James Edson migrated South from Sheffield and made London his home a long while back now. We’re glad that he did, he has been a great friend of everyone at Slam for eons. Edson is motivated on and off his skateboard. People often talk about projects and never get round to them while most of the ones he has seriously considered have come to fruition. We have enjoyed watching his gallery thrive and grow over the past few years. With a new project of his own on the horizon in a different space and Winter’s constraints offering question answering time I thought I’d fire some over to him. He got back straight away…
Words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. James Edson and a Polar bear at the gallery
Your Brixton housing situation back in the day began the Palace notion. Explain briefly your journey from then as a PWBC founder to your current situation as gallery owner…
The Brixton Palace was a sick skate house with all the crew pretty much living there and just skating everyday. We had a wall of VHS and lots of weed. Everyone who came through London ended up staying there.Everyone formed a really tight bond and carried on moving from house to house with pretty much the same crew to this day. That whole part of life has influenced everything now creatively like the gallery and the skate company. There was so much inspiration flying around it would have been a shame not to do something with it.
Lots of fun has happened in the last fifteen years in different residences, including a brief spell in Barcelona. What place of residence holds the fondest memories?
Lots of fun for sure, Barcelona was awesome, all the houses have been pretty epic. Good times and good people. Would be hard to say which holds the fondest.
How did the gallery come into existence and how long has it been going now?
It was an idea for quite some time but it seemed unrealistic, space is so expensive in London and hard to find. It was lucky how it happened really, I was talking to a mate at a party who had a bike workshop about how i wanted to get a space and blah blah and then 2 months later he called me up and said he was moving out and did i want to take it over? So sick!! it took a while to get it up and running, we had a pool table and a whiskey sponsor for a bit so we had to get that out of the system first. It’s been about 4 years now.
Wayward Gallery. Mowlem Street. East London
What have been some of your favourite shows there?
Wow i don’t know, there’s been so many good ones, Jethro‘s was sick, Gogy and Nikolai Rose was banging, Thomas Richardson was good, that was the opener! Toby Shuall, Louis Slater, too many good ones!
You’ve always had good projects on the boil. I really liked the Persian Rugs zine, what have you got going on right now personally?
Stoked, cheers! At the moment I’m working on a photo show and a website that goes with it. It’s kind of a retrospective of about 20 years worth of stuff. I don’t think it will be what people expect maybe. It’s a project drawn from all the inspiration and influences of being around skateboarding but not necessarily directly to do with skateboarding if that makes sense. Memories, friendship past and present, travel, all that good shit.
When and where is the new show going to be? What inspired you to go ahead with this project?
It opens on Thursday 31st January at 6pm for one week and the address is 38 Stoke Newington Rd, N16,7XJ, London (next door to Bardens Boudoir)
I’m not sure why I was inspired to go ahead with the project, I think maybe because i wanted to give thousands of images some sort of structure and break them down into something that made sense in my own head, like filing memories or something. Not necessarily with a narrative that would mean anything to anyone else, well,maybe some people. I don’t know.hopefully people will find some of them pretty.
The Wayward gallery has done well as a space, it as an empire is in it’s incubation stages. Your shirts are available in Slam, can we expect more where this came from?
Haha! Empire is maybe a bit strong! If it funds itself and enables me to work on other projects that’s cool and if people are stoked on it thats sick. It’s rad if it can be a platform for other people to show their work and put stuff out there. Me and Louis and Martin are working on a little project but i’m not allowed to speak about that just yet.
You’ve been shooting skate photos a little recently, is this something you can see yourself getting more enjoyment from in the years to come?
Yeah i have a little bit, I enjoy it yeah, keeps me out on the streets hahaha! When the old bones are too tired to skate. I’ve got a lot to learn but i’m definitely going to keep doing it for sure.
Beach photo by James Edson
Can we expect Wayward gallery expansion/overseas projects?
I don’t know,maybe at some point, bits and bobs have been thrown around. Will have to see. need to pay the bills over here first!
You mentioned Louis and Kenelly who are two of your oldest friends still keeping it real in Chesterfield and supporting the scene. Describe the two of them for people who don’t know them and how important what they are doing is.
Just solid dudes really, keep on keeping on doing their thing.They do what they do regardless, paying little attention to all the bullshit or maybe paying attention and laughing at it. They’ve both been deep in the game for years here and in America.
How do you feel the skateboard scene in London has changed in the last ten years. Has it?
I think it’s changed in the fact that there isn’t the elitism anymore that used to exist when certain companies were in power so to speak. Everyone is more welcoming and the the whole attitude thing has gone. It doesn’t matter about how good you are at skating but more if you sit down, wrap a zoot, drink a beer and be nice. Not to say that we don’t have the best fucking skaters in the world though as well haha.
It seems like there are just as many positive things happening now around the scene as there were when shows like Side Effects were happening as well as the strong contribution CIDE had. How big an inspiration were things like these and are you conscious of the baton being passed or is it something you don’t really think about?
Obviously Toby and Greg and the Ice palace and all that is a massive inspiration but I don’t think the baton has been necessarily passed. Greg (Finch) is still out there on the same vibe. Ferg does Palace graphics, Bankhead is still killing it. Rory, Chewy and Karim etc are shutting the skateboard scene down. People have got older but the crew remains and younger dudes come up I suppose. It just all moulds in to one unit
You had a brief moment as a professional dog walker, how was that?
On paper great, hang out with dogs, well paid, chilling all day…in reality a nightmare! Don’t ever lose a really posh persons dog thats all I will say.
Share with us a memorable anecdote from Southbank in it’s heyday
Snowy did some trick on the block i think it was and his shoe fell off, he just span round without looking and threw it super hard from under the undercroft. It hit Femi square in the back of the head, fucking amazing! Femi just casually reached down, picked it up and threw it in the Thames then just carried on doing whatever he was doing like nothing ever happened. Genius!
Any last words for people perhaps inspired to follow in your foot steps and make something happen off their own back?
Don’t know about following in my footsteps. Maybe just get an idea and stick to it or something. I didn’t do that but I think that works and be grateful for stuff!
Thanks to James Edson for his time. Stay tuned for more gallery invites soon.