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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

MA Interim show image turns out to be a drug den

I'm nearly crying laughing having found this out from a friend who used to live nearby the Grade II Listed Cementation furnace in Kelham Island...

I made the original artwork, an A4 sized, acrylic on canvas painting from a photo of me and my best friend hanging off the railings which surround what is the last remaining cementation furnace in the whole of the UK. The structure is Grade II listed and located on a building site, surrounded by derelict, graffitied warehouses and several brothels - it's the really edgy part of town. I never felt safe walking through there at night on my own, having been stopped multiple times by men "asking for the time" and youths (who look barely 16) offering to deal me weed. I made the painting as part of a series celebrating the industrial heritage of the city and "re-imaging" how the space exists (at the time I didn't know it was being used as a drug den, but now that I do - I think the painting is hilarious, especially given the strobe lighting effect).

The structure is surrounded by metal railings and the gate is permanently locked. But funnily enough, these "security measures" aren't enough to keep criminals out. And I found out last night from my friend who used to live nearby, that she reported the site to the police because drug dealers had broken into the structure and were using it as cover for criminal activity - apparently, the police were unaware despite the site being full of needles. Anyway, I am enjoying this knowledge even more, knowing that this painting is the image Alex Schady chose to represent the MA interim show at Central Saint Martins. 😂😂😂

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