Issue 13 of Up Your Street, now ten years old. Whoop!

Easter Holidays are on so many community centres are closed whilst planning post-Easter events.

The Mill in Coppermill Lane E17 and The Claremont Project in White Lion Street, Islington are always putting on events for everyone and usually for free so just check their websites.

Lloyd Park Sharing Heritage for over 50s has produced a booklet about the free to join group’s activities and events. Fitzroy Johnson’s poems are well worth a read. Some of us have met him at projects at The Mill and at Artillery mounted events to do with creative writing. All success to him, a marvellous local sharing poet.

Fri April 21st Some Up Your Streeters have booked themselves to enjoy a Jamaican inspired feast at Butler’s Bakery in Leytonstone.

Next stop may be the restaurant above Hoo Hing wholesalers in Argall Industrial Estate. There is a spacious place where I presume you can ask for a crab to be cooked after you’ve chosen it from a tank in the store. Maybe we’ll do that after we’ve attended a workshop at the new pottery studio around the corner.

Reminder that on May 4th some have signed up for the workshop at Whitechapel Gallery. I’ll send out a reminder.

Well ahead……
There is a great creative and well-being festival coming up in June with bookings taking place now. Advertised are free textile exhibitions in Hackney and workshops. Just put the festival title into your search engine and see what pops up. Many events such as demonstrations, discussions, sing-alongs and etc.

In June too there’s the Anti-University event-laden jamboree with many many free events in ten days. Mostly around Hackney and Old Street area there are exhibitions, discussions, performances and everything in between.

Our local sewing lady, Hilary at Tuesday’s Sociable Sewing at The Mill, will be running more sessions at Claremont. Sylvia and BN will be presenting a topic at Soapbox next month. It is a fact too that Soapbox will not be monthly come to Autumn and beyond.

Up Your Street is ten years old.

Champions: The Tour

On Thursday I invited Up Your Street seniors some of whom are artists and certainly all have seen many art exhibitions in their lives or so you’d assume plus two champions who’d been my subjects in acrylic and are seniors too. So it was a mainly old girl’s tea party when Eric hobbled in and disappeared after the fruit juice and tour.
Hackney Central Library’s community art space is ridiculous. The space is three trophy display cabinets and two pin board screens. The thing is it’s free, I recently paid to exhibit one A4 painting in a women only show miles away. The work had to be framed and ready to hang and I was given less than two weeks’ notice. I did it though because I was supporting east end women artists who could learn a lesson or two about supporting me. That could be just through sharing a Facebook status photograph and giving me some credit. I thought it was out of order to charge women to exhibit for International Women’s Day especially when the organiser was flippin’ funded. Still, my choice. I did find at the bottom of the email the fee for concessions so pushed in my squids.

The Champions Exhibition tour started with an oil pastels on thick black paper almost a metre square of local activist Claire who rejected my acrylic canvas because I had left out her spectacles which define her. Everyone loved the portrait with her wide and hooded eyes not seen at all when she smiles which is most of the time.
The first acrylic was of beautiful Theodora Cadbury who runs brilliantly Xenia at Hackney Museum, a coming together opportunity for refugee and indigenous women to get English spoken. I was able to promote Xenia from experience totally for I was a founder participant. Part of the pull of going was the outstanding and comfortable museum at Hackney which exists for the community. Take note you others.
Zeb Achonu in her lashings of paint and recently You Tube star at London Contemporary Voices to be checked on their Facebook page was next in line for championess. She in nose studs, and vulnerable huge eyes always in scarlet red lipstick founded MUSEfest, a women only musical experience and festival with Hannah Judson. My guests were open-mouthed as I told them how MUSEfest generated a donation to White Ribbon Alliance for global safe childbirth for every woman.
Hibo Wardere, fierce but approachable, campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation, will one day get her two canvases along with a deserved OBE from Queenie. She too is in the cabinet. She rejected my first canvas as she remarked it was half a picture whereas I wanted to capture her eyes which are sometimes doe’s eyes with thick black eyeliner accentuating them. Behind those balls of black is a heart swimming for women and abused girls.

Mary Fahey had hesitantly (first time she showed doubt) asked me if the woman behind the leaves was supposed to be her. It is. It’s Mary the DJ behind a net curtain, seeing what’s going on but surrounded too by plants, She is a garden prize winner from up in Walthamstow Village. If you get to the exhibition you’ll read why these women are champions.
Rosie Bancroft doesn’t know I painted her after Paul Floyd Blake’s National Prize-winning photograph. She is a teenager in my painting which was originally one of my “At the Swim” collection seen at Hackney and Stratford. Everyone wants that picture. Postcards are available as I put her up for auction.

