‘It’s a pretty amazing moment’: Artist sees work on billboards as community music venue gets ready to open

Huge billboards have appeared across Lewisham to promote the opening of the borough’s first community owned music venue.

Sister Midnight will open to the public in the spring of next year, having secured a 10-year lease of the former working men’s club – The Brookdale Club, in the Catford Centre, earlier this year.

The artist behind the 10 large scale prints, Toby Evans-Jesra, 29, who lives between New Cross and Deptford, and has lived in South-east London for six years, said the new venue would fill a “gaping hole” in the community.

He said: “Music venues are criminally underfunded and there is a real lack of affordable places where young people can get together.

“So much is getting gentrified – we get new things but it’s fancy cocktail bars that aren’t really serving the people here.

“Sister Midnight will be filling a gaping hole in the community for a venue this size and driven by this sense of community.

Toby Evans-Jesra said his works include colourful, dynamic scenes with cartoon creatures (Picture: @tobyevansjesra)

“That’s the scene I was trying to depict in the work for the billboard – the community of South-east London.”

Sister Midnight is the brainchild of Lenny Watson, Sophie Farrell and Lottie Pendlebury, the lead singer of Peckham punk band Goat Girl, who say the space will become a unique and affordable music venue.

Mr Evans-Jesra has been a part of the Sister Midnight network from the start, performing as an artist at their original venue and designing Goat Girl’s second studio album On all Fours with his brother, Aidan Evans-Jsra.

Ms Watson said: “Our friend and collaborator Toby has surpassed our expectations once again in creating this beautiful artwork that captures perfectly the sense of joy, excitement, and community spirit that we want our venue to bring to Lewisham.”

Mr Evans-Jesra has also established himself as a cornerstone of the South London DIY music scene, with his artwork printed across gig posters, zines, badges and album covers.

He said: “I’ve been working as an illustrator and musician since my early 20s.

“When I was asked to do a scene of the community for these billboards it was really exciting.

A billboard near Goldsmiths University promoting Sister Midnight – which will open their new venue in the Catford Centre next spring (Picture: DIABOLICAL)

“We used my previous work as a reference point – I do a lot of colourful scenes which are very dynamic with cartoon creatures.

“The idea was something as dynamic and vibrant but to have the people not look as horrible.

“I’ve never seen my work like this before – nothing on this scale so it’s kind of crazy and a pretty amazing moment.

“One of my billboards is on my way to work so I cycle past it every morning, it’s really nice.”

The 10 billboards have been put together by DIABOLICAL agency, part of the BUILDHOLLYWOOD company that has worked with the music industry, labels and artists for more than 30 years.

Toby Evans-Jesra said he was trying to depict the community of South-east London in his work for the billboards (Picture: Toby Evans-Jesra)

Sister Midnight will have a membership system allowing those from the nearby community to help decide how it can be best used.

Having garnered over £350,000 in funding donations from the community, Sister Midnight has now started the process of transforming the old working mans club into their very own grassroots venue.

The space is expected to have a 250 people capacity, a community cafe space and affordable space for rehearsal and recording artists.

Pictured top: A billboard in New Cross Road shows the work of 29-year-old artist Toby Evans-Jesra (Picture: DIABOLICAL)

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