I’ve been working with a bunch of young staff from London’s major cultural organisations on Seven Days in Seven Dials; a week in the life of London’s Culture Quarters.

The staff are all part of the Culture Quarter Programme, a collaboration between nine big-name arts organisations which are providing 30+ young unemployed people between the ages of 18-24 the chance to gain six months’ cultural and creative sector experience (and that has to be better than being an intern!). The staff are working at Create KX, Design Council, English National Opera, Exhibition Road, The Hospital Club, National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, Somerset House and the V&A Museum.

We’re bringing in a crack team of podcasters, photographers and artists (some of them we worked with on the Empty Shops Tour earlier this year), and with the Culture Quarter Programme participants we’ll spend a week using a shop as a meanwhile studio & workspace. We’ll be using some new kit – I’m looking forward to seeing creative use of our Muvi micro-camcorder. It’s about the size of a memory stick.

We’ll produce loads of stuff – audio tour podcasts, short videos and photographs exploring the history of the local area; the artistic, cultural and historical links between the organisations involved in the project, and individual experiences of the participant’s day-to-day activities within their organisations.

Like Maurice Gorham says in Londoners, ‘You can see London through the eyes of countless greater experts and greater men, but there is always something that they have not seen, very often because it was not there for them to see.’

You can drop in and visit the studio to watch us making stuff daily from 10am-5pm on Monday 5 -Thursday 8th July. The exhibition then opens to the public from Saturday 10 July until Friday 23 July 2010.

Seven Dials is a fab location – loads of history, dating back to the late 17th century, is mirrored against the contemporary energy and buzz of modern day Covent Garden. Known to many as Covent Garden’s hidden village, it still feels like a village with its own community, characters and local shops.

We’re supported in this one by the owners of Seven Dials, Shaftesbury PLC – and by all the partners of course.

More on artistsandmakers.com here and it’s also on Facebook here.


So, we’re getting old and we’ve settled down. We’ve taken a shop for long enough to take our boots off and get comfortable.

Agora, 1a New Road, Shoreham by Sea was one of the stop on the Empty Shops Tour earlier this year. It was on a regeneration site, so had sat empty for ten years waiting for demolition. It was a huge job, clearing rubbish and making the space good enough to use for a week. And while doing it, I fell for the space. A big, bright central space with high windows either side, a handy store at the back, an intimate office upstairs, even a big (if overgrown and full of rubbish) courtyard. So after a little (and I mean, very little) negotiation we agreed to stay longer.

We pulled in enough funding from Adur & Worthing Regeneration to have the frontage restored, and to buy furniture and equipment we needed. First thing was a coffee machine, followed by comfy sofas from a junk shop round the corner.

And now it’s up and running, as atelier, factory, gallery, hub, office, public place, meeting space, sewing room, studio and workshop.

We have a few resident artists who use the space, lots of guests, and a programme of exhibitions, talks and events coming together.

Using it as the national empty shops centre, we want to help people test ideas, explore empty spaces, swap skills – and we’ve had our first success, with two artists using our space to plot and plan and start their own project.

If you want to get involved, get in touch: email my trusty sidekick [email protected] or find me on Twitter, @artistsmakers