High Street Seniors

Around Ramsay Road

Here is a walk I’msharing, 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.

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 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. I at first thought it were a retreat for Buddhist followers because it is tranquil in a road unworried by traffic and people.

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


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.

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


Minister for Loneliness

Eve and Adam it. You might as well have a Minister for Wishes. One wonders what were the essential criteria for the post and what successful outcomes the candidates imagined.

Someone I know burst into muffled sobs and was repeating into her friend’s breast, “I am so lonely” and I checked her on Facebook with 216 friends. Facebook is an egoist’s free platform where people like me can show off about their culinary skills or be first with shocking news. You can test who’s your friend on Facebook by the number of times they DM you to see how you are or to share a greeting about a new day. Never happens.

Is the Minister to target old people because like ads for dementia and bladder control the actors are white and ancient? I know many youngsters, thirty somethings who are lonely defined by they being bored and having no-one to share that time in their life.

Loneliness is not a pathological condition cured by smile workshops or community workshops for those remedies are fleeting. Loneliness is part of being a human being.

Many people I see are lonely because they made themselves that way with their negativity and  miserable faces. They expect to be alone and lonely and make no effort to get out of years of habit. What a challenge for an unqualified person in a ministerial post.

We shall now join in anti-loneliness workshops and acted out plays and discussion groups  and art exhibitions and be reminded of tribal societies who do things communally and have no isolated lonely older people or young men who see nothing ahead but self-destruction. We’ll watch on the news graphs about dementia decreasing after loneliness has been alleviated and a link will be constructed between obesity and loneliness.. Wait and see. We’ll see pictures of groups of eighty year old widows of the parish and their spinster sisters with white faces and whiter Twinkle perms crowding into The Claremont Project and over that image a voice will tell us in condescending  soft tones how the Government funded initiatives helps those vulnerable lonely ancients, that same government lot  who forgot it was they who imposed parking regulations so that children and parents packed into the family car couldn’t just rock along to spend a family day with gran or old auntie and the same horrors who built uninspiring boxes after condemning big housing estates where Samjid knew Ethel and where the corner shop sold milk to everyone.

Loneliness will be blamed on isolation and lack of community venues . Ha. Community venues and hubs have been around for ages, had their surge in 2012 and are struggling now to open because the user groups are happy to stay in and not bother with insincere social interaction. Telly is comfortable. Facebook is that ego-fest. Loneliness is normal.

Ask Greta. Ask the married couple living on top of each other.

I watched Arctic Murders last night. It was slow and full of full-on shots of Arctic faces. I thought we were in Iceland but the faces weren’t wide Then the star, Rebecka, drank from what I recognised as an Ikea duck blue mug. Ha ha. Sweden it was

You have just read a typical Facebook status update. See what I mean?


Strengthening Communities through Art.

Those Candy Crush actors are a bit podgy, aren’t they? I was thinking about Veganism and thought about war-rationing. Just thinking.

And that was because I was concentrating on my art for The Mill E17 and how I had to think, well calculate dates, as I was stealing an identity for my project. And I had to even research WW1 dates. I did dress to go out to do another bit of physical research but hey, it’s very cold out. All this work is really in  the end, just for me, because another Mill artist said to me on the bus last Summer, “Only the artists see each other’s work at The Mill, so what’s the point?” Swing back to positive-ness for you can say that about any community art do. Keep on creating. I like Cass Art’s motto:-“Let’s fill this town with art”.

I bought ancient postcards off Mo’s Emporium at Ebay and found quite a few belonging to a family in Walthamstow from 1909. My laptop was hot. My imagination was wild. I do collect postcards anyway and have valuable ones hoarded away in a bank vault. I don’t actually believe postcards are going out of fashion just as fridge magnets aren’t. They are souvenirs whereas emails and snapchats are not yet. From a few words in squid ink on old postcards then I learnt about ye olde worlde fish ‘n’ chip shops in Markhouse Road, who did what in the early sixties, who built houses around railways in 1850 by Marsh Lane and beyond, who owned the land when the farm fields were cut up for development and how on Saturday 13th January 2018, a few local people will be up in arms protesting about building plans around Lea Bridge Station.

