Constable in the leaves.

A whole crowd from Up Your Street was out in scarves and sporting haversacks on a very cold November morning to see “Constable: The Making Of A Master ” at the V&A. It was exactly that. There were many paintings and etchings done by Constable in his studio as he copied masters of the time and emerging others on his own path to fame and recognition. I liked to see the massive sketches of ye olde country scenes next to the finished articles. Constable was a perfectionist. He was meticulous about detail as evidenced in his studies for farm machinery and dock leaves.

That was a major exhibition and we paid not a penny being the Up Your Street community group. I remember five rooms and beautiful deep blue walls what with Dulux getting a credit too. It was all just nice indeed.

In a corner of a restaurant we dined on pasta and sandwiches, cakes and crisps for we are wont to bring our own picnics. No-one bothered us and vice versa. Evidently according to one Up Your Streeter who studied art history recently at Birkbeck this particular V&A eaterie must allow the poor tourist a seat. Suits us.

One window display was a towering stack of the thirty quid reduced to twenty-five pounds Constable book which we’d flicked  through in the gallery rooms. Obviously those copies were tethered to bolts. Great book and price I thought. On SkyArts they had the linked programme about Constable. Now that I recorded twice and switched off twice because it was that boring.

We came out of a packed Leyton station to the smell of local bonfires on a 5th November evening. I caught up with ” Missing” with ole Nesbitt on BBCiplayer. That is one well-crafted drama.

Next V&A is a look about the Nehru Gallery with a senior amongst us with her raised confidence and geared-up passion who will guide us through the dates and the art.Hmm.

And there’s Soapbox at Tate Britain next week ‘all from a man’s perspective’. Actually the topic is not publicized. I just heard something about a man yesterday. The regular Up Your Street attendees are going to be absent as they finish off training in oral history interviews run by Eastside Community Heritage and Rosetta Art Centre way over, far from Pimlico, in old West Ham, east London.

In the blog Canning Town Life Up Your Streeters were described as would-be historians. Ha ha . The majority of the participants at “Ships In The Night” are seniors from Up Your Street. They are experienced in reminiscence projects (before the word “reminiscence” came into community engagement parlance) having been the main characters in “A Taste Of Hackney” ( where they developed an App before Apps were on the market and Apple stores) and Openstage 2012 and many other projects around Hoxton and Newham. We must salute them, one and all. Here I am.

Yesterday’s last achievement was the twisting of Stephen’s arm and he’s on crutches, mind, to take us to Wapping to seek out dockers’ sons to get the low-down on dock-life. Homework done!

Senior soldiers

Today was the day Up Your Streeters formed the Cultural Archives training group  on a day trip to West Silvertown to fall in love with the Tate&Lyle syrup tin hoarding. That is the oldest brand advertising. On a beautiful sunny end of October day we straggled around the Lyle park to see the original Harland and Woolf factory gates. Amazing. Then we looked over the Thames and saw the barges going by and the working cranes as in new development building works’ cranes. By DLR we travelled to King George Vth station and had a good trek around the quiet back-of-beyond to work out where the Harland and Woolf sheds were. Walk, walk walk then finally split from the leader to explore the North Woolwich to Canning Town Woolwich Ferry. We ended up in South Woolwich or somewhere not inspiring.

All was wonderful. All was new.

Next time we’ll pay our respects to Soldier Rigby’s memorial by the Woolwich Arsenal and Barracks which is actually a memorial to all fallen service personnel from the Woolwich Barracks. Ah, Greenwich Council. Lee, our flowers will be for you, son.

In the afternoon we made it to Fabrications in posh Broadway Market to a free Brother sewing machine demonstration. Wow! Someone buy me that toy. Our hostess Barley is the most generous of business women. We were greeted with tea and biscuits and a seat at a machine. The place at No.7 Broadway Market is lovely. It’s bright and spacious. There are craft afternoons there every other Thursday. Sounds good. Next one for a fiver is on November 6th evening time. We’re at Patrick Vernon’s talk at Hackney Museum then.

Two tribes

Tomorrow I am going to witness two community engagement outfits joining together to deliver an opportunity for deprived people to train in archival research and be an asset to their  own community. I am optimistic. Bought mi A4 notebook, studied the programme and alerted my diary.

Today I attended a community engagement project for deprived people in Hackney. As it’s drop-in there’s no telling what does. Only three regular attendees turned up on Hurricane Gonzalo’s day. The facilitator/tutor was effin’ and blindin’ . I learnt some new stuff and thought I might continue at home, sped into the Salvation Army charity shop and picked up for a pound a whole load of new oil pastels.

My day is lucky. This morning a grey slate was punched out of a roof by the high winds and just missed my head. I bought a lottery ticket.

