HOMEGROWN artists have been able to display and sell their arty merchandise on Thornton Heath High Street after a charity shop was transformed in to a pop up gallery.

Over the last month the Salvation Army’s empty shop has been taken over by three artists who have each remodelled the space to reflect their unique creativity.

Samantha Warren, PINS and Wesley Baker are Thornton Heath natives and were keen to have a shopfront where they could display and share their art with local people.

During his two weeks PINS, a well known sketch artist who has earned an international reputation for his original comical and cheeky art concepts, decorated all the windows with coat hangers with the words ‘Hang in There’ above the door. 

The initiative proved such a success that both PINS and Wesley each extended their initial one week take over by an extra week.

Major Paul and Louise Wood of the Salvation Army made the artists dream become a reality when they decided to offer the former charity shop for use as a pop up after deciding to close it.

Paul said: “We do feel that the pop up shops have gone really well and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback for using the space in that way to support local artists – all credit to Samantha, PiNS and Wes for that. Samantha and PiNS were going to reflect on whether to continue with this in the New Year.  Should this not be possible, we will look at ways of how the space can be a resource for the community.”

Samantha’s whose series of prints including of Thornton Heath, celebrate Croydon debunking many of the negative messages said: “Visitors were 50/50 passers-by and people who had seen it advertised. Most people left having bought something and I received such lovely comments about seeing something new and different on the High Street and customers were really happy to see artwork of the area. Quite a few people bought Christmas gifts for their family members who grew up in the area who have since left and some customers purchased for their own home. I only received a couple of comments around the lines of why are you doing this here, Crystal Palace would be better etc…but it just goes to show that although that might be the perception of few, people were spending in the area and there’s definitely an appetite for supporting local crafts. It was match day on Saturday and it was great to have some of the lads pop in and enjoy looking at artwork of the area. Some grew up in the area and have since left and bought a souvenir.”

In his art installation PiNS, explored the art of healing through self-expression and good vibes selling a range of original art, clothing, tote bags and mobile phone cases.

PINS said: “A huge thank you to Paul and Louise who run the Salvation Army space, for allowing myself and Samantha to run the pop up – they’re hospitality and kindness goes beyond most, and engaging with the peeps of Thornton Heath provided valuable insight into the importance of having such active places available for people to connect and support local creatives.”

While in the pop up he used his creative time to write this mood enhancing poem (pictured above). 

Thornton Heath artist and photographer Wesley Baker, of CDN who has created a popular clothing line which he sold at the pop up said: “When it comes to Croydon people will tell you so much negativity but they .rarely talk about how strong and supportive the community is. Having this opportunity was thanks to Scene in Croydon, shout out to Bareface for being my first visitor and a long time support and source of advice. There’s so many fellow creatives trying to make ..it in the same space in this town but still the love is there so I thank you all.”