A street art festival from the Wom Collective took place over the weekend in Camberwell. Called WOM Inspired it combined an art exhibition with live painting and community workshops. The all female collective took over a space on Denmark Hill in Camberwell with the event also coinciding with International women’s day.
We last featured the Wom collective when they took over the Leake Street Tunnel. That was earlier this year when 20 street artists got together for a paint jam. This next stage took the group a little further. Actually curating their first exhibition. Not content with just doing that, they turned it into a mini weekend long festival.
The Wom collective is ultimately a place where women artists can work with each other. That not only includes painting and exhibiting. It also includes the mutual support, mentoring and companionship that this can provide. “It’s about working together” I was told by Elno, one of the minds behind the idea. “We are so much stronger when we work together”.
Taking place in an old trading estate. They took over a series of empty buildings cleaned them up and turned them into an art space. The main exhibition element of the festival taking place in a vast hanger like room. Formerly a distribution depot, it was swiftly decorated by the artists and packed with art. Not only hanging on the walls but painting them as well.
Centre stage at the back a giant mural was created. Spelling the word WOM. Each section of each letter was painted by a different artist. In total 18 took part in the creation of just that one piece. It’s probably the most collaborated on piece of street art we’ve seen. The styles blending into one another as each of the artists took a section of the letter.
One of the key aims of the mini festival was to continue a movement. One where artists work together for the benefit of the whole. Outside of the gallery system this means that whatever they do the control is retained. From a development point of view, it’s also a shared learning space. Many of the artists taking part in the paint jams, still themselves getting used to working with spray paint.
Certainly for a number of artists taking part that was true. Accomplished in the studio it takes time to master a spray can in the street. For Carleen it’s all about practice. In particular it’s about feeling safe to go out into the street to do just that. Paint jams have been a hallmark of the Wom Collective events so far. Large grouping of artists painting together in one space at one time. The collective strength in numbers also adding to the confidence and the skills of the people taking part.
“We’re a support system” says Carleen De Soza. “There’s people that would not normally go out on the street to paint. But they would join us because they feel more comfortable.” This then is the heart of the collective and it’s great for the general public too.
The WOM Inspired exhibition and festival took place between 6-8 March 2020 in Camberwell. We visited the event on the 7th and 8th March.