Category Archives: culture

Bar 48 wine bar and Eritrean restaurant

A wine bar seems quite a weird concept in 2015, let alone a wine bar that’s also an art gallery and music venue, serving Eritrean “tapas”, next door to what is probably London’s best Eritrean restaurant, Adulis.

Bar 48 exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We thought Bar 48 must be a new opening from Adulis but it turns out it’s neither linked to Adulis nor new – it has been going for years and has been in its present incarnation for around two years – we just hadn’t noticed it till recently. It’s also rather dark so excuse the photography.

Bar 48 interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Someone on TripAdvisor says “You know how people say that Londoners are unfriendly bastards who never make conversation? Well not here! I don’t know how they do it, but its the kind of place where strangers were striking up conversations with one another all night.” Indeed this was our experience – both the barman and the table next door struck up conversation with us.

And there’s a lot to talk about. They have the kind of events programme that is bound to see Jeremy Corbyn visit sooner or later (unless he heads to i’klectik instead). Plus a grand piano:

Bar 48 grand piano - kenningtonrunoff.com

The owner Fiyori Belay has Eritrean roots and runs the kitchen, while the (bar)man behind the art gallery concept is Joshua Vaughan, who also teaches at City & Guilds. When we visited the art had rather a Dystopian, William Gibson-ish feel.

sculpture at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

should have chained the wheels to the bike

art at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re only interested in the food, you should probably go to Adulis instead, which offers pretty much the same dishes (meat and vegetable platters served on injera), at least as well prepared, and many others besides. Bar 48’s wine list is also quite short for a wine bar, but reasonably priced. They do serve an Ethiopian lager, St George Beer (he’s the patron saint of Ethiopia as well as England), which seems more exotic than the Kenyan one they have next door, as well as Brixton beers (should have gone for Kernel, or failing that, Kennington’s own Orbit).

St George Beer at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

But really, you should go for the welcoming atmosphere, and because you will never have been anywhere quite like it. Tonight could be the night – they’re open and have a duo playing covers and originals, then, as far as we can ascertain from their reservations tool, they’re not open again till February 1st.

Address: 48 Brixton Road, London SW9 6BT

Gasworks gallery

2015 was a big year for Gasworks gallery – they reopened to the public in September after purchasing the freehold on their Vauxhall Street site (next door to the actual gasworks, hence the name), and getting it redeveloped by architects HAT Projects.

Gasworks gallery exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The new look gallery is lovely and now fully accessible, and we loved 50% of the current exhibition by Guatemalan artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.

The first room is called Babylonian Fantasy and features four sculptures like this:

Babylonian Fantasy by Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

We liked these pieces less once we read that they were inspired by David Icke, but we loved the second and final room, an instillation called God’s Reptilian Finger. Here’s a photo of said finger and other objects, although you really need to be in the room to experience it properly:

God's Reptilian Finger by Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

Like Newport Street Gallery, Gasworks purports to be in Vauxhall but they are yards from the Oval Cricket Ground and we’d say they’re in South Kennington (AKA Oval). They have been around since 1994 running the gallery and offering studio space to artists, amongst other non-profit making activities.

They reopen on Wednesday after a Christmas break, and they’re open Wednesdays to Sundays midday to 6pm whenever there’s an exhibition on. Yes, this means they’re open Saturdays and Sundays, unlike some of Kennington’s galleries, so there’s no excuse not to get along before this exhibition closes on February 7th.

Address: 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH.

Pop Art Sushi and sushi in Kennington

Kennington has three sushi restaurants we can think of. SW9 Sushi at 62 Brixton Road is a reasonable neighbourhood Japanese. The Sushi Chef at 1 Kennington Lane (in between Toulouse Lautrec and The Lobster Pot and owned by the same people) mainly does catering for events but you can get individual portions as takeaway and it’s always likely to be fresh. But the strangest and most enjoyable of the three is Pop Art Sushi at the bottom of St George Wharf, facing the Vauxhall Gyratory.

Pop Art Sushi exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Why strange? There rarely seems to be anyone in there – we were the only diners throughout our visit. But the sushi and the service are really good, as are the 194 reviews on TripAdvisor which make it the 114th ranked restaurant out of 18,000 in London. What’s more, it doubles up as a pop art gallery, the Amstel Art Gallery (named after its founder so not to be confused with the beer). They say they were the first art gallery in Vauxhall back in 2011. They sell prints by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein alongside some original pieces by people we’d never heard of.