The Mill’s art exhibition is about memories. Up Your Street seniors have been on countless projects about their memories. We are reminiscence saturated. The thing is The Mill will turn up quirky art in all sorts of media.

My submissions are quasi quirky.

I made for my friend a scarf art using acrylic paint on unframed canvas spelling out all the words we could remember from domestic life in the fifties and before that having had an art-inspired evening at The Anti University Festival hosted and planned by myself, the artist, talking about headscarves and whatnot. Scarf Art was a thing in 1968 with top notch artists calling out for designs on silk for them to reproduce and make mega-bucks. Seniors at Up Your Street did the same in 2015 and had fun producing loveliness. They painted and printed on rag squares. So my metre squared scarf art goes on display then back to my friend’s wall.2017-12-12 10.03.32

Then add onto that a string of bunting with phrases used by parents and kids in playgrounds to keep order in a world where slaps and smacks were allowed and children pre the revolution were seen and not heard up until the day they brought in wages. Bunting was made from rags originally. At the Vestry Museum there’s a photo 1901 showing the laying of the foundation stone at Davies Lane Primary School and flapping in the breeze alongside the Union Jack are rags . At the Technical E10 there are on the ancient railings cloth triangles as bunting and hiding from the wind. At least they’re not plastic. Plastic is a bad word.

My third submission is the postcard based art work called “Of Kith And Kin”.2018-01-09 13.28.19

Note the old school, aka old skool, pen and ink heading and hand-written fonts. Wait ’til you get inside. But you have to get along to The Mill for that.

On Sunday, after Mass, a neighbour turned up with a whole bundle of unwanted posh Sanderson 1995 material from a mutual acquaintance, all from Up Your Street. The Earth gave up to me. I was able to re-do my Claire Weiss for RAGWORKS International Women’s Day 2018 with appropriate material and so pack away the special collection all about women until March.

My hands are going from mauve to pink now so I can get on with another creation, a quilt for a baby made from refreshed textiles. RAGWORKS style.


The Pamper Shop


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.


International Women’s Day 2018

Well, March will soon arrive as already January is under way and February flits by and then I am ready crowding seniors at Up Your Street into events marking International Women’s Day which some borough council women have changed into Women’s Month and Women’s History Month. There’s always something in the news to make us keep the tradition of celebrating a women’s day. This year, it’s the everyday sexism resulting in rape which means we have to keep on keeping on and globally too. Many senior women have diarised March 8th for decades; amongst my peers I know not one . I know old hippies, old headscarf-wearers, old beatniks but I know not one woman of my age personally who knows about International Women’s Day enough to explain it to another man or woman, transgender or adamant. Keep on as long as sexism is rife and FGM is killing spirits.

RAGWORKS depictions of notable local women is set and ready to display in a primary school hall. In my bid to mix up seniors in the community and school age toddlers then March 8th has been allowed as a time for Up Your Street seniors to view for one hour my work. Schools have to be strict and secure. The toddlers will do work as they do annually around women of note such as (roll out)  The Suffragettes. RAGWORKS IWD 2018 features local champions such as Hibo Wardere and Claire Weiss, Neech and Hyacinth Myers. Alongside those stars will be nursery rhyme women characters as Jemima Puddleduck and Old Mother Hubbard for it is a primary school. Each wall-hanging will be labelled but I’m avoiding words like mutilation and aggressive, self-esteem and manufactured by men for we are before the watermark. (WHAT is the word I’m looking for?) When the seniors come to view I’ll let loose my tongue and put clearly what Neech and Hibo deal with.

On March 22nd, the day after the Equinox and Claire Weiss’ talk about a woman born in Leyton and then  owning silk worms,  High Street Seniors start a local walkabout from Vera Lynn Close in Forest Gate. It’s a chance to see the old Edwardian part of London which is now des res all by Wanstead Flats, recently cleaned up of old sofas and trollies.

On March 24th in my own gaff, artists amongst Up Your Street subscribers will sample vegan lunch as we all share what our art and poetry is all about.

All events are at Eventbrite and restricted to age and subscription to Up Your Street , and on the events pages at AlternativeArts where maybe alternative means women.

Oh! The power of words.2018-01-04 11.07.1220171220_103207uys-iwd