I’ve been sniffing around the building site at the back of John Lewis in Kingston for ages. As soon as I heard the renovation would include a brand new co-working space – something I’ve been seeking for ages – my interest was piqued
I had also heard that the project would include some space for Creative Youth, a local charity that works with young people to help them nurture and develop their creativity.
So I was delighted when an email popped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago from Creative Youth inviting me to the launch of FUSEBOX, their new home underneath John Lewis.
Whilst there is still lots of building work going on, including the co-working space I have my eye on, FUSEBOX, is now open for its pilot phase. Over the next few months, Creative Youth will be holding a series of test events at FUSEBOX as they get ready to welcome people from the local community to go down and check out the site.
On Friday, I excitedly headed off, with my virtual invite, to FUSEBOX. On arrival, the PR Manager for Creative Youth was there to greet people, along with Archie, our tour guide, and Chiyana, one of the artists whose work we would be checking out.
Whilst waiting for the other guests to arrive, I chatted with a lovely Journalism student from Kingston University. As we continued to talk, I found myself wishing there had been a space like FUSEBOX when I was younger, as it would’ve been great to get to know and hang out with other creatives. Come to think of it, a space like FUSEBOX for adults would also be fantastic!
Once everyone had arrived, our tour began. One of the exciting things about the venue is the way it combines creativity with history. The venue houses the footings of the original Kingston Bridge and a medieval cellar thought to have been used to store goods when they came off the river before they went to market. You can see both of these structures from the entrance, but they look even more incredible from the basement, which also houses art installations and a stage.
As the tour continued, we headed to the basement, which opened into the most incredible space. The basement is designed for multi-purpose use and can hold multiple events and displays at any one time.
We were then formally introduced to one of the brilliant artists showcasing their work at FUSEBOX, Chiyana Ankhrah. Chiyana is a Former Creative Talent Programme artist. Her photos focus on raising awareness about mental health in the black community and trying to break the stigma within their communities around seeking help for their mental health.
Chiyana took us on a journey through four installations, explaining the meaning behind each one.
Next, we saw the artwork of a current Creative Talent Programme artist, Tanvi Ranjan.
Through her artwork, Tanvi explores the relationship between humans and machines, the techniques of textile making and the role of women in sculpting the future of the digital and information age.
Also in the basement is the only permanent feature, a stunning vibrant mural, and a stage for the young creatives to perform.
I was lucky enough to stay on after the tour to enjoy the scratch night. If you’re unsure of what a scratch night is (admittedly, I had to google it when I received my invite to the event!), it’s a platform for artists to ‘test’ their material on a live audience.
I saw three very different performances from some incredibly talented young people who are part of the Creative Youth community. Sadly, as it was a scratch night, I can’t tell you much about the individual performances because the performances we saw probably won’t be the final versions. But one secret I’ll let you into is that Creative Youth are working with some brilliant young talent, and I do not doubt that we will see many of them on stage or on our tv and cinema screens in the future.
And I, for one, can’t wait to see more live performances and young artists displaying their work at FUSEBOX in the future.
My biggest takeaway from the event? I feel torn between excitement for the future of of young creative minds in Kingston Upon Thames, AND complete and utter envy that I didn’t get to experience something like this as a kid! The space oozes creativity and as I walked around, I couldn’t help but think that those basement walls have got some very exciting times ahead.
The whole area between the back of John Lewis and the riverside is due to be transformed over the coming months, with landscaping, seating areas, a cafe and more to come. I can’t wait to see what it looks like once it’s complete, and who knows, I might even find myself a nice little co-working space there!
Click here to find out more about Creative Youth and FUSEBOX.
Thank you to Creative Youth for inviting me to this fantastic event.
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