BN Neu pushed until she got seniors noted and recognised as a group force at Tate Modern. She’s not finished yet. How is she not the old woman who can dye her hair purple? I captured her vulnerability and tenacity. People see a champion.
Ah, my beautiful paintings of Hilary, full of textiles and colour and Hyacinth, our Valentine’s baby enriched in her beauty and African-ness. Both paintings are layers of colour. Both paintings depict quiet modest women who know their crafts and share them. Saluted.
Jessica Brassica, lovingly called because she is of the Green. Jessica Green, lover of life. mover of spirits and champion in the domain of bodily health and wellness through breathing and self-knowledge. She’ll have a yoga class of one and keep a level of excellence for that one person who is as important as the crowd. Her beauty is often unseen behind her hair and glasses. In the exhibition she is rightfully exposed. She is beautiful.

Even in her ugliness knocked into her by abuse, Sonita as a painting is fascinating in the story behind it. Here is a young woman in a stained white wedding dress and veil screaming silently. This is from the character Sonita plays in her “Brides For Sale” daring video. We see the child in the bloodied face. Well done, Sonita Alizadeh.
Marcella has rich tones of brown, African brown, in her face with that tight-lipped smile. The brown is layered on mauve layered on yellow all done in the early morning hours when the repeated How to Paint plum in your mouth TV shows are switched off and the urban foxes come out to disturb security lights in their hunt for stale bread. Behind a charming and warm face is a lioness. Our champion was with us in the viewing line as was Claire.

Amanda, art therapist, stood glossed in golden nail varnish behind the Hackney Library cabinet glass, waiting to gently serve us in the community. She stands watching us as we almost miss her on a smaller frame. We did salute her.

Sylvia was hidden for a while but made it to the champions line-up with her striking hair and features accentuated by a golden eagle eye as she misses nothing and notes everything. She is currently working with BN Neu and I on a project inspired by Tammy Whynot regarding technology access for seniors who can’t.

Mother to many Katrina laughs in the cabinet. We automatically warm to this premier champion who without a second thought bundles her family into a van alongside sleeping bags and torches for refugees wherever and whenever. Since we first heard about Lesvos and Calais in 2015 Katrina was on the move, setting up collection points for refugee aid. It was I who was nervous to ask her to be a painted Champion for I was in awe of her. My contribution was to paint refugee scenes in a collection called “Save Our Souls” which was exhibited in Stratford. Every tenner was sent to Kat.

I was always mindful of seniors’ legs as we walked around and as my guests listened to me. Claire reminded me that I was disadvantaging the disadvantaged when I hadn’t waited for Eric with his stick. Some of us had drunk sherry and eaten sugar so we were quite high. I was high on sharing my art. The security guard came and told us off for laughing and disturbing the six people bent over and studying. Likely. Marcella was typically fuming. I had already introduced myself to the security staff and ignored what was said because teenagers were busy chatting and yowling in other parts of the library which is only quiet on a one hour slot from 9-10am. It’s a market-place otherwise.

On the day before, the real International Women’s Day, Tate Britain’s Soapbox lot of 25 had discussed the lack of visible and celebrated women artists’ work in the museums. With Soapbox,unless you’re at the scene, you’ll never know how it went. I was at Anna Alcock’s women and printing workshop in Walthamstow where we mostly senior women of the white persuasion listened to a rant about the same topic. I was surely at the scene listening to myself. This month besides having two exhibitions about women, I am highlighting modern day women printmakers to balance out so many things, one being the twee view of women as crafters like ole May Morris instead of women as machine operators in a man’s world. I e print makers like Antonietta Torsiello.

Issue 10. Up Your Street





Wed 4th Mar             £3 noon-3pm POSH Club at St Paul’s Church Amhurst Rd Entertainment of the highest calibre with tea and sandwiches. Wear glitter. Book in advance.


Thurs 5th Mar           free 11-12.30pm East London Radio online. Mary Katherine presents. Always a lively lovely programme. Tweet your requests

                                         free 2-4pm The Mill Coppermill Lane. “Telling Tales Lounge” with Sonali and jolly good company. Tea and biscuits galore.

Sat 7th Mar                 free 1pm. Theatre Royal Stratford East E15

‘Dementia’s Journey’, a play EKTA Project Newham .Email for info and places

                                          free 10.30-4.30pm Up Your Street with Magz at Tate Britain polishing off their radio art installation entitled “Reclaim The Waves” maybe.

