Introducing Creative Mile – a celebration of the creativity that, like the mighty River Thames, flows right through the heart of Brentford.
Led by locally based artists with the support of Creative Enterprise Zone funding and co-chaired by Brentford-based artist Mr Pearce and Robin Vaughan-Williams of Creative Network West, this exciting new event showcases the remarkable array of artistic talent boasted by this unique borough.
And we don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk, too – as you’ll see when you stroll along the Brentford Art Trail, a sign-posted one-mile pedestrian route that connects 8 art venues exhibiting over 50 artists including painters, ceramicists, printmakers, and sculptors.
As it meanders alongside The Thames, the Creative Mile not only offers visitors inspiration (and the opportunity to make a shrewd acquisition), it also affords them a rare glimpse of Brentford’s industrial past as well as a snapshot of today’s vibrant, creative riverside community.
The truth is, if you threw a stick out of a window in Brentford, the chances are you’d hit an artist (or a musician, or a designer, or a performer…). But for too long it’s been London’s hidden secret.
And we think it’s high time that changed.
As Co-chair and artist Mr Pearce says, “Brentford has a great creative community, which many people are unaware of. This event will give artists working in the area a chance to showcase their work to a wider audience and has the potential to become an annual event that will grow year by year.”
Brentford photographer and head of marketing for Creative Mile, Gwen Shabka, also sees great potential: “Our proximity to 3 waterways (The Thames, The Brent and the Grand Union Canal) plus our privileged access to an industrial waterway infrastructure that is largely intact not only binds our artistic community together, but also has a way of uniquely influencing out work”. Brentford isn’t just going places. For art lovers, it’s the place to go.
The Creative Mile begins at the Museum of Water and Steam, the former Kew Pumping Station, which previously provided 70% of London’s water supply. This fascinating building, well worth visiting in its own right, now houses artist studios in the former workshops.
Next up is the Musical Museum, where entry is free all weekend. Visitors can enjoy a specially curated photography exhibition, as well as perusing the museum’s splendidly eclectic collection of self-playing musical instruments.
Swooping down through a relaxing riverside greenspace, the trail now winds its way to Watermans. This famous local landmark, launched in 1984 with a performance by Beatles collaborator and musical inspiration, Ravi Shankar, now runs an extensive program of participative arts events, and as
part of the Creative Mile will be hosting Mark Farid’s exhibition, ‘Seeing I’ in its main gallery as well as a pop-up exhibition in the Waterman’s Park building next door. The walk between these venues will be invigorated by outdoor work by local artists from the exhibition
“Future Visions.” This inspiring collection of work, curated by members of the local community and facilitated by Creative People & Places Hounslow, originally appeared on advertising boards in the Treaty Centres and Hounslow and Chiswick High Streets, and highlights the positive impact art can have on well-being and reinvigorating our town centres.
Heading back down to the waterside, the trail takes in Simon Packard’s imposing steel sculpture, ‘Liquidity,’ as it makes its way along the delightful riverside promenade that leads to one of the UK’s oldest, and West London’s biggest, working boatyards.
Dating from the mid-1800s and currently managed by MSO Marine, the site was formerly a key trading trans-shipment junction linking to the Grand Union Canal and the Great Western Railway. Today it offers an atmospheric insight into Brentford’s vital role in London’s industrial past.
Following a brief detour back up to high street and down again (where you can make a mental note of which of Brentford’s many characterful (and character-filled) pubs to visit later), the trail winds over a footbridge that crosses Thames Lock before arriving at Johnson’s Island, where there is a gallery, and a variety of studios which will be throwing open their doors and welcoming visitors.
The last stop on this artistic ramble, designed to exercise the mind just as much as the body, is Catherine Wheel Road, where artists’ studios, boutique businesses and food, drink and music await the happy traveller.
Set in a vibrant creative hub that has organically taken over the undeveloped industrial spaces, here you’ll find a warm welcome at the Lôft art studio and the various pop-up galleries that have taken advantage of this unique environment.