My morning up West

A couple of years ago, some Up Your Street art artists and mature art appreciation students went to Rosetta in West Ham to meet via Skype, Angela Lyn , who was doing an art piece about place and building. We joined in. Most didn’t understand any of the psycho-art speke and only two did their homework. Only I went along up to Liverpool Street to see the culmination of our work and how it related to nothing we’d done.

Recently only four subscribers to Up Your Street signed up to go to Angela Lyn’s exhibition in Maddox Street. That is not an enthusiastic response and so I cancelled it. A group visit should include at least six people.  I went by myself today. The 55 bus stops at its last stop in Oxford Circus a small walk away from the front door. I visited Floating Gardens. Typically I could not be bothered with more artspeke. I was interested in my feelings and the oil-painting technique as well as the size of the canvases. A couple of pieces drew me in. I quite liked “Dragonfly” and warmed to the tea table. That’s all. I believe I’d seen works before; the cedar tree pines and furry fronds.

It was  a free exhibition on a sunny day.

Angela Lyn will be in attendance on May 10th.

I pushed myself upwards and onwards to Shaftesbury Avenue and couldn’t see Angels anywhere. So I went to Shaftesbury Theatre just to sniff its box-office area.Years and years ago I’d worked as a ticketing clerk and thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything was the same; dark, golden and olde worlde muted grandeur. The lovely staff welcomed me which was great. I’d satisfied my memory bank, my mind-palace.

Angels, a short hop away,  was empty of people and full of wigs, Yardie style. I was not impressed at all. I secured more places for Up Your Street subscribers to have a look about when we do up West as our day out in May. Like it mattered. There are three floors to explore and even more floors which will be available to us but not the other public.

The 55 bus brought me home again.

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Ebbs and Flows.

Well, we have the ebbing of the waves about older people being visible and owning art spaces near them. It was a blast, you know, seniors being talked to as though they had never had a life-force in them, as though they never had experiences before meeting sympathetic gushy interns and being cajoled  to join in. (Mmm. Nice lemons, writer?)

A flowing in on another stream is the airing of older people in conference to learn about further or advanced education. That is white aspiring middle-class maybe as there’s a big promotion for U3A. Most seniors I know haven’t a clue what U3A is. I’ve dipped into it and quickly withdrew my toes. It has a literary bent about it and most seniors I know operate with spoken words and don’t read books. Seniors I know are mainly working class too emerging like queens from the roughest dirtiest parts of London, not interested in wall-art or community splashing as they make their way to the diabetic clinic or the pharmacist for their indoors’ people’s failing health.

The next funded interest, manufactured by the anonymous powers, will be how to change how the working class isn’t drawn into art appreciation or being artists. It starts publicly with Tate, that place where art is definitely full of class and money. Youth 18-25 are now entitled to see exhibitions for a fiver and attend workshops. Now all well and good as the aim is to get BAME and working class youth into the hallowed halls. Great stuff. Up Your Street Community Group already encourages seniors to take advantage of free tickets for major exhibitions in West End galleries and museums. After six years of this magic then it is a truth that the same seniors who can actually and do afford the exhibition tickets sign up again and again for the freebies. Those same seniors often forget to go to the exhibition. The cohort is of one ethnicity and it ain’t BAME and has an air of upwardly mobile.

I know about art galleries because back in the day I went to a posh progressive school and we were continually out and about getting doses of culture. My friends on the estate went to a different unposh school where factory fodder didn’t need culture. I was fortunate in that respect in the opinion that art is for all and so I should be getting some.

But it’s not yet for all, is it?

I was chatting to an entrepreneur only the other day and we touched on the world of art. She advised me that like every sphere there is the official and the unofficial meaning it’s a cliquey old world. Some workshops are featured at Eventbrite where the issue of working class artists being invisible on the scene is discussed and in another town a major working class artist has an amazing exhibition. See forgotten his name already.

And then I watched Getty the richest art lot in the world. J. Paul Getty even said that those who do not appreciate art are “culture barbarians”.

Never say Never!!!

To: “Gillian at Up Your Street” <gillianamuir@aol.co.uk>

Yes – I am looking forward to the Anti-University event at Hackney Museum in June – I enjoyed it very much last year.  Floral swim hat! Wow!  Must think about this one.  This lady, in her seventies shivering in her swimsuit, can you imagine?  Perhaps I’ll knit one!  Go to the audience with a tray of tea Julie Walters’ style.  I’ll think of something.  ‘At the Swim’ is my favourite collection (those that I have seen that is).
—— Original Message ——

Around and about. Selling and buying.

I run Facebook pages and two, besides Up Your Street, Stroll London, Nattering Grans and others, are “Around Burwell Road” because I document a changing environment in urban Leyton and “Around Ramsay Road” because to me in my latter years, it’s des res.

Burwell Road Residential Estate used to be clean and tidy. Cann Hall Road area was the neglected part of Waltham Forest.  (more to follow..brunch time).

