Illiterates and threads

Today was a great day. Up Your Street subscribers were out in force at the Liners exhibition at the V&A. Obscenely sumptuous were the articles of furniture and wall-decorations. There were beautiful wall-tiles for a boat. There were the design proofs and markings of extravagance. We were plebeains looking through a rich man’s key-hole, seeing how the other half cruised. Great was the illusion of being a passenger on a boat with creaky floors, a film of staircase glamour and bathers diving into the ship pool.

The staff at the V&A are very customer-aware. We loved it. We ate our home cooked wraps in the canteen and drank £2.60 cups of tea.

After that journey into luxury here and abroad but not into the warmer seas of Trinidad and Tobago or the cruises of Mauritian delights then some of our company went along to join Ann Davey for her Antique Embroidery Tour at £15 a time. We paid less.

What a tour guide. What a mine of information. I actually took notes so I could further research into Mediaeval up to Victorian times.

These are the lovelies we gawped at amongst others.

Head Cloths

Grotesques

Guilds

Caxton

Sheldon Tapestries

Trade routes

Arras

Slips

Mary Linwood

dates and dates and dates; the illiterate populations needing visuals. the glorification of Christianity, the warming of walls with tapestries, printing designs versus needlework, William Morris. Nuff said.

We shuffled around for 150 minutes with a ten minute break. We had the history at our fingertips about pieces of tapestry, lace, linen and canvas which likely we’d have flitted by otherwise and drawn assumptions.

A 14, a 38 and a 236 bus later and three of us made our way to Hackney Fabrications for the Daylight presentation of its proto-type sewing machine lights. There we had our supper generously given by Barley Massey, a good laugh and a gifted free light which will do well for any close up work; crafting, stamp-collecting and circuit-boarding.

Twas a good Up Your Street day and new subscribers were truly welcomed.

 

Don’t estate agents look like weather men?

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Where are they?

I swear people cover up their computers and hide away their texting machines because I felt no sharing of Easter joy and collected no emails from Up Your Street subscribers. Digital devices to seniors are still strangers even though we are at the robotic stage where implants in our foreheads will be our communicators as I predicted in 2000AD. We allowed to say A D? Flogging dead horses sometimes but remaining positive.

Many Up Your Street subscribers have stopped using their mobiles and their tablets yet expect news of events and free tickets like queens sitting waiting for manna in their laps. One of the aims of Up Your Street was to encourage seniors to go online. Big failings there but I persevere.

So on my digital island I was busy promoting authors and entrepeneurs and joining in the community art hullabaloos. I asked the silk painters amongst us to be interested in a session about a silk farmer, dead I know , but relevant to the Royal Wedding coming up.: I offered new books at less than cost price but no response.  I designed Eventbrite and promotional emails and booked tickets for those without emails and am waiting for a gush of emotion, a sign of life. I painted in the early hours fuelled by Cadbury eggs and passion for acrylic paints and huge canvases but who would be interested to see that? I declined offers of craft sale tables because the rewards don’t match the effort. I got over being invisible but still pushed on.

Up Your Street has many interesting events lined up but the energy to motivate seniors who are yes getting older and slower is immense. We seniors are no longer the flavour of the month. Only so many heritage projects can get funding. It’s LGBT and bi-gender states that interest the benefactors this season. Most of the seniors I know have not opened their minds yet and stick to what they had opinions on in 1970. International Women’s Day is still a mystery and something maybe to do with lesbians. Wearing a brooch of purple, white and green is not a sign of enlightenment so I have a huge task explaining Anti-University 2018 to seniors who in the sixties were not in the UK or who were and spat at rebels like me in our Levis and flip-flops and our neck scarves and beads in the street. Yes, I do remember you all. You were my peer group. Still seeking Susan.

So Anti-university returns in June. What a hoot it could be. It will be. I always opt for Hackney Museum because I don’t like the unwashed venues of latter day hippies and my days of floor-sitting are gone. I love Hackney Museum anyway: it’s a place where the working class folk feel welcomed and most events are free, well, all events so far. It was the first cultural place to recognise that black people are in the audience. That meant a ton of promotion to the point where equality is real in terms of what’s on offer and visible. Long may their lums reek.

Five events are submitted from me at Up Your Street.

