Queens Road Peckham native Ivan Blackstock is a man of many talents. Starting out as a dancer touring with the Pet Shop Boys, he has evolved into a respected choreographer, creating routines for the likes of Rita Ora, Dizzee Rascal and The Young Vic.
Blackstock is now looking to take the lessons he’s learned from the entertainment industry and pour them into CRXSS PLATFXRM, a new festival that’s already had events at South Bank Centre and will soon arrive at Peckham’s Copeland Gallery on the 18 & 19 of August.
CRXSS PLATFXRM serves as a showcase for the next wave of talent from Peckham’s rich cultural scene. Envisioned as a “multi-disciplinary creative platform”, it will feature performances from spoken word acts, such as Magero and the Brotherhood, as well as artists such as Kofi M, Nula and Rowdy SS. You could say things have gone full circle for Blackstock, whose mum still lives on the Copeland Road. “If you want to catch onto the next wave in art before it happens then Peckham is the place to go to,” he insists. “We’ve produced everybody from Giggs to Ashley Walters and John Boyega!”
He adds: “CRXSS PLATFXRM is about providing a link for street culture to the mainstream. I want to give these incredible local artists a platform to be heard.” The fact he can pop into his mum’s for a cuppa doesn’t hurt either!
And once the festival’s done? He’ll surely be paying at least one of his favourite venues a visit, as told to Thomas Hobbs.
“There’s no question that south east London is seeing a lot of gentrification right now, just look at what’s happening over in Brixton! But Peckham caught onto this trend early and we all said let’s do something about it and actually empower our local people.
“For us, it isn’t gentrification, but about regeneration. I’d say few places embody this spirit more than Holdrons, which is a space that hosts 20 small retail businesses. It has so much history and you can get anything there from a shirt to a drill. There’s so much upcoming streetwear here too, with pioneering brands such as Wavey Garms and Tens Studio selling clothes on site. The Balamii radio station it houses is also important as it really empowers local artists.”
135a Rye Lane
“When this first opened up I was a little fearful as a lot of shops had to go to accommodate it. But it’s a really intimate space, where you can have a deep conversation. The owners are young too so they are really open to working with the local community. What I love about it is it’s a bar downstairs then it’s like a restaurant and a living room upstairs with sofas and a real chill vibe. On weekends, they open the windows and it transforms into this crazy club. Nothing is what it seems here; a lot like Peckham itself!”
157-159 Rye Lane
“Going to the cinema costs a bomb in London so this makes the Plex really important as you can go see a new film for about a fiver! There’s literally generation after generation of local families who’ve gone to see movies here. It’s important as without it some of the locals would be priced out of going to the cinema completely. The fact Peckham Levels is close by means the Plex is right in the heart of things.”
95A Rye Lane
“This is a spot for the community and has everything from bars, food and hair salons to club nights. It’s like one of those places you find in Barcelona where everything is under one roof. I would say drop everything and attend Ghost Notes at Levels. It’s a club night where you’ll see where the future of music is headed, and was one of the first places to really get behind the jazz renaissance we’re currently seeing in the UK scene. What’s not to love? They literally transformed a seven-storey car park into a cultural hub for Peckham! I love the Bussey Building too, as it’s also going out of its way to empower local culture!”
Peckham Town Centre Carpark, 95a Rye Lane
“This used to be a pretty standard pub, but they’ve refurbished it into something really special. The Prince is a safe space for the youth of Peckham, whether that’s the black or LGBTQ community. The food is amazing in there too, which helps! On a Friday or Saturday, there’s not many better places to be in Peckham. It’s now black owned too, which means it’s really grounded in the community.”
1 Clayton Road
CRXSS PLATFXRM takes place on 18 & 19 August and is free to attend.