What came from the bush

Checked the Sally Army shop in Forest Rd E17 and smelt the corridor to the furniture hall. What a whiff of grandma’s polished airless room. Loved it. Bought a packet of fat chips from the last chip shop standing, almost, and wended my way across the road to sit on William Morris’ back step. He’s a socialist; he won’t mind.

The William Morris garden is fantastic and a real bee magnet. lloyd 2I saw it being laid out eighteen or so months ago when I attended the heritage sessions with Ellie Mortimer. Today it’s an ordered blanket of flowers and grasses as tall as a toddler. The circular beds behind the house itself are back in full yellow glory. Across the way the Warner maisonettes are dolled up now as they’ve been made fashionable and desirable with their wrought iron balconies and French windows on the first floor.

Just polished off my chips and something cast a shadow on my lap. A walking human being looked at me and sat down. It had no breasts but wore a white broderie -anglaise pee-stained knee-length skirt and petticoat. I sneaked a peek to see grey stubble and long greasy hair swung around a bald patch then that lank stuff was hooked up unto a half-hearted French Roll. I saw a prominent Adam’s Apple and knew I was in male company. Of all the seats in the park, he chose mine.

He fiddled with a purse, a lady’s change purse. I felt bad as he looked hard up if not weird and I could have easily shared my chips with him. He crossed his legs like a lady and swigged from a fizzy drink bottle. I thought that people must shun him all the time because of the way he is and so perhaps never talked to anyone all day. I started a conversation of pleasantries and out of his mouth came a high woman’s voice. Who was confused then?

A child went by on roller skates, done up in all her crash helmet, knee pads, elbow protectors and pink leggings: She never disguised her surprise as she passed staring at the bearded skirted one.

I remarked to my bench-mate that there were never any aeroplanes overhead. He smiled and I moved on to another bench.


The Lloyd Park shuts these days at 10pm. There’s a car park at a £1 an hour and £3 for four hours; £6 all day up until 5pm and then whether it gets locked I don’t know yet. It was only four years ago it was all free. Someone’s gotta pay for the blooms. There are ducks and sand-pits, art exhibitions and a roller park and pear trees dropping their fruit for anyone to scrump.

Bruce Castle Museum quilting taster.

“At last” said an Up Your Street subscriber. “A workshop served with passion and with time allowed for chat, tea and a good one hour lunch-break.

Angela was the facilitator and Katrina, the quilting tutor in the non-public room at Bruce Castle Museum. It was a free day workshop with every flavour of tea on the table.

Quilting from  basic was the order of the day and in the mix were information bytes about local women from the Tottenham past, the Moselle River project and quilts world-wide.2013-08-07 10.26.53 2013-08-07 10.28.21

It was fantastic because the two women in charge were full to the brim with enthusiasm  about quilting today. The  women participants were all friendly. Needles were shared.2013-08-07 14.39.11

Last week there was a talk at The Museum about precious restored samplers and embroidered maps. Today  the Museum curator allowed quilters to breathe on them!

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The 123 bus can take you from Lloyd Park in Walthamstow aka William Morris Gallery to the gates of Bruce Castle Museum, Tottenham. North London. Pretty goodly cultural.

Issue 17 Up Your Street

                                                             Issue 17

Wed 1st May     free 10 am -June. Art exhibition at The Mill e17 “Walthamstow Marshes”.

.Digital StillCamera

Sat 4th May            10-3pm   Plants for sale. Hornbeam Centre e17
Organiclea has hand-raised seedlings to help you get ahead in the garden this late-arriving Spring, at the market stall.

                                     noon-4pm Plants for sale
At Hawkwood Nursery (Hawkwood Crescent, Chingford).

Sun 5th May       free   5am-7am Lloyd Park dawn walk Dawn Chorus Walk and Breakfast. Meeting at the Forest Road gate entrance.

Rachel Hoyes r.hoyes@tcv.org.uk

“Enjoy a magical early morning stroll in the park and hear the birds singing their dawn chorus. Learn how to identify different bird calls then enjoy a light breakfast. Meet 5:00am at Forest Road Gate, we know it is an early start but specialist Peter Beckenham assures us it’s the best time. It will be an hour’s walk followed by a relaxing breakfast with plenty of time for questions.”

                                 free   2.15-4.30pm Beating the Bounds    
“Walk around the ancient bounds of Leyton Marsh former Lammas Lands; meet at the Ice Centre Car Park, Lea Bridge Road. Free event organised by the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee. For more information contact, Cath.rasbash@bloomsbury.com.”

Tues 7th May   free to join in. 9-11am.Queens Road Cemetery Wildflower meadow planting
Waltham Forest Friends of the Earth and Friends of Queens Road Cemetery are teaming up to plant a wildflower meadow. Walthamstow (Queens Road) Cemetery, Queens Road, Walthamstow, E17 8QP Contact Tom on hovis21@gmail.com or 020 7566 1673, or just turn up on the day.

free  12.30-2pm. Age  55 and over taster dance classes . Whittington Park Community Centre,  Yerbury Road, Upper Holloway, London N19 4RS. Nurture to Health Dance Project
Wed 8th May  £3 Haringey Independent Cinema at West Green Learning Centre Tottenham, Screening of Ken Loach’s “The Spirit of 45”.
Thurs 9th May £2.50  1pm  Hackney PictureHouse Reminiscence screening “This Sporting Life”.
NB.Currently the movers and shakers in the London Borough of Waltham Forest are the folk in Walthamstow.

