Meet East London’s Artskickers

Words Pendle Harte

East London’s Artskickers

Why is it that there are so many unsung heroes in the worlds of the arts? And why are so many of them in East London? Last year, Hackney-based mother-of-three Angie Gough set out to rectify the situation. She invited people to nominate their favourite Artskicker – a term she coined to cover anyone who ‘believes in the power of the arts to make the world a better place’ and who ‘harnesses that power to give people a #KickUpTheArts. And a year later she and her team of dedicated volunteers found themselves hosting a star-studded awards ceremony that left barely a dry eye in the room. A team of judges including artist Gavin Turk, actor Denise Gough, poet Lemn Sissay, Observer editor John Mulholland and musician Renell Shaw agonised over entrants that ranged from primary school art initiatives to community gardens to young musicians. So here are some of East London’s Artskickers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Artskicker Awards

The Winners


 Artist Yinka Shonibare MBE

Turner Prize nominee in 2004, Yinka’s “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2010 and was the first Fourth Plinth artwork commission by a black British artist. He is the founder of Guest Projects in Hackney, which enables artists of any discipline to access free exhibition space in East London. It’s a laboratory of ideas, a testing ground for new thoughts and actions, “a space to experiment and to fail”.

Judge Gavin Turk
Judge Denise Gough
Judge Lemn Sissay


Core Arts Mental health

Core Arts has been working for the past 25 years in Hackney to promote and provide opportunities for adults suffering severe mental health issues to explore and reach their potential in the creative arts, using the power of creativity to become a lifeline to wellbeing.

The judges said: Using the arts to challenge stigma, Core Arts focusses on the most excluded groups in society, building confidence and allowing vulnerable people greater control over their future.


Kenneth Greenway, Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Ken works for the innovative and outward looking Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery, leading the way in Tower Hamlets to combat nature deficit order since 2002. Nature is at the core of their activities but art is used as an engine to create a deeper appreciation and love of the natural world.

The judges said: Ken IS Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, his enthusiasm for the place is infectious and he communicates its value in way that is so engaging you can’t help but be fascinated by THCP. This attitude has meant that negative perceptions of THCP have been shattered and it has allowed others to find their special place and as a valuable resource for their activities.


The Ruff Sqwad Arts Foundation, Bow

Prince Rapid and Slixx from Ruff Sqwad established the Ruff Sqwad Arts Foundation to bring their experience of the underground Grime scene and DIY music making to disadvantaged and vulnerable young people in Poplar and beyond. They enable young people to develop their full potential through Grime music.

The judges said: Their work with Spotlight HARCA has directly contributed to reducing crime levels by 40% in the Langdon Park area of Tower Hamlets. Reducing crime, through Grime. Love it.


Hoxton Street Monster Supplies & The Ministry of Stories, Hoxton Market

The Ministry of Stories is a local writing and mentoring centre in Hoxton, where anyone aged eight to 18 can come and discover their own gift for writing. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is the public face of the Ministry, a shop staffed by volunteers drawn from the local community, selling a range of own brand products ranging from zingy lemon curd to slime and gobstoppers. The shop is branded and built entirely to buttress the work done by the Ministry of Stories.



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