Monday, 7 February 2011

The Liminality of 46 Malden Road, Chalk Farm

Four months ago, I was invited to lead some children's craft workshops in Chalk Farm, North London, at an address described simply as the "46 Malden Road Pop-Up Shop." There I encountered a former dry cleaning shop on an unassuming, mainly residential back street - one filled with unexpected life. The shop unit had been transformed into a buzzing, warm community space filled with bright murals and crafted carnival props. Music played, children and adults dropped in and out, and I spent several hours surrounded by chatter, felt shapes and contented creativity. 46 Malden Road had been taken over by the Haverstock Carnival project and transformed into a creative community base in the build up to their finale in November 2010.

Four months later, 46 Malden Road has undergone yet another transformation. Every morning the metal shutters open, every evening they close. In the interim, the Zabludowicz gallery reveals its neon-lit window display, Tracey Emin's "I Kiss You" (2004), one of the collective's several displays in locations including vacant shops, a former Methodist chapel and the 33rd floor of a skyscraper in New York City's Times Square. See

And when the Zabludowicz group leave the premises on 14th March 2011, 46 Malden Road will change hands yet again.

For a period of one month, the dry cleaning shop will become Liminal Space, a zone of crafting, creating, playing, storytelling and celebrating, based on the organisers' background as Puppetry students at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and in collaboration with the International Student Puppet Festival and the Accidental Festival, happening at the Camden Roundhouse from 19th - 22nd May 2011.

Who knows what will become of 46 Malden Road and all the other disused commercial properties in cities across the world? Thanks to Camden Council's Pop-Up Scheme, we have the chance to give them a little heart and a little voice, for a limited period of time. Beyond the frontiers of ownership, creativity might well surge...

In the words of Peter Brook, "I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage."

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