One year on… and gallery lies empty

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Islington Tribune – by PETER GRUNER
Published: 21 August 2009

Shiri Shalmy

One year on… and gallery lies empty

A YEAR after arts exhibitions were kicked out of a converted public toilet in 115-acre Finsbury Park, the building remains empty.
And this week a row blew up over the eviction of arts promoter Shiri Shalmy from the gallery she had lovingly created with thousands of pounds of her own money.
Haringey Council, which runs the park, ordered her out in July 2008 because the building was needed urgently for a new information centre.
Paul Morris, chairman of independent enterprise board FinFuture, said: “Obviously, they may well have a practical and sensible use for the building in the future. Although they may have a more viable use for the building, until they are ready to start they could have put her on a month’s licence.”
He added: “I thought the gallery was a nice local effort.”
Islington Green councillor Katie Dawson said: “It’s a wasted resource and needs to be used for the community.”
Ms Shalmy has since become the contemporary curator at the £10million Jewish Museum in Camden Town, due to open early next year.
She has indicated she would be unlikely to return to Finsbury Park even if she was offered her old gallery back.
Ms Shalmy said: “Despite all my efforts I was treated pretty poorly at Finsbury Park and I have a new direction to my life now.
“But it is sad that the building is still empty because someone could make a go of a gallery if not me.”
The gallery, opposite the lake, boasted hundreds of visitors each week, including peace campaigner Bruce Kent. It received a £3,000 grant from Islington Council.
Artist Graham Carrick, who exhibited regularly at the space, said: “I’ll never understand why they closed her down.”
Ann Barwick, chairwoman of the Friends of Finsbury Park, said the building was always intended to be used an information centre.
She added: “The building is occasionally used for children’s art classes and by the Play Association.
“But we are still encouraging Haringey to completely fulfil its promises to turn it into an information centre.
“It was never meant to be exclusively used just as an art centre.”

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. maxine bailey says:

    I was shocked to see this spaced closed after the magnificent effort put in to turning it into a fantastic gallery space, i feel that finsbury park “friends” severely let down themselves and the locals, particularly as it is still empty!!! with the odd half baked kids art class and still no information centre, an information centre could have been part of the gallery space usage. Very very disappointed in the finsbury park “friends” and not too keen to get involved with their future projects, this girls worked very hard to get the gallery space and it was a popular attraction to the park and locals, offering the prospect to locals and other to show their work, we have a very creative community. All that I can say is that I loved that little gallery and was very proud if it, I dont know all that details of how and why it closed, ns for so long, but if the people responsible are also responsible for an information centre, then can i please have a job? I am sure that i could do better than you have done, particularly as there has been no info regarding this site since it closed!!!! What a waste in a time of frugality – you amaze my as to how you all still have jobs, are you connected to the council or something?

    1. T O'Leary says:

      You’re quite right in what you say, but the comment about ‘the half baked kids art class’ is maybe a little unfair,

  2. maxine bailey says:

    Sorry to Shiri, you really did make a difference, had some amazing exhibitions . combined local and world issues, i would say that you even provided a space and opportunity for people to think more creatively and community to come together. One of the best projects that i have seen in years, really sorry that the powers that be have done this to you and to us, i think it is a disgrace. Boo to them!

  3. maxine bailey says:

    We were all very proud of what you had done with the space, i am gutter still that it has gone and even bigger crime, nothing at all has happened, no wonder the gov and local councils are in such a mess, i dont think that they can blame the bankers this time? sorry to keep commenting on this, but I really loved the place, the opportunities that it offered. From nasty and pretty unusable toilet to beautiful little gallery and hope How could you have done this, I do not believe that it was because there are plans for an information centre, its not adding up. I wonder what personal issues or drama instigated the closure , again i am sorry that we lost Shiri she was also very good at helping out with explaining work that I didnt understand, a real treasure and a massive loss to the community. Note to the person responsible, go get a job somewhere else, you are too selfish to work on a community project!

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