The Deptford Central Library was closed down in June 1991 and after being vacant for some time the building soon became a venue for illegal raves leaving behind considerable damage to the building.
The Deptford Central Library was closed down in June 1991 and unfortunately the vacant building suffered heavily from vandalism and attracted squatters.
(damage sustained to the ground floor)
After a long fought campaign from the local pressure group, The Friends of Deptford Library, the local authority agreed not to sell the building for redevelopment but to remain in community usage and in March 1994 Lewisham Arthouse moved in.
During the first year the Arthouse members assisted with 2000 community hours through the Probation Service, providing £80,000 worth of renovation. The building is voluntarily maintained by Arthouse members through a work hours scheme.
Unknown to some but Lewisham Arthouse was once used as a backdrop to film scenes for the feature length movie ‘Tale of Vampire‘ (1992).
Set in South London, this surreal and atmospheric low-budget film takes an interesting approach to the vampire genre by focusing almost exclusively on the emotions of its tormented central character: reclusive, intellectual vampire Alex (Julian Sands). Alex chooses to prey only on criminals and street derelicts, devoting more of his time to pursue a greater hunger for books on the occult, a passion surpassed only by his tragic love for a beautiful woman whom he lost to his ancient rival, the vampire-hunting Edgar (Kenneth Cranham)
Here are some production photos taken at the time whilst the film was being shot at the Lewisham Arthouse.
The full movie is available to watch online:
Formely Deptford Central Library
Grade II listed, 1910 -1914 Designed by A. Brumwell Thomas (1868 -1948)
A New Library
On 27th October 1905 a Public Libraries Service was opened in the former borough of Deptford. Andrew Carnegie promised a sum of £9000 for a central library and £4,500 each for two branch libraries. The present site was purchased for the central library in October 1909 for £5,600. Originally three shops stood here. Andrew Carnegie was again approached in August 1910 with a request to increase the funding. The final figure for the central library amounted to £12,000. In 1911 Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas won the commission for the design of the building. The tender of £12,418 was accepted in October 1913 and the work started at once. The foundation stone was laid on 5th April 1913 and the library eventually opened on 18th July 1914.
The building is Edwardian Baroque based on the Classic Renaissance style. The facades are built in small Berkshire bricks with porticoes, entablature and balustrade in Portland stone. The main architectural order is Ionic and the portico with its eight columns forms the principal entrance to the building. An inscription to Andrew Carnegie, the donor, is carved in the stone panel over the doorway with a floral wreath and the lamp of knowledge at its head.
From the entrance, a wide corridor with a plaster vaulted ceiling leads to the ground floor (formerly the lending library). A massive marble staircase leads to the first floor (formerly the reference library) which includes colonnaded gallery with a glazed barrel-vaulted ceiling. The baroque revival for public buildings such as these flourished from 1896 to 1906. The years 1905 and 1906 may be regarded as the peak of the style.
The public rooms of the library were arranged on the ground floor and first floors. On the ground floor were the newspaper room (for 41 readers) and the periodical room (for 45 readers). Off the entrance hall was the main lending library arranged for an ‘open access’ system. There was shelf accommodation for about 20,000 volumes. On the same floor were the rooms for the sub-librarian, a store room and work room with a staircase leading to the staff mess rooms on the mezzanine and to the reference library bookstore. The marble staircase from the entrance hall led to the first floor where the reference library (for a maximum of 60 readers) was housed, the magazine room (for 48 readers) and auxiliary room for special exhibitions and lectures (seating 120 people). A book lift ran from the basement to the first floor.
Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas (1868 – 1948) was born at Virginia Water in Surrey. His father, Edward Thomas, also an architect, was District Surveyor for Rotherhithe. After being articled to a little-known architect, WS Witherington, and attending Westminster Art School, he ran his own practice from 1894, at a small office in Piccadilly, in partnership with his father. He had added the name ‘Brumwell’ to make himself distinctive, and by 1899 his office was in the fashionable Queen Anne’s Gate. The Rotherhithe connection may have led to the son’s first major building, Addey and Stanhope School in New Cross Road (1898-9).
But competitions were the main avenue to success; in 1898 Thomas won the contest for Exeter Eye Hospital, and that same year he was catapulted from obscurity to fame in 1898, when he won the competition for designing the new City Hall for Belfast, one of the largest public buildings in the British Isles. It has huge Baroque porticoes, lavish marble interiors, and a central dome base on Wren’s domes at Greenwich. When it was completed in 1900, he was knighted, at the early age of 38. On the strength of Belfast, Thomas went on to become one of the most successful exponents of the Baroque Revival, which became the fashion for buildings of the early 1900s.
His other principal works were the Town Halls of Stockport (1903-8), and Woolwich (1899-1908), both also won in competition.
