The Brockley Community Gallery update

Following our recent article about unforseen obstacles for Brockley's new community art gallery at the Tea Factory, we're happy to be able to bring better news about the project.

Lewisham Council's planners now appear to be taking a much more proactive approach to solving the deadlock, which could have led to the collapse of the Gallery project. Discussions with the Council, Tea Leaf Arts (the group responsible for running the Gallery) and Creative Lewisham have culminated in it being agreed that Tea Leaf Arts is the "nominated occupier" for the Tea Factory unit.

This is important because the Gallery idea was proposed the original developer, who then sold the site onto DPS, the company that have seen it through to near-completion.

The Council have also confirmed that the residential units cannot be occupied until the lease has been signed by the nominated occupier, which puts Tea Leaf Arts in a strong negotiating position.

They are currently in negotiation with the developer, and will not be signing the lease until one of the following options has been agreed:

1) An extension to the rent-free period by a minimum of 6 months
2) The payment by DPS to Tea Leaf Arts of the money needed to fit the unit out
3) The unit to be fitted out by DPS prior to occupancy

A meeting with DPS is due to take place in a couple of weeks time, to agree a way forward.

Sian Knight, of Tea Leaf Arts, said:

"We're very much hoping to resolve the issues surrounding the fit-out of the gallery unit both amicably and quickly, so that Brockley residents can look forward to the opening of their new community arts space as soon as possible."

"We are still recruiting artists to join our co-operative, so that they can exhibit in the new space. Anyone who wants to get involved should email us at"

The Gallery team will also be at this year's Summer Fayre in Hilly Fields, handing out leaflets and answering your questions about the project. Look out for their lovely T-shirts in the crowd.


Anonymous said...

Thats what we like to hear solutions not problems....

Look forward to seeing their stand at the Fair.

Anonymous said...

Really glad to hear the council has stepped in to sort this situation out. Good luck to the organisers!

Brockley Nick said...

@TM - minor point, they will not have a stand, as they were all already taken (testament to the success of the Fayre), they will be roaming the fayre dressed in branded T-Shirts and handing out leaflets.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the tea leaf arts people have said that the take up of places in the cooperative by Brockley based artists is low.

There is a cost of 25pounds to join then a regular sum to pay once the gallery is up and running. That seems quite reasonable.

Sian said...

The website is now fully updated: you can download membership forms, supporters information and various documents such as our Constitution, etc. if you're interested.

There's a glitch with the index page which I'm hoping to resolve tomorrow (I'm not particularly web-savvy, and iWeb is pants) but until then, you can access it at

There have been suprisingly few Artist Co-operative membership forms handed in to date, but to be fair we've only really promoted it online and via email so far. We have a couple of stories in the South London Press and The News Shopper next week, and I'm planning to write to all the Brockley Open Studio participants. Hopefully that, and the Fayre, will get people a bit more excited.

The Cat Man said...

Sian, just an idea - but you could try contacting the TM2, they always seem to have pictures from artists on display.

Sian said...

Thank TCM. I stopped by the TM2 for precisely that reason a couple of weeks ago but the owner was on holiday. She nearly ran me over in her Beetle outside the Toad this morning though, so I guess she's back. I'll try and catch her at the weekend.

Normal service has been resumed on the website, btw.

Anonymous said...

Just a comment after looking at yr web page - why do you have a Child Protection Policy? Seems like overkill for a gallery - even if you do run evnets to engage local kids.

Sian said...

As part of our application to the Charities Commission, we followed their guidelines on safeguarding children which can be found on their website:

Protecting children from coming to harm whilst engaging in workshops and education programmes with Tea Leaf Arts is of paramount importance, and the Child Protection Policy also provides guidelines for volunteers, which wll protect them against false allegations.

T1 said...

It would be great to hear a little bit more about "the arts" that you wish to promote in the space.

do you mean traditional art, paintings, sculpture and the like, or a more varied mix?

I know lots of musicians in the area, for instance, would they be welcome to participate? If so, how?

It might help attract concrete artistic support if you could flesh out some of these questions. Many of the best people are very careful about use of their time.

The Cat Man said...

Thats a good point Tom. Theres no reason why the gallery couldn't provide booths for people to come and listen to new style/up and coming bands via an interactive 'innovation of music' centre. Sounds quite a good idea.

Sian, will the exhibitions also be displayed on your website? Is the gallery just for displaying or can people buy things there too?

Anonymous said...

Sian, can you tell us who the creative director of the gallery is and about the vision for the place in terms of what'll be on display.

Is there a theme that links and guides the art and artists you're looking to display and recruit?

Sian said...

