This one’s all about the hands.

Here is an obvious case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand even looks like. It’s that bad.
For over two months since March I’d been asking then badgering one Hackney library for exhibition space for either one day or fifteen days for my art to coincide with Anti University and with the London Festival of Creativity and Well-being. Two months of unanswered emails except for one which was vague and promised a follow up one after a Bank Holiday but nothing happened. Finally last Saturday I was given the green light by a phone call I returned even though I had been expected, said the deputy manager, two days earlier but I am not psychic so never knew.
In the heat before the storm I flung my installation but carefully into my bubble-wraps, walked like a teenager to the bus-stop and fixed up my work in no time at all, Remember I’d been prepared for over two months. The next Monday I went back to the library to tidy up my rushed job and to add the last creations.

At 5.30pm today, on the third day of my display,I had the longest email you’ve ever seen from the library manager starting off with an apology for the lack of communication. I settled into a peace of mind and read on. The second paragraph explained how when he’d discussed my exhibition with him….hold on now. The man never stood still ever to speak with me. And the final episode was a request that I come and remove my exhibition because another outfit wanted the cabinets or if not the staff would take down my work and store it somewhere.

Angry? You’ve never seen the like. What could I do? My hands were tied. An official complaint would be wasted energy and more lies would be invented. I had done everything politely and without complaint. I threw on my angry red winter coat, dragged out my two trollies and watched the clock on the bus. Even the tramp asking me for money was cheerier than me.

I retrieved my exhibition pieces and saw no staff running towards me perhaps to arrange a taxi home for me or a refund for all my promotional postcards and wotnot.

My anger turned to sadness and now I wait for a small time to pass so that I will be over the whole caboodle and say loudly con brio “Well, I wash my hands of it all”. A couple of paracetamol will help.

Eels, bees, dinners and nibbles.

Issue 18. Up Your Street.

Shared by Folu

“I just wanted to tell you about Gascoyne 1 Community centre, Gascoyne Road, E9. Activities for people over 50. 50p entrance fee. 3-4 pm exercise, refreshments then bingo follows. Starts at 3-6pm

It is run by Hackney marsh partnership.” Thanks, Folu.

Sun 11th June Barking Folk Festival.

Tues 13th June £1 10-1pm . The Mill E17. Hilary’s Tuesday’s Sociable Sewing. Hilary getting us ready for “Fabrications” fabric exhibition at the Mill in July!

Drop in but here is the message to regular attenders:-

“On 13th June, bring a list of all the projects you would like included, with sizes for the larger pieces.

(If you are not able to come, just email them to me).

A group decision on how many of those pieces we can select from each person.”

All will be fabulously soft.

Wed 14th June £2. 2.30pm Rio Cinema Dalston “Hidden Figures” Thanks to BN for sharing.

Thurs 15th June free 4pm “Heroes art exhibition” launch at Claremont, in the Angel,Islington. Nibbles and chat, art and company. Hibo Wardere is on the wall as ‘heroine’ along with all those mums now aged 90 who scraped pennies and rations to provide for their families. We salute them.

Fri 16th June free 5.30-7pm at the Noted Eel and Pie House 481A Leytonstone High Road. E11

Life of the eel. Part of [dis]tinct events for the community. Free dinner for first 40 attenders.


free to view. 7pm Very informal launch of “Art With Bees” exhibition at Butler’s Bakery Cann Hall Road E11 Whilst there, have some jerk chicken and salad or a rum punch, all reasonably-priced.

Average £6.50. “Ladies Who Jerky”.6pm. A group from Up Your Street dining out and why not?

Sat 17th June free 12-6pm Studio 3 Arts in Boundary Road, Barking. Open art day as a summer festival with fun events.
Exhibition to view too.

Sun 18th June free. Various workshops given by seniors . Venues around Shoreditch area.. Programme at Royal Voluntary Service.

Issue 17. Up Your Street.

Thurs 8th June free 11.30 Up Your Street Community Group off to the Victoria and Albert Museum for Balenciaga. Fully booked.

