Sushi with John Donne

Being careful at all times to pronounce the name Dun and not Don, I went along with the other 1299 people to listen to the free event from Poets In the City of readings and sung words of John Donne. And we were in cold and beautiful St Paul’s  Cathedral.

I was there too early so did the tourist thing and sat on the steps, windblown and sometimes for a second, warm in the two-second sun bursts. A sushi restaurant employee came to me with a tray of sushi; watery fishless nonsense.

There is so much echo in the Cathedral that the sound engineer must have had a nightmare setting up her mics and wotnots. People behind me were moaning that they couldn’t really catch the words of the poems. Likewise but I’d sat quietly reading some of the guy’s works at home having finished an essay for the Open University so was able to recognise familiar rhymes.

It was all good, good, good. Then at 8.23pm the windows up high changed colour from light grey to deep blue as the night sky came in. How fantastic was that. The walls and ceilings of St Paul’s glitter with gold leaf so the blue and gold together were magnificent. The event finished at 8.30.

Watching on SkyArts some rib-cages doing ballet to Bolero.. Bejart and Paris Opera Ballet. Boy fest.

Newham’s Shindig

Smashing evening at The Stratford east Picture House  E15 last night. Laura Beswick i/c community and engagement @Newham Council hosted an evening of Olympic and Paralympic based quizzes, talks and refreshments: Yes even  ADAM THE PASTRY GUY’s tiered celebration cake was adorned with flags (UK) and festooned with the Ring colours found on the free Newham pens. it was a chance to lark about and fill in seriously forms with ideas to get the community engaged in London 2012 by suggesting local tea parties etc. Sorry mates, you lost that engagement a long time ago as Maccas and the Cadbury Giants moved in buying up all the tickets then doing a Willy Wonka chocolate bar lottery or by grooming  kids with give- away pedometers. Lion King, Marvel Man etc move over.

It was great to see over the road through the lit windows of Stratford east Theatre Royal the Stratford east Singers swaying away . Their timetable is over the top what with Babel and private concerts. Lovely outfit, every age, every colour. Don’t mind the promo stuff; you’d think it was a black girls’ Sunday school choir. What suits eh?

Laura did well. The buffet was very good. I met Sandra, DLR ambassador who sat on Action Community Team Newham with me ,and she was generous enough to have guided tourists to the RAGWORKS exhibitions. The Germans recognised Rumpel- Stilts- Kin and loved the three blind mice versions. Furry.

Talking about hair. I read Vagenda’s blog about she growing her bodily hair in defiance of the big guns advertising lot telling we women what to mutilate on our bodies. Love the hair and the article is excellent. Bollox to Nair.

“Macbeth” wasn’t on but I saw three witches plain as day. How is Time2Craft getting on ?

World Book Night Giver

Did my stint yesterday dodging the pelting stones and dragging my trolley of “The Road” paperbacks down into deepest council estate Walthamstow. Did you see the rain?

Do you know the number of so-called vulnerable seniors I met with laptops and Kindles? Stil a free book’s a free book by any other name.

The books went in a flash. Punters don’t quite get the deal that you read and pass on, like a chain letter and  email: Then someone in Australia ends up with the book you’ve leafed through. More like they end up at the Honesty Book Shelf at The Mill E17 in Coppermill Lane!

Read “The Road” at the Brunchers Book reading group, Sutton House Hackney. Ace read. Up there with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Enjoying “Ulysses” now in cyberspace with the Brick Lane Book Group, Quentin Woolf’s baby.

After the great giveaway there was nowhere to go because it was ice banging on the roof so I hung out with the octogenerians who were waiting for Dial A Ride. Wait they must!. Anyway, widowed Vera was sharing her recipes with me, telling me about her 6 month holidays in Cyprus and how all her relations pop off with the dreaded C.  Me, I could listen all day. Little does Vera know that she is about to star in a reminiscence project served by 4Diversity: Together as One.

Mary Katherine Presents

Every Saturday on Streetlife Radio housed in Walthamstow E17, grandmother and business woman Mary Fahey presents her show “Lifting Yourself up to Good Living”. She presents a playlist of golden oldies, silver sounds and some breathing techniques for listeners to find where they’re comfortable at that moment in time. It’s like standing up yoga.

Last Saturday she had in 2 campaigners, Lucy and Richard, to outline the progress being made towards keeping the old Walthamstow cinema alive and kicking as an entertainment venue rather than as a church. They base their campaign on the fact that the building was meant to be a cinema and that there is popular demand for it to be so now. The building itself in Hoe Street is beautiful inside.

There was some great music to accompany the interview by Mary Katherine and some cinema organ music. Listeners were contacting the show in their dozens: such is the interest in the topic and in Mary, dj and presenter.

