Dilston Grove

Today was the first 2015 session of Seniors Art School at Dilston Grove, Southwark Park. Well, the daffs are showing off through the railings and, of course, it’s school Easter holidays so all the parents, buggies, scooters, toddlers , babies. kiddies and dogs were out splattering colour across manicured grass bits.

In a posh place by a concrete church was a group of older people all warmed up nicely with a cuppa and raring to revitalise the art in them. It’s free. It’s a workshop.

Two experienced artists in the community led us fourteen students (three from Up Your Street thanks to Bridget Virden) by encouraging us to feel and relate to works of art in the exhibition inspired by Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons”(1914) . This text is free to read online. Just Google her name.

Oh we had lots to say and it was all honest stuff for, let me tell you, we had not read the press release and the artspeke yet.

Time went swiftly but we were managed well. After a picnic lunch in the sunshine it was time to go into linear narratives, charcoal and fixatives, pencils and knee-jerk marks on kitchen paper to thrown-out words so we drew space and heaviness, tenderness and something else. We’d listened to the words of Stein but gathered no clue from them. We knew we were exploring the unexpected. No-one was judging anything.

A few of us thought we were being treated like primary school children but our age group is on the ear for that always and get over it before you can say Jack Kerouac.

One has to book for these workshops and the next session is for two days in May.

I love the journey down on the East London Line to Surrey Quays. Just love passing new Haggerston, new Hoxton and my beloved Wapping with its glinting river and boats. Surrey Quays has nothing except Southwark Park. Am I wrong?

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.