Getting the space

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Queens Parade – empty row of shops in Willesden Green

The gallery has secured premises through the New Windows on Willesdsen Green project – willesdenwindows.com

New Windows on Willesden Green is one of the Mayor’s Outer London Fund projects, which is being delivered for Brent Council and Design for London by The Architecture Foundation in collaboration with Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting. This project runs from October 2011 to March 2012 and is an exciting opportunity to revive and improve Willesden High Road bringing positive change to the area.

In some ways my experiences here are not necessarily going to be typical for others securing a meanwhile lease. I’m in luck that the Mayor’s Outer London Fund picked my high street to assist and that the project managers have taken on board a number of tasks such as cleaning and refitting/clearing the shop units which had miles and miles of shelving (not so useful for a gallery which generally requires blank, pristine walls!).

Along with a number of other tenants I’ve been given the keys to a unit to try out ideas and to road test a creative venture that also has an element of “community giveback” as an attached condition to the lease.

Furnishing the space on the cheap has so far been fun! I found a bookcase abandoned on the streets in my local area. With a friend I started to carry this to the gallery at the other end of the high street and several anonymous passers by stepped into to help us – testament to the fact that in even deprived urban areas you can find genuine people in the most unexpected places, ready to lend a helping hand! To the three guys that helped us out – a big thank-you!!

Ikea’s discounted showroom furniture found me a desk for a tenner and a cheap magazine rack. As you can see the space is beginning to take shape and to look like a real life gallery.

Installing the artworks for the first show completed the transformation from a shop unit that had been empty since at least 1998 to a brand new contemporary art gallery attracting local visitors and stimulating interest in art in the area.

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