The Wapping Project is closing on Sunday 22 Dec 2013.
This is sad because it’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting spaces in London; a restaurant/gallery housed in a former hydraulic power station. Controversy abounds why this is happening – this Observer piece talks about the effect of rising house prices and NIMBY neighbours, pushing out culture to cultivate a sedate (unrealistic) London. Is the effect of regeneration, creating new communities that close doors to art on their doorstep? Perhaps the business model struggled in these tricky times; the restaurant was clearly the income generating side of things but to me, it was always a gallery first and foremost. Maybe others saw it differently and there’s where things became blurry.
The first time I was taken there was a hot date in 2005. Jerwood Fashion Film Fiction was surely the most ‘whoosh’ exhibition I had ever been to. Incredible clothes on ropes that you had to catch, and then could try on and a large clown in a tall lifeguard’s chair surveying it all. I’m sure this is when my interest in site specific and immersive art was cemented. I was lost. I liked it. I didn’t want to leave. That hot date and I went on to have a tasty son and though I have visited many times in between, this week, almost ten years after that first visit, all three of us popped down together. G ate raisins, we drank wine and then bought some of the crockery that was up for sale.
Jules Wright had the vision to see what this place could be when it was a derelict damsel in distress. It’s interesting that the second entry on google for her brings up ‘violently rude owner’. She’s now achieved a successful Wapping Bankside and when she gave a talk at an event last year I organised, she inspired many women in the room.
Whatever the reasons, whatever the gossip, I just really bloody wish it wasn’t closing. An exciting space which represents what we are lucky to have in London; historic architecture, exciting art, good food. And the river.