Roy Lichtenstein print

Roy Lichtenstein print

Imagine if Planet Hollywood did sushi, and pop art. You’ll never have seen a restaurant interior quite like it:

Pop Art Sushi interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Back to the food. It’s fresh, flavoursome, and affordable. The avocado nigiri (£7.19) were flawless:

avocado nigiri

The sweet potato croquettes were a little on the dry side but only cost £4.19:

sweet potato croquettes

Japan is not renowned for its deserts but these mochis – spice mango rice ice cream balls – were fun:

Mochi - spicy mango rice ice cream balls

Or if you want something more familiar, they do pancakes:

pancakes

We really would recommend paying a visit soon, and we want this unique restaurant to stay open so tell your friends how good it is.

Address: Pop Art Sushi, 8 Wandsworth Road, Unit 7 St. George Wharf, London SW8 2JW.

Finishing Touch bookshop and barber shop

Finishing Touch exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The day before the Kennington Bookshop was reborn as Vanilla Black Coffee and Books, another bookshop also opened just up the road. Finishing Touch, which flung wide its doors to the public on 1st November with a Day of the Dead celebration, is a bookshop, gallery and project space based in an old barbershop on Kennington Lane.

Finishing Touch launch event - kenningtonrunoff.com

the opening event at Finishing Touch

It will remain until February 2016, at which point, presumably, the person who bought the property will start converting it into something less exciting. The barbershop which preceded it operated at the extreme end of ‘by appointment only’ (we never saw a single client in there for well over five years), but this new incarnation is playing host to the very welcoming Open Barbers, hairdressing for all genders and sexualities.

Finishing Touch hairdressing chair - kenningtonrunoff.com

Finishing Touch will programme a series of events, screenings, exhibitions and performances, inviting artists to work with them in the spirit of the ‘salon’.

Finishing Touch publications on display - kenningtonrunoff.com

Run by the team behind Luminous Books, it supplies a well-curated selection of art and theory books and is perfect for a highbrow gift or two.

Finishing Touch books - kenningtonrunoff.com

They even sell tasteful marbled paper to wrap it all in. Oh, and tote bags of course.

Finishing Touch tote bags and wrapping paper - kenningtonrunoff.com

As a pop-up opening hours may change from week to week. You are advised to check their Facebook page for up to date opening times.

Address: 147 Kennington Lane, London SE11 4HQ

hello@finishingtouchshop.org.uk

openbarbers@gmail.com (Greygory – 07712090553 Felix – 07920832320)

Finishing Touch The Thing - kenningtonrunoff.com

Newport Street Gallery

Those of you who follow us closely on Twitter will know that our invite to the opening of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery (NSG) got lost in the post despite months of blatant solicitation. Nonetheless, we picked ourselves up and dragged ourselves along on the first day it was open to the public.

Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

NSG is a great building – lighter and more inviting than the Saatchi Gallery to which it has been compared (both having been built by rich people to show their huge collections of contemporary art).

Newport Street Gallery staircase - kenningtonrunoff.om

Well done to Damien who has certainly not skimped on this, and architects Caruso St John who were also behind the revamp of Tate Britain. The Guardian recently published an interesting article about the building and NSG’s issues with community outreach.

people at John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first exhibition is Power Stations by the late John Hoyland, whose huge, colourful but foreboding canvasses suit the space so well that it’s hard to imagine how smaller works will fare.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery under skylights - kenningtonrunoff.om

If you don’t like Hoyland’s stuff then you have a long wait for something else – this exhibition runs until April of next year.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery with sloping roof - kenningtonrunoff.om

Damien’s involvement in NSG is relatively inconspicuous until you enter the shop where there are eye-wateringly expensive skulls and jewellery galore. Newport Street Gallery’s shop is not the much-needed replacement for Kennington Bookshop as a place to buy a present a tenner – more like ten grand.

Newport Street Gallery skulls in the shop - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first day crowd was large and varied, and Beaconsfield, further down Newport Street, was the busiest we’ve ever seen it. We have no doubt NSG’s arrival will spark a new level of boom for the once-neglected area we call North West Kennington, others call Lambeth, and, in a blatant land grab of which we would have been proud, Vauxhall’s developers have decided is called Vauxhall. We’ll see about that:

Correction to Vauxhall sign outside Beaconsfield - kenningtonrunoff.com

The first floor of NSG is taken up by a restaurant named Pharmacy 2, a sequel to Damien’s Notting Hill restaurant that was open from 1998 to 2003. Whatever next – Fat Les reforming to play the opening party? Just as long as we’re invited that’s fine by us – and we mean now, not next year when Pharmacy 2 finally opens to the public. Altogether now: “Where on earth are you from?/We’re from Kennington”.

