Elephant fly

There’s a great big blanket assumption that artists are teachers, that poets are performers and that people who return to Memory Lane are story-tellers.

Someone does a piece of art then another wants them to run workshops. Someone writes poems and it’s assumed they want to read them out loud and even perform in front of a microphone.

A person may go along to a reminiscence session then be expected to tell their life story. They might have  preferred to soak up shared memories and not become a public speaker. In one generation and in another culture the speaking platform is reserved for the older man anyway.

Now is the season of the E17 Art Trail, a seemingly white middle-class adventure ‘nothing to do with the horrid gentrification of Walthamstow because the Art Trail was here first.’ Hmm. The Leyton people I know have no idea that such an annual fortnightly event is going on over the parish boundary. The senior sisters at the mosque are too busy babysitting and tell each other “It’s not for us”. The Facebook page is full of whiteness. What’s to be done?

For myself, I’ll trundle around soaking up the art and searching out the artists who will run free workshops for Up Your Street seniors. The lottery-funded ‘Step Up’ starts at The Mill with free art workshops, the first given by a celebrated sculptor. And shortly the William Morris Gallery will put on free art workshops for older people to alleviate their loneliness. Do we come in with Dial-A-Ride?

Hackney continues as host to reminiscence projects so don’t come as a shy senior because you will be filmed and quoted. The Learning Trust there is holding a day event at The Hackney Picturehouse but you have to book. Good luck with that because the phone operators play loop the loop. At the Open School East in deeper Hackney there’s a filming project about memories of buildings in the Borough.

In Waltham Forest there’s……..

issue 20. Up Your Street

Up Your Street Issue 20

Fri 29th May free 3-5pm Stratford Library Iroko Theatre presents stories and drumming. Drop in
Mention Up Your Street for a reserved place (sorry for late notice)
Sat 30th May free 2-4pm Dalston Eastern Curve Garden at Dalston Junction Hackney
Sun 31st May too  “Herbal weekend: cocktails, walks. talks teas with Rasheeqa. No need to book
Sun 31st May 50p  11-1pm  Jumble Sale in aid of Samaritans in E17. Orford Road Social Club E17.
                       free   2-4pm  Clore Space at British Museum. Iroko exhibition and show of stories and drumming.
                                 Mention Up Your Street for a reserved place.
Thanks to all who came to Ethan gallery, my pop-up art gallery in E10.
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Ethan Gallery

E17 is just about to go into full swing at its Art Trail. This is massive. Last night there were launch events dotted all over the parish. I went to Pictorem in Hoe Street as the artist and admin officer at Rosetta Art centre in West Ham had invited his older people’s clay sculpting class. I in turn invited the world and her husband.

The Pictorem owners really did welcome us and the gallery was bursting with chatty artists and art lovers all tucking into Werther’s Originals as the sun moved across into evening. Meanwhile along the road a cyclist had been severely injured by a bus so sirens added to the distractions. (Anyone know that children’s book “Each Peach, Pear, Plum”? So Chekhovian. You know, someone’s trying to die then the phone rings).

After enjoying Hassan and Alison’s works in display a group of us clay students and partners went up the road to the Ethan Gallery where exhibited on white walls is my latest collection of acrylic on canvases entitled “At the Swim”.  Obviously “Cynthia Re-vitalised” and “Stefanie Hanging On” and all the other painted ladies are not seen by all and sundry as Ethan is in my home. It’s a pop-up gallery and I lifted the carpets and tasselled the curtains, banged nails into walls, curated my own work, provided wine and home-made samosas(not all Isosceles triangles), and we all chatted as friends and Art Trailers. wpid-2015-05-28-15.50.50-1.jpg.jpegwpid-2015-05-28-15.48.29-1.jpg.jpeg

Then at 11pm along came Pat of Nehru Gallery fame at our V&A visit where she’d guided us.  Oh my!  That Pat knows how to appreciate art having followed a two year course at Birkbeck. She also makes great Caribbean sarnis. I left her to analyse, compare and appreciate like a true Tim Marlow. My self-esteem was up on the picture rail.

Tea at The Mill E17

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Mo, art director at The Mill in E17, together with Alison H rallied volunteers as well as Up Your Street to butter bread and chop up mint and cucumber, slice the banana cake and Victoria Sponge and make gallons of tea as The Mill became the host venue for Contact The Elderly’s local tea party for over 75s in the borough.

It was fantastic. Mo is a skilled organiser (and mulled wine maker at art exhibition launches).

The Mill is currently curating an exhibition of photos of our seniors by Whelan and in order to celebrate 50 years of Contact The Elderly ( whoever knew?) there will be a book or exhibition of fifty photographs of 75-95 year olds. Let’s hope there’s a representation of ethnically diverse UK 2015 otherwise I’ll be having no truck with it.

There was a loud hum of conversation and the clink of cake forks on dainty Edwardian side plates. The drivers who’d carried in the seniors had their own tea party in the meetings room with cheese sandwiches and cherry cake.

What was the point? Loneliness hits every generation. If you’re lonely and almost immobile there’s a state indeed. So the charity, not The Mill, registers older people in their mid-seventies and identifies them as participants for locally-based tea parties.

Today it was amazing to sit with seniors in front of huge hung photos of themselves; real close-ups.

Beautiful people.

Mala muger

There were we in the heat of the day joined to Tottenham Art’s trip at the Courtauld Institute Gallery in Somerset House at The Strand. Just wonderful.

The City on the 55 bus route is empty at the weekend so I saw tree shadows and tweaked my head as blossom fluttered off the trees and onto the pavements. Fleet Street from the 76 bus was heaving. It was a very pleasant journey.

Goya was our flavour of the day with a never- before- viewed collection of his “Wicked Women” and “Black Book”. There were only two rooms and tiny framed drawings and prints. There was not a whiff of artspeke.

I felt that Dame Judi Dench reading “We are stuff as dreams are made of” on an advert with a woman floating on then falling from her air-born bed should have seeped through the air vents. Goya had gone to town etching on stone ugly gnarled naked baby-munching witches with all the connotations about leery sex and references to prostitutes and growing old disgracefully.

Many of us just loved a black ink scraped print of a bunch.of nasties sitting on a diseased old tree branch with a shrouded figure sitting up there addressing them. Mmm..witch lessons, methinks.

I was immersed in the distasteful but at the same time, sat on my grandmother’s lap hearing nursery stories full of witches and cruel women.