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 Mill, Coppermill Lane. E17

“The trouble with The Mill is that it’s too posh.”(Middle-aged Leyton resident. 2014)

I like posh myself and have always rated highly The Mill in Coppermill Lane. Anyone remember my story about the day I first went to The Mill in Coppermill Lane just after it opened for I was on the case at the first announcement about its inception as I’d been looking for it all my retired life.

Cleverly walked The Black Path (only knew that rat alley had such a name from walker and local historian David Boote!) then walked swiftly past the houses down by now deteriorating  St James’ Park with its smelly roses to die for and along the pee-ridden railway tunnel up into Coppermill Lane and turned left making my way for Coppermill which belongs to Walthamstow Wetlands now. Well, not belongs but is looked after by Wild London and Thames Water and is set to become a feature and a half in the European and British scheme of things watery.*

Saw swans on the way and the stationary W12 bus and thought it looked a bit empty and deserted but I was well away. After a while I asked a human on a bicycle and she said “Go the other way”, pointing towards the Market. Silly me.

The Mill is a place where we can go, read a newspaper, enjoy an art exhibition, peruse all the notices, step over escapees from the crèche area and be ignored unless the receptionist is looking up. I make a point of saying hello to a lone woman using a laptop or a group of men playing dice for those may be the only ones I talk to all day, being a lonely widow like.

The Mill has regular art exhibitions and workshops attached. The workshops are usually pennies and submitting work for exhibiting is a tenner a time or a fiver for the unwaged and poor. You see that’s another hub which makes you stick to deadlines and get art work done and finished. Professional and amateur and less than that art offerings are hung on the same walls. My postcard drawing in the past rubbed edges with Grayson Perry’s treasure. I was big-headed then. He never came to see.

There is always a launch night full of grub and drink and Mo welcoming in her own generous way ladling out Mill Punch. There is no membership to go to either the workshops, to present art for submission or to get into the crowded launch nights.

This February 2nd is the launch of “Ink Press Go!” an exhibition about printing by local printers and those having a go at getting down and dirty. It’s also the date of all things India at the William Morris Gallery. Oooh. Choices especially as frequent guests and visitors to The Mill, artist and volunteer Hassan and textile artist Sba, are doin’ their thin’ at WMG.

Want to see real posh? Then William Morris Gallery may be your niche.


*Here is Wetlands Steve post at Facebook just now.

A peek inside the 1864 Coppermill Tower at Walthamstow Wetlands, which is currently being renovated and converted into a viewing platform, which will offer visitors spectacular panoramic vistas across Walthamstow Wetlands, the Marshes and the Lea Valley. Accessible via lift, the viewing platform will also provide a viewpoint with a wide unbroken field of view from which to spot birds at great distance. Inside the entrance to the viewing platform, there will also be a display about the history of the building and the watermills that have been on that site for over 1000 years.

In 1864, the East London Waterworks Company, added the tower to the rest of the Coppermill building which was built in 1806. The tower which is built in the arcaded Italianate style, is an elaborate chimney for the venting of steam from a Cornish Bull Engine which was housed in the tower to pump water.

The building is called the Coppermill because it was owned by the British Copper Company and used to roll copper from 1808-1859.

It is just the tower that is being opened to the public in the Autumn of 2017, the rest of the Coppermill building will continue to be used by Thames Water for training and storage.


20170104_114522Great stuff headed by Hassan Vawda at Art keys. An old white woman class in the main assembled around tables in Chingford this morning and spoke of many things; staying with grandchildren, walking The Lakes and the University of The Third Age whilst our host Kikis Leventis (pronounced Chigee or Gigi) introduced us to the joy of charcoal, felt-tips, pencil and biro. We were a crowd. Latecomers without manners arrived and we thirty squashed up more along the joined-up tables in the library itself. Now previously, last year,  we’d spaced out in the art deco Assembly Hall and had hot cups of tea between art tasks. Today Health and Safety said no to a kettle and there was no water anyway and the Assembly Hall has been sold on so that a colossal hour rent would render our free art workshop gone.





We needed hot tea, space and drawing boards. Hassan is the most generous host and teacher. The workshops are always well-prepared and structured. Today every ten minutes so that we could pace ourselves we were reminded of how long we had to create.. Today we learnt to be confident using charcoal or biro and that was a lesson in itself about nothing in art should be prescribed. Bravo.

So we all put in a note to the council to buck up and release for free to artists in the borough the empty Assembly Hall.

The day is cold. I came home, ate new chapattis with old curry and settled down with a cuppa to watch “The Lady In A Van”. That inclination was something to do with having sat with septuagenarians all morning. Ugh, unbearable. The film.



Indian Cats by Hassan E at Pictorem Gallery E17 but nearer E10