Fri 9th June £10. 11-1.30pm.SPECIAL for Up Your Street a tour and two hour ceramics workshop at Turning Earth in Staffa Road area in Argall Industrial Estate. Light Haus café open too. Some availability. Pay on the day. Book by emailing me at

1-3pm a nice cafeteria style dinner up at Hoo Hing in Staffa Road. Cheap as chips Chinese fare. Let me know if you want to join other seniors so we know how many tables need to be prepared. Lift access. W19 bus with a walk or any bus down Lea Bridge Road then a walk up Burwell Road.

Sat 10th June free 2-5pm Beautiful Hackney Museum

Come and see some Up Your Street subscribers taking part in a accidental theatre as they sit down and chat without a script or a rehearsal and see what unfolds.

From Bow Arts .free

“The Precinct, Royal Foundation of St Katharine, 2 Butcher Row, London E14 8DS

On Saturday 10th June this year St Katherine’s Artspace Artists will be opening up their studios for you to see! Alongside Open Studios will be Market Stalls for you to take away a piece of affordable art and the Yurt Cafe will be open as usual.

Based next door to Limehouse DLR station, St Katherine’s Precinct is an ‘extraordinary oasis’. ”

Mon 12th June free Claremont members off to the V&A.

Tues 13th June £2. 3-5pm.Claremont in White Lion Street by Angel Station. Become a member for free by going to the office then join in our Hilary’s felt brooch making class.

Thurs 15th June free. 9-7pm.Hackney Central Library to see Gillian Lawrence’s marking of “Later Years” at London’s Festival of Creativity and Wellbeing with an installation representing “Old Women Talking”. Credit to Sue’s plastic crochet bags.

free Some community leaders who subscribe to Up Your Street are off to the British Museum for a guided tour as part of the Festival of Creativity and Wellbeing.

free 11.30. Stratford Circus, E15 Sing along with a seniors’ singing group, the Agewell Singers. Brilliant.

Three days, three exhibitions.

That was the week that was.
Oof, having a sit down after a soaking. Bedraggled I was in the torrents and the bus left me cold, standing but clutching onto my massive canvases for the three-bus journey to their destination.
There’s a fabulous art and science project going on in the Cann Hall district of Leytonstone called [dis]tinct (I’m still working out the title…it’ll come). It’s all to do with migrations of peoples into the area and what they brought in and what they shared. Butler’s Bakery, a long-established community spot makes honey buns using locally sourced honey from honey-bees, of course. My focus is on the pie and mash coming up in the month and tales of the Sargasso Sea, (spelling).
I have in exhibition at Butler’s some paintings, some big paintings to adorn the white blank walls. I am the first exhibiting artist there in a world where every latte-boiling establishment rents out wall space for local artists to get loved and famous. Community art is a great thing especially as it gives opportunities for spectators to see art when they might not be asked to get into the massive impersonal galleries.
My displayed paintings are from my series “Headscarves 1950s” from my research project of the same name. There is much colour and rhythmic patterns because I reference the 1950 scarf designs. It was important that I link into the
[dis]tinct E11
experience and so I took time to cover my pink “Nude in a Headscarf” by dressing her in an opaque light shift full of bees. It works. Vera Lawrence (no relation) of Clapton also got a makeover and I took great pleasure in patterning the heads around her. The other picture is “Fish and Headscarves” , a painting honouring post WW2 rationed housewives and the once common fishmonger. Lots of fishy shapes but no bees.

What a Palaver

After months of not knowing and politely awaiting a decision, finally the deputy manager of a library housing a community art display area allowed me to go ahead and exhibit. I’d asked for June 1st- June 15th so imagine my open jaw when on June 3rd I was told at the same time I was given the opportunity to have the un-cleaned display cabinets that I was late in coming to the library and setting up.

I remained diplomatic to the last. My exhibition at the library complements an happening I’m managing at Anti University 2017 at Hackney Museum entitled “Old Women Talking”. That event is a voyeur’s delight. Visitors can pass through a room where nine senior women are sitting chatting. There’s no script, no rehearsal, just a visible presence of older people in a festival which appears to target a younger cohort of Londoners who can relate to and mimic the radical Anti University of 1968 by creating weird and wonderful happenings.