                                          free  1pm  Tour of East Village E20 to see Gillian Lawrence’s art and other east London based artists’ work. Tickets were by lottery so no drop in.

                                           free 11-6pm Arab Women’s Artists  at Rich Mix E1

Book at Eventbrite

– 11.00 Registration, tea and coffee


– 11.30 Welcome & preview of day’s programme

– 11.45 Spoken word, Fajr Tamimi (Poet)+ Q&A

– 12.15 Presentation on art work, Maiada Aboud (Visual Artist)+ Q&A

– 13.15 Lunch break

– 14.00 Contemporary dance performance by Tania Salmen

– 14.15 Panel discussion on experiences and challenges of Arab women artists, curators and producers in the UK.

• Danah Abdulla (Kalimat Magazine)
• Hannah Khalil (Playwright)
• Yasmin El Derby (Film Curator and Jewellery Designer)
• Tania Diggory (Dancer & Event Producer)

– 15.30 Coffee & tea

– 16.00 Presentation by Nesreen Nabil Hussein (Theatre Maker) + Q&A

– 16.30 Closing story- telling, Alia Alzougbi (Storyteller)

– 16.45 Break

– 17.00 Consultation meeting for Arab women artists and partners.
Chair, Malu Halasa (Editor, Writer and Curator


Sun 8th Mar £8 10.30am-noon Abney Park Cemetery N16. with Hackney Tours. Feminist leanings.

Mon 9th Mar  donation  6-8pm “Drift” at Gainsborough Centre West Ham station area. Immersive theatre maybe. Check at Eventbrite because it may be £10.

Wed 11th Mar free 11-1pm Soapbox at Tate Britain for seniors. Phone Tate for tickets. Discussion and natter. Tea and posh biscuits. Small group.


Coming soon to Union Chapel in Islington, Mrs H and her Singalong Band. Family entertainment and free.



On the Subject of Older Persons

I do like a bit of Tate. On Sunday was Silver Soapbox at Tate Britain. I know, who knew? Barbara did and she shared her info. It was Silver Sunday. New on me that one…. and on all gathered there. There were the intern-types in their tee-shirts emblazoned with the words “Silver Sunday Celebrating Older People” and there we were the over 55s tee shirt less. Don’t want one.

A small group attended and debated the depiction of older people in portraits. It was an excellent debate. You know the middle classes like to exercise their jaws and the rising class have always got something to say! Amongst us we had art historians, recently graduated seniors having read art history at Birkbeck and Patricia Rochford to espouse her views on how older people should act in order to be seen.

I enjoyed being there. Through Soapbox I feel comfortable at  Tate Britain. I used to hate the journey there: Tate Modern is one bus ride away. All is good now. Soapbox artistWe from Up Your Street had our cheese rolls in the October sun and pushed on to Hackney Central for the Hackney Empire tea dance where Hackney Empire Elders would sing their songs to commemorate WW1. At the end of that craziness where tea was £1.50 a cup, two of our party were handed tickets to go and watch Lenny Henry in the show at 5pm.

No, wasn’t jealous. What’s that in my eye?


No no no! First of all the Older People’s Day was advertised as beginning at 0945 but we know things don’t go that way. Things of a large scale conference nature for oldies usually warm up by midday. Mind you,  where was the event advertised?

Up Your Street crew, always on the ball and a guaranteed presence at all things relevant to seniors’ interests said, “No. Let’s get there at the beginning. There will probably be croissants, fruit juice and grapefruit delights.” (Being healthy- living conscious of course. ) Oh woe were we. Biscuits. Biscuits?

We were delighted to be in the City Hall, a building of light and spirals and then we were down in the cloakroom or certainly not the Assembly Room (double-booked). Mmm.from City Hall

Today was a chance to know the link between art and culture and what’s on offer in the form of dance, drama, singing, art and whatever to make us whole. Cinema was way down the list. I knew the agenda was not going to turn out as how it seemed. In fact Capital Age Festival in its gap year and Tate’s Soapbox had a platform to promote their affairs with a truly captive audience. The first item could have been called “Love Boris”. One speaker left to collect her son from boarding school.

I took notes whilst listening to a panel of wise old women. It wasn’t a women’s event. And lo and behold there was not one geezer on the panel of speakers. In the basement space there were not up to a hundred older people either but we’re supposed to pretend the room was packed to the doors. Nope.

One workshop was dismal. It’s irritating to be talked at as though we had not a university brain in the room. It’s devastating to hear  seniors describe themselves as victims.