We have on June 9th two live tableaux or performance art installations. No-one needs to be an actor. It’s all comfortable. You sit on the stage area and chat in your swimming cossie.  We refer to 1968 and to body image. Well, ain’t that something. When do spectators get a chance, nay, an education to see old people in the swimming pool changing room and to earwig what they’re talking about and how they see themselves?

After that we dress up (any excuse) to take part in a soiree, a seen cocktail party. Mine’s a Baileys. Again we mingle and chat and listen out for the director’s prompts. Fun ninety minutes max .Making seniors visible at AU2018.

On June 12th we go walkabout as High Street Seniors starting from the Hackney Museum and that’s during Ramadan for some. We go at snail’s pace.

On the 14th June we’ll experience empowerment with Hyacinth Myers, Diva of Colour. And then, as she can’t make June, in May we’ll have an audience with Claire Weiss.20180316_130156

 

Anti-university 2018 about to hAPPEN. Yay!

Well, it’s that time of the year when invisible seniors (who said that?) come out of their dens and play with the topical. This year we are going a stage further and telling it like it is. We’ll be sitting at the pool in our bathing suits, swimming costumes, beach-wear and itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis (doubtful on that last one. They don’t go past 18 month old baby sizes in Primark). We will be modestly attired or will we? Depends if fatty thighs offend. We call them thunder thighs ourselves for they have carried generations. It’s all about joining in, being seen and body image issues. Applaud that Gogglebox Gal.

After a dry-out we’ll don ladies’ long-length evening gloves and the men will sport bow-ties and we’ll be ready to view at a soiree of sorts. Mine’s a Baileys. Whoever sees old people having cocktails? On the telly? At the Freemason’s do and that’s hard enough to see? We’ll be doin’ a happenin’ because we are from the Beat generation, the hippy times, the anti-university, anti-establishment, revolution Levi’s rule generation.

Soon come. June 9th in Hackney.at the swimmconflictsoiree

Who Do You Think You Are?

What a week it’s been following the internet research trail of a sportswoman local to my area who is never celebrated although The Independent filled a typeset hole by publishing her obituary in 1998. Mary Barnham was my leader into research about the sprinter from the turn of the last century, Vera Maud Palmer, who married Wilfred Searle in 1926 and obviously, as was the way then, took his surname and likely his “W” too . Mary goes into the most obscure avenues and always comes up with the proverbial dog’s rag.

I have a RAGWORKS wall-hanging depicting Vera as she was in her later days from a staged photo shoot where she compares herself in running position with a much heavier built athlete of a later day. All we knew was that she was born in Leytonstone, had a father who worked at Chelsea FC and that she was adamant that women should compete in the Olympics as she went on to win a silver at the Women’s Games in Sweden. Let us be aware that she won her medal in 1926 when women were advised that entering the athletics arena would render them man-like and infertile. That myth went on until the fifties in the UK at least and thrives in other places where women aren’t allowed to be human.

I now know exactly where Vera was born and where she moved with her family in 1911.

I am proud to have completed my research of a woman who had views on the state of womanhood back, way back, in the day and, now, to be able to share it with others and to school children. There should be a blue plaque commemorating her militancy and certainly Wikipaedia is informed.

Meanwhile on another vein, Mary Barnham and I followed through the insignificant life of a son of Cann born in Walthamstow. The Canns are celebrated currently in Walthamstow at The Mill E17 under the Memories exhibition . Antique postcards verify the family’s existence in a new built house on newly developed landscapes back in the 1850s. The house still stands strong and uniform in a road near The Black Path. I collect postcards and found a batch to suit the art project. The handsome guy, for Barnham found a photo on t’internet, ended up living, ninety years later, two doors away from my childminder when childminders preceded nurseries and were the norm before the words “au-pairs” and “nannies” came into working-class general parlance.

The People’s Liner

Just watched a Timeshift 2009 BBc programme about the holiday steamers, paddle-steamers from 1870s by Bristol and The Clyde before Thomas Cook got his oar in. Absolutely wonderful commentaries and old footage. Up our Street seniors are off to the V&A in April to see the exhibition about luxury and liners and that’s why I recorded the programme to watch from sometime last year.

I have been on paddle steamers. luxury Bahama cruises, Norfolk Broads, Shetland ferries, Mississippi steamers, Broxbourne boats, The Floating Cinema, and on and on, even trawlers at dawn with the trawler-men way back in old world St Osyth when the builders’ tea tasted of fishermen’s buttocks so am looking forward to sumptuousness in the V&A. A senior thought I was arranging a group cruise. I will do that when my lottery ticket comes up.

