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This lively area has been a permanent fixture on London’s art and culture maps since the early 2000s, and continues to evolve and attract artists, culture lovers and the trendy crowds. Our guide to Peckham explores the area’s history and thriving art scene, including six must-see contemporary art spaces.
Peckham hit the hipster map in 2007 with the launch of Bold Tendencies, a sculpture project that took over the top four floors of the multi-storey carpark on Peckham Rye. Now an annual pilgrimage for anyone with an interest in cutting-edge contemporary art, it is equally famous as the site of Frank’s Café – the summer pop-up bar on the rooftop with arguably one of the best views in London to admire over a Campari cocktail. But there is a lot more to see and do in Peckham besides. The regeneration of Peckham might be said to have begun with the new library at the top of Rye Lane, which won the Stirling Award for architectural innovation in 2000. Since then Peckham’s status as a destination for emerging arts and music has increased rapidly. Anthony Gormley’s bollards and manhole covers appeared in 2003, and the Arches along Blenheim Grove beneath Peckham Rye station are home to a well-established community of artists and craftspeople. Next up is the wholesale redevelopment of the station itself, which will aim to clear an open piazza in front of the ticket office, revealing the handsome Victorian façade – and also, in a parallel move, restoring the grand Old Waiting Room for use as a community arts and events venue.
All this has resulted in a wealth of new venues clustered around Peckham Rye. First off in the art stakes is the Hannah Barry Gallery. As the driving force behind Bold Tendencies, Hannah Barry has been part of the art scene in Peckham for some time; however, it was only in November 2013 that her permanent gallery space officially opened in the renovated meatpacking factory on Elm Grove with a three-part performance piece by Tom Barnett, titled The Beautiful Game.