Tuesday 27 April 2021

Tom Cox Gallery & Studio


I detect a couple of new trends emerging on the Triangle. Firstly, art galleries seem to be popping up, where once vintage and antique shops held sway. And secondly, a wave of pink is sweeping through the neighbourhood. Think of the new fascia at the as yet unopened Coopers, the interior of the Vaults Collective, featured here earlier this year, and the vibrant frontage of Veranda on Westow Street. The latest addition is the new gallery at No.38 Church Road, it's cheerful lobster pink shopfront proclaims itself proudly!

Tom Cox is a young artist, who is also adept at organising exhibitions. His degree in Fine Art and Advertising at Northampton University perhaps foretelling his career path. From cityscapes to mountainous landscapes, Tom has painted both near and far, while also setting up art shows under the Focus LDN name. He even organised one in São Paulo during a visit there in 2018. The emphasis of his work has shifted back and forth from the exhibitions to his own work, but when concentrating on one, he would miss the other, so his own gallery/studio was the ideal solution. Having been drawn to SE19 a few years ago by its buzz and creative spirit, his first search for premises ended in disappointment, when someone else beat him to the unit he had his eye on. In hindsight that was no bad thing, as No.38 is a perfect gallery space. The gallery opened earlier this spring with an exhibition of work by Tom and 7 other diverse artists who he has worked with in the past. And next up he is planning to invite local artists to submit work for an ambitious summer salon.

Stamp art by Gary Hogben

A circle has no end, by Simona Ruscheva

All 3 corners of the Triangle! (by Tom Cox)

A familiar view, just a few doors down (Tom Cox)

No Hopscotch by Laurence Causse-Parsley

The workshop downstairs where canvasses are stretched and primed.

Meanwhile on Tom's easel, is the Laila peak in Pakistan. His landscape subjects are either places he's been to, or aspires to visit. He's not been to Pakistan yet, but did tick off Everest base camp a few years ago, along with visits to peaks in Norway and Bolivia. Tom finds the isolation of the mountains an inspiring metaphor for the current pandemic, and a refuge from political realities. In contrast to his earlier cityscape work, he is also finding a new and liberating abstract expressionist style.

Tom Cox

On the subject of exhibitions, I'm delighted to be taking party in another show at Free the Gallery on Haynes Lane this weekend. Do pop in to see some varied work by local artists and makers.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Craft & Courage


It's hard to believe it was ten years ago that I started this blog. As a photographer, I'd never had an exhibition or publicly displayed my work in any way. Blogs were just getting popular, and it seemed like a great way to get a body of work out there in the public domain. But what subject matter to choose? The possibilities were endless, but I felt it made sense to stick with something local, that would be easy to revisit at any moment. I also thought it needed to have boundaries, with a beginning and an end. The Triangle had interested me since I moved to the area in 2006. It's largely independent shops and cafés giving the area its unique identity. Focusing on that theme, I was able to combine my work as an interiors photographer with an exploration of the people and places of Crystal Palace. While much of my day to day work is about pristine designed interiors, this blog was also to be about the people behind the businesses, and what makes a local community. And to be fair, those boundaries have become a little blurred, with many posts taking me slightly off triangle! It's also proved to be a never ending source of material, as shops and cafés come and go.

My very first post back in March 2011, was about the wonderful newly opened, and now much missed cheese, wine and beer shop, Good Taste, set up by Manish Utton-Mishra at 28 Westow Hill. So I thought it would be fitting to return to the same site to feature the current occupants. Opening in June 2018, Craft & Courage had previously been located across the road, starting life as a pop up called Craft Palace. Owners, Mark and Ela Westcott already had one similar outlet in Tooting, but one visit to Crystal Palace, was enough, not only to fall in love with the place, but also to persuade them that this was the perfect area for another site. The reason for the subsequent move across the street, was the possibility of an on-license which was not available at the other shop unit. Once lockdown ends, the bar side of the business will reopen  as will the alpine style chalet in the garden. Adding 'courage' to the name was to reflect that gin, a drink of Dutch origin (so, Dutch courage) was now a large part of the business. They even distil their own range of the spirit, currently made in Wandsworth, but soon to be made right here at no.28. Much of the beer is also local, and includes favourites from breweries including, Gipsy Hill, Canopy, of Herne Hill, Pressure Drop, from Tottenham, and By the Horns based in Tooting. Alongside the local brews are plenty of classics from Bavaria, Belgium and elsewhere. Like most businesses, C&C has had to adapt to the peculiar circumstances of the pandemic, and now offers draught beer in a refillable container known as a Growler. Mark is particularly grateful for the continued support of locals during the last year, which has really been helped by the successful shop local campaign, but also helped by the fact that people are working from home. A boon for all local businesses.

Refillable 'Growlers'

The alpine lodge and beer garden hopefully opening on April 12th!

Ela and Mark Westcott

Monday 8 March 2021

The Walkthrough

Shops don't usually encourage people to use their premises as a walk through, but Rebecca Sakulku seems pretty relaxed about it, so much so that she's thinking of renaming Roots & Cycles, the eco refillable household products store that she runs, as simply, The Walkthrough. The space is shared with artist and picture framer, Dylan Doodleman, and his mini gallery, Images Delmar, and is located down Haynes Lane between the 2 market yards.



Rebecca had been working at a co-operative in Elephant & Castle, doing everything from bike mending to candle making, and it was while there that she met Cosmo Peterkin, who you may remember used to design and mend light fittings in the Walkthrough. She then came to Crystal Palace in 2018 and helped out in both Roots, and the Store Cupboard, before taking over the running of Roots. Aside from all sorts of locally sourced, organic and plastic free household goods, ranging from loo paper and scrubbing brushes, to handmade soap and scented candles, the USP of this business is bringing your own refillable container to stock up on washing detergent or shampoo. But as well as buying the finished product, you can buy the ingredients to make your own products. While Roots was the first store in the area, to my knowledge doing refills, there are now at least 2 more stores on the Triangle offering it, and it's great to see even supermarkets are moving in on this more sustainable way of selling. Rebecca is keen to expand, and so as to reach more people, is hoping to open a store on The Triangle itself. Today she launched a crowdfunder for the project, hoping to raise enough to set up in the Cambridge, the long empty pub. Wouldn't it be great to see life return to that particular corner? And the plan is to hold workshops and events, making it a real eco hub for Crystal Palace.

Tea light holders by local wood upcyclers, Crystal Pallets, who also built the shop's counter.

Meanwhile, longtime Crystal Palace resident, Dylan, the picture framer who shares the space, has as he says, "worn many hats". He has worked in the Upper Norwood library, and for a time had a skateboard/guitar/art shop called The Doghouse, in Antenna Studios. He also paints amazing murals, mostly in schools, which for a while took him off to Madrid and Wroclaw.
Images Delmar, is a "mobile illustration, art and ephemera gallery", focusing mainly on European Science Fiction and Vintage British Comic Artwork Originals. And while the Walkthrough is his base, and also where he makes frames, he displays at markets around London like SoLastCentury, and FLEA at Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard. 
Despite having travelled and lived in some wonderful European cities, Dylan is clearly proud of his local roots, and the "magic" and history and spirit of Crystal Palace, to which he has contributed.

You can't miss the door to the Walkthrough, it's just next to the terrifying T-Rex!