Kennington: Land of Letterpress

Kennington, epicentre of the London letterpress scene, has played host to many a typographic luminary.

Berthold Wolpe, one of the greatest names in type design, lived at Kennington Park Road until his death in 1989 and his Albertus typeface is used in street nameplates throughout our very own borough of Lambeth. Eagle-eyed Kennington Runoff fans may also have spotted it employed in our social media creative identity.

Dr Berthold Wolpe print

In the kind of tidy confluence of Kenningtonians that so delights Kennington Runoff, another SE11-based typographer, designer and letterpress practitioner Alan Kitching has created a print in honour of Berthold Wolpe (pictured above), and also one depicting the streets of Kennington (pictured below). Kitching’s studio on Cleaver Street is handily identified in this print, and they host a letterpress workshop there if you fancy joining the long line of Kennington letterpress creatives.

Alan Kitching and Celia Stothard Kennington print

Can’t make the dates for the typography workshop on Cleaver Street? Never fear, there’s a competitor round the corner at Iliffe Yard in the form of Mr Smith.

The Kennington Lane Press is the final stop on our tour of Kennington: land of the letterpress. They sell their hand-printed greetings cards at the North Lambeth Parish Fete as well as online, and will create bespoke thank you cards for all those local businesses looking for the personal touch when reaching out to thank us for our tireless promotion. Bribes always welcome alongside thank you notes.

Kennington Lane Letter Press stall at North Lambeth Parish Fete

Kennington Lane Press stall at North Lambeth Parish Fete

The Foundry

Did you know that Kennington is home to a new, RIBA award winning centre for human rights and social justice organisations?

The Foundry is on Oval Way, next to the gasworks:

The Foundry exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The interior is particularly impressive:

The Foundry stairs - kenningtonrunoff.com The Foundry interior - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

Beaconsfield are curating a selection of relevant art in the public spaces of The Foundry over the coming year. The current exhibition is called On The Wire, after the Leonard Cohen song Bird On The Wire, or perhaps the Kennington-based concert promoters of the same name, and runs until Friday.

This was our favourite from it – Mathew Gibson’s Checkpoint, with its echoes of MC Escher:

Mathew Gibson - Checkpoint - kenningtonrunoff.com

Most of the art is for sale, priced between £700 + VAT and £3000 + VAT.

The Foundry is open to the public on weekdays between 9am and 5pm, and is located at 17 Oval Way, SE11 5RR.

i’klectik Art Lab & Cafe

Update: i’klectik remains open as an arts and events space with a bar serving drinks and snacks, but they no longer serve meals from the kitchen

At the centre of Old Paradise Yard is i’klectik, an “art lab” and cafe that hosts everything from free jazz to life drawing to visual art shows to DJs, along with tasty vegetarian food. They have a friendly vibe, and a great building, so forgive them their cringeworthy name and get along there.

i'klectik exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We went along for the weekend veggie brunch, served from 11am-4pm, accompanied by a DJ playing funk classics:

i'klectik DJ - kenningtonrunoff.com

The menu is short but good, and there are plenty of snacks, teas and beers to choose from, as you can see here:

i'klectik menu and bar - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is their root veggie, millet and seeds burger with roasted sweet potatoes and coleslaw. Yes, we got overexcited again and started eating before taking the photo:

i'klectik root veggie and millet and seeds burger with roasted sweet potatoes and coleslaw - kenningtonrunoff.com

It wasn’t on the menu when we visited but this veggie rainbow tart they posted on Twitter looks amazing:

i'klectik veggie rainbow tart

It’s a nice bright space with high ceilings, and a diverse clientele:

i'klectik interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Some of the food is grown on site and you can taste the freshness:

herbs growing in a crate at Old Paradise Yard - kenningtonrunoff.com

They’re open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm, unless there’s an event on, in which case they stay open until 10.30pm.

Their website is not up to date so head to their Twitter or Facebook for more info.

Old Paradise Yard is at 20 Carlisle Lane, SE1 7LG, on the north side of Archibishop’s Park, yards from St Thomas’s Hospital.

The Maccabees’ new video is set in North Kennington

Indie rock heroes The Maccabees have many ties with North Kennington – some of the band live locally and they rehearse and record in a studio there (formerly owned by The Jesus & Mary Chain).

Now they’ve shot their new video Marks To Prove It in North Kennington – the spectacular view of the North roundabout you can see below is shot from everyone’s favourite modernist Kennington tower block Perronet House. They got there in the nick of time, just before the roundabout was besieged by roadworks: