Bronco Bullfrog

Was at The National Gallery after walking with The Stuart Low Trust through the China Town balloon-festooned streets in the freezing cold. We were aiming for the Sainsbury Wing for a free one hour tour.Our group leaders carried in their bright yellow Sainsbury carrier bags our free picnics: Beacons of light and joy! The tour guide was most informative, jolly and a gifted story-teller. We learnt tons about Christian symbolism through Crivelli’s work , ” Madonna of the Swallow”. The Turner exposition was illuminating (!). I felt though that I were in a church. Even the reduced Christmas cards from a fiver to a quid were too religious for me to send despite there being  the prestigious National Gallery logo on them. The other guys on the trip went home after the tour but I needed to soak up some secular stuff and finally, feet aching, found Church’s small exhibition of awesome sunsets over icebergs called “Through American Eyes”.

Culture done and over to Stratford for the film “Bronco Bullfrog”. Terrible acting, nasty wordless pauses, brilliant photography and filming, interesting landscapes and a gripping story-line. I had to pull myself into myself because it was that cold in the Stratford PictureHouse auditorium and then remember it wasn’t the theatre so it was traditional for the other members of the senior audience to rustle their sweet bags. Imagine! The music was good too. I did feel I was watching Ray Davies of The Kinks back in his day but he is and was in fact well-spoken having come from the borders of East Finchley and Muswell Hill, north London. The characters in “Bronco Buffalo” hardly moved their lips to talk their sloppy talk, their east London working class uneducated speke understood by everyone and unloved by many, Interestingly that same language survived and the tongue is still heard today amongst the ethnic minority of West Ham,  Stratford and east Leyton. Innit?

Someone clapped at the end of the film. I didn’t.

The film was a gift from ‘London On Screen’. I was ashamed of the settings, the poverty, the way people lived in Stratford 1969. I saw squalor which made the kitchens of 1960 kitchen -sink plays seem smart. They weren’t but were the common person’s habitat. I had been part of the common and hard-up mass; been there, cleaned the ash-tray, jiggled the black and white television aerial. I was allowed to feel the shame and anything else all because the London On Screen films are there to provoke memories about London and to preserve feelings of place. The films aren’t specifically for seniors. Birkbeck students, young and mature,  are invited in for free because the films provide a cultural background for all Londoners and a chance to identify with wherever one lives in London, I think. The screenings are cheap and good too and Stratford PictureHouse is so Stratford E15. i.e welcoming, homely and belonging to the local community.

Glad I made it. Wished I’d had a hot dog.

From BFI site   “Barney Platts-Mills‘ debut feature stars an entirely non-professional cast of  local teenagers from Stratford, East London.

The film grew out of a documentary, Everybody’s An Actor Shakespeare Said  (1968) made by Platts-Mills about the ‘Playbarn’ project run by veteran British  theatre figure Joan Littlewood at the Theatre Royal in Stratford. The project  aimed to divert local youths from loitering and petty crime and into creatively  channelling their energy and imagination through acting and improvisation.  Inspired by Littlewood, Platts-Mills encouraged the youths to come up with a  story based on events taken from their own lives. These were used as the basis  for Bronco Bullfrog. The young cast give the film an air of authenticity and  their sometimes awkward, hesitant performances reflect adolescence in a  non-contrived way.

The film treats its characters warmly and emphasises that their chosen  courses of action – petty crime, delinquency, and in Del’s case, elopement with  Irene (which, since Irene was 15, would make Del guilty of abduction) – are  determined by the limited choices they have.

The look of the film is reminiscent of the cinema verité/Free Cinema style  which had ushered in the 1960s, but any sense of optimism suggested by such  films is dashed. The mood of Bronco Bullfrog, shot in black and white against a  backdrop of East End bombsites and the new brutalism of urban high-rise flats,  closes the decade on a pessimistic note of limited horizons for its  working-class protagonists.

As evidence that not all of London had been swinging in the 1960s, Bronco  Bullfrog foreshadowed the ‘no future’ ethos which characterised the Punk  movement of the mid-to-late-1970s. The film also anticipated the treatment of  disaffected youth which became prevalent in British television drama”.

Littlewood suggested at Stratford Royal Theatre in those days  of yore that the aimless Stratford working class youth  be inspired by acting. “Bronco Bullfrog” reared its awkward, self-conscious head and became the chore of lazy, paid amateur kids. The project was obviously Littlewood’s baby  but just a laugh and a time-filler for opportunist thieves and petty criminals allegedly.

What is interesting is that the Theatre Royal Stratford east is still doing what their founder- director Littlewood did, that is encourage local youth to divert their energy to drama. They succeed. What is weird is that the film critic Alexander Walker, now deceased, praised the potential impact of “Bronco Bullfrog” on the film accolades’ industry and outside of the auditorium on my evening was the artist Alexander Walker’s art. Coincidence. Oooh.

There’s a striking art exhibition from Alexander Walker on the foyer walls upstairs at Stratford PictureHouse, eye-catching because of its colours noted well after a black and white film. One painting brings home Walthamstow Central. What I don’t get is why the Leytonstone-ites aren’t makng a fuss of the Hitchcock murals in their station now that Hopkins and the pink-haired lady of film are doing the rounds with their blockbuster. (I am so not interested).

Alexander Walker and The National Gallery in one blog!

Claremont Project in Islington continues to put on fabulous classical recitals. Last week the Korean pianist dazzled and excited our old limbs, mainly old white thighs.

Newham’s Shindig

Smashing evening at The Stratford east Picture House  E15 last night. Laura Beswick i/c community and engagement @Newham Council hosted an evening of Olympic and Paralympic based quizzes, talks and refreshments: Yes even  ADAM THE PASTRY GUY’s tiered celebration cake was adorned with flags (UK) and festooned with the Ring colours found on the free Newham pens. it was a chance to lark about and fill in seriously forms with ideas to get the community engaged in London 2012 by suggesting local tea parties etc. Sorry mates, you lost that engagement a long time ago as Maccas and the Cadbury Giants moved in buying up all the tickets then doing a Willy Wonka chocolate bar lottery or by grooming  kids with give- away pedometers. Lion King, Marvel Man etc move over.

It was great to see over the road through the lit windows of Stratford east Theatre Royal the Stratford east Singers swaying away . Their timetable is over the top what with Babel and private concerts. Lovely outfit, every age, every colour. Don’t mind the promo stuff; you’d think it was a black girls’ Sunday school choir. What suits eh?

Laura did well. The buffet was very good. I met Sandra, DLR ambassador who sat on Action Community Team Newham with me ,and she was generous enough to have guided tourists to the RAGWORKS exhibitions. The Germans recognised Rumpel- Stilts- Kin and loved the three blind mice versions. Furry.

Talking about hair. I read Vagenda’s blog about she growing her bodily hair in defiance of the big guns advertising lot telling we women what to mutilate on our bodies. Love the hair and the article is excellent. Bollox to Nair.

“Macbeth” wasn’t on but I saw three witches plain as day. How is Time2Craft getting on ?

Busy ole life

Many of Up Your Street subscribers out in force rehearsing at Stratford Theatre Royal (TRSE) for the “You Me Bum Bum Train” look alike performance-production “Heartfelt” this weekend. What a commitment.

I on the other hand am an iams cat and was installing RAGWORKS at The Darnley Gallery Hackney. Very pleased to be exhibiting in ‘appening  ‘Ackney.  Two exhibitions on at present; one in Darnley Road and the other in The Mill Coppermill Lane E17. I took along my whole collection of 28 wall-hangings plus elephant blankets plus this and plus that. The director decided to go minimalist. There’s a plan that I go in frequently and change the hangings to show what’s to be shown. Like I’ll be asked. The launch will be the time that RAGWORKS becomes a moving picture show. It’s a fact that I know only one person outside my own offspring who visits art galleries at all. I know that my passion was spent in the sewing and that RAGWORKS is on point what with recycling graduating to up-cycling and fairy stories being the new Irving Welsh. Good luck to me.

Lots of nice free goodies to look forward to. Up Your Street went into dormant state yesterday in its email form. I have other projects to commit to . I still tweet and facebook events but not a lot of seniors still are up to the mark when it comes to using social networking creatively and for information. Look at Jeremy Kyle slagging off social networking sites then has his own Facebook account for his runners to fill. Ah the media world of telly eh.

