Camden Arts Centre

Happy New Year to all our readers! We are starting our 2020 bookshop tour at the vibrant Camden Arts Centre Bookshop. Camden Arts Centre is home to world-class contemporary art exhibitions and education. In addition to the gallery spaces and wonderful bookshop, there is a Café and Garden. The building includes studios which schools can use free of charge and in which people of all ages and abilities can take courses in ceramics, painting, drawing and writing. We chatted to Anya, Jack and Margo about what it’s like to work in such a stimulating environment and what exciting plans they have in store for the future.

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1. The Camden Arts Centre is such an exciting, vibrant space for showcasing contemporary art! What do you most enjoy about the shop being located there?

Being a part of Camden Arts Centre really enhances the customer’s visit as the stock reflects the current and past programme. Artists, staff and educators all recommend books that diversify the stock. Our visitor base is very diverse from young children through to elderly visitors with and without an arts background. The bookshop is fully accessible and is a welcoming space to browse and purchase books, stationary, greeting cards and artist editions stocked for our visitors.

2. How do the exhibitions and performances held at the gallery inform your book buying?

The exhibitions, public programme and education programme all greatly inform our book buying. For each new exhibition and artist residency Camden Art Centre produces a file note which is a small publication that includes an essay and a reading list suggested by the artist. These reading lists inform our book buying and we often continue to stock these items, which means our stock is continually changing and evolving directly from artist’s suggestions!

3. Which books do your readers prefer to buy? Are exhibition catalogues more popular or are your customers interested in a range of genres?

Current and past exhibition catalogues are always popular as are exhibition recommended stock. However, customers purchase from the full range of stock and art theory, philosophy and children’s books are very popular.

4. Your list of recommended titles includes a variety of titles from David Olusoga’s Black and British to Elizabeth Bishop’s Poems and Lubna Chowdhary’s book documenting the outcome of her 6-month residency in the ceramics department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. How do you decide on your recommended reads?

Our recommended titles are mostly directly influenced by artists we have worked with or are currently working with. Lubna Chowdhary was artist in residence in 1994 and has produced artist’s editions for Camden Arts Centre to raise funds for the exhibition and education programmes. Staff also recommend titles and often customers will too!

5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?

In 2020 Camden Arts Centre will be launching an exciting new website. We are also working on producing a catalogue for a group exhibition titled The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree which investigates the subjectivity and being of plants: their significance to wisdom-traditions, and how we engage with and activate them in culture, counter-culture, art and music. The exhibition opens in Spring 2020.