The other afternoon workshop was a la Soapbox with an opportunity to debate issues specifically from the third or better “New” generation stance.* Our stimulus was a painting and a question such as “Are older people on the slag heap?” There in our workshop circle, we were able to see through massive windows the tops of Tower Bridge glinting gold in the Autumn sun. Down along the brown river KPMG Thames Clippers sailed their way and the Gherkin shone, shone, shone. Back in the room we were stuffed with nice sandwiches and proper tea in china mugs.

The theme of the Day was  “Art, Culture and Older People” with a generous spread of the standard mantra  that Art enhances the quality of our (older peeps) lives by enriching and illuminating us into positive states. There’s a debate in there somewhere. Note “art” not “arts” .

The evaluation session was not that: The chair of LOPSG gave her summing -up using all her positive words and expressing gleefully her take on the day. She felt refreshed. I did not. She was inspired. Inspired by what? We talking together with moans and why can’t we’s? There was one exciting part where a couple of participants put forward from the floor their dissatisfaction at the way this LOPSG event stemming from City Hall was hardly advertised. I couldn’t believe my ears at such bravery.

Up Your Street was mentioned by a speaker and by two participants. Age UK was mentioned  but was it represented today? I was there. Age UK never has a dedicated ‘what’s on in art and culture’ page. Up Your Street concentrates on what’s on for seniors and that online service has been copied by many including London Boroughs with their paid community outreach staff.

I get the feeling that older people (sic) were an afterthought in the big City Hall scheme of things.

Neither refreshed nor worn -out, just an incy wincy bit disappointed. Facebook and Twitter, major-movers in the ‘what’s on’ world were never mentioned.  Recently AgeUK and EE put on tea parties to get older people into the EE shops to handle tablets and thousands of seniors are on Facebook and Twitter. We were shown on the digi screen the welcome page for a new arts website specifically targeting seniors. Pretty white I’d say if we’re going for inclusion.

Up Your Street shares information about free events and activities for seniors around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Boris awarded Up Your Street an award for its services to London. There you go.

PS All negatives are not just my own. “New Generation” attributed to Patricia Rochford .(see picture)

patricia Rochford

The Day I Learned Nothing

9th July 2014. Soapbox at Tate Britain had its full 25 participants today, an audience of all those blessed with 60 years and thereabouts, “the New Generation” (as described by one active but absent agitator).


The posh biscuits and posher tea were wolfed down, the introductions given, and the agenda set for Stephen to perform,  as art appreciator,  giving it large at the  Capital Age Festival themed “Older Men and Expression” his take on the topic about older men and their ways with the expressive arts.

Mr  Drever


Apart from Matisse and other dead poets the theme perplexed me as I struggled to find in my own experience older men who express themselves in art and performance. On flickering screens Rolf Harris expressive entertainer  and portrait painter to HM goes down to paedophilia pit and Bee Gees Barry cries about his strained relationship with his dead brothers. There’s Lowry up and down on my wall as conflicting reports come in about his love of kiddies, and old actors stand up in court, silver foxes with dirty habits. I attend a drawing class and research Cézanne: another man in art who is nuts and then there’s Van Gogh. I try to uphold William Morris in my desperation as that elusive older man being artist but I am so tired of his leaves and socialism in big houses. Another Stephen wants to rant at Soapbox like a grumpy old man missing the positive point.


Back in the room, the soapers explored their idea of the word ‘hero’. Forget ‘heroine’ and ‘sheroes’, ladies in the majority here,  as it’s  C.A.F  and older men time. Stephen took the line about heroes and the received cultural knowledge about the nature of the hero and heroic acts or otherwise. He referred to a 1915 sculpture. Dr Max stood up to say nothing was debated about or referred to older men and expression and he was sorely disappointed. Twas right true too.


Unless I look at older men doing expressive dance I’ll never know what it was all about.wpid-img_95315535709391.jpeg

They say Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdaux” is somehow relevant so I’ll look at that on Tuesday because it’s free.


Soapbox is free. To be in the Tate is marvellous. To debate and listen to others’ views is nice. For Stephen to research and then share his findings is first-class. To be brave enough to say you’ve never been inside an art gallery is jaw-dropping. To stand up and ask that we be counted is dangerous.


Neech sings a song, a melancholy one, entitled “All In My Stride”. Love it. She crescendos “If there’s a party, I wanna be there!”

                                                                       auntie Joan


All in my stride, all in my stride.




What we did at Tate.

