Nerve Centre Launch

The Nerve Centre
The Old Rapid Paint Shop
Renshaw Street
Friday 13th August 2010

Reviewed by John Owen
Photographs by Amy Scott-Samuel

The opening night at the new Nerve Centre in the old Rapid Hardware next to Lewis’s on Friday 13th August was chilled, exciting and the place to be Despite the omens no shenanigans of a bad sort occurred. On the contrary a new baby or old baby was born, as a space was carved out for the city’s artists to use but not exclusively, also a free discussion area - a creative centre that seeks to merge art and the people and change the world with collective activity and mutual collaboration. Rock on.

Music, poetry and legendary harpist Stan Ambrose set the tone as the place filled slowly but surely to the rafters with no room to spit pips, but the mood was enlivened with rousing socialist anthems and songs of struggle from here and afar. The Socialist Choir - a feature on demonstrations in the city - is here to stay. The world is our city and worth fighting and dying for as people recounted poetry with anger and humour, followed by some ambient soft music that cooled the atmosphere to a breathable mix. With free food and wine easing the tensions and old and new greeting and talking the night was a resounding success.

The artwork on display ranged from abstract photography to pencilled cartooning to the Nerve covers, charting the progress of the magazine which was the brainchild behind the centre idea. Potent symbolism of cultural oppression and consumption in society dominated by image brands and cultural blandness this fresh assault on the senses proved most stimulating.

A sculptor of a naked man rivaling Dickie Lewis next door, could have been his cousin, stood guard, he didn’t seem to mind. The evening was the culmination was the combined efforts of a small band of people who laboured through might and main to bring together the separate strands of art and culture, politics and trends, music and poetic people, that ever walked or talked in the city. Trojans of culture, apartan with themselves, but their belief in the idea and its time was accurate, the backbreaking endeavors both mental and manual. This labour was a superhuman effort of people who have lives too, but pulled out all the stops to get this thing going, and were biggest fighters for its success

Themes vary, wires get crossed, nodal points meet leylines like niknaks get crossed. This helps bring to life new things, a hub a centre a truly marvelous space strong and new. The coordinator a young woman who deserves all credit for pushing the right buttons to create a scene like this, Amy was the engine or locomotive of the revolution here. Those that doubted were proved wrong. She beavered away, pestered, annoyed, irritated, but eventually got this moving along with the deft skill and light touch plus ballsy attitude that deserves special credit; we can all learn something here. Know it all veterans like myself and some other old timers proved the adage the best tutors are also the best pupils.

Taking up the gauntlet thrown down, talking the idea for the space till it wore thin like the cardboard in the shoes of the poor, angels who fear to tread on no corns, all obstacles were overcome, resistance met and avoided, got round over or under, in truth a miracle of organisation. Despite the climate of cultural death stalking the city as jobs go and buildings shut down, this centre will be a beacon to those excluded minorities and migrants and low paid to use to help turn around their situation. No magic solutions or panacea but just space to talk free and clearly those with no voice will have an echo chamber - a soviet of the oppressed artistically speaking.

Four weeks is a long time in politics; who knows what will happen? Watch but more importantly use this space and help shape the city. Influence its culture, change the world. Rapid may be slowing down but we are speeding up.

There is also an exhibition of art by artists involved with Nerve on for 4 weeks, including John O'Neil, Colin Serjent, Carl Fletcher, Paul Hunt, Jazmine Sinclair, Sarah Nicholson, Kaety Moore and others.

Nerve Centre website and Blog

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