Plumstead, located in South-East London’s Greenwich Borough, is an unassuming mixed neighbourhood made of Victorian terraces, lush parks and council estates. But a peek beneath the hood reveals that it’s also home to a surprisingly large contingent of artists.
On the face of it Plumstead doesn’t strike as a hotbed for emerging artists. It’s not peppered with Shoreditch hipster street art, the galleries of Herald Street or the artist communes of Hackney Wick. But an increasing number of creatives are migrating to the area, attracted by the affordability of housing and work studio units as well as the mix of urban and natural spaces.
WHERE TO GET YOUR ARTS & CULTURE FIX IN PLUMSTEAD
A popular local bistro, The Plumstead Pantry, exhibits local artists’ work and stages a range of cultural events. The Harlequin Gallery specialises in contemporary and classical studio pottery. Aperture, The Woolwich Photographic Society, was founded in 1892. Situated in Shooters Hill, the society holds exhibitions, talks and also provides workshops as well as networking events.
A local arts and culture group Art Plumstead was established in 2012 to promote local artists. Now an active part of the SE18 culture scene, Art Plumstead launched a two-week celebration of arts and culture called Plumstravaganza in August 2016. The events range from workshops and talks to culture trails and artist open studios.
Another draw for artists in SE18 are the Thames-Side Studios located in the Woolwich Dockyard, which is one of the largest artist studio sites in the UK with 450 affordable art studios, a print studio, a gallery space for exhibitions and education space, as well as an arts cafe.
THE FUTURE OF ARTS IN SE18
The future for arts in SE18 currently looks promising as it remains one of the few affordable areas in London with a studio infrastructure to cater for artists, and steadily improving transport links to connect it to both East and Central London. The warehouse spaces around Woolwich Dockyard and under-utilised commercial spaces on Plumstead High Street also provide a great opportunity for the entrepreneurial types to tap into the needs of the evolving local demographic.
While the Royal Borough of Greenwich council has much to learn from the Lewisham and Hackney councils when it comes to supporting emerging artists, its plan to launch the Woolwich Cultural Quarter in the Royal Arsenal site is a thrilling development.