Amazing sight down Lea Bridge Road as the “Save Our Marshes” tents caught the Spring sunshine today. What a mess! I don’t know one person who walks along the Leyton Marshes. I’ve been doing it for years way back when the word “conservation” was just one specialist piece of vocabulary in a Social Geography degree syllabus. Been over there in the days when the grass was elephant high and lunatics sat cross-legged in it.

Ah yes. the goodies: Free Rich Mix cinema screenings of William Raban’s Londonist films on April 21st.  Free social art evening on May 3rd in Stratford east PictureHouse. Free members’ screening of “Salmon Fishing in The Yemen” on Sunday 15th April at Hackney and Stratford east Picturehouses. Free screening of “Johnny English Reborn” at The Rio in Dalston on Wed 18th April and it goes on and on.  That’s before I’ve started on the arts and tea dances.

This is what I know

Been very busy chasing my tail to put up RAGWORKS exhibitions. You know you can’t take a car to so many venues in east London because of parking restrictions so thank goodness for buses and trainers. Plus my internet was down as BT had a major fault  at their exchange. I survived.

I have learnt loads and this is the chief thing; that major venues need events managers or managers who know what they’re managing.

Making characters out of discarded material is enjoyable and creative then arranging to show RAGWORKS to the world makes you know why Trace and Dames have agents and minions working under them. It is so nice to get back in and pick up the needle. Yesterday it took me ages to be welcomed at a venue but I should have known as my emails and calls were ignored so I was working in the dark. Ah puff tut. People eh?

How fabulous “Cinderella” looks on the wall at The Mill in Coppermill Lane, E17. Is she Egyptian, Somalian, Turkish? Well she came from my brain so who knows! I am grateful to Mo at The Mill for her support as one artist to another I guess. Wish her the citizen award. And she has a couple of exhibits at The Smokehouse in dire Hackney Wick. Way to go Mo!

On Friday, in the sunshine, a large group of Up Your Street subscribers met at an appointed time at The WaterWorks in Lea Bridge Road to air their views on ‘the Greening of the Olympics’  with Ph.D student Sadie. The venue is very good and the hot chocolate in the cafe extremely good. We all had so much to say and what came out of it and this is what I know is that if it weren’t for Up Your Street disseminating information about all the happenings around the Olympic and Paralympic Games Park then the committed seniors would never have got to Open Stage , A Taste of Hackney, Songololo, Holden Point, Hackney Museum and etc etc where activities spurred on by the excitement of London 2012 were put out as projects.

We had a good discussion around the building works at the back of Leyton Marsh and the upgrading of Dagenham Brook, a herethereto stinky stream. Some of us walked the shaved Black Path on the back of the Argall Industrial Estate and then past copses and Kingsmill Bakery up to Coppermill Lane. It was a fine warm day remember.

What was concluded from the PH.D gathering was that we the residents around the perimeters of the Games 2012 feel abandoned and alienated from the riches of a world event. So to broach legacy was a way in to complete negativity and misery! For me, the greening of the Olympics means that more people go on walks in their boroughs and get to appreciate the beauty. But only some types of people and hardly in big numbers.

Enjoyed a screening of a film about the River Thames by William Raban at The Stratford east Picturehouse. The film was full of beautiful photography and was an eye-opener for most of the audience who had no learnt history of the London Docks. There’s an exhbibtion in Newham currently about the women who worked in Tate and Lyle back in the day.

Up at The PictureHouse everyone had a guided tour of the RAGWORKS exhibition by Gillian Lawrence which was in its glory that day.

RAGWORKS, an enterprise.


Introducing RAGWORKS©

I work with discarded textiles which I collect from local clothing manufacturers. I design a pattern, usually a nursery rhyme character, and make and cut the pattern. Then I sew the design by hand using any embroidery stitches and colours onto a larger cloth to make an individual and unique wall-hanging (4′ x 2′ secured to bamboo hangers).

As well as providing scope to practise aesthetic crafting, RAGWORKS is suitable for group work, is therapeutic, accessible to most people, a good tool to manage dementia, an art and craft form, skills-based, a recycling project , a springboard for reminiscence, good fun, anxiety-free, provides sections of work so that everyone shares and learns something.

On March 17th RAGWORKS goes to exhibition at the Stratford Picture House E15  for a couple of weeks.

Gillian Lawrence.  Jan 31st 2012 London.