It wasn’t that far away. We even shared one letter of the postcode, but I only got there weeks before it closed down.
Wapping Project was a cultural hub on Wapping High Street. The only cultural hub in an area strikingly quiet and residential. I mean, pirates used to raise hell in these parts like ages ago.
Now, imagine a disused hydraulic power station turned into an arts centre with cafe, exhibition and performance space. That’s the big city syndrome. One of them at least. Enough people with ideas and guts to move mountains and turn industrial space into comfy cafes, and mouldy walls into art.
I passed by the place several times. Same routine: stop, admire, read the posters and imagine things were shaking in there. The second time, we ventured in. Taken aback by the cafe prices, but staring like kids in a hydraulic station about to meet Father Christmas. Of course, the one residing in East London, with the sleek hair and green boots. At the time, they were between exhibitions, so we soaked up the ambiance and moved on. I went there two days before closing down. Cutlery, posters, bundles of books, all for sale. Same smell of fresh coffee in the air. A guy in a moustache was taking photos. A girl was browsing through the Wapping Project album. The Lady by the Sea was telling her story in the dark cold downstairs. Iceland. To the bone.
There have been rumours about the place closing down because of neighbours annoyed by the noise. What noise? The reality: they just sold it. Most likely a new fancy unapproachable restaurant will pop up. No ‘project’ attached this time.
They gathered up the project in the pages of a few art albums, videos, and fans memories. We don’t have a history together. We just met. I feel sorry we didn’t meet earlier. But hey, it’s London. Lord knows what is coming into being as we speak. This Project is dead. Long live London.