Essex Road 6 exhibition: ‘It’s encouraging people to value what they have on their doorstep’
PUBLISHED: 10:56 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 January 2020
Busy pavements and dawdling crowds are a nightmare. But if you’re trying to navigate your way through a mass of people on Essex Road this month – at the junction with Cross Street, specifically – there might be a reason for that.
It could just be that there's a slow walkers' convention in the area. But it's much more likely that these people are watching one of eight short films projected through the window of Tintype Gallery, as its Essex Road series returns.
The brief for artists is simple: make a short film that responds to this one London street. But the responses and interpretations from filmmakers have been richly different through the years.
Teresa Grimes, Tintype director, says: "The first year was a complete experiment, it was successful and I wanted to carry on doing it, and here we are in year six with 48 films made. It's a nice feeling to have achieved that.
"It's enabled me and the gallery to work with artists we wouldn't have done [otherwise], and that in itself is exciting. What I've been most surprised at [is that] you give the artists the same brief, but you get such a varied and diverse result.
"Looking back on the 48 [films] it's a nice feeling that you take a very simple idea and it has so many reverberations; you end up with a great body of work."
Essex Road 6 comprises of eight short films that each focus in their own way on this one-mile stretch which links Angel with Balls Pond Road. The movies are roughly five minutes apiece, and they'll be broadcast on a loop - with subtitles - on to the street until Sunday, February 9.
"Essex Road is so unusual because it has so many independent shops that give it a particular character," adds Grimes. "The idea behind the whole programme is to take a small area but look at it in great detail. It's hopefully encouraging people to value what they have on their doorstep."
Included on the bill for Essex Road 6 are Reading Room by Lucy Harris; a film that explores the striking features of Islington South Library - an "important community resource" in the words of Grimes.
Also shown will be Patrick Goddard's Halloween tale Black Valuation and 5 MINS, a film by Melanie Smith centred on the digital timetables at bus stops that tell us how long we've got to wait.
Grimes has been running Tintype for a decade, and the gallery has been a fixture on Essex Road for seven years now. Each of the filmmakers for this exhibition have received a small budget - "I should mention it's Arts Council funded, I couldn't do it without [their support]" - and they're combining to tell stories about a street which clearly means a lot to Tintype's director.
"Essex Road has memorable buildings like the South Library," she explains, "and the old art deco cinema which featured in several films in the past.
"[Also] the Criterion Auction rooms that many people are familiar with, plus all the independent shops like Steve Hatt fishmongers, Raab's bakery, James Elliott butchers - and of course WG Millers - the funeral directors. Essex Road has character - it's not bland!"
Essex Road 6 is at Tintype Gallery, 107 Essex Road, N1 2SL from January 9 to February 9. More details here.