On Later Years

This getting old malarkey is hard. Up Your Street is ten years old now. Many of the original seniors at Up Your Street are no longer out and about or joining in group activities. They are no longer interested in volunteering or going along anymore to workshops about collages or memories because what’s on offer saturates their brains: One hub does an art workshop; all the others follow. They have been talked to for years in a most patronising way and have known for ages that their presence as representing seniors in the community at the meeting places does not make them more visible. They are never re-engaged. Their turning up gives relief to the organisers who in turn satisfy the funders. The community has then been served and the Big Society goes from strength to strength.

Arthritis prevents these ageing seniors from museum trawling and tea-dancing.
People get older and in the main, tired. No longer is a one hour activity increased to three hours because of travel become part of the day. That one experience is a day out. Sapped energy prevents a mooch around the shops and spending nearly three pounds on a coffee is not an option. Home in those four walls with TV for company is not so bad and who is anyone to judge?

People’s dietary habits change. Diabetes takes away the joy of a cuppa and cake at a local hub. Vegetarians and gluten-free followers club in with vegans so social outings to local cafés turn into sessions where participants quiz each other with suspicion about their choice of food and that pulls people apart. Differences are highlighted rather than the nicer light of bringing people closer to each other in conversation. The cafés catering for all dietary needs are expensive and probably for the young. It’s difficult to chose a venue.

Those missed Up Your Streeters who ten years ago subscribed to receiving emails about activities and events no longer use email. They in the main never use a mobile phone and have not expanded their use of digital technology or changed their negative opinions about social media. It is obvious that in another era a young intern helped them to set up an email account and that was that. Added to that many seniors pick up emails once in a blue moon and then at a public place such as a community centre.

Unwittingly by moving away from Up Your Street those original subscribers have isolated themselves from the wider community. Up Your Street is less exciting without them.
Of course just like playground habits, people move away from others they just don’t like. Experience has taught me to be aware of who shares an event with whom if everyone is to have a positive lasting experience.

People are very good at keeping inside their comfort zone. They dipped into the weird and wonderful but came back to what they knew for fifty years. I know from over the years who prefers poetry to plasticene installations, tea dances to classical concerts.

And I cannot forget to mention about how seniors become grandparents so go off the social scene for a worthwhile while. Child minding is exhausting.

Those who cannot access Up Your Street activities and became older and less fit will not return. They will cease to use their Freedom Passes. They are over seventy and entering another chapter in their lives. What fun they had though. Some went to “You Me Bum Bum Train”, unwanted and invisible by the way; some became market researchers during London 2012 and some navigated locks in Little Venice. So much they did.

Naively, I thought they were hibernating. Not so.
I include them by using emails still until they tell me not to or occasionally landline them and even post details to them because never say never.

The Pamper Shop

Well, great FREE stuff happening at Hale End Library,  E4 over the railway tracks,  past the second hand shop, on a hill come and practise art without judgement but by talking over tea, saying how you feel, being inspired by music and poetry, movement and life. One Saturday a month with a therapeutic artist. Book through Waltham Forest Culture.  Twelve sessions in all but come to as few as you want.
We are on the road to art and nature, art and mindfullness.

image

Needing updating at Up Your Street

  Up Your Street is unique in that it finds cheap and free events and activities for seniors around the former 6 London 2012 boroughs, now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Gillian Lawrence, resident in Leyton for forty years, owns and manages the independent voluntary enterprise.
 
                       It is an online sharing service in that seniors are encouraged to access email, Facebook and the blog site http://www.upyourstreet.wordpress.com to share and join in events.
 
                      
                       It became an online service in March 2010 although before that it was a paper-feed which meant a lot of foot -work. In 2012 the Mayor recognised Up Your Street with a  “Service to Londoners” achievement award.
 
                       Many people were wary about the staging of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on their doorstep and Up Your Street set out to diminish that negativity and celebrate the rejuvenation of depressed parts of east London. During the Olympic and Paralympics site construction, many Up Your Street subscribers were encouraged to become and did qualify as volunteers for community projects for example at the Theatre Royal Stratford, with Newham Community Volunteers, and as researchers for Hackney heritage projects. Since 2012 many went on to gain qualifications in locally based arts, crafts and photography courses, film-making, and sound broadcasting as well as a two year university foundation course.
 
                   Currently Up Your Street is at the stage where subscribers feel comfortable to review projects and recommend them to others.
 
                   Since 2104 it has had community group status which means free group entry to major art and museum exhibitions.
 
                  The listings for events go out by email to over 200 subscribers every seven to ten days.
 