Can Altay, a walk in the park.

All these years I’ve been saying how good my local corner shop is. “Ah Can Can is good” Nope we have to say “Jan”  Live and learn.

On a hot 22nd Aug I climbed the 2 floors of the refurbished William Morris Gallery in order to listen to a talk by a young artist Can Altay working in Walthamstow via Create and The Gallery at William Morris.

Now I am open to hearing all about what’s occuring and one can go into one of two camps: One  can just say “Artbollox” or one can listen and get to grips with the artist working here right NOW.

The work Can does is all about utilizing public spaces for art and that engineered art in turn engages people with their environment.  For example, a public under-used park space lacking in inspiration can be transformed by people as artists into a useable self- created area. It  becomes a different, people-owned place. The fight is surely on.

Starting in Istanbul, Can transformed, with the labour of perhaps non-park users, a green area into a living green area. Whilst army guards from the nearby barracks were surely relieving their boredom by looking over the high fence, Can’s people grew vegetables and immersed themselves knowingly or not into the artist-made geometric wooden shapes around them. All was organic. They were  part of the process and the end.  The landscape was changed forever and through the artistic experience so too were the participants allegedly. The park was altered by the people. They had engaged with a public space and made it their own.

Can’s next project engaged residents in social housing somewhere in deprived London. Here journalistic headlines  arranged  to mirror the divide and rule of society motivated people to start talking about their spaces, the spaces they believed they  no longer owned or in which they had any influence. The arrangement of the headlines produced emotional spurts. The participants had become engaged in their community again or for the first time through seeing and feeling words. There was no follow up but a promise by residents that they would continue something. Yep.

Can’s latest work is all about a familiar ignored item of importance, the door-knob. He again invited residents in social housing to examine how going through doors influences their existences. Door-knobs on the beaten worn track: Waltham Forest places of interest.

How is being a social change innovater being an artist? It’s all done through passion. Musicians use music. Writers use words. Artists use the landscapes in front of them.

I got it all. Topical projects are all about people’s stories and how they react with and inhabit their environments. We are saturated with those themes currently especially as LOCOG needed to mobilise the masses to get them on their side to justify the Games expense. Every neglected part of deprived London was map-marked for projects guaranteed to make residents feel engaged with their London, their Games. Every back alley was elevated to a walk route and any smidgen of history was amplified to bring in those who do prefer the beaten track. It was a game within the Game. And then of course, stuffy William Morris Gallery had to keep up with Newham and Hackney and be part of the bigger 2012 picture. In came artists somehow  linked to William Morris and his socialist leanings, artists for and about the people.

I enjoyed Can’s talk. It was well considered and user friendly. It is all just a frame too far for anyone expecting art to be a bunch of dahlias in a vase. I wanted to know how non- social housing residents would be invited to participate in an Altay project and whether the guinea pigs in social housing and deprived areas knew they were in an art project, that’s all. Course they didn’t!

Can Altay’s lecture was the first of many curated talks to come at The (new) William Morris Gallery. Excellent free education  (now that’s socialism). I will not forget it.

William Morris Gallery is in Lloyd Park, Forest road E17. One beautiful place.

A Day of Galleries, Museums and Libraries


Can Altay gave a talk at the William Morris Gallery about art in spaces and the public or users’  interaction with it. Or something along those lines. Fabulous talk and earnest. Can has travelled all over expressing his art and evaluating the impact of his visionary concepts and tangible visible work or constructions. About 21 of us had booked for free to enjoy the first talk in the newly refurbished William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park Walthamstow. The place was packed today with coach loads of seniors although the coaches must have been hidden. The toilets are full of Morris organic art wallpaper.The place is buzzing. Before it was brown and quiet like an old fashioned library. I loved it more then. It belongs to everyone now with its noisy café and crowded foyer festooned with bundles for sale .Not cheap souvenirs either. I’ll get over it. Waltham Forest Council tarted up so many places but I rarely see the famous ethnically diverse resident population in any Gallery, Museum or place of interest, I’ll keep looking and I’ll be disappointed again and again.

The Stratford Library staff had not heard of Stratford Museum. It’s actually the People’s Museum of Newham and just across from Gala Bingo going towards Bow. There we enjoyed a welcome orange juice , choccy biscuits and a film about changing Stratford (yawn…overdone pre Olympics, I’d say) then we looked at the permanent exhibition. Again flog the history of the indigenous population but all good.

Off then to The Nunnery in case any Madge Gill work was up still.Nothing doing and so The Carmelite Café fed and watered us with green tea and miracles of nutty and syrupy flapjacks.

Straight into a no. 25 bus with our trusty Freedom Passes then the 308 to Wanstead Station to get to the Library for a Family History Open Forum evening. Brilliant. We were rewarded with a cuppa for transcribing baptism records from 1844. Wasn’t hard and we were in jolly good company.