Peckham, London's Montmartre
Peckham has the right people and spaces to be a truly creative place - and is much more pleasant than its Parisian counterpart.
Now firmly on the London art map, journalists still refer to the South London suburb of Peckham as a “new creative community”. Last year, in the Independent newspaper, it was famously (and ironically) referred to as London’s Montmartre, contrasting the new Peckham with the Parisian artistic centre at the end of the 19th century.
Reports tend to mention the new pop-up spaces and galleries (more below) but contrast it with the multiculturalism and poverty in the area.
A bar and a creative hub
With the annual opening of Frank’s Bar, an impressive cafe and sculpture gallery on the top floor of a multi-storey car park, the press turns its attention to the suburb. The bar is described as “the coolest space in London”. In part because wandering around a deserted car park late at night adds more than a frisson of excitement.
But the space does have newly commissioned artworks from Bold Tendencies and a new cinema project, as well as some of the best views of London (rather like the Sacre Coeur).
Nearby in the Bussey Building (above), a huge space full of artists, designers and makers, as well as the Copeland Book Market provides a focus for the creative community year round.
A gallery and a library...
The excellent Hannah Barry gallery (which also has a branch in expensive Bond Street) is also on site. There are also great bars and clubs nearby, and the dramatic Will Alsop designed Peckham Library (below).
But while there are some comparisons with Montmartre, Peckham is a much nicer place. Artists like van Gogh, Matisse, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec were originally drawn to Montmartre because of the cheap rents - but also found the prostitution and drug culture. Syphillis and violence was rife and the police launched random raids aimed at intimidating the artistic community.
Peckham has few of these experiences. So while it may have some rough edges, I know where I'd rather live.
Photos: Callum Lee
Steve Cadman on flickr
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