Art workshops for seniors.

A plethora of free and cheap art workshops currently sometimes led by professionals.

Leytonstone and Chingford Art for all with ArtKeysCIC using collage and music as springboards

Islington Claremont Project Islington art classes at £2 a time, art therapy, art making for in-house exhibitions

City and Hackney Studio Upstairs for Wellbeing. Art for Hackney and City people only and 60+ in age.

Kentish Town Free Space Gallery, St Bartholomews Road. Printing

Up Your Street. Issue 7

Tues Feb 28th free 11-1pm Pancakes for Claremont members at White Lion Street.
Wed Mar 1st free Two art exhibitions acknowledging International Women’s Day 2017.
“Champions” paintings featuring Hilary, Mary, and Marcella from Up Your Street and then other worthy local women represented in acrylic at Hackney Central Library for the month.

“Headscarves 1950s” at Stratford east Picturehouse all month.

Thurs Mar 2nd free 11.30-noon East London Radio. “Champions” art and radio. Here we are linking to Gillian Lawrence’s art in Hackney. Studio guest this week is mover and shaker, Claire Weiss.

Sun Mar 5th free Noon-3pm Stoke Newington. Made in Hackney vegan cookery. Phone to book.

Wed Mar 8th £2 6-8pm The Mill “Printing from a Woman’s Perspective”. With Anna Alcock.

free 6-8pm “51% Remember Her”. Art exhibition and entertainment at the Tower Gallery in Barking Road. Lots of steps. Friendly venue. Active church.

Thurs Mar 9th free 11.30-noon Soul Conscious Creations Hyacinth Myers takes to Cyberspace talking as Mary Katherine’s guest at East London Radio as part of Gillian Lawrence’s art project, “Champions” at Hackney Central Library.

free 4-5pm for Claremont members. Informal launch of the latest art exhibition “Paradise”. It’s a sale too.


Art in Barking Road. IWD 2017

Wed 8th March free Launch night 6-8pm Tower Gallery, Barking Road. An art exhibition celebrating International Women’s Day 2017 acknowledging that 51% of our London population is made up of women. The exhibition runs for a month. Stairs to climb. It is also an art sale.

Curated by Rebecca Feiner, the owner of Elements Gallery in Clapton by Urswick Road.
Supported and promoted generously by Gillian Lawrence at Champions in Hackney
and “A Poem A Day. International Women’s Day”.

Here are the names of the artists

~Gillian Lawrence Marie- Louise Jones Sian-Kate Mooney, Helene Corr Birgitta Hosea Sarah Sparkes Lynn Charlotte Lu Miyuki Kasahara Art Sripey J Kemfor Julia Maddison Julie Ann Sarah Pager Emma Roper-evans Spin Spinoff Nadia Ballan Emma Harvey Blandine Martin Mia C O’Shea Poppy Whatmore Cheryl Papasian Anna Fairchild Alina Gavrielatos Philippa King Rebecca Scott Marisa Polin Joanna McCormick Tiziana Mandolesi Rekha Sameer Emily Cole Cat Any India Roper-Evans Rubbish Artist Sophie Cullinan Tisna Westerhof Faye Michelle Susana Sanroman Tracie Angiolini Sooz Belnavis Maryam Hashemi Vanja Karas Ana Maria Cardoso Cockerill Kylie Land Sarah Doyle Monika Tobel Jessica Bailey Julie Caves Emma Harvey Meli Meli Charlotte Bracegirdle and many more.

A Poem A Day .IWD 2017

Annually I write a poem a day from February 8th to March 8th.

The Way It Is Still.

Where is this?
she asked
What kind of hell are these women living in?
she asked
Are we talking backward people?
No mum
This is UK 2017
This is the way it is still
Women harassed on a city street
Non-stop covert sexual nuisances
Innuendos in the workplace
Cameras on our bums on street corners.
Looks like we are everyman’s property
It’s a power thing and a controlling urge.
She answered
Protect my grandchild.

The Woman Club.

