Slipped into Sunday

Ah, you wouldn’t Eve and Adam  it really.  I was going up Lea Bridge Road yesterday, Sunday,  and spied not one but two women in their dressing gowns, jim jams and slippers.  I, me, I don’t go to the bins without my slap on. Those cover-ups were fluffy, luxurious, all-encompassing wrap-around probably from loveable Primark beauties seen in glory on the main freakin’ road. I defended the UK race and informed myself that those miscarriers of mores were foreigners not quite assimilated into high-class newly gentrified in parts Leyton by the Station. Then I remembered Waynetta and the newspaper articles about banning women in dressing gowns from Asda. What did your mothers teach you?
Anything doesn’t go.
Today I visualised myself doing a citizen’s arrest on all the staff in every Leyton second hand shop. Hate crime is their crime.  Hate against Roma people. What must it be like to wear a swirling colourful skirt, to be holding your toddler’s hand in a shop of donated tat and be scowled at, spoken to rudely each time? I was delivering my preloved treasures and just wanted another mother to know that she was visible to me. I grabbed the musical jack-in-the-box on my trolley and gave it arm outstretched to the Roma toddler. Great thanks and smiles ensued. From each corner came staff to help me unload before I gave away more to the undeserving foreign unlawful to work poor.
Sod off you nasty haters.

Projects and People

I live in Leyton, an up and coming part of London which during London 2012 peeped out from the skirts of Stratford, had pastel colours painted on its dowdy, downtown ancient shop fronts and attracted artists to draw in locals to discover their neighbourhoods through walks, poems, I pods and other wotnots. It was so 2012. The place is packed with people from any which where, murderers, entrepreneurs,  vicars’ daughters up from Cheshire, cyclists finding their way, mobile phone mummies and an almost invisible long term mixture of older residents hailing from the West Indies, Africa and the alluvial earth around old Marsh Lane. It is mixed ethnically and amazingly. It is what it is and it’s full of my kind of people. It also has many trees.

The Angel Islington is a very white English area and many of the trolley pushers resident there are very old. They frequent Chapel Market,  Sainsbury’s, Boots and The Claremont Project. They get their spuds from Sainsbury’s and their birthday cards from a market stall, their balms from Boots and from Claremont, a sense of place, being, and worth.
The Claremont Project is not one iota ethnically diverse from its ever changing managerial young staff and very young European interns to its regular crowd of white-haired women sitting down to a cuppa and a sonata on a Friday afternoon. The mixed ethnicity can be ticked off only when culturally diverse Up Your Street members come in from Leyton or Asiatic ladies partner up for a jive afternoon.
This is where the Great White Flight got delayed, These are the poor mainly single people who had no opportunity to fly away. Their history is in their white British heritage full of green and pleasant lands, a Rich Tea biscuit and The Blitz. I don’t love them.

But what if The Claremont Project ceased? Already it exists through a generous benefactor passing in the money. Supposing the money dries up? The building is decrepit and needs internal re plastering. Inside are storeys, cold toilets, and stone staircases. Doors are scuffed. The automatic front door has been broken for ages. However, despite all that,  octogenarians huddle together there, lapping up condescending tones from do-gooders, follow their routines and sit for hours not really talking or relating to others, strain every facial muscle in miserable down-turned faces to catch what the ‘coloured’ man’s saying or why the intern’s smiling and gesticulating. Like ducklings they follow one after the other to the tea canteen and back.

These are women who grew their families on pennies a week, men who nursed their parents, old what we used to call “spinsters” waiting for inspiration, mothers as carers for grown children, couples dependant on each other for support and widows with memories and skills in knitting snd crochet.

Where would they go? Not Leyton; too far and foreign.

So I support Claremont.  I shall hang in there,  enjoying the hour long 56 bus up to  The Angel, get over myself when things are not being challenged,  go with the flow.