                  Highlights over the years include taking part in “You Me, Bum Bum Train” (interactive, immersive theatre),  a visit of 25 strong to the Alexander McQueen Exhibition for free at the Victoria and Albert Museum with a shared picnic afterwards, a free guided tour of Docklands Museum led by one of our own and a senior-led one too at the Nehru Gallery in the V&A, banner-making in Brick Lane and plastics recycling with Songalolo Feet in Hackney, and last month, being creatives in West Ham working with a Swiss artist via satellite. There have been many many great times together. Subscribers as High Street Seniors (the walking group) were invited by Clancy Docwra  Construction to tea at the works in Lea Bridge Road. And there’s a full diary of local events in the pipe-line.
                To be over 55 to join in email gillianamuir@aol.co.uk

women in art

Today I had my art on canvases filmed and I answered questions about my exhibition too.

It was a great experience for me and for the film-makers.

My exhibition about women in the changing rooms is called
At The Swim.
It’s at Hackney Central Library and most library WiFi users walk straight past it or actually through it as the work stands in class cabinets presumably because anything hanging disappears.

One visitor texted me today saying that my exhibition does not exist. He could have asked the staff but that’s an energetic task . I have stood many a minute at a library assistant’s counter and proved invisible. I helped my friend “Go towards the glass!” a bit like “Go towards the light”.

As is always after an interview I realized I was a babbling non-coherent inconsistent twat but my words are still cooking so I can share what I said about art in the community and where women stand. Move over Mrs Barton .

I paint older women because I love all their shapes. Simple as.
I am always learning and know full well that major galleries hardly air women’s paintings and work showing women.

Oh see you Saatchi.

But I would say that when it comes to art exhibitions at local community hubs then there is displayed art work in abundance by women and work about women by both men and women.

My paintings about older women are an homage to that age group oft described as “invisible” by both young and old and show that there can be seen bodies not lithe, young and blond but squashy and lumpy with bits missing and they come in all colours.

So what’s new? Not the above.

The next step though is crucial in that all people recognise ageing as what it is and that all women can be respected as they carry what they grow into.

“I never ordered this body” is a reasonable statement from a woman out of the pool , looking at her thunder thighs and seeing a pile of well woman magazines with Euro blond yogurt fed bodies on every page.

” I can shake what my mother gave me but people would run and I’m not too happy about what moves out of time either.”

Men and women are conditioned by mostly everything around them to conform to a norm. People become millionaires feeding off that and degrading others. If we want to reach a state where all bodies are worthy then everything starts at grass roots in the community and that includes seeing me from the neighbourhood embracing my peers and inviting them to share my stance on feminism, my standing up, my loving communal women -peopled spaces, my messaging strength in unity through acrylic on canvas, my group preferences, image

my addiction .

Phew ! A cup of tea would have gone down well.

“At the swim” is how my once Orcadian neighbours described going to the local swimming pool. It’s a language thing.

MUSEfest

Tonight is MUSEfest in Hackney London. Not the old Hackney but the noo schmoo, the one of Hackney Picture House and bicycle stands, and beards and low-slung brown skinny trousers and a Premier Inn at Dalston Junction, land of lattes and wraps, closing down pancake shops, and toilets transformed into pop-in pop-ups.

Zeb Achonu has a Facebook page all about mothers making music. She as a musician and a young mother puts it out there that motherhood cannot squash your music creativity and it’s great for like minded music makers to join together and keep music and spirits alive.  It need energy just to get that off the ground between the carting to and from nursery, teaching language skills to own toddler, buying Tampax and Pampers, and getting to work on time.

Whilst in Paris she plunged into balconies and music by producing with Léopold Naessens “Balcony TV”. Hannah Judson was also on that same balcony. Since June, Zeb and Hannah have Skyped together and  set up gloriously MUSEfest , an evening showcasing women who make moves in music and who inspire others to create notes. The line-up is impressive, Mr Geldorf, and the tickets are as cheap as chips at £7.

It’s evenings of damp and mulled wine lit up by shop displays of Christmas glitter. It’s Hackney with its Empire, Town Hall, Tesco and sparse free parking. It’s The Attic on top of the rather stunning Hackney Picture House next to queues of buses on main street Mare Street.

From Up Your Street and HIGH STREET SENIORS who,  as well as The Bhaji in Docklands,  are feeding the musicians come best wishes for our daughters and granddaughters, for success for those women relentlessly producing music which deserves a place in the very man-dominated sphere of composing, conducting and techno-creating.

If it takes a charity event to get earnest and creative women recognised as musicians who have more to offer than music-videos selling mush hyped up with bouncing bottoms and air-brushed lips, then so be it.   Zeb and Hannah have that energy as work-loaded mothers to bring about a change in the music industry.

Light up tomorrow with today!