Two homeless women passed me
in the typical uniform of triple overcoats
and mounded scarves about their necks.
Walking wardrobes.
They never looked at me but saw me.
They had long ceased interacting with people
and were deaf to the speeches of do-gooders
and hardened to spit and insults.
It was an unfamiliar sight; two down and out women together.
Their partnering up
was a test of trust
absolutely tenuous and temporary
and only mutual for the moment.
Their world is particularly one where middle class ideals of all women joining in sisterhood is a nonsense
because when it comes down to it
they are seen as failures and threats
stinking and unshaved
non-deodorised, non conditioned and undesirable.
Their place on earth is defined by
the perceptions of others
and their affiliation to womanhood, challenged.

A State To Be In.

She said that loneliness
that is the state of her being lonely
was making her very low
but not so as to cry
because she said
her energy had been sapped away.
She said she was exhausted by loneliness
and longing
but that she knew there was no getting over it
not today
It was just the way of it.

Her mother had said loneliness
comes to everyone
but especially to women
because they have people all around
and then not
as children grow and husbands die
and they must learn to go outside of the home
but never did so never do.
A carriage would solve the problem.
She said if you could just cast off
your slippers
grab a coat and a pair of shoes
pop into a cab and go to wherever
loneliness would go.

Woman On Woman

The woman worker miscarried.
It was a private affair
Only her doctor knew
And he wrote dilation and curettage
But she needed two weeks to recover
So he signed her off.
Two years later at the interview
The huffing interrogator asked
Why were you absent for two weeks?
I miscarried
Well do you think you’ll have two weeks off again?
The woman held tight her mouth
Was on the spot
And let the nano-second slide
There was no help for an answer
The employer waited
And the answer should have been
How dare you ask that?
But she replied.
No. Hope not
Knowing the job was gone.


Vulval Woman.


I pulled the duvet over my ample portions
and inhaled the warm air
It nestled under my arm
carrying a universal smell
from my special parts
of crotch and overnight lips
unwrapped and nightly worn
and I thought of FGM
as my vulva relaxed and reposed
I’d seen pain and stench and rags and screams
I clenched my muscles
and stiffened my spine
My mother-in-law appeared
wily, tiny and toothless
nagging in a high pitched whine
then all at once laughing
ready to do my daughter harm.
In the same commanding tone
she spoke of baptism
and I could not adjust the two.
I saw myself much younger
and wanted to smell flowers
to bring me up to date
away from threats and bloodied parts.



Light and Dark

Haply for I was born a girl
I am everyone’s property
I shall lose my tongue
and curtail my smiles
so that my mouth resembles my
circumcised labia
as a hole only.
My cutter made me dry flat and closed
just the way they like ’em
I am dry and flat and closed
I have no shared emotions not even with my mother
My life is a desert
and if I iron my breasts and clothe my hips
I will have no curves to allure
the hordes of men ravaging our tents.
I believe it is this way for all girls
in every country.
I cannot sing with the nightingales
I cannot sing.
I cannot sit and read
I must peel and chop and roll and grill
I must bow in front of men
and allow my brother my school place.
It is the same everywhere I believe
I cannot fathom any other way
I hide my hair and hardly look ahead.


I rejoice I am a girl
My potential is never-ending
My choices are immeasurable
I sit beside boys and let them hear my voice
They listen and approve
defend me in arguments with our parents
and say State Your Case
I am looking upwards and over
Through ceilings and above,
My mind soars
My body grows naturally
with bits and bobs, hair and pubes
and I shower naked at the pool.
If I cover my chest it’s cold
otherwise I am woman in the making
My heels are my strength. My limbs carry me forward.
My mother shares her stories
I learn about my earned place
on this earth my soul.
and cannot imagine being ignored and unseen
unwanted yet sold.




How shall we celebrate our special day?
We could go to an art exhibition
We do that monthly
But the one we’ll see
Is for International Women’s Day
And there’ll be vagina cakes
and pussy hats
and women in boots who’ll ignore us
But the art will mean something
before we go on to venue number two.
Or we could try wellness just for women
And lay on yoga mats
Do pelvic exercises.
And make shopping lists in our heads.

Let’s ignore the Austen readings
and the Suffragist collage banners
Formed from feathers of Walthamstow swifts
That is someone else’s party.
We shall print in workshops
zumba in centres
and buy Veet on the way for our legs.


