How a West London shed is beating social isolation and driving radical change

19 June 2024
Rasha El-Sady, ACAVA's Curator of Makerspaces. Photo by ACAVA Shoots (Zute Lightfoot)
Rasha El-Sady, ACAVA’s Curator of Makerspaces, has been based in North Kensington for eighteen years as an artist, working to celebrate creativity and communities. Her profound connection to the local area as a resident and artist led her to be interviewed for a new book about place-making in London. 
ACAVA Maxilla Men's Shed, Maxilla Walk Studios. Photo by ACAVA Shoots (Zute Lightfoot)

A self-taught furniture designer, Rasha has been working to facilitate programmes at ACAVA’s Maxilla Men’s Shed since joining the organisation in 2019. At the Shed, she leads on the programme development and delivery including Tinkering Sessions and Make and Reuse Creative Workshops, where participants learn and build on their technical skills, working with different materials and creatively reusing objects.

As a creative practitioner ‘interested in mobilising people and resources for positive change’ in her local community, Rasha’s expertise and knowledge of engaging North Kensington locals is profound.

1. What makes Maxilla Men’s Shed stand out as a community space in London?

Established in 2019, Maxilla Men’s Shed is a community workshop and maker space with a focus on tackling social isolation, primarily designed for men but also accommodating women. Funded by the NHS NK Healthier Futures Programme, it’s a place to come and make, learn skills, stay active, and socialise. A key role of the Shed’s programmes is to provide critical community engagement for those impacted by the Grenfell fire.

2. Why is Rasha’s work at the Shed being celebrated in a new book? 

Jan Kattein’s book, Londoners Making London, highlights Rasha’s work in ACAVA’s Maxilla Men’s Shed as a community-focussed project that has changed London for the better. Written by the founder of an architecture firm, the book aims to provide a fresh perspective on local regeneration, highlighting the challenges, opportunities and triumphs of grassroots urban development.

Photograph of Rasha holding the book she's featured in, smiling and looking at the camera, posing in front of a big graffiti 'S', outside Maxilla Men's Shed.
Photo of Rasha El-Sady by Jan Kattein Architects

3. What goes on at the Shed?

Alongside providing specialist workshops and courses, the Shed runs weekly ‘Tinkering Sessions’ that are free to attend. In these Tinkering Sessions, people can show up with their ideas and projects, and use the Shed’s on-site resources to work on them. Free ‘Make and Reuse’ workshops also take place to teach people to repair, recycle and upcycle existing items and contribute to the circular economy. At the Shed, skills like copper smithing, woodwork, leatherwork and lino printing are taught to locals and people from across the country who travel to make use of the unique space.

4. Where is Maxilla Men’s Shed? 

Based in Maxilla Walk, North Kensington, Maxilla Men’s Shed is part of ACAVA’s Maxilla Walk Studios, a space that is also home to ACAVA’s creative programmes for local families and 25 artist studios, hosting a range of artists with a wide range of creative practices.  

Every week, welcoming and engaging Tinkering Sessions take place at the Men’s Shed (usually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and you can find upcoming Make and Reuse workshops on this page.

ACAVA Maxilla Men's Shed, Maxilla Walk Studios. Photo by ACAVA Shoots (Zute Lightfoot)

Londoners Making London has been published by Lund Humphries in 2024. Visit this page for more information.

Working with Kensington and Chelsea Social Council, Maxilla Men’s Shed has been made possible by funding from NHS North West London Integrated Care Board, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Grenfell Recovery, the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation and Ernst & Young.

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