COMMUNITY VOICES

Patricio Forrester

Artmongers have produced many recognisable public art murals in Deptford, New Cross and Telegraph Hill. We spoke to the founder and creative director of Artmongers, Patricio Forrester, to find out more.

Can you tell us a bit more about Artmongers?

‘Artmongers was formed in 2003 and over the years we have created over 15 murals in Lewisham. Our projects involve people in art, transformation and participation.

 

‘Our focus is ‘art in situations of adversity’ and we have been taking our participatory murals to places like refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, or remote communities under duress in Spain, Algeria, Gambia, Azerbaijan and Argentina.

‘We choose to see beyond what things are at the moment, digging into their transformative potential.’

Your ‘His ‘n’ Hers’ mural in Deptford is well known and widely recognised. Why do you think it resonates with so many people?

‘People often put emphasis in ‘understanding’ an artwork but I think what is more important is whether you can relate to it or not.

‘Deptford Pearls unknowingly works against the idea that a mural has to represent local people, instead offering a humorous reinterpretation of space with a surreal feel.

‘People connect to it in a different level then, as it brings something playful, fresh and imaginative.’

‘We have always felt appreciated when painting a new mural on the streets of Lewisham’

How do you feel the people of Lewisham help shape its culture?

‘People here feel very positive about culturally-led regeneration, especially where engaging transformative art projects are leading the way we think of ourselves and how we share our time and our spaces.

‘The diversity of the borough is part of its richness and together with the fact that not everything is polished and perfect, sets ideal contusions for cultural and community-led innovation.’

Are you working on any new projects?

‘I am really excited about our plan for the LEWiSHAM School of Muralism, which will help us pass on our skills to the younger generation.

‘The idea is to bring young people together who would like to make a positive contribution to the borough, getting their voices heard through murals and participatory art. These will be local young artists and Goldsmiths students of any discipline.

‘We are running a Mayor of London crowdfunding campaign, which will go live around the 27 January. As well as running three courses of 12 students each over an 18 month period, creating six new murals in Lewisham, we plan to equip the school with a van with all the stuff we need to create and maintain murals in Lewisham going forwards.

‘For the Mayor of London to pledge half the budget we will need 300 Lewisham residents to pledge at least £2 each so we will need people who would like the School to take off to support the bid bit.ly/36ZZx7U

‘…the appetite for participation in cultural activities is huge’

Why do you think Lewisham deserves to be named the London Borough of Culture?

‘I think Lewisham deserves to become the next Borough of Culture because of the outstanding progress that’s been made in the cultural offer in the borough in the last 20 years.

‘There has been a significant grass roots development of local art festivals, food markets, street art and carnival type parades and the appetite for participation in cultural activities is huge.

‘Plus we have room for improvement pegged with a desire to elevate our conversations, our understanding and how we use, live and transform our much loved conglomeration of villages.’

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