Banner Repeater – lowering the barriers to local art

Banner Repeater Hackney Downs Station

Banner Repeater Art Space at Hackney Downs Station. Photograph: Pink Water/Clunie Reid

What percentage of our lives do we waste staring at posters of lunch deals at train stations and looking sullenly up the tracks? What if, instead, you could idle your time looking at original art works and leafing through artist publications to keep yourself in the local art loop?

Banner Repeater, an art space on platform one of Hackney Downs overground station, offers just this. Part gallery, part archive of rare artist publications, it was set up with backing from local art grants by local artist Ami Clarke three years ago.

“We’ve got all sorts of things donated by different people – either independently published by artists themselves or independent publishers who work with artists, and we are home to Publish and Be Damned’s public archive,” says Clarke. “It’s very playful. A lot of this you’d be hard pressed to find on a book shelf unless you were looking specifically for it.”

It means beautiful and rare editions of artists’ books in danger of becoming lost in the slide to digital are buffeted back into the public eye. There are early editions of Smile and back issues of BANK donated by Simon Bedwell, as well as a piece where Elizabeth Price used the Hackney Gazette as material over a decade ago.

Being located on an open platform means people who might shy away from art galleries can wander in and take a look. The point is to join the dots between the artistic community and the public, and where better to do that than at a train station?

“We open up at eight in the morning and the platform’s packed,” says Clarke. “People pick up publications, take them away, have a read, put it down on a tube seat, then someone else picks it up and puts it down on the bus. Alternative ideas regarding disseminating artists work is really the driving force of the project.”

With recent Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price joining as a director last summer, Banner Repeater is gaining momentum, giving support to an experimental art programme and commissioning new pieces from emerging and more established artists. It is launching a new membership scheme for £25 per year, and the chance to win original work by Price herself in a lottery, to be drawn on March 22.

The scope of Banner Repeater’s work is far greater than it being a place to spend time waiting for a train. It is an important voice in the art world and with contributions from the likes of Paul Mason and Nina Power, Banner Repeater is proving that you don’t have to be a big institution to become a force of reckoning.

Banner Repeater
Platform 1
Hackney Downs station
E8 1LA

8-11am Tues – Thurs
8am-6pm Friday
12-6pm Saturday
12- 6pm Sunday (during exhibitions)