The Croydon Biennale Research Space based at the Croydon Arts Store is a temporary takeover of the old Grange furniture store in the Whitgift Centre by a consortium of local and neighbouring arts organisations, including Croydon Council, Turf Projects, Art Halo and the Contemporary Art Research Centre, Kingston School of Art, Kingston University.
Artists, researchers, students and academics are based at the Croydon Arts Store - led by Professor Charlotte Cullinan and Associate Professor Jeanine Richards, Co-course directors of Kingston University's MFA Fine Art - connecting with members of the local community, businesses and stakeholders exchanging and developing ideas and practice with an emphasis towards the development of a Croydon international art biennale.
Kingston School of Art aims to bring art and design into people's everyday lives by highlighting the impact of art research in delivering a positive effect for the local community. By testing the role of art and culture in the context of a shopping centre researchers will investigate how visual art can be incorporated into the future development of shopping malls.
Croydon’s regeneration process is currently active and the Croydon Arts Store initiative offers an opportunity to establish more permanent and sustainable infrastructure for artists and cultural activities.
Establishing the Croydon Art Store delivers multiple impacts:
• Provides new cultural infrastructure and facilities in a highly accessible location.
• Enables artists to become part of the local community and to be embedded in the community.
• Influences local artists to become more innovative and influencing developers and policy makers to incorporate art in to Croydon’s redevelopment process.
• Enhances community engagement and cohesion
Contemporary Art Research Centre x SANDWICH Collective
The focus of the event and residency was to question and test artwork as a socially engaged event that draws in the general public who might not normally engage with contemporary art practice. The SANDWICH collective carefully replicated the language of a shopping centre with signage and a lighting system to welcome passers-by. SANDWICH collective also projected a short video they had made during the residency, based on the idea of a fictitious day time soap opera taking place in a shopping mall, with the SANDWICH collective playing the parts as the actors/protagonists.
A large pile of sandwiches were displayed outside the entrance and offered to passers-by to start conversations with the public. The shop display worked on many levels – as a socially engaged exhibition hosting members of the general public and as a means to encourage wider conversation around the Arts Store, and its operation.
Part of the Research Centre was decorated with community artworks and this inspired discussions. Further interest and discussion took place around the tables and poster/survey displays at the back of the Research Centre focusing on artists, shops and consumption and the possibility of ‘the gesture’ of the art installation as social engagement – a new door onto the street to usher in a public dialogue.
The event attracted a large audience with many interested in returning to the CAS and becoming involved in the future decision making processes put forward. The residency and culminating exhibition by SANDWICH collective presented the idea of the Research Centre as a ‘place’ rather than as a ‘space’.
The Poster Girls x Furniture Music x Slowcolour
During the show, three companies participated with Sandwich Collective and opened a mini shop in shop. For instance, the Poster Girls made limited edition posters with analogue photographs developed in the darkroom, screen printed lettering and were sold in the show, Furniture Music collected sound from the Whitgift Centre, and Slowcolour hand dyed totes bags as shopping bags for the mall.