Note to selves; “Focus focus focus. Remember the question posed and steer clear of memory lane”. It’s easy to share memories but Soapbox is not about that. It could be. Today it was about the responsibility of artists to the communal experience. Whoa there. Into the realms of artspeke! It was about the moral stance of the artist.
We squinted and squirmed at constructed pain. We reacted emotionally sometimes as a groove of colour triggered a jolt on our group or individual time line. We travelled through the decade-marked galleries of Tate Britain going from the angst and social commentaries in pictures of the turbulent nineteen thirties to the brash outer limits of 1960 American influenced billboards of artists’ dots and daring dashes.

What can beat thrashing out opinions, mulling over someone’s one- liner, listening to a Soapbox participant’s mind-thumping ear-grating take on a painting all in front of an Henry Moore mammoth mover.

Already we’ve moved on: Seniors will be looking for the next word-provoking challenge in the wise ole knowledge that the loads we learnt today will be internalised and pop into our brains at another leaning post. Wrap your balls around that, Dementia.
I did fall in love with two paintings. Not the one with the naked willy and the hairy mons pubis. Yuk . No. Twas Adler’s “The Mutilated” (I think that’s the title) and a huge scraped paint canvas translated as “The She-Wolf”.

Today, seniors who enrolled on a two year pre-degree course in art appreciation at Birkbeck University through the recommendation of and motivation from Up Your Street glory in its end. It was a tough two years for them. How proud they should be. Tomorrow they pick up Adult Learners’ Awards at The Canal Museum in King’s Cross. What leads where, eh?

Now let me go translate the email I received all about some art in Southwark : the first sentence put me off.

Up Your Street. Issue 20

Thinking ahead….

Wed 11 th June free 11-1pm “Soapbox” at Tate Britain for 60 years young and better. Phone Tate to book.

Thurs 12 th June £3 1pm. Hackney Picturehouse screening ” The Servant” (1963). Reminiscence Screenings.

Fri 13th June free 6-9pm 260 Globe Road E2 .Anthony Stevens private viewing of “Making Soup”. Punky creative collages.(Thanks to Jan of Spitalfields for sharing this).


So what does it mean to curate an art exhibition? At Claremont in White Lion Street Islington to curate means to negotiate stone steps up to the second floor, to frame lovingly amateur oil paintings and typed-up poems with  unmatching fonts and to position photographs so that the sun doesn’t spear them. The launch of Ephemeral today was well attended and artists and friends were welcomed with wine and pricked sausages. In another room line dancing was in full swing.
In pride of place in the members’ lounge above tatty armchairs hangs “Image in the Dying Sun” my oil painting of a majestic lion, one of a set of three studies of Ra Ra.
I’d travelled on the 38 Routemaster to the Angel on my return journey from another mind-sharpening Soapbox session for seniors at good ole Tate Britain. At last I feel that faraway Tate Britain is part of me: Before it was a grand building done a couple of times after a long boring tube journey. Not so now. The desert that is Pimlico is now on my internalised SatNav and having marched through the galleries and appreciated previously ignored paintings I now see TBritain as friendly.
We seniors examined our worth as perceived by others. We checked out paintings where wrinklies had insisted on looking unlined and contrasted those with portraits of gentlefolk sporting warts and all. One of our group suggested we saw ourselves in a miserable light never mind what the generations downwards reckoned. It was on the verge of boring to discuss how we are the new generation because seniors are so in fashion with regard to engaging the community. There are TV shows and documentaries about the forgotten oldies, the disrespected greys and the invisible ones. All is highlighted everywhere now with stuff upon stuff about World War One. The joy was to look at paintings of the old white tribe before 1933.

Matisse at Tate Modern

Viewing special hyped-up exhibitions is such a time of flurry and grabbing ; the same internal panic one gets at an Harrods sale. Gotta be done though and Matisse isn’t a cheap gig especially as much of the work has already been out in the public eye and reproduced many times. What’s yuk is the artspeke attached to the displays (and the miserable faces of the security staff, bored out of their skulls.) I can go along with artspeke: it’s unique to posh art exhibitions and it makes me laugh, “The canvas becomes the orchestra”. Oh, stop it. The Matisse exhibition includes film of old Matisse directing his technician to fulfill his creative urge. How staged eh as she got the placing of a strip of special Matisse-treated cut – out absolutely spot on and she in her best heels too. Oh cynic me. Did I enjoy? Kinda. Did I appreciate? Totally. Would I go again? Of course. It’s major art.

Looking forward to Soapbox at Tate Britain on Wednesday. Art must be mulled over, talked about in any Speke as long as we’re all included and all likes and dislikes valued.
Watched on Irish Tv an old old 1980’s programme about how to paint then was open-jawed when Peter Family Guy referenced it. Ha ha ha! Puffy Afros reigned for ten minutes.