Rumours of the death of the Vyner Street creative scene have been greatly exaggerated. True, many of the snootier old-school art galleries that once lined this stretch of road along the banks of Hackney’s Regent’s Canal have upped sticks and jumped ship, but something rather exciting is happening in their place. Walk down Vyner Street today and it’s immediately clear that its mishmash of industrial units are now occupied by a driven bunch of artists, art collectives, social enterprises, maverick tech start-ups and multi-disciplinary innovators. It wouldn’t be fair to give all the credit to the folk at LimeWharf, but given they now occupy what feels like most of the street, they certainly merit a hat tip.
For the last year or so, LimeWharf has been gradually building a reputation as a community of innovation, a place where art and science come together and collaborate (generally on creating new technologies to benefit the developing world). There’ve been exhibitions, talks, screenings, shindigs, all sorts. Now, they’ve ratcheted things up a gear by opening the Machines Room (every home should have one), which contains a whole host of fancy kit, including laser and vinyl cutters, one mother of a CNC mill, a 3D printer, a digital kiln, heat press, sewing machines, electronics bench – whatever breed of maker you are, there’s something to play with.
All machines are open to both commercial hire and public access (with a little health ’n’ safety training and subject to some commercial access control, of course). LimeWharf founder, futurologist Thomas Ermacora, hopes that the Machines Room will help nurture innovation, act as an incubator for socially transformative start-ups, and help rescue Vyner’s Street’s reputation as the creative heartland of the East End. As he puts it, “Power to those willing to get their hands dirty…”