We’re currently flexible about the kind of media used: the majority of the permanent exhibition space used by the co-operative is likely to be taken up with wall-mounted art, and prints etc in display stands, but there is also a limited amount of space for free standing work. There’s no particular theme used to select artists, just a certain level of quality and enthusiasm for the project.

In terms of the temporary exhibition space, we’re completely open to ideas. If somebody wants to propose an exhibition with listening booths for new band, we can probably do it! The curatorial team is headed up by Trevor Horsewood and Rebecca Birch, but we’re constantly looking for input.

We’re currently coming up with arts events we don’t need a gallery or a large budget for, that we can use to raise the gallery’s profile. A couple of the ideas we’ve had so far are a ‘show flat show’ – where we take over the show flat at the Tea Factory for the weekend and replace everything in it with works by local artists - everything you can see you can buy – and maybe throw in a bit of performace art, and also an online collaboration with Jam Circus regarding the use of historical texts within wifi passwords; difficult to explain, but will look great.

I’m keen to get local crafts people on board, possibly by having a comfy chair and a table available to browse through books and folder containing works by local textile designers, wood crafts, etc – the kind of stuff its sometimes difficult to display in galleries. They would not necessarily have to be part of the co-operative, but are free to join if they wish. If not part of the co-operative, we’d charge a much bigger commission on commissions or sales.

In terms of the website, the one we have at the moment is pretty much a holding page until we can persuade a creative web developer to come up with one with bells and whistles. There will be an online shop and a profile page for each member of the co-operative and all events and exhibition will be listed, along with listings in the local rags and hopfully Time Out (they currently cover to Deptford, so not that much of a stretch).

Anonymous said...

Is the new cafe connected to the gallery or is it a different group setting that up?

The Cat Man said...

sounds good Sam, best of luck!

Sian said...

The gallery and cafe are two completely seperate entities. The cafe is being run as a commercial business - I don't know by whom, or when they're planning to open. We're an A2 license only - which is retail not food.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well that's very different. Well done to the less muppety people in LBC for sorting it out - unless this was TLA inexperience for just not knowing the game/power levers?

Anonymous said...


I hope you don't mind my riding on the back of another thread, but this is for a good cause - and deserves a thread of its own.

Just enountered a lady from East Dulwich at my doorstep (Sunday). On Wednesday she was visiting Celia Hammond's Lewisham Way when her one-year old (unneautered) tabby (Twinkle) got out of his box and was last seen in the vicinty of Manor Mews.

How can we help?

It's likely that Twinkle will be wondering the gardens of either Manor Avenue or Wickham Road, but may have ventured further. He will will answer to his name and is very friendly.

The family, from East Dulwich, is offering up a reward, but. hopefully Brockley spirit will out and Twinkle will be returned safely.

(I won't post the phone number but it is posted on several trees Around Brockley CA.)

The Cat Man said...

Ah bless, the family must be so upset. I would go mad if my cats got lost/stolen.

Anonymous said...

Moh, poor kitty. I'll certainly look out for him.

Anonymous said...

Fingers crossed that we come up with a good result.

Amanda said...

Kewl, as Lee from the Apprentice would 'now dat's wot I'm tawkin' abaaaaht' .

Sian I was thinking about the project, I think one way you could get people more involved and feel more connected to it, especially younger people is to twitter the process. This assuming that you have time and space in schedule to think.

When people are aware of what you need to do and any problems, they can offer to help or if necessary suggest ideas. It's something worth thinking about.

Video guide to twitter

I am going to be putting my money where my mouth is regarding shortly...more to be revealed later.

Anonymous said...

It's a long way ahead, but the next Telegraph Hill Festival is 13th to 22nd March 2009 and the weekend of 21st/22nd March will be the Art Weekend (with Open Studios and - usually - an Open Space in St. Catherine's Church). You're a bit on the periphery, but it might be worth at least making a note of the date and possibly coming along to the Launch Party - open to everyone - on Saturday 20th September at 3pm in Cafe Orange.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - meant to say, come along to the Launch Party just to find out what has been done before, chat to those already involved and perhaps see if you wanted to open up the space and curate the weekend in return for the established publicity.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the music idea floated earlier - how about if musicians could hire the space as a public rehearsal area. Would this create any problems under the terms of the lease?

Anonymous said...


three things that might be useful to you:

1. I have a stall for Locallife at Hilly Fields fair - you are more than welcome to put leaflets and/or t-shirts on it if that helps you. Or just use me to store things for people walking round if you prefer.

2. My business, Locallife, builds great websites - and for non-profit community orgs it can do so at at-cost prices. Let me know if you would like to talk.

3. I've linked your website to Locallife on the Arts Organisations page - follow:

Hope this is of use!
Sian (LL Sian from now on or it will all get too confusing)

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