THE PIER is located next to Albert Bridge in Chelsea, which John Betjeman described as "Shining with electric lights, grey and airy against the London sky, it is one of the beauties of the London river".
At first glance, the shelter appears to be for a park-keeper because it borders to its rear onto a wide paved-area and a mature ornamental garden, created after the Thames was embanked in 1869-74, and featuring benches with winged sphinx-shaped armrests, an ornamental dolphin lamp and a bronze statue of Atalanta. The area is used and has a good footfall but is slightly rundown.
Nina Coulson, 2020 graduate from Contemporary Art Practice< Public Shphere MA at The Royal College of Art found the hut empty and approached The Cabmans Shelter Fund to suggest that the site be used as an artist-run space. For an artist (rather than a developer) to lead improvements for public access to this garden is particularly exciting because artist-led working offers communities more genuine opportunities to connect, embed and flourish.
In the past, THE PIER’s attendant installed tables and chairs here to create an overspill space for diners that has been described as "one of the most romantic places for a greasy spoon. Nina will once again open the space as a cafe after so many years empty due to local parking restrictions impacting on the former tenants business, a place where you can stop and eat an affordable meal whilst also getting involved, supporting and engaging cutting edge contemporary art practice.