Community  /  Culture  /  Insight
By Patrick Keogh
8th Jul 2024

I was watching a TV programme the other day about Naples hosted by the rather charismatic, Stanley Tucci. In the opening sequence, Stanley takes the viewer into the dark heart of the city; a place he describes as “hot, fast and a feast for the senses.” Having visited Naples a decade ago, these words resonated. I recall a place of history, vibrancy, life. A place of culture, tradition and reinvention. A place where Neapolitans actually live. A place built over time; forever evolving.

Why, you might ask, is any of this relevant to our recent work with Related Argent in Brent Cross Town? I’ll come onto that.

But first, I wanted to set out our belief in the power of art – visual, spoken, written, filmic – to make our cities and communities richer places to live and be. Towns can be so disillusioning, so depressing. But urban environments with culture – with art – these places are magnetic. Who doesn’t want to be part of a place with an artistic soul or a strong beating creative heart? If you don’t believe me, look at how Shoreditch and Margate became thriving, desirable destinations. Artists arguably resurrected both of these places – creating a popular halo effect and a safety net for hip new restaurants and galleries and community centres and independent businesses to not only open, but to thrive. The same is true of the Latin Quarter in Paris, Arles, parts of the South of France. Artists make places interesting and cool. Places where artists are become a scene. And scenes become a vibe.

So that’s what we did for our first project in Brent Cross Town.

We sent in the artists. And the initial results are exciting. There’s been a strong emotional response to The Maze being installed last week and it’s been a pleasure to collaborate with three highly accomplished young artists – Josephine Hicks (Dublin), Lois O’Hara (Brighton) and Amara Por Dios (Stockholm) – as well as the multifaceted Jimmy Bridges whose eye-catching designs for the external parts of the Maze took inspiration from the New London Fabulous Movement. And it’s definitely caught the social eyes of the media and influencer community too.

It’s too early to know Brent Cross Town will be London’s next big scene but what I do know is that there’s joy and pleasure in working with artistic people; the optimists who make with their hands and create with their eyes; those who trust their instincts. With people.

And this brings me back to Naples and, indeed, every great place I have visited. When you strip away what makes a place special, it is never just the buildings, it’s always the people. And that’s what gives Brent Cross soul. From the people who already live and work there to those working behind the scenes on making Brent Cross Town (it just so happens, these are also the great people behind the thriving Kings Cross neighbourhood) a thriving new place; one with spirit, creativity and real community at its heart.