At the opening of Celebration the Big Picture at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery I overheard one of the other guests saying, “This new part of London is fascinating”. Well, of course this isn’t a new part of London but it is fascinating.  Harry Forman opened his smokehouse in this area at the beginning of the last century. The area is in the process of change and the new Gallery is playing a key role in the cultural development of the area.  The gallery has been open since 2010 and is on the top floor of the new H. Forman & Sons factory and restaurant.  It provides a space for emerging and local artists to exhibit their work.  The large gallery space is enhanced by the iron girders which are sympathetic to the industrial feel of the place.  From the terrace you get wonderful skyline views across to the Olympic arena.

William Chamberlain is the manager of the gallery and has set an impressive timetable  of a new exhibition every month.  So there is no excuse for not visiting regularly. The exhibition featured  the work of 28 local London artists many of whom live in the area around Fish Island and Hackney Wick.  The theme celebration which was explored in ten different art forms including: painting, photography, mosaic, sculpture, installation.  The celebration theme included explorations of the Olympic legacy, relationships and the environment.  Some of the ceramic work was particularly interesting.  I chatted to Christopher Biggins who was particularly enthusiastic about the work of Maria Alvarez Echenique.  This was a large ceramic installation. The exhibition is curated by Sophie Veturini and Neha Malik, who exhibit their own work alongside well-known Hackney based artists, Soren Mayes, Nick Creber and Chev Mehmet.

The exhibition is sponsored by East Village which is the new name for the London Olympic Village.  From 2013 it will be home for more than 6,000 people. Obviously, it is surrounded by world class sports venues.  But the development of the artistic community ensures that this neighbourhood will provide all that is best in city living. East London just gets better and better.

The nearest stations are Hackney Wick and Pudding Mill Lane DLR.  I walked to Fish Island from Pudding Mill Lane.  The route takes you adjacent to the  A102 which is the road that goes south through the Blackwall Tunnel from here you turn on to the canal walkway.  It was astonishing that a short walk from the turmoil of one of London’s busiest roads you entered the tranquility of East London’s historic canal network.  As you arrive at the first lock you get the first glimse of the Forman Smokehouse with its distinctive design and colour. It was designed to resemble a piece from a salmon.

The exhibition is on until the 28th October.