- How does a littered and deserted building turn into a lively art centre? Tanya Guryel visits the opening of DIG, a promising new space in Lewisham.
Until recently, 87 Old Road was a multi-story building piled high with bin liners, dead rats, rat shit and loads of other crap. Then came some creative squatters who cleaned up the place and got a license to occupy. The result of their renovations is DIG, a multi-story centre for artists of all kinds to meet, propose ideas and showcase their work.
The opening of the space on the 21st of November comprises of performance art, installations and music. Sam Austen’s projections fill the entire downstairs space. Tucked away into a separate room is Joey Holder’s installation and performance piece The Cold-Blooded Alternative. Holder created a bar-lounge environment, flooded with UV light, in which people can go and chat with a strange, fabricated character.
Along the corridor of the second floor we meet Sam Austen again in the form of a small TV embedded in the wall. The colours and words of Austen’s pieces are hard hitting whether shown on a small television or projected across an entire wall. On the same floor in a room lit with fairy lights and soundproofed with carpets, the jazz group Contrapunto Collective are jamming, completely unaffected by the wandering visitors. Works are placed sparsely around the building, inviting you to explore all it’s nooks and crannies.
Josh and Roly, two friendly organisers of DIG, give me a guided tour whilst telling me the story of their journey, from cleaning the building to squatting and winning over the landlords. They comment that ‘spaces sit unused waiting for the permission to be demolished or converted into flats and should be active in the meantime.’ As well as space to present work, at the very top floor there are studio/workshop spaces to rent. This is a huge building with huge potential, and impressive things have been done, creating an effective working environment, as well as performance and art space. The organizers stress the desire to attract the community as well, providing life drawing classes and talks, and maybe even a pop up restaurant in the future. They have created a sense of community between the people who work there and those who visit.
DIG has very exciting plans and intentions, and this kick off suggests their future is an exciting one. For those interested in working with them, they have meetings every Monday evening where people are free to propose ideas. Get in touch with them and follow their events via the links below.