It’s been a week of art.

It’s been a week of art and it’s not over until the fat lady sings; there’s RAGWORKS to measure and catalogue ready for October 16th. Time flies.

Just caught up on BBC Iplayer to get up to date with what’s occurring in the planet of established art and saw Zephaniah and Goldie doin’ Matisse and Turner. Fresh take on things and a change from Tim Marlow who I last saw trying to get any considered responses from Bailey about the whys and wherefores of photography and legacy. That was painful and Marlow was a dog with a rag. He actually put words into Bailey’s mouth. Way to interview! Job done.

Zephaniah was interested in Turner’s depictions of slavery and he investigated an huge painting “The Slave Ship”. Ole Zeph was not in his culture comfort zone or rather responded way too emotionally to art. It was a case of “I know what I like and I like what I know”. There were some great camera shots on the works of Turner and Zephaniah’s locks.

Goldie looked like he was lovin’ it. He saw Matisse as a joy-bringer,  raved about comfortable colours and hinted at Matisse as being one for the people.

Up Your Street community group is off to see Constable at the V&A in a couple of months but I tried to watch “Constable , a country rebel” on TV late night the other night. Too too boring . I still have to plough through the “Abstract” series on BBC Four. Lordy Lord.

The word “Outsider” crept into the programmes I watched with Zephaniah describing himself as an outsider and empathising with ole Turner. Really? Didn’t get that. I did get that Goldie was the only black man in Tate Modern that day and that I’ve never in my life seen a Rasta in any posh gallery. Oh Beeb and your diverse ways.

Up to my neck in Outsider Art having been to Seniors’ Art School in Southwark Park. Saw a doodly exhibition and lots of minutiae in biro. I’d been to the BowArts exhibition of Madge Gill’s work as it was pulled from the archives. This was my first conscious sighting of “Outsider Art” and it took me two hours to think positively about the scribbles. I am not that interested in the biography of the artist or hearing any pseudo psycho-analysis about an artist in glorious retrospect. Just let me soak up the work and see if my judgemental spirit responds well.

At the workshops we participants followed through tasks to redefine drawing per se. No easy task to fiddle around with charcoal, pencil, ink , 30 pieces of A3 paper. wobbly easels, moving images, Charlie Mingus’ airs and artspeke in half an hour. No sir. We were to loosen our perceptions of what drawing should or might be so we stroked and dotted in time to Mingus. We became ambidextrous experimenting with our other hand and lapping quilled ink over wax crayon or felt tip inside pencil-drawn spirals. The hostility towards the tutor ebbed and flowed depending on the awkwardness of the task.

In the afternoon we were allowed to use biro to draw. We used postcard-sized paper and drew, scribbled, doodled, cut and pasted as in days of old, hardly laughed, felt uncomfortable and were a superficial “we”.

Another journey begins.

Outsider art insights

Dilston Grove Southwark Park edge today was a-buzz with seniors scraping charcoal on paper to Charlie Mingus’ jazz tones. Tea and buttery flat biscuits maintained the ole sugar levels as we gawped at Outsider art, drew spirals, drew dashes and wrote for fifteen minutes in the zone, in the flow of a stream of consciousness. Twas almost unbearable and then someone said it, whined it out: “I want to draw”.

Here is a treat. Here is a free three day art workshop in a beautiful park. dilston

We ate al fresco. We watched the cygnets skim over the lake. The tutor couldn’t make it but we were happy enough warding off Dementia, testing out the new easels and using up all the expensive graphite.

But do I like Outsider art?

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.

” My day? Cosmic”, as Rodders would say.

Tesco has a greetings card collection in store called Cards Up Your Street. Gillian pulls a face meaning “Yep. Should be good”. Actually I like the designs a lot and the prices are real. When Clinton’s went bust, where did all their cards go?I checked my Tesco notice board and went along umbrella-less to Hornbeam Café  E17 to check RAGWORKS was still hanging from the picture rails in a busy place. Wednesday is second-hand day so the back store room is open to the public. I espied lots of leafy vegetables belonging to the land, to Organiclea being boxed up for bicycle delivery.

In order to thank the cooperative owners of Hornbeam for allowing me display space for RAGWORKS I decided to brunch in the café.Jams for sale in the Hornbeam Café.

I had vegan sausages which are a bit like eating flip flops.    It was time for me to get the 97 bus to Stratford and then bus along through posh new Stratford to Bow.    From the bus I saw this monument to the Olympic Torch. What’s that then?                                         

Stratford is indeed looking smart and I hardly recognized Gala Bingo! Bow Church is the other landmark besides McDonalds to guide us to The Nunnery Gallery adjoining Bow Arts Centre, Bow Road. The place had been done up since last I went. Then it was  a dilapidated place where an International Women’s Day art event was occuring. I was insulted on that day: Poor surroundings on my special day. We deserved the best environment for one day surely

.The Nunnery, Bow in east London

Just by Bow Church, east London.

Madge Gill’s art work (the G in Gill is pronounced as in garden). What beauty! We had to be in a darkened dried room as the intricate and old art work is liable to crumble. Paul and Rosamond were our hosts, with Michael in the Carmelite Café, and Annabel was our trainee informant and assistant to Rosamond. What a welcome in the Nunnery.

The work intrigued me and there were reminders of William Morris and Frida Kahlo for me as well as Ghanaian and Nigerian wax cloth . Madge worked with ink on cardboard and the effect is rich and enticing, curious and perfect.

Cup of tea £1.20.