This Monday night Tate Modern hosted the launch of the South London Art Map (SLAM) which is a splendid new initiative. For those of us in the know, of course South London is by far the best part of London to live, work and be (a) creative in (Note to the Ed. At this point I suppose we ought to put in some helpful interactive saying “Are you currently living in south London? Do you agree with these comments or what is the best part of London for you? Let’s not. D). SLAM (an elegant acronym indeed, of which more in an upcoming blog) is very timely, showing the range of spaces, places and creatives working all the way from Deptford to Peckham to Vauxhall. Add in a myriad of cultures, a thriving music scene, and some of London’s best undiscovered eating establishments (we’re not telling!) including possibly the best burger in London. What more could you ask for? So on Monday the South London art family came together to celebrate this new initiative and discuss the area, past and present. 

Ossian Ward, Arts Editor from Time Out London, reminded us of our history and for instance that as a child William Blake claimed to have seen in Peckham Rye:

“a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars”

Gallerists and artists from the area remembered significant developments such as City Racing in the late 1980s, through to the nearly brand new Peckham Space situated in the square right beside a South London architectural gem in Will Alsop’s Peckham library. And this Friday you get the chance to put that (paper or virtual) map to the test with the inaugural Last Friday event. Check out all the places taking part, opening late and events here. As well as taking part ourselves we wanted to celebrate the event with Tate Modern doing something to support this important coming-together of the art scene locally. To that end, led by my colleague Basia Deputch we commissioned artist Hew Locke to create an artist-designed badge. It’s a beautiful, playful, stylish piece highlighting the parakeets which have become familiar sights (and sounds) in the parks and gardens of south London in recent years. A tough bird for tough times…

Numbers are limited but the first 30 lucky people through any of the galleries taking part on the night will be able to get one while stocks last. Lots of Tate Modern staff will be out and about on Friday - see you in the south… Apparently i made a big mistake last week with delegating the musical choice to the Ed. Firstly, the choice was far too good, and secondly, my colleagues on TTMP now seem to think it’s some sort of jukebox they can can just randomly suggest songs for with no work and that some vague references to ladders, cement mixers and bricklaying will do. (Bob the Builder?? Ed.) I think not, my friends, this is a delicate curated piece… From Plumstead’s finest.


deirdre mcardle

well done Mr Self on Stockwell Bus Garage at Academy last night !!

Donald Hyslop

Dear David

thanks for your comment. We are trying to find ways to support the arts community without seeming like big brother so we thought SLAM was a good thing to get involved with. As for Streatham, its funny you should mention that because, one of my colleagues is indeed working on a project with the library there and three others across south london in part looking at the Henry Tate link locally. As for Croydon although i've been to fairfield halls a few times but we dont have any projects there (yet). best wishes, Donald

David Parfitt

Brave to travel so far out of your comfort zone - well done. Next venture into the swathe of South London stretching for 13 miles further south. I know, it is a jungle, but worth exploring, you can even find the ruined remnants of old Tate outposts on the way if you look hard enough, try visiting Streatham Library. Myth has it that there was once a theatre in Croydon, but i think it was a ruse to give us young hopeful artists growing up there a reason to stay. Come to think of it a map might have helped me to flee sooner.

deirdre mcardle

and speaking of Will Alsop, it's a pity that black kids weren't given that space outside the Royal Academy cafe (to decorate the walls) they would have done a far better job!