(Woolwich Town Hall, Wellington St, Woolwich SE18 6HQ)
He also designed the Dunkirk and Belfast War memorials. However, by the 1920s Thomas’s extravagant style had become financially and aesthetically impossible; his only major building was Clacton-on-Sea Town Hall (1929-1931). He died on 22nd September 1948.
Then and Now
The inauguration of Deptford Central Library, on the 18th July 1914, took place a fortnight before the outbreak of World War I. Now missing, a carved oak plaque below a bronze base relief portrait read, ‘This Library is a gift of Andrew Carnegie’.
A good example of Classic Renaissance architecture, the building is Berkshire brick with a Portland stone façade in the Ionic order. Many original features remain including the oak front door, others have been replaced, such as the new oak side door, or restored like the barrel vaulted glazed roof on the first floor. The addition of the access ramp, realized with a grant from the Lewisham Council is also finished in Portland stone.
On the left of the entrance is the ‘workshop’ space an area used for multi-purpose activities – mixed media events, music rehearsals, life drawing and yoga classes as well as the Arthouse’s continuous programme of free workshops. To the right was the old library’s newsroom, later the children’s library, now a thriving gallery space, run entirely by Arthouse members.
The remainder of the ground floor was taken up with the open access lending library. As mixed media studios they are now occupied by a wide variety of artists including potters, sculptors and painters.
The marble staircase leads up to the first floor, which house the magazine room, reference library and librarian’s office. It is now used as studio space and, with its glazed roof, is ideal for painters. Two rear staircases, one either side of the building, lead to a photographer’s studio on the right, and communal kitchen on the left, both mezzanine floor level. The basement, originally comprising a large storage area, caretaker’s flat and a line of small rooms, now accommodates a variety of studios and a print workshop.
Paint and Plaster
The Deptford Central Library was closed down in June 1991. The vacant building suffered heavily from vandalism, attracted squatters and became a venue for illegal raves.
(first floor of the abandoned Deptford Library, left in considerable damage)
The damage in the first year was estimated at £70,000. The local pressure group, the Friends of Deptford Library, convinced the local authority that the building not be sold for redevelopment but remain in community usage and in March 1994 Lewisham Arthouse moved in.
During the first year the Arthouse members assisted with 2000 community hours through the Probation Service, providing £80,000 worth of renovation. The building is voluntarily maintained by Arthouse members through a work hours scheme. The Arthouse has also assisted in attracting funds to the building; the London Borough of Lewisham renovated the glazed roof, and improvements to the external security and the cleaning of the front of the building were met by Deptford City Challenge.
(first floor studios, renovations to the glazed roof providing natural daylight)
A fundamental part of the ethos of the organization is to provide affordable studio space to artist in the early stages of their careers. Currently it has 45 spaces used by over 50 artists. It also runs regular course, classes and workshops.
Lewisham Arthouse is taking part in this year’s London Open House weekend but opens its studios to the public annually. Then next Open Studios event will take place
September 30th – October 1st 2017. It’s another opportunity for guest to personally meet our resident artists and discover more what goes on inside what was once the old Deptford Library now Lewisham Arthouse.
2nd – 5th June, 2017
Other Fiction is an exhibition organised by three students currently enrolled on the MFA programme at Goldsmiths. The exhibition brings together three artists, that have diverse and wide ranging practices and methodologies, into the Lewisham Art House space, where they hope to create a dialogue between these different styles and approaches to their work.
The work is not unified by a mutual thematic narrative but rather address’s a multitude of different areas that overlap and have a shared concern about wider issues and subjects of interest such as place, memory, popular culture and alterity.
This synergy of diverse ideas and treatments is arranged and juxtaposed together in order to create a level of uniformity that also maintains the individual and unique characteristics of each work within a cohesive exhibition structure. The exhibition is made in the spirit of experimentation, it is without a fixed point of finality and showcases work that is open ended, adaptable and still in progress.
PASCAL UNGERER works with a wide variety of media incorporating photography, painting, video, and sculpture in his art making process. He is primarily interested in themes based around social, geo-political or ecological issues.
JOE TWINN’S art practice spans a range of media, such as costume design, collage and painting but his primary concern is with the moving image. For the past two years he has been making short films, utilising lo-fi, D.I.Y special effects.
BYUNGCHAN KIM is a visual artist from South Korea who has recently relocated to London. He works in an interdisciplinary practice incorporating a wide variety of media. His work draws upon a range of diverse references from hip hop and popular culture to war, history, cultural appropriation and misinterpretation.
Friday 2nd June 2017
2nd – 5th June 2017
Call for Submissions – Deadline Friday 9th June
Following the success of last year’s project Lewisham Arthouse is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the Curatorial Open Call 2017. Based in Deptford’s Grade 2 listed former library Lewisham Arthouse provides access to artist studios, workshops, exhibitions and learning. We are looking to build on our proud history of supporting artists, their audiences and the wider community by offering free use of our project space to an artist, curator or collective for a period of 5 weeks.
