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.”