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Five things to see at Deptford X festival

Written by
Time Out London contributor

Deptford X is the art festival that inhabits galleries, libraries, cafés, pubs and even a police station, all mapped out on a savvy art map. This south-east London supernova, which last year saw art world celebrity Bob and Roberta Smith take to the streets with an almighty flash mob shouting ‘Art makes people powerful!’ promises to be an equally immersive community show with this year's lead artist Janette Parris programming events on the theme of conversation. Expect pop-up ping-pong with pretty bats, rogue painting, book readings and dream experiments designed to spark a word or two with a stranger.

Here’s our pick of the top five things to see across the ten days.

1. SLAM studio tour

One of the coolest things to do at the festival is to have a good old nose around the artists’ studios that are open to the public across the weekend. On Friday night, SLAM (South London Art Map) are offering a pay-what-you-can evening tour of spaces that include outlandish police cell studios at The Old Police Station. The tour has a prompt 6.30pm start from Bear Space gallery on Deptford High Street, just across from the DLR station. Plenty of wine and art-talk is available en route, and tickets are available online. Bear Space, 152 Deptford High St, SE8 3PQ. Friday Sep 25, 6.30pm. 

2. ‘Bed’

‘Bed’ is an interactive art installation by performance artist Bernadette Russell – her aim is to find out what drives the power of dreams. With a kooky set-up in bed shop Uncle Ned’s Beds, this promises to be a silly reminder of childhood storytelling mixed with sixteenth-century spells and sweets – apparently made by a witch. Just be prepared to tell Bernadette an account of your first memory of dreaming! Uncle Ned’s Beds, 147 Lewisham Way, SE14 6QP. Friday Sep 25, 6-9pm.

3. ‘Extension’

This promises to be a fun one. It’s a sound installation about a hair extension at Deptford Creek’s Art Hub studios. Prop artist Dot Young and sound composer Lex Kosanke will be creating a ‘sonic, visual and socio-political’ work that shares the journey of a single strand of hair from the Tirumala Temple in Southern India to a hair salon in south-east London, where it's sold as an extension. Make sure you catch the live performance by Lex on Friday’s launch night. ART HUB studios, 5-9 Creekside, SE8 4SA. Launch night Friday Sep 25 6pm, exhibition continues until Oct 4. 

4. Luis TV

So all this arty stuff sounds great, but it just so happens you’ve got a load of boring stuff to catch up on this weekend, and that venture to Deptford will have to wait. Never fear – you can catch all the action from Luis TV, broadcast throughout the day on a big screen at Deptford Lounge and online.

5. Punky Reggae Party

What would a festival be without a good party to see it out? On Fri Oct 2, the final weekend of the Deptford X, the Duke Pub is holding an all-immersive dance party-slash-installation. With stunning film and sound performance works, the installation records a series of key local events from 1976 and 1981 along with a look at punk and reggae’s roles in creating cultural cohesion in the area. Prepare for an evening of bopping and shaking on the Friday night as a top line-up of musicians and DJs inhabit the space. The Duke Pub, 125 Creek Road, SE8 3BU. Installation is open from Fri Sep 25 6pm-9pm, and runs for the whole festival during pub hours. Party October 2 8pm-12.30am.

Deptford X Festival runs from Friday September 25 until Sunday October 4. Maps available at

By Emily Mahon

Take a look at 15 reasons to get excited about art in London this autumn.

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