I read Roger Huddle’s blogged review of the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition about William Morris, Still don’t like Bill

Issue 35 Up Your Street.


Sat 18th Oct free 2.30-5.30pm CanadaWaterCultureSpace .Creative writing workshop with “Tangled Roots” all about identity and how we became ourselves. Book with Albany Theatre, Deptford.

Mon 20th Oct free Fully booked but to say that some Up Your Street people are off to the British Museum to learn about multi-cultural story-telling using artefacts.

Tues 21st  Oct free 1.30-3.30pm St Joseph’s Hospice Hackney. Doodle club

Wed 22nd Oct free 10-1pm Free training in collecting cultural archives at Rosetta Art Centre. Phone for a place. It’s a 4 week length course. Eight from Up Your Street are awaiting confirmation of a place.

Thurs 23rd Oct free 10-1  same as Wed above.

(Women’s health event at Nuffield E4)

Sat 25th Oct  free. Events over at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Check web-sites. Today there’s a lock-keeper’s account. Book in advance.

Sun 26th Oct  Photomonth session at Oxford House Bethnal Green about the culture of Somalia.

Wed 29th Oct   free 5-7.30pm Claremont Project in Angel Islington. Some Up Your Street artists have work on display in “Market Memories”.

Thurs 30th Oct free 6-9pm  City Hall Black History Month jamboree. See City Hall website.

Have you joined Face Book yet?  Up Your Street posts regularly as events come in thick and fast .

Boris is coming to Walthamstow in November.

Christmas dinner for pensioners is already advertised for Waltham Forest.

My bus journeys on Older Person’s Day 2014

What a title for a day, eh?june w

Anyhoo I had to get to The Mill E17 today to reclaim RAGWORKS from its exhibition. Central Line was down and so some bus passengers were on diversion from their usual subterranean voyages and were looking out of the windows, mobiles in hands wondering whether a bus carnival were happening at Central’s bus station. Red, red, red everywhere. The bus driver was as helpful as pie to passengers and I joined in the banter. The stunning thing in all this was that the driver was actually interacting with his passengers and he was mildly surprised when I said that we passengers get the impression  that we’re nuisances in TFL’s manic bus schedules. He said that passengers are ignored because in the main the public are mannerless and drivers get the brunt of every frustration. I agree totally.up_your_street_2[1] (2)


I submitted my controversial RAGWORKS wall-hangings to Rosetta Arts Centre for an upcoming art exhibition in Plaistow all about anti-slavery and anti-human trafficking.

ragworks a la vistaprint

RAGWORKS hung like meatHung Like Meat

RAGWORKS knocked up Knocked Up

dont take my child 3Don’t Take My Child.

All this travelling takes hours and today was hot, hot, hot. I love going there to Rosetta: David , the community outreach guy is cheerful always and welcoming. The building is an old Victorian school; tiled walls, parké floors, turrets and tiny windows.

Job done, scooted out and ran for the 276. Lily was there on the bus sitting tight with her shopper/walker and began a conversation by saying she felt guilty about her walker taking up space in the aisle. Guilty! My camel. I told her the buses were designed for her. I also announced that it was Older Person’s Day. She said she felt no different but that the day was yet young.


Her daughter has chickens and brought down half a dozen eggs. She went into the cupboard and accidentally poked an egg open. Then she accidentally poked three more eggs so had fried eggs for breakfast. Yummy. On her next journey to Tesco she bought six eggs, packed them into her walker basket and trundled onto the bus. A drunk man sat next to her and chatted then insisted on helping her off the bus. In coping with the walker he managed to smash two of the six eggs. Lily lives on fried eggs! She said she didn’t know why she was telling me all this but I’m passing on her tales, my adventures from the buses on Older Person’s Day 2014

good life



World War 1 commemoration through words and art

Local Heroes project workshops, taking place at the Memorial Community Church, 395 Barking Road, E13 8AL. The dates are now confirmed and are as follows:

  • Tuesday 5th August 2-4pm
  • Tuesday 12th August 2-4pm
  • Tuesday 19th August 2-4pm
  • Tuesday 26th August 2-4pm
  • Monday 1st September 2-4pm
  • Monday 8th September 2-4pm

It is a series of free workshops and you must be available to attend all of them. If you could please reply to David he would be happy to confirm your place. It’s all about heritage and locality and using

  • Visit the fantastic Memorial Community Church Bells and hear them in action
  • Learn how to use online archive research tools such as
  • Research some of the names on the bells to find out information about the local men that died in the first world war
  • Respond artistically to the theme of the WW1 memorial through interactive workshops using both writing skills (working with a writer/poet) and art skills (working with a visual artist)
  • Please contact


David Allies-Curtis on 02075111117 at Rosetta Art Centre in West Ham