The Wapping Project Bookshop
by Pauline Stobbs
Recently, we journeyed to the east to find out more about The Wapping Project. Read all about Charlie Chaplin, industrial art spaces and a bookshop in a greenhouse after the jump. Written by, recent addition to the Annexe team, Pauline Stobbs.
Wapping is a dichotomic sort of place, boasting both an historic maritime character (many an alleyway to encounter an old sea dog) and the deathly quiet of luxury living developments of the 80s and 90s. It seems the perfect place for the The Wapping Project; a combination of contemporary art space and fine dining, all housed inside an old hydraulic power station. The massive project was founded by Jules Wright, who turned down a role running the Sydney Opera House to transform the moss covered derelict power station into the established charismatic arts centre. Unlike the Tate Modern which has all but banished its industrial interior, The Wapping Project maintains the hulk of the pumps, the naked brickwork and the powerful chains that ominously hang from the ceiling. The sleek modern tables and bars sit alongside the industrial past, and today it is the diners that create the electricity of the place.
The Wapping Project grew in 2008 with the launch of The Wapping Bookshop, housed in an eccentric greenhouse in the grounds. At regular intervals I have been receiving e-bulletins from the book mistress (now the book master) encouraging me to roll up for one of their events. Many stellar events stood out, including story teller Sally Pomme Clayton recounting ‘Persephone’ at the recent Yohji Yamamoto installation at The Wapping Project. However, it was the summer screening of ‘Mumbai Charlie’ that finally lured me east to explore. The independent short film by Deepak Verma is inspired by the Charlie Circle, a real life Charlie Chaplin appreciation society in a small town in Gujarat. Kulvinder Ghir (Goodness Gracious Me) stars as ‘The Doctor’ forever turning to the inimitable wisdom of the great entertainer to cure all stress and ills. The film was perfectly coupled with a screening of Chaplin’s masterpiece Modern Times. Lovingly, the bookshop provided deck chairs, blankets and over sized cushions amongst the grass for the films. Stretching the joy from our five pound ticket even further, the Director and bookshop served warming homemade thali kindly made by the director’s family and fiancée.
The Wapping Bookshop offers a friendly and relaxed dimension to the more imposing space of the Project. The bookshop itself stocks an impressive selection of art books and notable fiction to thumb. It also boasts a literary events programme bigger than the sum of its parts. Visitors spill out onto the grass to listen to the weekly author readings and discussions. There’s even a wood burning stove to stave off the chills this autumn. With upcoming events include new work from poet Melanie Challenger, Romanian revolution from Patrick McGuiness and the wisdom of Will Hobson, I recommend you don an extra wooly hat and set off to the odd little town of Wapping.