My exhibition is an installation of Barbie Doll heads morphed into older women by the use of acrylic paint and re-styled hair remembering that the stereotyped media image of the older generation as white flight representatives is not a mirror of the seniors joining in Up Your Street activities. It would have been an effective installation behind polished glass with spotlights but hey I had an hour to set up and even then had left stuff indoors. It is all about making the older generation visible. There’s a large canvas of words which would have been used by UK born octogenarians such as “corsets” and “chimney-fires”. There’s a fringed wall-hanging celebrating International Women’s Day. There are symbols of Anti Nuclear activity from the sixties and a nod to Punks in the seventies. Added in are Sue’s clever plastic bags fashioned and crocheted from supermarket bags. There’s a pristine linen bag advertising High Street Seniors, a walking group of those with walking sticks, arthritis and a willingness to be an increased presence at dusk on London’s high streets.

A marvellous statement is actually being made by an installation which is really a rough diamond in terms of presentation: Older people are not invisible and will not be so. They have opinions and words that matter. They can be seen and heard. They can demonstrate that themselves through their own art and creativity. They are not a stereotype. They are not a mass of sameness. They have herstories, histories and futures.

The Barbie heads were bought after bidding wars at Ebay. By destroying the blue-eyed blond plastic representations of modern women typically called “girls” I was happy constructing a reality. It was a pleasure to observe women in real life and take elements of them into my art. At one point I had wanted to make a paper collage of older women talking but the low number of magazines celebrating our older generation show in the main middle-class self-satisfied smiling white women.
I examined the words used to describe women talking and those words include, “chin-wagging”, “jawing” and “nattering”.

I joined in the London Festival of Creativity and Well-being by acknowledging the Festival’s “Later Years” day on June 15th by making sure that my exhibition stays up for that day. It is by persistence and luck that I secured the Library exhibition space which is meant to be for community artists like myself. There are three cabinets: I was allowed two because the local museum needs a display cabinet, never mind they have a shed-load of walls, cabinets, empty rooms and enough space. I shared my astonishment at that incredible unbelievable situation bearing in mind that I was speaking up for all those community artists I support.

Invisible. Every time I went to the library, I was shelved, ignored, side-stepped and every email was unanswered. It took over two months for the managers to respond. I managed to get a verbal yes for my forthcoming exhibition in November 2017 and the promise of an immediate email confirming that. Hmm.
Another requested booking was denied me because the library needs the cabinets for their own display. The public needs to know that there’s a possible policy change in that community artists are not prioritised when it comes to ownership of community display areas at that particular library.

This was an old woman talking.

Whispered Happenings.

There’s a big shindig happening in the London Borough of WTF all about swifts and creativity and Walthamstow Wetlands and E17 Art Trail and did we all know about it?
I heard someone saying they collected their Swift sticker from The Mill E17 and as I was not being addressed and being well brought-up I never said a word. By chance as I was browsing Eventbrite for local community events I came across the registration for 1000 Swifts Over Walthamstow and the acquisition of a Swift sticker. It really felt I was at someone else’s party but that is always the way of it re: Walthamstow. To join in, we’d make swifts. Well, the rafters at the Mill are stuffed with knitted swifts and graffiti marks the spot. So I’d already begun a RAGWORKS frame with refreshed textiles following the feather design on an image of a swift as I was getting ready for “Soft” at the Mill which by the way was another thing I heard about by having my ears on stalks. So I developed that art work in order to have a frieze in my window to join in. That’s all I’m doing…joining in.

I remember well my late sister being at primary school when the word “Nigger” was common parlance. Imagine! The end of term concert included a row of eleven year olds standing on a bench wearing what now we’d call Afro Wigs and were likely called fuzzy wuzzies then. My sister was well out of it as there weren’t enough wigs so she stood out with a blackened face and wavy light brown hair held off her forehead by a bow clip. That’s the way I seem to be at many places. Not quite the one they wanted.