ARTMONGERS, founded by Patricio Forrester organized the Morning Masquerade for the inauguration with a popular dance led by Justyna Wadejko, followed by a simple but effective version of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata,. The play, which pulled the audience in to participate, was in the best street theatre tradition performed by Ben Frimet, Neus Gil Cortes, Piero Cachufleta, Rachnele Rapidsardo and Ciara, all wearing stunning masks. This was followed by an open mic, with some rock & roll played by Alex Brewed, and some Argentine folk songs by Corina Poore. Forrester particularly liked the idea of staging a masquerade on a cold and sunny Saturday morning, breaking the frame of what is expected to happen, with a play about power and a struggle for dominance, with the women refusing sex to their men in return for peace.
ARTMONGERS was founded in 2003, to continue to create sustainable creative public art projects, largely commissioned by the local authority. This idea was expanded in 2010 to include residents, creating another charitable organization called BOLD VISION, which united many small local initiatives under one umbrella, including the “Hill Station” Community Café, New Cross learning Centre and the Common Growth Community Garden.
Initially there was going to be no more than a restoration of his previous labyrinth mural, but once he started he decided to create a new vision entirely as he explains:
“I had a mural here before and it was looking very tatty. So I spoke to people about restoring it, at the local Assembly and we all came and looked at it and it was really disgusting. People were pissing on I as it is a corner used traditionally for street drinking and I’m okay with that but it has been a long journey. The first mural was painted here in 2006 and I felt tired and frustrated, and suddenly I thought: I will ring the mayor! He knows me because I have been working here in Lewisham for a long time, and so I said: Mr Mayor, I know you are going next year, but before you go please give me 2,500 quid to restore the mural. And he said: Yes, and when he arrived today he said: Hold on! That’s not the same mural, it’s another one!, So I had painted another one, I had a lot more energy for a new piece than restoring the old one, and that is how it started!
Hanger by Patricio Forrester
The first tentative designs for the new mural were posted on facebook and another local artist criticized the idea:
“She said (to me), your design is sh.., and your previous one was sh.. as well! This one is a little better but can’t you see that the space needs curves? I was upset because of the tone of the conversation but then I realized that actually, she was right about the curves! So I bought a bit of clay and I started thinking with my hands and that is really how the final idea came about, by using a 3-D clay model.”
Patricio Forrester is very pleased that the mural has been well received since he completed it 2 months ago, even the street drinkers like it!
Cow Bins by Patricio Forrester
Forrester was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1967, where he studied art from an early age under Kenneth Kemble, Felipe Noe and Luis Benedit. After a short stint in New York, he then completed a Masters at Goldsmith’s college where his passion for public art finally took shape. He has had many solo shows, but has concentrated on public art. One of his first public murals in Deptford was Hands Hoarding. There have been many works abroad including the Bellas Artes Fine Art Museum in Buenos Aires, and other local works include a series of works designed specifically for the Newcomen Centre,(for children in the autistic spectrum), at St Thomas’ Hospital in 2011, Brockley Key, His & Hers, Cowbins for recycling, that are now produced industrially all over the UK.
'His & Hers' by Patricio Forrester
Currently, Artmongers have been raising money for a second trip to refugee camps where they have dedicated their time free of charge, working with the communities in the camps to help improve their environment by encouraging creativity, colour and hope,. The first trip was a huge success. Next time they hope to go to Jordan but permission is hard to obtain for security reasons.