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

 

High Street Seniors

Around Ramsay Road

Here is a walk I’m sharing, all to do with my exhibition for International Women’s Day 2018 with RAGWORKS and hung textile depictions of women many local to Up Your Street’s domain who are out there or have been out in the public arena doing remarkable things. Those women are Mrs Jenny Hammond, Dame Vera Lynn, (101 tomorrow!), Vera Maud Palmer, Dawn Butler, Hibo Wardere, Neech, Claire Weiss and Hyacinth Myers, all champions.

We’ll start at Vera Lynn Close, Dame to you, on Dames Road named after the landowner Richard Dames and feast our eyes at dusk on many notable buildings. We’ll see Uncle Tom’s Garage which was in the early C20th Gobbel’s Bakery, a German firm. In 1915 anti-German sympathisers smashed the windows.

Opposite there are listed buildings and on the same side the Church Of God, a legacy from rich Mr Rozier, a follower of the local Christian Israelites.

Pevensey Road has in it an old mission hall now developed by a Mr William Stevens to its former glory. It belonged to the church of St Margaret with Columbia off Cann Hall Road E11. Close by is the Wanstead Tap, a prize-winning beer venue under the rail arches. Much goes on under the  never-ending rail arches in the district.

Trumpington Road School and after that Lake House School existed off Ramsay and then was emptied and then was bought and a wonderful building  was built to house people with special needs. It is under threat of closure from the London Borough of Waltham Forest. I at first thought it were a retreat for Buddhist followers because it is tranquil in a road unworried by traffic and people. The area is confusing in that some is of Newham and some Waltham Forest.

Dames Road off-Licence, not salubrious but an ancient building judging by the fact that it appears in a Wanstead boating lake photo from1909 and having seen the moulded plaster decorations on its brickwork is a light on a dark night opposite the Wanstead Flats and its shrieking geese and marauding foxes and drunks.

We’ll look at the huge building on the corner of Dames Road and Cann Hall Road, What a sight. On an old ancient map, there is a label The Lodge on the same corner. I’m no historian but it could have been a hunting lodge in Henry V111’s reign. Could have being the Time Team phrase.

There’s Rookwood pub about to be developed and strange numberings of houses in Cobbold Road and the old bakery site now called Nevilles Close. All the while the sun will be setting in front of us by the MACE towers in Stratford. Cann Hall Road with increased pedestrian crossings, small pavement trees, chicken shops and a Londis. Cann Hall Road with an unobserved 20mph speed limit, changed pubs on stepped corners and two packed thriving schools.

We shall then go for our supper in a smart caff which stays open until 9pm.

What are we High Street Seniors like?20160422_143859.jpg

Our Day Out

Seniors from Leyton and Forest Gate did the journey across London to a place near Penge and New Cross and Rotherhithe, all places far away. I always saw buses going to Penge and thought they were going to the seaside: Closet woman. The journey from outwith London to the other outwith London took ninety minutes as predicted. We were still in London I was assured but in East Dulwich, not a McDonalds to be found.

We found easily the Jennie Avent Gallery where Walthamstow artist Sba Shaikh was waiting for us with a spread of goodies and a cuppa.

The gallery caught the sun and plenty of passers-by looked through the windows with a curious stance. Anna had said she was there to learn. Patricia said she was interested in the artist’s philosophy. The exhibition on for two weeks is called “The Printed Veil” and so we expected mystery as the poster indicated and by the very connotations of the title itself.

Sba Shaikh is a textile printer and runs workshops by the dozen in Waltham Forest under the tick sheets of the Borough Council. Today she was independent of that, of a council far away in a feted Borough of Culture.

She guided us around her wall-hung works and installations. She explained the specialist inking techniques. She used an huge torch to illuminate the opaque material; the material of the eastern veil. We were greedy for more information. We were immersed in circles and swirls, myths and traditions. There were breasts and nose-rings, burquas and niqabs, netting and caps, and sumptuous metres of almost gossamer fabric. The art was crowded together in a small place. The place was relaxed with cushions on the window seats. We were in old shabby arty East Dulwich by the Village without a McDonalds or a KFC. Different world.

Sba grew from the melted pot of all cultures in Hackney. She dips into all cultures and sifts away what doesn’t sit comfortably in her kurta. We heard a lot about culture today: You can’t talk about the hijab without reference to Moslem “culture”. You can’t be that person without reference to your upbringing. Your art will dig deep into your psyche and culture rises powerful, all-pervading  like the proverbial cream on milk, shaping your words and giving you identity, richness. But we weren’t there to be educated again about Moslems in the UK, the myriad of different strands of believers and culture-carriers. We were there for the art, for the pleasure of looking at work done, for the aesthetic qualities, for colour, for shape, for perfected techniques. Sba allowed us to touch the material as her work IS tactile.

It was a good day.