Image: Claire Oberst
Located in the heart of up-and-coming Peckham, Bold Tendencies is known for transforming an old parking stretch into a bustling rooftop bar and exhibit space.
The site is iconic, with its signature concrete, white swirly floor. The rooftop is located on top of the Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park, where Bold Tendencies, a not-for-profit organization, has been hosting a contemporary art program for more than a decade. The place is bursting with artful features: Frank’s Café’s Straw Auditorium designed by Practice Architecture, the pink neon staircase that leads mysteriously to the roof conceived by Simon Whybray, a multitude of orchestral and opera performances, site-specific commissions and diverse on-going events and workshops.
More than just an exhibition space, Bold Tendencies’ sister charity organization, Bold Everywhere, strives to inspire the local youth and to engage the community through curation workshops, hands-on learning experiences, lectures and outreach programs. All in all, the Peckham landmark is not just a breathtaking view of London or a bar that serves tasty cocktails, it is also and more importantly a haven for the arts.
Currently, the commissioned artworks featured throughout focus on the theme of ecology. Each piece contributes to a conversation around contemporary ecology as ‘a lens for analysing all that takes place on Earth and beyond’. The artists approach the topic and its relationship to society, whether referring to a more scientific or organic methodology, or to themes related to culture, nature, language or weather. At the top of the staircase, before stepping onto the seemingly-endless rooftop, there is a small room that lures you into its darkness. The artwork on its back-wall is by Arjuna Neuman, titled Liquid Violet. As you approach the rectangular neon sculpture, the optical effect is astounding. Everything becomes blurry; surrounding people turn purple and glisten, their eyes glowing like those of a creature. Neuman built the piece with a large blacklight structure set to provoke ‘an ecological response in the viewer’. The pattern is based on nautical wave charts and musical compositions; its effect highlights the power of perception as it challenges rationality and logic of the viewing process.
Another immersive piece is Emilija Škarnulytè’s Mirror Matter. The viewer steps into a circular tent-like space where one can lie on the floor and contemplate an alternate sky. Škarnulytè worked with an astrophysicist and a composer to transmit an audio frequency of X-ray data from a supermassive black hole into the dome’s shell. The audio-visual effect is entirely submerging, as if we were transported into scientific realms. Mirror Matter speaks of future archaeology and nonhuman, earthly characteristics.
From large penetrable installations to rich colourful sculptures, or details like Richard Wentworth’s brilliant insertion of books between the car park’s concrete ceiling and construction rods, the place is bursting in fascinating contemporary art. An evening outing to the Peckham landmark can begin with an artistic excursion and finish with a delicious plate of roasted vegetables and a breath-taking view of London. Bold Tendencies is always up to something—it is fresh and features the arts in the best possible way. A visit to the rooftop is highly recommended to anyone heading to South London in search of a vibrant spot!