We are inviting proposals from an artist/curator or collective interested in working with us beyond traditional forms of exhibition making. This might include visual art, music, talks, screenings, educational events or other kinds of creative output. Lewisham Arthouse will provide in-kind support with promotional, logistical and practical concerns along with a production budget of £1000.
This is an opportunity to realise a concise and considered strand of programming (one off exhibitions will not be considered). The successful applicant will provide and implement an innovative program, focusing on audience engagement, participation and using the full potential of the space.
Please send a CV (1 side of A4 max), an introduction to your curatorial practice/approach (300 words max) and a proposal outlining your program and its intended outcomes (1 side of A4 plus images / supporting material). Please include one written reference and a completed copy of our equal opportunities form.
Download the Equal-Opportunity-Form
Deadline for applications: Friday 9th June
Interviews: Week commencing June 18th
Curatorial project: Wednesday 4th October – Tuesday 7th November
Please send your applications to:
Curatorial Open Call 2017,
140 Lewisham Way
London SE14 6PD
Postal applications only
* Due to the high level of entries we are unable to give feedback to applicants not shortlisted for interview. If you would like your application or supporting materials returned to you please provide a stamped addressed envelope
For more information about Lewisham Arthouse please visit our website: www.lewishamarthouse.org.uk
Thanks and best wishes,
15th – 21st May, 2017
‘Between the secret interior and the public exterior, carrying items to trade: shared knowledge, a shoulder to cry on, insight, fun’ (Hannah Black)
We are Kerri Jefferis & Sophie Chapman and we have been lucky enough to hold the Graduate Studio Award at Lewisham Arthouse for the past year. We are sadly coming to the end of our tether, we mean tenure, and would love to invite you over one last time.
We would like to bring people together, to expose the unseen construction site, prop the supports and acknowledge overlaps, blind spots and differences. Support is usually ‘derided and discarded by authority and depoliticized by the mechanisms of it’ (Celine Condorelli/Gavin Wade) so we are especially OBSESSED with it. We want to take this time to appreciate what has happened, gather and share knowledge, references, materials, have the conversations that we haven’t yet had, and have a wee PARTY! It promises to be a bonanza.
‘In the spirit of coming together to take ourselves apart’ (Kyla Wazana Tompkins) throughout the week we will host the following:-
Monday 15th 6.30pm – 9pm : A SCREENING on social time, how we document & ask questions in/of it
Wednesday 17th 6.30pm – 9pm : A LETTER what writing, diaries & confessions do for history/theory/personhood
Friday 19th 7pm – 11pm : A GIG bringing bodies together to make noise! (unwieldy noise) shit-hot noise makers… NX Panther, Rainham Sheds, Molejoy and more TBC
Saturday 20th 1pm – 6pm : A HANGOUT & CHAT discussing what support structures allow for improvisation, intuition, sounding / listening, the particulars of shared endeavours & the complicated spaces between people – schedule TBA
‘Because they were listening to each other the room felt small’ (Chris Kraus)
Soft Wax is a loose collective led by Steve Wax. The main focus of their diverse output is cultures of resistance, taking inspiration from the popular music that embodies them. Alongside their project for Deptford X, Soft Wax recently staged an installation at The Museum of Club Culture in Hull for the Freedom Festival 2016 and Steve Wax has been at the helm of some of the UK’s best dub and reggae nights.
For more information regarding their forthcoming programme for the Arthouse please join our mailing list or keep an eye on the website.
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17th October 2014
V4V launch their new album IN / OUT, an 8 CD-R realisation of the same shape/same details constantly re-configured one against another, like 3D chess. A limited edition of 300 with hand-made cover art.
V4V features DJ BPM (breaking out from the Grime mould for which her ResonanceFM radio show is increasingly acclaimed) building flickering ghost storms of sound, meshing with Vern Edwards’ serpentine cartoon guitar. Served on a bedrock of churning and fractured funk from the telepathic rhythmic architectures of Nick Doyne-Ditmas (bass guitar, flugelhorn) and Charles Hayward (drums).
FIRST: In a zone of it’s own with a lovely gallop, First keep the skin free from blemishes and the heart from aching 99.9 percent of the time. First are odd but familiar, animated and fruitfully nihilistic with no added sugar and using raw ingredients when possible. They are open from 7-11 at weekends and are not involved in any terrorist activity to speak of. Blisters, bliss and bananas, tender yet awkward nights at the disco. But don’t panic! First can also mean last…… to leave or to worry; it depends on context. Remember the first beak of a duck, crest of a wave and the first nib of a pencil and you’ll almost actually be there.
