Seven levels of artistic talent

BY TOBY PORTER  toby@slpmedia.co.uk

The revamp of a multi-storey car park will be completed on December 8 when it will open as a hub for creative entrepreneurs.

Peckham Levels will open its doors with a specially programmed launch weekend .

The seven-floor structure has been transformed into a showcase for the cultural talent of Peckham, offering much-needed affordable workspace for artists and entrepreneurs The top two floors will be open to the public with food and drink for residents and workers in the area.

The tenants, called “members” will include jewellery designers, fashion designers, illustrators, painters, musicians, embroiderers, composers and writers.

The site’s 50 affordable studios have been allocated to locals working in design, fashion, craft, film, architecture and social enterprises.

More than 300 people applied and 70 were offered a space within the car park.

The company running the space hopes members will find inspiration from each other and will be encouraged to collaborate on projects and on the site to maintain the vibrancy of the area, which has become one of South London’s most creative areas. One of the new tenants is -Etemi Otubu, who produces handmade garments from repurposed materials.

Etemi said: “I moved to London almost 10 years ago and I have found a home in Peckham.

“I imagine Peckham Levels as a place that is not just in the heart of Peckham geographically, but also the place where people are given the opportunity to work towards their dreams, to create, to connect, to learn and to discover new passions.”

Member Anastasya Martynova is a multidisciplinary artist specialising in wood carving and gilding.

She said: “I believe Peckham Levels will ultimately be an open platform for self-expression. When we create, we connect with each other.

“In today’s turbulent times, it’s more relevant than ever to project our positivity and unity, and what better way than through art and music.”

The site will also house small businesses providing creative facilities to members and the wider local community, including  The top two floors of food and drink will be led by head chef Joseph Ryan, who currently heads up the kitchen at Peckham’s iconic summer rooftop spot Frank’s Bar. The floors will include Wildflower, an all-day vegetarian cafe and canteen from the team at Parched London, serving highly crafted vegetarian and vegan food; Pickywops, a vegan pizzeria with superfood and healthy bases; cocktail bar Near and Far; and Lords of Poké, serving Californian style poke bowls.

Peckham Levels community manager Kwabena Amponsa said: “Peckham has always been home to a lot of creativity excellence.

“Be it art, music or drama, these and the wider culture have flourished often under some challenging circumstances.

“As it stands, Peckham has built a huge reputation for being a place where incredible ground level/unorthodox activities are nurtured and grow.

“It’s home to some of the most important creative colleges and cultural institutions in London.

“The cultural impact of the area needs to continue to grow and be recognised while celebrating the many facets of the community that now make Peckham one of the top creative places in the world.

“We want to contribute to positive change in the community, in a way that is down-to-earth, progressive and beneficial for all of– Peckham and South East London.”

Peckham Levels site manager Lodewijk Van Den Belt said: “In the last few decades Peckham has developed a huge reputation as a place where grassroots art, music and culture have flourished.

“It’s home to some of the most important creative colleges and cultural institutions in London and its cultural impact of the area is celebrated across the country.

“So that’s what we wanted to focus on. We wanted to try and ensure that there are still opportunities for the area’s emerging talent and its early-stage innovators.

“It’s getting harder and harder for small businesses and artists who aren’t yet established to find the space and support they need. “That’s where we hope Peckham Levels can step in.”

For more information and a full list of members go to the website www.peckhamlevels.org.