Much of the BBC footage was from England Wales and Scotland 1950s and so the traditional housewives’ headscarves were truly all over the place.

Last night I had Atlantic sardines done from frozen in the oven. They were Aldi’s in date by a year and reduced from £2 to £1. “I’ll have them with salad while Corrie’s on”. What a disappointment. I should have fried the critters to get that crunchy taste. I was reminded romantically of cuithes drying in the wind outside crofters’ houses in Scotland twenty years ago. When those old folk die, that tradition will go also like bannocks and clootie dumplings whether Waitrose substitutes or not on Burns week.

Brrr. Too cold to go to The Mill to see their Memories exhibition.

Why join in?

Just taken in and paid for submission my art works for Memories at The Mill E17. It’s very important for me to be part of an experience which aims to foster neighbourliness. I shun meetings but go headlong into exhibitions where my work done from the heart can sit beside other artists’ work which is created from a passion, an urge, an itch that won’t go away. I also support an artist, he being Hassan Vawda. He gives himself willingly and generously to his community preparing free workshops for any residents and then goes away and immerses himself in all things wonderful on canvas. Quietly and humbly he will rise to the top of that creamy, milk-soaked barrel of art of all kinds in the emerged artist quarter that is Blackhorse Road E17. He’s never after that because he is art personified and can be nothing higher but we want to see a local son highlighted and fan-fared. We do. He is the founder and creator at Memories. At The Mill E17 where you will find Norman, who says little and does loads.

This morning I had to fill in the submission of work form, pays my money (cheap as chips) and an additional one all about how came about the structure of my Memories art work. Mine is very much based on the language amongst working class women who are now in their seventies and better and are by historical circumstances white British: They’d just say “English”.

I had already worked on Headscarves 1950s, a project researching the memories of senior UK born women who in their young lives had worn the triangular piece of silk or nylon as a headscarf for their hair. From that sprung a workshop called Scarf Art as was done in 1968 although I know not one person who’d come across it. My art teacher never mentioned it and she was right on the button. Miss Plumb. Love that eccentric nurturer of young minds. One day she showed a purple transparency. Well, I fainted. Nowadays we’d say the colour provoked an inner spiritual experience relating to some trauma. She asked, “Are you late?” It was a girls’ school, a brilliant girls’ school. Well, I mumbled about the buses. My less naïve friend who was jealous of the relationship I had with that teacher scoffed and told me she was referring to periods. From then on I cast that teacher a different scared eye.

A couple of years ago, I listened to the words of the Scarf Art participants as we delved into memories and then I painted those words onto a back-canvas of blues and greens and reds having studied 1950 colours and put the habitual blue edge around the art to represent the rolled edge of 1950 headscarves.

Bunting is full of rags and words all to do with used sayings in the fifties where man ruled the home from his remote office or factory floor and parents watched their charges every move.

I am always fascinated by antique postcards even how the font of the writing curves and spreads across a small space or sits shyly in a 1909 corner sharing glory with a stamp and a king.  I took the identity of a grandchild belonging to 78 Markhouse Avenue which still stands and curated memories about the inhabitants of that dwelling, that pre WW1 home. Of course I was in the cloud of a memory palace and working class people in their two up two down. The grandmother at 78 morphed into mine. Remember I only began with words on postcards for this art. Powerful evocations of sad and happy in equal measure darker times, lost times.

Done for now and moving on.

The Pamper Shop

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Right, moving into 2018 with gusto and thanks to our Jan of Spitalfields for sharing that on Saturday January 20th at St Margaret’s in Old Ford Road by Bethnal Green Station there’s a whole day from 11 am of wellness and healthy living workshops for FREE. Book at Eventbrite. Even Veganism is being shown and explored.

A healthy and free walkabout in Harrow Road area E11 called at Eventbrite “HIGH STREET SENIORS Around Ramsay Road” takes place on March 22nd to join in the celebrations of International Women’s Day.

The other event shared by Jan was the volunteer your memories and ideas of protest at Mile End University site in February. More on that as it comes in. Cups of tea promised. Emptying your mind is good for you. There’s an art exhibition coming up at The Mill E17 too run by Hassan Vawda at Artkeys all about memories and their inspiration for how we view the world. I love Sherlock’s Mind Palace. Nutty.