Lambeth Histories at ArtsLav


Lambeth Histories at ArtsLav

I wonder if it’s because I moved into a flat of our own with the Welshman, or because I truly feel at home in London, my adopted city, but I’ve realised that there’s been a slow shift in me where I’ve grown more and more curious about the history of where we live, the social and cultural tribulations of my neighborhood and the stories of the inhabitants who make up its geographical canvas.

Already when I lived in Camden, my favourite way to start the weekend was to dive into The Kentishowner with a ginormous cup of coffee and to soak up its colourful, tongue-in-cheek patchwork of hyperlocal news, reviews, portraits and opinion pieces.

Since we moved to Kennington though, I’ve definitely taken it up a notch. Almost absent-mindedly, I started to map the cultural venues in and around SE11, hopped around a good number of our local cafes, restaurants and bars and taken my camera along for regular weekend wanders to discover everything that South London has to offer.

Pictures and reviews have been stacking up in my blog prep folder and I know that when I truly buckle down and make sense of all that content, I will work on publishing it in a way that is easy to browse and visualize, maybe on a reader-friendly map or such – would that be of interest to you?

I guess that it’s sort of poetic that last weekend, three years ago exactly, I was getting off the Eurostar lugging a huge suitcase behind me, bending over with the weight of my backpack and guitar, heading over to a youth hostel in King’s Cross which would be my home for the best part of three raucous, exhilarating weeks, until I found somewhere to live (which I didn’t immediately and ended up crashing in with my very new very nice friends Joannie and Emma, but that’s a story for another time).

Last Sunday, three years later day for day, I enjoyed brunch with the papers, stored away a letter from my MP (!), marveled at the coziness of our beautiful albeit small one-bedroom flat bathing in the morning light and strolled over to ArtsLav, a community arts venue hosted in a restored Victorian lavatory just across from ours.

The show, Lambeth Histories, was an immersive audio-tour and installation curated and produced by Kosha Hussain with a little help from Katarina Rankovic, Ben Carlin and Simon Stache to celebrate the Fun Palaces weekend, where 130 local and temporary venues across the UK put on events at the crossroads of science and art. Here is a photo-diary, because we enjoyed it very much:

Arts Lav Kennington 1

Arts Lav Kennington 2

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Arts Lav Kennington 13

This is Kosha, he was rather dapper.

So! I found Lambeth Histories to be an original show, sort of like a digital promenade through the (very real) lives of Lambeth inhabitants from pre-Victorian to contemporary times, as narrated by voice actors, except for one which we had to guess and I guessed wrong, but Rob was there to save the day.

The show was also playful, thanks to the use of props, the distribution of clues around the venue and the nostalgic nod to the audio-books of our childhood (when you hear this sound turn the page: Ding!).

The audio content was funny and irreverent, but also emotional at times because the inspiration material came from primary sources (testimonials, archive letters) and touched on subjects including loss, immigration and poverty. It was also interesting that they used technology to record the audio which sometime felt like the narrator was moving around you in the space, reminding me of the Dolby presentation I attended at Soho Create.

I’m glad I finally attended an event at ArtsLav and found they have a regular and diverse programme of activities. Run by volunteers from and for the local community, they’re openly interested in any artist, performer or musician who’d like to put an event on in the space so if that’s something you see yourself doing, don’t hesitate to get in touch at info@artslav.com.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of the venue (it was built in 1898!), have a look here. For upcoming events and exhibitions, you can follow them on Facebook and stop by for the following:

Fresh: A Kingston Graduate Exhibition – from October 9th to 12th
Horatio and Me: A comedy – on October 25th and 26th

Q: Do you have a favourite cultural or arts venue in your neighborhood?
What have you seen there? Why do you like it? Tell me everything.

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3 Comments

Angela
October 12, 2014

Jesse, your photos are so on point! There's the Bernie Grant Arts Centre just down the road from me, I've been meaning to check it out- will let you know how it goes!

Jesse
October 13, 2014

Hi Angela! Thank you for the kind comment and I'm glad you will check out the Arts Centre in your neck of the woods. Let me know what you think about it so we can exchange notes :)

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