It’s forever been one of Kentish Town’s less celebrated stretches, although, lest we forget, a century ago it was a buzzing tram-filled shopping parade right up to lofty South End Green.
And now Malden Road is getting a welcome new injection of creativity to celebrate the dawn of 2015. From next Monday, not one but two new pop-up creative spaces are set to open.
It’s not the first time in recent years the street has grabbed the interest of arty types. Some residents may remember the Tracey Emin installation at empty shop 46 Malden Road four years ago. Part of a London-wide show by nearby contemporary artspace the Zabludowicz Collection, it was lit 24 hours a day, but particularly striking at night – especially from the top deck of the bus.
And now art of all descriptions is back in this corner of the postcode thanks to a new company called Urban Shorts. Set up by locals James Waite and Gavin Juniper to help local entrepreneurs, the team aims to focus on Gospel Oak and Haverstock to convert unoccupied council-owned retail premises into more colourful pop-up venues.
First up? A space right opposite the Fiddler’s Elbow, itself one of Kentish Town’s most underrated performance spaces. Occupying it from January 14 for three months is We Make London, an organisation offering a platform for designer-makers whom we have previously featured during their forays at Camden Lock. And from Jan 14-25 artists Cecily Vessey (pictured below), Alice Tams (Birds in Hats, main pic above) and Georgia Bosson will be running what they’re calling Studio Klubo.
Along with a smorgasbord of artfully crafted textiles, prints, stationery and one-offs for sale, they’ll be joined by the tasty-sounding Little House Kitchen Cafe, providing very decent coffee – and entirely gluten-free cakes and sandwiches. (You may know them from their alter ego roving streetfood stall, the Louisiana Chilli Shack, renowned for a very moreish ‘Cowboy’ cottage pie.)
Meanwhile further north, a little cluster of shops in Cheriton (corner of Queen’s Crescent) will be welcoming a series of artists’ collectives to number 25, beginning with Into the Wild, a new emerging artists’ programme at Chisenhale Artplace. The week of performances and talks starts on the January 19, culminating with a one night exhibition on Jan 24. Better still, it heralds a spate of events currently booked to run until April (watch this space for more details).
And finally, if all that’s given you a whopper of an appetite, we advise you check out ace new Malden Road Persian diner Reyhana. Particularly recommended is the Khoresht e-gheimeh badenjan (£5), a lamb stew with split yellow peas and dried limes cooked in a tomato sauce, and topped with sauteed aubergine: zesty and meaty, it’s a real winter comfort classic.