Poor old Fulham Town Hall. Like many of London’s grand public buildings, it was built in 1890 in a spirit of municipal pride. It has marble columns and stained-glass windows, a grand staircase, art deco lights and a ballroom. Back in the day, no doubt it was the scene of civic functions and portly local grocers in dinner jackets bending the ear of the lady mayoress. It even contains a courtroom with holding cells in the basement. Now, having sat empty for more than ten years, it’s getting a new lease of life as an art space.
A free group show, ‘Art in the Age of Now’, will inaugurate the building’s reinvention as a gallery space. The sheer massiveness of the complex – 51,000 square feet in total – makes it ideal for showing a group of artists together, without the works infringing too much on one another.
The show will see every bit of the building being used. In the maze of former cells in the basement will be a collective of street artists, including Angry Dan, Ben Eine, Lucy Flynn, Force, Lea Bou Habib, Paul Insect, Luap, Jack Laver, Dotmasters, Gary Mansfield, Nerone, Rez, Spore, Unvrsl Nmd and Matt Webb.
Three dedicated spaces celebrating women in art will be curated by MC Llamas featuring Holly Allan, Pauline Amos, Edie Baker, Kiera Bennett, Elodie Carrel, Arietta Chandris, Catherine Eldridge, Abigail Fallis, Nancy Fouts, Jessica St James, Chloe Karayiannis, Bip Ling, Jil Mandeng, Marion Mandeng, Sarah Maple, Savannah McMillan, Tuesday Riddell and Nettie Wakefield.
Elsewhere, there will be a huge installation in the ballroom by Joe Rush, plus works by Conrad Shawcross, Ben Moore, Charlotte Colbert and a Mayor’s Parlour from ‘London writer and socialite Christabel Milbanke’.
The whole Garde II-listed building, which has also seen performances from The Clash and The Slits over its history, is slated for redevelopment in 2022 as a boutique hotel and collaborative creative space, so this could be a rare opportunity to take in its magnificence unencumbered by laptops, potplants and wheely suitcases. Show the old girl some love!
‘Art in the Age of Now’, Fulham Town Hall, from May 20 2021, 11am-6pm. Free.