Sociable Sewing

Sociable Sewing
Well, there you have it.  I went along to The Mill E17 to support Hilary at her new workshop. Craft is not my chosen thing and needle craft less so. All those rules and expectations and the judgements on womanhood. Ugh. I bit my lip a thousand times.
I felt I was going along for Girl Guide sewing badge and realised it was all the same. I was that one who so wanted to learn and be creative and accepted . There was chat about baking cakes, pussy cats and the WI and we had coffee and mention was made of “purist quilters”. Me, I did  my own thing as no-one said what the structure would be but all the time I looked and listened at how to make a sewing kit.

Another woman said she wasn’t very good (at threading a needle) because “I am more masculine,  not feminine”. How I stayed put, I don’t know. 

I asked if men were sewing whatever olde worlde something was being sewn at a heritage project knowing the answer already.

Nothing changes.
I know my arrogance is showing. Recently I lived on an island where a woman was measured in her baking, knitting and lambing skills. Fool me questioned the daughters and asked why their mothers weren’t learning new skills on computers because the men were. Enemies made, I was promptly told that it’s good for the women to be creative.
So in the era of positivity, I go along with that.

April in Everington Road

Smashing afternoon at Coldfall School with Jon and Marcella looking after Brian and June Woodley, our teachers from way back when in the fifties. Gayna did a marvellous fifties tea and my art was exhibited.
The art paled into insignificance as gorgeous sixty somethings  travelled along memory lane.
It was great.




It’s all about the art, and the Queen.

Isn’t it funny how we humans are moody? Do you think frogs are? The weather is deflating my joy. But I am looking forward to seeing some understandable art at Bow Arts tomorrow as a show by Notting Hill tenants gets its launch. Tonight it’s The Mill E17 with sketches and drawings.

There is a big difference physically in how we view art and films. Alone watching is miles away from having an opinion, a like about a hung canvas and chatting over it. That’s why Soapbox at Tate is good because we share sometimes boldly, sometimes shyly what we see.

Meanwhile, Headscarves 1950s an art and research project all about women in UK 1950s wearing or not triangular headscarves goes to Coldfall Primary School for two hours on Sunday. My project is an homage to my mum and her cohort of mother housewives who lived and brought up their sometimes large families on the twelve year old council estate. Coldfall School was built to serve those children. The dedicated church, St Matthews, has long gone.

I did a reccie to see where I’d hang my canvases. The hall has limited wall space but I’ll manage somehow. The obliging caretaker aka site manager pointed out to me a few old exercise books and a ledger laying on the reception desk. I leafed through them and found once confidential notes about past teachers. I found personal notes about Mr Woodley, a loved teacher in the fifties. At home I found a matching name on the Internet, wrote to him and invited him to his old workplace and to my exhibition. HE ACCEPTED. His wife is an ex teacher of Coldfall too. We witnessed their coming together. I then joined a Facebook group to drum up interest in what had become a reminiscence session. It all worked.

In all this my laptop broke and remember I am unfunded ( I know, you’d think the V&A or Eastside Community Heritage would offer me megabucks for original and community-based fashion research), and so I missed out on reproducing some great photographs then mounting them for display, in this case on Sunday just where? I need a Tate Gallery,

The project is ongoing until June and will be followed by a Scarf Art exhibition in Hackney in October 2016.

I have lost interest in Coldfall Estate now. On a freezing cold day my sister and nieces and I pushed invitations and flyers through letter boxes and through those in adjoining roads. The place is a deserted grey backwater, Houses sell for a million. They are small and look unkempt. The alleys are gated now. Burglaries are usual because there are bolt- runs everywhere. I felt no sense of community at all: in fact the residents’ noticeboard is abandoned and neglected and the youth are bad-mouthed by sour-faced adults. Mind you, I don’t remember a community spirit in the fifties only that my dad worked to get the tenants association going. Mum typed the notices (she was an ace shorthand and typing gal) and dad printed them off on his inked up Gestetner. We kids beat each other up in the back room knowing we’d deserve strangely as a matter of course a sharp slap on our calves.

So memory lane is draining. I am about to meet old teachers and faces not known all at the same time as I label myself “the artist”. My darling sister is laying on platters of meat paste sandwiches and ginger cake built on raw fresh grated ginger all in the spirit of things,

Wish me luck.image