Take London and you may feel overrun by culture. Take Shoreditch and you could only just escape the sea of hip and house. Stroll into Cult Mountain and you cannot flee from the art and design gods who are out to get you. My advice: Let them.
70 different artists – from cushion designers to cartoonists – occupy only 800 square feet, sharing their space with a hand-crafted bar, several café tables, and a whole world of personality. The bordering-on-kitsch display, as well as two lovely ladies, kept me rooted in this surreal haven for over an hour with stories of drive, passion and an insatiable love for ‘the new’. If you are the type of person who is constantly pursuing unattainable originality, you might just want to stumble into this little gem one day. Cult Mountain promises, from its very premise, the discovery of anything unknown as it climbs into London’s underground culture.
Britt, who co-owns the shop, tells me about her arrival in the city eight years ago. An established South African designer with the desire of making it “big in the city” (her words not mine), she struggled to find both support and outlets for her passion. Instead, she felt like she had landed in a factory that was commercializing designers and artists into logoed brands and craftless names. A little under a decade later, with a failed attempt to open a similar project in a run-down Hackney Wick bath shop behind her, Cult Mountain’s philosophy is based on a simple idea: there are lots of young, inexperienced artists in the city, there are hardly any platforms for them to use – until they find Cult Mountain.
…Cult Mountain is an adulterated playground…
As I listen to Britt’s courageous desires to become somewhat of a scout and mentor for emerging talents in London’s ephemeral maze of cultural identity, I can’t help but touch Lucy Sparrow’s Prozac cushions – a comical take on society’s drug issues – or Fumbalina’s head pieces – intricate designer items taking baroque dames to a Victorian fun fair. This incredibly wonderland resembles what I could only imagine Vivienne Westwood’s atelier on dope to look like.
The shop’s layout changes completely every two weeks, mirroring the endless possibilities we see in its artwork. There is nothing that is thoughtless or commercialized about the products in Cult Mountain. Like a colourful library, many pieces are thought provoking and sustainable, an “upcycling” paradise with unpredictable outcomes. For us restless kids, Cult Mountain is an adulterated playground. For the philosophical minds, it is a space to contemplate art’s insanities.
…it is the missing link between the two with an ambition to nurture unknown potential in London…
What strikes me one hour and a Teapig tea later (they also sell Monmouth coffee for the latté aficionados out there) is the unique role Cult Mountain is taking on in Shoreditch’s circus-like cultural arena. It is not a gallery that picks and chooses as such, nor is it an art school that teaches you everything. Instead, it is the missing link between the two with an ambition to nurture unknown potential in London. In the process of doing so, it welcomes the explosively creative Tracey Emins in us as much as it embraces the old Pluto dogs with their curious noses. Cult Mountain is a hub down future lane that is not to be missed.
Upcoming events include art opening next week on Thursday 5th December. Check out their website here.