Jon Garbett and Benjamin Caine, Reporters
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Two disused shops in Havering have been transformed into spaces for artists.
One Station Parade, Victoria Road, Romford and The Local, in Petersfield Ave, Harold Hill, are have both turned from retail into exhibition spaces.
The Romford space had been empty for over three years before it was transformed in August with the aid of Havering Council funding.
Now it is hosting a series of artist residencies in order to interact with people in the area and encourage them to take up a craft.
The artists work from the studio for a number of weeks at a time, holding free workshops on knitting, sculpture and chair making.
Current resident, 25-year-old Natalie Bays, of Copperfields Way, Harold Hill, has been working in the studio since October 29.
“I am having a lot of fun, although it was initially quite daunting having all of the studio space to myself,” she said.
“People in the local community seem to be really enjoying what we’re doing and there’s been quite a lot of interest so far.”
Natalie, a performance artist, has been acting out a ‘job swap’ with local people, asking them to pretend to be a celebrity as she interviews them on camera in the role of a television presenter.
She said: “Performance art is not too well known. Many people are curious about it and when I tell them about what I am doing I always get good feedback.”
Clare Sams, a former resident at the shop, knitted a metre tall replica of the street that was displayed in the studio’s window.
She said: “I have been going around the shops on Victoria Road to teach people how to finger knit and some of the locals have been really up for it.”
“The knitting group at the library even donated some pieces for the street scene.”
Meanwhile the Harold Hill space opened last week after being redeveloped by 25 artists.
Josh Law, 24, from Hornchurch, said there was a lot of work to do to the building, after the previous tenants had merely removed their stock and left the shop in tact.
The project has also received funding from Havering Council, who paid for the lease on the building.