No bar bring your own refreshment
Paul Crook, Rae Hicks, Hannah Hood, Abigail Jones, Emmie Mcluskey, Ian Parkin, Will Thompson and Mary Wintour
8th – 19th October 2014
A group show by Garage Projects
‘An aggregate material’ is the third in a sequence of an ongoing exhibition project by eight emerging artists from across the UK. Working under the name ‘Garage Projects’, they collectively look to create works that challenge, debate and comment on contemporary society, using the gallery space as a site to present our continuous discussion.
The title ‘an aggregate material’ refers to a composition of two or more substances that form a ‘sum’ or ‘mass’. Taking this term as a starting point, we would like to propose a collective mixed media exhibition that creates a cohesive structure, which prompts dialogue around the configuration of disparate material.
The title allows the work to be read by the viewer both collectively, as a presentation of artistic practice and independently, as individual narratives.
The artists participating are:
Josh Bilton, Darren Harvey-Regan, Jenny Moore, David Mabb, Steven Ounanian, Kate Pickering, Charlotte Warne Thomas
26th September – 5th October 2014
A Peer Sessions project coinciding with Deptford X, Art Licks Weekend and Lewisham Arthouse Open Studios
Curated by Tom Trevatt & Peer Sessions
Recently, there has been a resurgence in thinking the future. Not only what horrors it may hold, but how we might construct it. This important task had fallen out of favour over the last thirty years, a period of time that could be equated with a general repetition of the logic of the same. If we are now forced to think forward again, to find ways out of impending climate crises for example, we have to find new methodologies by which to construct our shared future. Perhaps the logics of contemporary art, a non-oriented, cyclical exercise, are inadequate for dealing with this project. However, equally, the modernist conditions under which the avant-garde appeared no longer exist. Thus new models need to be constructed. This exhibition asks whether the artist is a figure with whom these tasks can be carried out. Without assuming the privilege usually associated with this exceptional figure, we ask what role the artist has now, and what they should have in the future.
To engage in these questions we will adopt a methodology of synthetic thinking, practised as it is by Peer Sessions, to combine multiple ideas into complex wholes. This practice, something that art is capable of, could be utilised to connect and represent positions across a spectrum, enabling an ecology of ideas to be enacted or engendered. The exhibition will negotiate these concerns, attenuating them through art practice, and start thinking the future.
Talking about Contemporary Art
Free public widening-participation workshops to be held in the gallery, all welcome:
Friday 3rd October 3-4.30pm
Saturday 4th October 4-5.30pm
Sunday 5th October 4-5.30pm
Further information can be found at: peersessions.com
by Rory Macbeth as part of Deptford X
Exhibition Dates: 27th September – 6th October 2013
During Deptford X, Rory Macbeth will be making a site-specific piece of work in response to the complexities of Lewisham Arthouse as a long-standing co-operative arts organisation.
His performance-driven practice has recently seen him translate a novel by Kafka with no understanding of the original language and no dictionary, write email excuses to a gallery for a poor art show of dog paintings, and to play Beethoven on piano in front of classical music audience, having never played piano before.
For his show at Lewisham Arthouse, Rory Macbeth has built 3 street billboards and rented the space out via a pubic advertising company, Outdoor Advertising Ltd, who have found 3 clients interested in advertising here as part of new publicity drives. As such, all three adverts are fully functioning current adverts, the same as the ones on the buses that drive past the Arthouse or that line local roads, and in this sense a sort of reversal of the ‘80s idea of billboards as a site for Art. Lost Prairie is also a direct response to the particular circumstances and history of the Lewisham Arthouse as an independent and autonomous space, with all the utopian advantages and nightmares that brings with it: forcing the corporate world into the co-operative’s hard-fought independent boundaries temporarily, in a sense to see who wins. Named after a half-remembered song lyric, Lost Prairie is romantic, hopeful, stupid, awkward, funny and wrong.
Exhibition Dates: 12th – 22nd September 2013
Following a 6 month residency in Lewisham Arthouse, Nicky Teegan presents a collection of devotional objects, handmade oddities, sounds, texts and footage. Drawing from the every day, science fiction and local stories of mystical phenomena this exhibition will function as fiction rather than a hermetically sealed system of pedagogies.
Teegans’ work deals with the fanatical collecting of things. It specifically focuses on the fetishisation of everyday objects, outmoded technologies and found oddities and their subversion into devotional objects. It examines hidden meanings behind these devotional objects and rituals and their purpose. Underlying this, Teegans’ work draws from dystopian science fiction and ufo cults.
Alongside the exhibition was an event on 21 September, from 6pm. A dusk performative walk with the exhibition as a starting point. The two hour performance was a subversion of objects, science fiction and local stories of mystical phenomena, functioning as a fictional narrative and subverting the location and objects into a place of mystery. Tea and snacks were provided at the end.