The Bussey building, the largest building on the proposed tram depot site, was host to one of the most enjoyable events seen in Peckham in many years. Over the weekend of the I Love Peckham festival, the Chronic Love Foundation (CLF) transformed two of the wonderfully large rooms of this late Victorian/Edwardian building into a live music venue, an art gallery and a cinema.
The roof was open to the public, and during the day, people lounged around eating, drinking, looking at fascinating views of the city, and catching the only sun of the summer so far. The mood was reminiscent of the best summer festivals as acoustic acts, poets and rappers performed under a small marquee while the sun set.
As the sky darkened a small cinema was starting in the gallery space on the third floor. Fascinating short films from amateurs and professionals played on a large screen. Around the room some of the artists with studios in the building had displayed examples of their work. On one side three huge photographs highlighting the geometric monotony of unimaginative modern architecture were flanked by superb portraits and other images. As the night descended spotlights were turned on, throwing long shadows across the industrial gallery space, as people wandered in to look at the displays and watch the films.
Peckham Vision had used a large, room sized alcove on this floor to display their visions for an integrated Peckham town centre, a town centre that was both well connected to the centre of London, and featured creative spaces in the very heart of run down Peckham. Computer generated images illustrated the potential realised by opening up the front of the station to make a light vibrant piazza, instead of the dirty and dimly lit enclosed pavements there at the moment. Whilst a plethora of maps showed how Peckham could be opened up by the tram, without destroying its heart by demolishing the building, and many others, we were currently in, just to replace them with a desolate array of railway tracks to house the trams overnight. Lastly there were artistic interpretations of how the Bussey building, and a very large adjacent area, could look, and examples of how it could be used by Peckham creative industries, and for the benefit of the whole community.
Downstairs the first of the night’s bands had started. Although dominated by bass and drums the style was hard to classify. The female singer’s luminous voice danced over the energetic beat, and was occasionally joined by a rapper, on the other side of the performance area. A kaleidoscope of psychedelic visuals projected on to two screens behind the performers announced the arrival of the Chronic Love Foundation to Peckham. The dancing crowd were laid back and friendly. A mixture of locals, artists, and people from around London drawn to the hub of Peckham by an article in that week’s Time Out.
We eventually left in the early hours and after saying good night to the genial security guards, began the short walk home.
See also: CLF Weekender