Venice, glorious city of Titian, Casanova and Vivaldi, has welcomed a new artistic powerhouse into the international fold at the Biennale this week. Enter Peckham, downtrodden South London neighbourhood made famous as the setting of Only Fools and Horses. The Peckham Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a whitewashed studio the size of a small newsagentâ€™s shop. Although it is outside the official competition it is already attracting appreciative visits from some of the art worldâ€™s most influential tastemakers.
â€œIt feels very much like where we are in Peckham,â€ Hannah Barry said yesterday, with a straight face. â€œThe busyness of the place, the selling of food on the streets, the fish â€” these are all big things in Peckham.â€ Ms Barry, 25, founded her eponymous London gallery last year with Sven MÃ¼nder, 30, a Bavarian who had just completed a degree in cultural history.Â Â The gallery is now on the radar of some of the most important people in the art world. This despite Peckhamâ€™s undeniable, and they believe undeserved, reputation for crime and urban decay. “Peckhamâ€™s got a really bad name but we are really grateful to the area for allowing us to do what we do. More people should know that itâ€™s a place where things are really possible.â€Â Ms Barry said. Because of its cheap rents and proximity to Camberwell and Goldsmiths schools of art, Peckham is home to hundreds of young artists, giving Ms Barry and Mr MÃ¼nderâ€™s gallery and their Venice pavilion a strong local identity.