Look around: in case anyone needs reminding, Euston is undergoing a period of upheaval at the moment. It is a tentative time – not helped by the overarching uncertainty of, dare we say it, Brexit – while HS2 has seen local businesses and residents relocate and schools moved to new locations.
At times there seem to be as many people in high-vis as there are pedestrians, while meetings between the council, locals and HS2 workers are as regular as the Caledonian Sleeper.
The good news is through all this the community is forging stronger ties, powering on so as to continue with business as usual or to come up with new creative ways to help the area remain buoyant through all the instability and precariousness.
One such project is Euston Town BID’s Make Space, which is a scheme using their networks and partnerships to identify opportunities in Euston for artistic interventions, aimed at establishing a continuing sense of place and identity in the area.
The team have experience in making temporary use of vacant space – first with Camden Collective, and more recently with Meanwhile; Art Space, which filled an empty Euston station unit with local creatives.
Make Space’s first programme, Hope for Tomorrow, was located in a temporary space within Euston’s busy work and social hub, Regent’s Place. The series of events, exhibitions and workshops were curated by Euston Town’s Project Manager Georgie Street, with the intention of bringing together artists, academics, social campaigners and experts to explore contemporary issues.
“The title of the programme was Hope for Tomorrow, so we asked artists to respond to some real challenging aspects of contemporary life, such as gender equality, displacement, homelessness and climate change in a positive and proactive way,” says Georgie.
“We invited the local community, lunch-breaking workers and new audiences to explore the local area, to come together to share ideas and learn from one another in an inclusive and creative environment.”
The space held a photography showcase by award-winning humanitarian photographer Emma Brown (of Olive Branch Arts), who exhibited a selection of images from her work with refugees in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Western Sahara. It contained only photos taken by the refugees themselves: after lessons with Olive Branch, they documented their own lives to create their own narrative.
A highlight was Adelaide Damoah (pictured, above), a talented visual and performance artist who used body-printing techniques, combined with text and photographs, to tell feminist stories.
Elsewhere, Azekel, a Nigerian-born multidisciplinary recording artist – and frequent collaborator with Massive Attack – worked across genres and platforms, to produce innovative audiovisual experiences.
At the entrance, Clémence Vazard displayed stunning work on female harassment – created months before #metoo. “I deconstruct gender stereotypes to reconstruct a powerful story of feminity,” said Clémence, who hosted a workshop with local women.
Each Make Space event looks to inspire us to re-imagine how our cities will adapt to change and evolve in the future. All members of the local community are invited to take part, and contribute to the on-going discussions, enjoy new mediums of art – and use their voices to help to shape the future of our city.
It’s all part of Euston Town and CTU’s wider goal to help shape an alternative future for Camden powered by remoulding the digital revolution for the common good.
Photos: Nara Parana