Core Programme 2023
Let's have a festival!
Let’s have a festival!
2023 is the 25th anniversary of Deptford X. It was set up in October 1998 and the first Deptford X festival was held from 3 – 18 July 1999. It was run on a basically voluntary basis on a cash budget of £38,000, a lot of in kind support; and under the direction of Reuben Thurnhill, a local artist in his late 20s with a studio at Lewisham Arthouse. Another artist at the Arthouse, Rosalind Miller, had applied for a small amount of cash from Lewisham Art Services with a loose idea to start a Lewisham-wide art festival but asked Reuben if he wanted to take on the idea. In his own words in the 2008 10th anniversary publication preface;
“Deptford X fell into my lap. It was May 1998 and I was finishing my Goddard’s platter (pie, mash and liquor) when Rosalind Miller, a fellow “local” artist lent over. “Deptford’s arty, let’s have a festival – why don’t you run it?” I ordered spotted dick and custard, then agreed”.
A board was established in late 2000 and the organisation was incorporated in 2001. Every year since, bar 2020, there has been a Deptford X festival. Almost 1,000 projects have been staged by artists as part of the festival since 1999.
The exhibition is open during festival opening times and then Fri – Sun from 12-5pm until 15 October
Let’s have a festival! displays archival material including festival guides and maps, press cuttings, documentation of artists’ work and residual elements of past projects. These include a twelve year old biscuit from ‘The Deptford Biscuit’ project, 2011 by Bridgette Ashton & Nicole Mollett (featuring Big Fish), a comic by Janette Parris given away on market days in Deptford as part of her work ‘Brief Encounters’, 2015, and a piece of ‘Deptford Gold’, 2015 by Arnaud Desjardin,
Deptford X is a unique festival that is grounded in the specificity of Deptford itself; a place of change, charm and challenge. The festival’s history is intertwined, sometimes uncomfortably, with the development of the area. However, there is a deep and genuine creativity that exists in Deptford and Deptford X has been a stage for that over the past twenty five years. The task of conveying the projects and art works that have taken place as part of Deptford X is enormous. Therefore, space is left within this exhibition for visitors who have shown or staged work for the festival to contribute their own traces of projects past.
Carl Gent was invited to respond to the complexity of Deptford X’s history within this exhibition and their work serves to evoke the vibrant density of unique practices and projects that have taken place as part of Deptford X since 1999.