The Way Of It.


Tell your mother to brush your hair
The shine on it is the sparkle on the waves
Ask her to tie the ribbon on your waist
It will be tight like your future apron strings.
Tell her you need to play in the mud.
She will frown and tell you of sugar and spice
and place the cookie cutter in your hand
Ask her if the moon is a prince
and she will tell the story of a camel and her father and your father
Let her bathe you in sweet water from a rock stream
full of scents of the lemon grass
and purple aubergine
and date trees
And she will stare as you let the water trickle on your bare arms
then quickly clothe you in wrappings
and scarves and skirts to cover your legs.
Allow her to whisper her ways
as she puts skin on your skin
and you smell warmth and woman
and a grandmother and a wife
and then she can stroke your chin
and sigh
Don’t ask her why.
Ask her instead to pull the fringes
from your eyes
so you can see tear droplets.

Beggars Belief

Yesterday evening I bought some posh honey and Maple syrup to take along to pancake day at Claremont in Islington because I can and do. I came out of Tesco and mused that the beggars must go somewhere when it’s dark. Wrong I was for there sitting on his cardboard patch  in the shadow behind the 55 bus stop was a young man. I zipped open my shoulder purse and knew I hadn’t a sou . A pound is not enough for a cuppa. Two pound may do the trick though. I’d just missed the bus and decided I wouldn’t give the note yet because I’d be embarrassed. Remember I didn’t have any coins. I know it’s illegal to give beggars money but in my book…there but for fortune.


I gripped my Tesco bag of honey, syrup and the reduced mushrooms and parsley. My Halal unboned shoulder lamb sat cold on my leg and I saw myself thanking the Tesco butcher for throwing in an extra cube because he took a shine to me. Let me digress and tell you he has raven black shoulder length hair and a Spanish smile. His meat is the best unlike the packaged cubed beef which has no blood and reduces to pea size on cooking. And yes I did go into the camel shop opposite and wondered how a place can stink of air-freshener disguising sordid meat. Mind you. it is a popular shop so I must have sensitive nasal glands.

I pretended I was looking at the bus shelter and spied the beggar still there when lo and behold he took out his phone under his lapel and the screen light betrayed him. I said to myself like the nan in Catherine Tait’s  sketches that his phone was better than mine and  surmised indignantly like a Farage mistress that he must charge it somewhere and that and that and that. Ah the charity within my soul can make you ache. My conscience was clear and the fiver was folded back into my bus pass holder. Don’t judge me reader. In UK 2017 beggars are two a penny. Some woman sitting on her backside on a cold cold paving stone with neither a wail in her voice nor a cup in her hand will be offered by me a pack of sanitary pads as tampons are considered invasive by groups in my neighbourhood. She will accept and I will feel like the best feminist in the free world for the time it takes to carry my loads to the bus stop around the corner.

At Christmas having been given a fiver change in Tesco and having thought it was akin to Monopoly money and what with it being the season I gave it to another bus stop sitter. The young man jumped up and asked me “Are you sure?” He was most surprised I think to be thought of as worthy of a note.

I remember in the nineties checking with the beggar with his dog if he were vegetarian  otherwise he’d be getting given by the hand of this bountiful queen the pork pie for his daily bread. My friend offered some wrapped food to a beggar outside Iceland and he went crazy saying he didn’t want food but money. She said it must be for drugs. Anything to get through a life of misery, love.

Juliet’s Free from Gluten artisan bakery has opened yesterday where old Robertsons the Bakers was on Lea Bridge Road by Peterborough Road. All around me people are turning to gluten free and lactose free and I can’t wait for a pancake.

This year, Matthew, I shall be baking Simnel Cake for Mothers Day. Beggars beware!



To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 Gillian Lawrence has an art exhibition at Hackney Central Library for the month of March. Here are portraits of women getting out into their local communities motivating others and sharing skills. East London Radio will interview some champion women each Thursday in March. Come one and all.2016-02-29-13.07.29-1.jpg.jpeg

Headscarves 1950s

As a nod to International Women’s Day 2017 Gillian Lawrence’s canvases in homage to the women she interviewed and indeed grew up with on her Headscarves Project can be seen for the whole of March on the wall at Stratford east Picturehouse.@SEP

Power to the workers at Cineworld striking for a living wage.wp-1471727482316.jpeg

Like a piece of art, “Untitled”.