You can see more about Mary on “Milling Around” , the online magazine at The Mill E17.

I have been into Mary’s studio many times talking about Up Your Street activities and bringing along community champions to experience the workings of a unique community radio station staffed by youth volunteers.

It’s all online except in August when the shows go out live on FM radio .

RAGWORKS @Hackney art launch/social

People banging on the front door, mobile phones going off, people coming in out of the rain, pottery students banging away in the next studio,,,,Aah the scene was set for the RAGWORKS launch. The thunder had been rolling all afternoon and Darnley Gallery’s manager had put on the radiators knowing guests may be wet, wet, wet.The serving wenches, well schoolgirls, were unable to make it through the storms in time for 4pm as school detentions took precedence so it was up to I the artist to polish up the glasses. Happiness was mine when I checked the Centre fridge to see the manager, Mr Wonderful, had placed in there all the wine from the Co-op so it was nicely chilled. .All good stuff at half price. Quids in. The tea trolley was all ready too.  All I had to do was arrange the kosher biscuits, the halal kebabs and non-animal gelatine sweets flavoured by carrots and soak in my art in a darkened Gallery before the lights signalled a launch on the hour. Peace, sitting in a refurbished Hackney basement on a garden level loving Red Riding Hood and Dr Foster and checking all bamboo canes were level. The manager had hung Roar, The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Jemima Puddle-Duck from the rafters which enhanced the installation giving the room a mystical curtained effect. Bravo!

Guests trickled in, some experiencing art exhibitions and galleries for the first time and the camera man, Leopold Naessens, with an accent on the first ‘e’, mais oui, came in laden with equipment at 5pm. One guest left to go on to The Royal Festival Hall; overloaded with culture I’d say! Someone kindly put the received flowers in vases and people sat down to tuck into good wine and nibbles.

The meat of the evening was people talking freely about art and they interviewing me almost formally on how I was inspired to create RAGWORKS. The joy was explaining my techniques and my passion.

Everything about RAGWORKS began in November 2011 with my seeing sumptuous material unbagged in a huge overflowing recycle bin outside Applejack, a textile manufacturer near to my house.  I thought ,”I could do something with that”. It was winter and even on snowy Tuesday mornings, the times when the borough recycle lorry carted away materials and cardboard boxes, I schlepped over to the factory gates way before the arrival of the lorry, and in the name of art, rummaged. What beautiful stuff. Twice I showed myself to the guy in charge  and begged material. Twice I believed I was a smell under his nose.  One morning he beckoned me to a lock-up and there inside were cartons of material he’d kept just for me. Enough to make an ole gal swoon, I tell you. It was heaven. That morning without dignity and for the sake of art, I carried bundles on my back , along the pavement, and in plastic bags which were ripping my wrists into redness.

I’ll explain the pattern- making in the RAGWORKS blog under “jackrags” as in Applejack .

The launch was a hoot. Everyone loved RAGWORKS and chose their favourite fairy-story character. There are 31 wall-hangings and only 13 on display at any one time in The Darnley Gallery. One guest had seen “Song-bird” based on Neech (www.neechmusic.com) at the Stratford east PictureHouse exhibition and was disappointed not to see it again. I directed her to the website/blogsite but knew that was a wasted affort. She remembered also “Tar-Baby” and we discussed how the title was deemed racist by some back in the day. (We don’t know who!). In March, I had mulled over whether to rename my design but went along the path of that that was how I knew the story in the 1970s when I was studying West African literature and repeating it to children in the 1980s. Tar -Baby it is and that design is mostly alien in form weighted heavily by a massive black fur hat.

Artist Debra Cadet-Wallace was a very welcome guest. I knew about her work through FaceBook and through visiting her web-site. She is familiar to many through posters promoting the force that is Stratford east Singers. The pair of us had to put our singing on the back burner because of art commitments. It was great to chat openly to another artist about the spirit, the soul and our passion embedded in our  work.

How lovely to come out of a lovely space, warmed with friendship and wine, into a still light and freshly washed Hackney evening . Thank you one and all.  Exhibition there until 27th April. Where did that month go? Part of RAGWORKS is at the Mill E17 for another week too. Hooray for wall spaces!

Leopold Naessens has some editing work to do! He reminded me that I have learnt, graduated, and enjoyed film -editing with the Documentary Film Group (DFG) and at The Learning Spaces in St Joseph’s Hospice. Hackney and sound -editing with Streetlife Radio. To me editing takes mega-patience. He is a patient guy. Leo did well for us and I am grateful that he did everything and  gave up his time generously. Camera work is his passion. Actually he also designed and produced the RAGWORKS logo. Tres bien!