Monday, 23 October 2017

Former Czech bookstore in London to turn into gallery

ČTK |
2 October 2017

Prague, Sept 29 (CTK) - Notting Hill Books, a former popular but now abandoned bookstore on the plot of the Czech embassy in London, might be transformed into a gallery and an office aimed at London hipsters, Czech daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Friday.

Run by Sheila Ramage from 1968 to 2012, Notting Hill Books was popular with bookworms even long before a similar store in its vicinity became famous thanks to a love comedy film from 1999 starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts and named after the Notting Hill neighbourhood, LN writes.

Even before, Ramage's store had a loyal group of fans such as poet Charles Boyle and historian Paul Johnson. They visited it in search of new and second-hand books, including those unavailable elsewhere, the daily writes.

Ramage paid the rent to the Czechoslovak and later the Czech state, since her store was situated on the embassy's plot.

Most recently, the Czech Centre in London launched a public fund raising campaign in support of a project dubbed A Cabin and planning to transform the former store into a gallery.

"We hope that the reconstruction will start next year," the daily quotes Tereza Porybna, director of the Czech centre supervised by the Foreign Ministry, as saying.

"It will be an interesting contrast. Next to the embassy building, constructed in the brutalism style of the 1960s that is highly appreciated by London hipsters, there will be our Cabin, built in a do-it-yourself style," Porybna said.

The Cabin will be made of wood, with a glass roof and a small office looking into a garden. Most of the costs, which are estimated at two million crowns, will be covered by the Czech Foreign Ministry, and the rest by donors.

The new exhibition premises open to the street might become a shop window of Czech cultural diplomacy in London, LN writes.

"We want to use the Cabin to offer events aimed at the young generation, with an accent on Czech-British art...Of course, we hope that someone will like the small office there and will rent it so that the Cabin generates revenues for us," Porybna said.

She said the Czech School Without Frontiers, a voluntary organisation of expatriates has shown interest in giving Czech language lessons in the Cabin.

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