There was a Daily Mash article about retired people flooding galleries with their s**t art and that their relatives are emotionally blackmailed into buying the trash so that worthy art never gets sold. Rubbish of course. Or is it?

Yesterday I went for the umpteenth time to Claremont in Islington’s art session to cobble up stuff for the next exhibition. Funny way to do things. The participants then put up their work for sale at high prices after they’ve not laid out for anything because the paper is free as is the choice of materials. I do not for I paint indoors all year around and submit appropriate work. There was acrylic paint galore. The irony is that for Champions I ran out of paint and managed: Can’t keep spending what with the price of Flora.

So the art session is poorly managed and prepared. The Claremont trumpets its mission as being of art and well-being. Felt none of that. Obviously I will report to the staff in my most delicate diplomatic old lady way. Not an apron in sight.  The topic was “Paradise” as we sat in a multi-use hall, with stacked chairs and dirty doors. We were neither led nor instructed. We didn’t talk to each other. Paradise is a difficult concept because it is overloaded with heaven and beaches and the after-life and because of that and empty minds then the intern photo-copied tropical beaches for us. Get out of here.

BN Neu formed “Sunrise in Space” and is flogging it for a tenner. It’ll be framed by Claremont. Mine was Paradise is Colours and is on the market for £1. In my rush to escape, I never photographed it.  Yep some art by retirees is *hi*.

But the person who shared the Daily Mash article is a professional artist who agreed with it and invited comments in the same ilk.

I came back to the beggars in Hackney. I see beggars all the time now. I bought a posh filled roll in Sainsbury’s and wondered on which bus I would eat it. The beggar outside  got it with my warning that he’d better eat it and “I’ll be watching you”. Inflation rolls when a beggar asks now for £2 instead of a £1. There but for fortune …Carrying on with this diary, reader, I went to TK Maxx to check out the posh jams and gluten free anythings. Found some coconut and milk French chocolate. Mmm. Cancelled my “Eat Like a Yogi” Made in Hackney workshop . Just tired of eating kale and earth. Made In Hackney sent out a warning that participants should eat something before the class. The “Make Meals in 15 Minutes”  sessions take two hours, backwards and fro-ing with recycle this and recycle that and don’t mention white bread. Last time, Jay put a mouthful of Mother Earth into her mouth and proclaimed “I can’t eat this. I need meat.” No holding her back. She looked at me “Can you? ” “Jay I am so hungry. I’ll eat the caterpillars too.”


Such fun, eh, all this social engagement to educate us and ward off isolation and keep food poverty at bay over in Abney Park Cemetery.

BN Neu talked to a group of we  Up Your Street ers about the necessity of positive discrimination when it comes to gathering pensioners who have little access to the internet and making opportunities for them to be computer literate. Isn’t that what Age UK was meant to do? Barclays and Lloyds do or did sessions about safety on the internet.

The Lawns in Dalston was ace  and they were through AgeUK so it all went with cut backs. Hackney Seniors Mobile run by Derek Prince is fantastic for keeping seniors in the fibred loop but of course one needs to love FaceBook to enter his world.

All these internet sessions for seniors are free as are the art sessions at Claremont and Made In Hackney community cooking treats. No knocking from me but an urge to make something good excellent.


POSH CLUB tomorrow: entertainment for the poor older working class. Their words, not mine.


Tammy WhyNot or Louise Weaver

After the pretty useless art session at Claremont I waited to meet an Elders Ambassador from Tammy Whynot’s scheme funded by the Wellcome Collection in London. That was our Sylvia of Scarf Art fame. Tammy is proposing to mobilise seniors into the techno world in order to alleviate their propensity to isolation and loneliness. Impassioned Sylvia is doing the leg work by selling the admirable idea to we would be workshop facilitators. Claremont’s Blanche was very receptive to the whole movement in an art and well-being centre.

By the way, Tammy is a hoot.