About you say? There’s a whole lot of stuff down there, here’s the basic story. Cultivate was and still is an artist-led thing set up by two (mostly) painters, Sean Worrall and Emma Harvey. We initially, after putting on a few events in other spaces rented some space right in the middle of Vynet Street, a then thriving art street in East London, we set up Cultivate in 2011 as an art space in Vyner Street. A functioning full time pre-active artist-led gallery, we set it up because we were fed up with the way we were being treated as artists in London by other galleries and curators, we took our punk rock attitudes to a corner space in East London and defiantly decided to do it ourselves. We survived the politics of Vyner Street, the sometimes hostile attitudes from the galleries around us for some four and a bit years until develpers finally did for us and indeed most of the street. Since 2015 we’ve existed in a nomadic manner, with a loose collective of fellow artists around us, somestay for ages, some come and then go again, it has always been a battle, we’ve been putting on shows in all kinds of spaces and places, from formal galleries to railway arches, Edwardian dress shops, condemed warehouses and more. We’ve been defiantly busy, proudly independent, just about self-sufficient and here we are in 2020, against all odds, and with absolutely no thanks to the Arts Council or anyone else, still doing it ourselves. We also run Organ (but that’s a whole other story). That’s the basic story, there are more words down there, I can’t remember when they were written but you have just read the basic story. (sw)
When we first moved in to the beautifully unique thing that was Vyner Street there was something like fourteen working galleries and functioning art spaces, it was a destination for people from all over the world, it was special (most took it for granted until it was too late).
We were given two weeks to get out at the end of 2014, the building was knocked down and as with most places and spaces in East London, the corner is now the site for some over priced flats than no one from around here can afford to live in Last time I looked down the street there was a couple of the bigger commercial galleries hanging on while the property developers were busy turning everything else in to expensive housing to sell to overseas investors who then rent it back for as much as they can make ouut of those who can actually afford it, that and the coffee peddlers and the laughable self-declared “future thinker” rich kid who’s mummy bought him a big slice of the street to take over and destroy (he claimed ir was in the name of art, he was nothing more than a property developing wolf in expensive sheep-like friend-of-the-artists clothing, you mostly finding him talking about himself at Ted Talks and such, there’s some further reading here .
These days Cultivate is a nomadic thing. We do things here, there and everywhere, shows in conventional galleries, in car parks, shows under bridges, in railway arches, warehouse spaces, shows in London and shows beyond the city. Some times the shows will be invited group shows, now and again we host open call show, sometimes solo shows or two people shows, sometimes with months of notice and build up, sometimes with just a day’s warning and a guerilla raid…
When Emma and I set up Cultivate as a permanent space at the end of summer 2011, the idea was to have a space that was run by artists and on and artists terms. We were fed up with the outrageous prices gallery owners were charging artists to use their spaces, we were annoyed by the cynical way artists were being treated by those who make their more than comfortable livings out of exploiting artists rather than working with artists in a fair and reasonable way. The idea was for artists to come together, to be strong together, to work together, to stand together and to create an alternative together – to support each other, help each other, to give as well as take. And it still very much what Cultivate is about.
And so here we are in the middle of 2016 (tomorrow is mid-summer day), Emma and I are still finding spaces and places, pulling events together. Some artists are really getting it, some artists just land on us and take take take (and then have hissy fits when they don’t get invited back), while others get that it is a collective effort and they do have to roll their sleeves up and share the commitment and the workload.
Almost five years now, we’ve learned a lot, we’ve made some mistakes, I’d like to think we’ve got a lot of it right. We’ve put on something like 150 art shows, we’ve shown the work of well over a thousand artists, we’ve been excited by artists, we’ve been disappointed by artists, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve shouted about artists (occasionally we’ve shouted at artists), we’ve fought to survive, we’ve met loads of great people, (some great dogs as well, dogs love art galleries), we’ve made some great friends, we’ve made one or two enemies. We’ve watch artists who got their first gallery experience via our walls go on to great things, we continue to be excited by new artists, we still see artists being exploited, we still see a cynical London art business looking to fool new young artists in to parting with their cash, some indeed try to silence us when we speak out about their cynical ways…
Mostly we’re just artists trying to do things the right way, do it on our terms and if you’re thinking is on the same wave length as ours (and your art genuinely excites us) then we’re happy to work with you. park your ego and your attitude outside and come say hello, come and work with us, but do remember, support is a two way thing, in needs to be about give as well as take, and to slightly misquote something someone else once said, we are not here as some sort of aircraft carrier for you to land on and then use to take off from .