, we had been asking, would have been nice to get a little more notice. We’re told the building will be completely gone by the middle of January and work will start on yet another block of luxury flats, that probably comes with an empty space underneath because no gallery or shop can afford the rent on. These new spaces that are built as token offerings to something or other, most of them stay empty, there’s a dozen or so in Hackney, underneath new build blocks of flat that have been empty for three or four years.. The agents for that empty space underneath that new block of expensive flats that replaced the community centre and well used African church at the top of Vyner Street approached us several times about us moving there, how much rent do they want to charge for it!? Not that we want to open another space in Vyner Street right now, no, that chapter is closed, Vyner Street is not for the likes of us anymore, we had a rewarding time, we loved (most of) it, but that chapter is almost over now, been there, done that, on to the next street or maybe to the next town, we’ll be back somewhere in five minutes or so..
So yes, the Vyner Street chapter is almost over, the Vyner Street chapter in the ongoing Cultivate story will be closed once the book is out and beans are spilt. Did we mention the book already? Most Cultivate plans come together in the Victory or the Hare or sat on the benches outside the Sebright Arms, have we mentioned the book here already or was it just pub talk? The book is coming together nicely, we really should start mentioning it.
The book then….
Right now it rather looks like a plush full-colour visual documentation of the three years we spent in, on and around Vyner Street. At the moment it looks like a nice big 25cm square affair, something big enough in terms of page size to really document it with big bold photographs, a bold visual documentation of the art, the people, the shoes, the walls, the dogs, cats, crows and marks left on the pavement outside. A book just a little smaller then a square vinyl record sleeve, a page we can do something with without crowding it all too much. Right now it looks like it will be around 112 pages thick, all properly printed on nice heavy paper, top quality printing from a trusted (East London) printing collective who know what they’re doing and know what we’re about – if we’re going to do this then we’re going to do it properly, no cheap and cheerful send it to the printers and cross our fingers operation, this has to be done properly. We’ve brought in some trusted printers, we like their work and they like ours.
We plan an A to Z, well the book is far more than just a plan now, we’re well past the plans, already almost written and we’re well in to the process of layout and selecting the photos from the thousands and thousands we took. An A to Z of the artists, the art, the people, the shows, the shoes, the fights, the feasts, of the art inside, the art outside, the other galleries, the glue bucket incident, the artists who took part, the art that really excited us, the painters, sculptors, the artists who really got it, we had so many good artists join in over the three years, we need to document as many of them as we possibly can – an A to Z documentation of the naked red men, the yeastie girls, the cans, the Fleshed show, the prisms, what Julia Made, the rust, the leaves, the vinyl, the bodies, the trips to the seaside, to Folkestone, Liverpool, the Apple Cart, the art car boot fairs, the Fate Worse Than Death, the Free Art Fridays, the art on the street, the street art, the contemporary art, the projections, te man with his cans, the colours, the triumphs, the failures, the frustrations, the battles, the red show, the pink show, the black show, the spring show, the people who came in, the Cockney foot Model, Tony Two Vans, the performances, the projections, the discoveries, the mistakes, the whole damn lot….. A proper full stop at the end of what was a thrilling three year long chapter.
I expect we’ll feature about two hundred or so of the artists who took part, some will be featured in depth, some with maybe just one or two photos, some in the shots of the shows, lots of crowds shots, photos from the openings, we’ll start leaking out a page or two on line over the next few weeks. We hope to have it out by the end of March, all very much on schedule right now. The key of course is the funding (you knew that bit was coming didn’t you)
So, the funding then…, Question is, do you want a book? We want a book, do you want a book? If we did the crowd funding thing would you get involved? Would you commit £20 and buy a book in advance? Would you pay a bit more for say a printing plate or a proof of a page to frame along with the book or if it came with an original piece of art from one of the artists involved. Or would you maybe donate a couple of pound to just help make it happen? The way fundraising works is we set a target, you commit to buy a copy of the book, but you don’t make the payment until we have the full amount needed to print it is actually committed and the project is one hundred percent guaranteed to be happening. We can’t really do it without you, bit like Cultivate has always been and always will be really… are you with us? Do you want the book to happen? Be good ot know what you think.
Enough about the book already, what about 2015? Well, we’re working on things right now. Besides the book, we’re working on new Cultivate events and one off shows, we’ve been offered one or two new spaces but it has to be the right space in the right place at the right time (and for the right price). We’re plotting away, we have irons in fires, don’t want to have too many irons in the fire, We’ll be back in about five minutes, watch this space, almost time for the next chapter, we expect there will be quite a few new chapters and a few more books before all this is over, well hopefully, all being well, we’d like to think there will be…
Thanks for all the interest and support in 2014, have a creative new year, and a productive proactive 2015, all about getting involved really. And do let us know about the book….