Toilet art gallery made homeless

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[from Islington Gazette]

Toilet art gallery made homeless

nlnews@archant.co.uk
09 July 2008

AN ART gallery created in an old toilet block in Finsbury Park has been left homeless after Haringey Council pulled the plug on its lease, it claims.

Fine arts graduate Shiri Shalmy, who runs gallery:space, has been forced to move the independent art centre out of its park home in McKenzie Pavilion.

She claims the council refused to renew her lease which expired at the end of June.

She said: “How do you justify shutting it down if you haven’t got an alternative?”

But the council stressed “there is no leasing arrangement for the building”.

The gallery had expected its rent-free tenancy would be renewed until the end of the year and had artists booked for exhibitions until then.

But the space will now be used by the council and the Friends of Finsbury Park as an information centre – with the council saying the gallery is welcome to apply to hold exhibitions there.

A spokesman for Haringey Council said: “It was always understood that Ms Shalmy could use the space while delivering the Friends’ of Finsbury Park Lottery-funded Heritage Trail project, which ran until March. We have supported gallery:space by allowing Ms Shalmy to use the pavilion free of charge.”

The council confirmed a condition of the grant awarded to restore the building was that it should be used as an “information resource” including community art projects.

A farewell picnic saw a swell of community support for the gallery which has seen 10,000 visitors throughout the year. “We’ve had 400 signatures on a petition and we’ve had letters from artists,” said Ms Shalmy.

The gallery has been run mainly with Ms Shalmy’s cash and the help of volunteers.

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