LESS HOMES 4U: Croydon Rise Festival

Croydon RISE Festival [CroydonsRising]
5-15th September 2018
Urban Art. Block Parties. Events. Tours. Talks

‘This September, Croydon hosted RISE festival, London’s newest and largest international urban art festival.
RISE festival is a celebration of the globally recognised movement that is urban art. In a short time, this increasingly popular art form has not only caught the imagination of people around the world but has grown its identity with visual diversity at an incredible rate. It is becoming harder to find a town or city in any part of the world that doesn’t feature some form of urban or street art.”
Rise Gallery [Website]

I was invited to participate in the 1st edition of Rise Festival this September, in a bid for Croydon in becoming the go to destination for the largest outdoor gallery in years to come.
Despite being in Zone 5 and London expanding at the rate that it has been in some years, it was surprising easy to reach from Hackney Wick.
At first impressions, it seemed to going through it’s 3rd faze of “regeneration” with somewhat confusing identity. A “Box Park” greets you as soon as you get out of East Croydon station, with craft beer & independent food stands.
5 minutes down the road, you see Croydon Art college with youths sprawled out wearing college ID’s with hope and aspirations, I just remember thinking, if you only knew that we are all fucked.
And 5 minutes further down, there is thriving high street, with your usual chain stores and coffee houses. And around the corner from this, was the abandoned, almost 29 days later style parade called St Georges Walk, where Rise gallery was situated and the epicentre for the festival.
I was initially very apprehensive about taking part in the festival, as from experience tells me, that  artificially injecting street art anywhere, is only going to propel the gentrification process. Croydon council seemed to have been somewhat the brainchild of this project with the aim for it to becoming an annual event. The funds seemed to have come from other resources including The Arts Council & some developers….hummmm

It was for this reason that at my own risk and putting my neck on the line, I agreed to create a piece of work which would reflect what was happening in Croydon and what was to become.
I had a choice of a few shop fronts to choose from at St Georges Walk as most of the tenants had been displaced, some even after 20 years of having a business there in the premise that all or “some” would be relocated.
As far as I am aware, the block and the surrounding offices is bought by a development company from Hong Kong, I’m only assuming this was due to the fact the Croydon has a large Asian community.
The sad feeling of abandonment swept over me, as I choose the Pretty In Pink Maureen’s, which use to sell sewing supplies. I thought it was quite apt with my background in fashion. It wasn’t that long ago that I had to give up my shop and business in Brick Lane due to gentrification and high rent rises, so this really hit a nerve.

I aimed for the work to present and argument, a voice to highlight the reality of what was really going on, and use my experience having been the victim of living and working in many ‘regenerated’ areas & to try and say something….for the people and myself.  The issue needed to be addressed and there was no point for the festival to sweep it under the carpet and pretend that they did not have a hand in trying to accelerate and elevate the area through street art.
Luckily for me, the two curators of the project, Jason [WhereTheresWalls] and Nelly Balaz [Monoprixx] were open and supportive of my idea and promised not to implement any censorship within the work.
Therefore I knew that I had to do this project.
So, it was Maureen’s destiny to turn into the worlds BEST/WORST Estate Agents….the best for the stomach churning 1% and the worst, the rest of us 99%ers who can’t afford anything in there.
You can read full coverage and process photos on Butterfly News, Street Art News  and Instagrafite Mag [includes more written about my past projects]
Many thanks to Sandra and Julie for the support and the documentation of the process which proved to me invaluable as three weeks after it’s completion, the art work was deliberately and meticulously attacked the installation, trying to erase the truth that once was said.
Many thanks to Tanya Nash [Notice What You Notice Blog] who discovered and notified me with the news and for supplying the “After” photo.

Finally, a festival like this isn’t easy and I would really like to thank Jason & Nelly for all their support and hard work, & treating me & the Art Mafia so well and for specially, not censoring my voice.

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