Purple Diary

[July 5 2010]

Save the Foundry

We are occupying this area to stop Park Plaza [from] building a large 12 story “Art Otel” (500€ per night) instead of the foundry. BAILIFFS GO HOME. Photo Paula Goldstein

Anyone who has spent a night out in Hoxton will know the Foundry, the pleasingly scuzzy bar-cum-arts-space that epitomises the low-key creativity that has helped make the area a global centre of art, fashion, design and music. The graffiti in its toilets alone is worthy of Grade II* listed status.

Set up by current manager Jonathan Moberly with ex-KLF musician Bill Drummond in 1998, it offers six free exhibition spaces and broadcasts a Resonance FM show weekly. Moberly estimates 2,000 artists have shown their work here, including Gavin Turk and Banksy.

I’m afraid there is absolutely zero chance of it being saved. The developers already own the building (the Foundry rents the space) and they have the right to build a risible concept hotel there if they so choose. No matter that when the planning subcommittee consulted the neighbours, of 346 responses received, 289 wrote in objection to the plan, or that CABE, English Heritage and the Victorian Society have all criticised the architects’ plans.

For his part, Moberly is focusing his anger on Hackney’s refusal to acknowledge the Foundry as an arts venue at all. The committee’s report characterises it as a “bar” — circumventing the council’s responsibility to protect arts, culture and entertainment facilities. Text by Richard Godwin from the London Evening Standard

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