The 491 Gallery in Leytonstone is far from being a waste of space in its current incarnation as a squatted artist run space offering workshops and organising exhibitions.
Ownership of the building has passed from London Transport to a private developer who plans to knock the place down and build a block of flats (with wonderful views of the M11 Link Road). The residents of the 491 have been given notice to vacate the premises on 13th January, so today’s exhibition marked one of the last opportunities to drop by.
The fire-pit was blazing in the ad-hoc landscaped garden with its furniture and sculptures made from recycled junk. I bought a beautiful hand-made bird-box for £6 at the Jumblegeddon on the ground flair.
Upstairs was a fascinating photographic exhibition/installation exploring ‘the use and misuse of space in the modern world, peering into hidden worlds and darkened corners to reveal the secret stories of forgotten buildings and of the people who try to bring life back to them’ (as their hand-out tells us).
Of course Leytonstone has form in this area with the squatted houses that became the focus of the protests against the building of the Link Road in the heyday of ‘Leytonstonia’.
The photographs range from nicely interior designed houses in Spain inhabited by musicians to the old Courage Brewery in Bristol where a forest of weeds have filled the void. The photos of rooms in houses are linked via coloured woolen threads creating a new para-space within the gallery.
The exhibition runs till Saturday 22nd December – go along not just to have a look at this great installation but also catch a glimpse of Leytonstone’s last occupied space before it’s gone.