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491 Gallery

"The Temporary Autonomous Zone is like an uprising and doesn't engage directly with the state, a guerrilla operation that liberates an area [of land or time or imagination] and then dissolves itself to reform elsewhere/elsewhen before the state can crush it." Hakim Bey

491 gallery has seeded within a building which has been abandoned for 8 years since the completion of the M11 road link. In place of racist graffiti once found covering the walls are artworks and sculptures by local and visiting artists. Where human faeces was once festering over the floor, people play, dance and relax. In the outside yard, 8 years of fly tipping, rat pits and rotting matter have been cleared to make way for an evolving garden, pond, sauna, and stage. Broken windows are fixed and act as projection screens for passing people and traffic, lighting up what has for nearly a decade been an eyesore, an empty skull.

491 is one of a number of temporary autonomous zones that have sprung up from the Warp Experience. The infamous multimedia extravaganza centred around a 24 hour play, that used to take place regularly at the Drome in South London.

491 is an evolving play-space, currently offering workshops every week-day, regular events including Iggy Shark & co. theatrical productions and Michelle's Meta Conceptual Cabaret. People are invited to join us for Working Weekends; all in all a place for people to come and find out what they might like to offer, what dreams they might like to realise.

491 is a place where structure isn't too rigid, allowing everyone here to challenge themselves to doing something quite extraordinary. As neighbour Bright from Malawi wrote in the comments book "This place bears no resemblance to what it was 4 months ago, even movie directors wouldn't dare do this. It is a great thing when an idea has found its time to come, and time has come for Leytonstone to support The Art Organisation."

491 is getting closer to the community, soon to take part in the Leytonstone Arts Festival in July, providing street theatre and a somewhat subversive Leytonstone Fringe Festival. We will also join the Swaines Green Festival helping save green land in Epping from private development.

When faced with the possibility of a recent eviction of 491, the local council was moved enough to suggest two possible properties to move to, not wanting to lose the 'art activists' of Leytonstone. (STOP PRESS - the owners have now agreed to a peppercorn rent agreement for the next three years, giving the place medium term stability).

As of June 2002 the community of 491 has grown to eighteen people, living in and around the gallery. Those sleeping in the building are part of the breathing exhibition which is this living arts piece - while others come in to support particular projects and events.

491 acts as the base for several other projects including Festival of Flight, Masala Theatre Productions, and is home to teachers, playwrights, craftspeople and more.

491 will soon open the 'work-shop' a place for artists to create and sell their work.

491, Grove Green Rd, Leytonstone, London E11 Tel: 07932 762 5871