Spare Rib

We’re approaching International Women’s Day  8th March 2013  aka disrespectfully in my opinion  “Women’s Day” and “Women’s Week” where topics and events in 2013 may very likely include massage, self-esteem, forced marriage, Zumba classes, re-inventing the wheel, and may well avoid Rape in India, Rape in Tottenham, size zero on the catwalks, media language, adverts, women as scientists, the blatant omission that older women were active in militant enlightenment, and feminism with a capital F.

spare rib

With one eye on “American Idol”  sponsored by Wonga with the ad featuring a latex septuagenarian becoming increasingly a Nicki Minaj lookalike,  I am reading with difficulty 33 year old copies of “Spare Rib” the Women’s Liberation magazine of back in the day. I am reading with difficulty because the paper quality is poor and the photographs are not digital of course; no sharpness. I say ‘reading’ when I mean flicking through.

What do I see?

Issue 91 Feb 1980               “Victorian Craftswomen”, “Girls Are Powerful” ,  Spare Tyre’s “Fat is a Feminist Issue”,  Poetry by Helen Dunmore.

Issue 143  June 1984        “Women Writing”.

Issue 163 Feb 1986          “Revolution in South Africa”.    “Cancer Exposure.”

Courses on offer               include Middlesex Poly’s  “Women’s Liberation” “Women’s Fitness and Self-Defence”  in Newham,  “Preparing For Power” Poly of Central London.

Listings  include “Women’s Cinema At The Rio” in Dalston.

Continuing I have Spare Rib Issues

160 featuring Angela Carter in interview.

156 Bhopal

148 Young Feminists

147 Women and The Miners’ Strike

138  Black Women’s Experiences of the NHS

136 Death, Racism, Body Hair

135 Special Black Women’s Issue featuring Alice Walker.

131 “Mixed Race-So What?”

130 “Palestinian Women”

128 Universal Women”

96  “Older Women Living Together”

95  (1980)”Oil Rigs Women In Revolt”

94      “Working With Girls”, “Irish Women and English Racism”.

They’ll be up on Ebay.

I’m waiting to see what Tower Hamlets comes up with for IWD 2013 because they always do and they prepare from 6 months in advance. Please honey-smiling Sappho, let it not be henna designing.

The art centre in Stratford’s backyard.

Certificate in HE in Understanding Visual Arts.

Birkbeck Uni and Rosetta Art Centre in Stratford run an art appreciation course for non- certificated adults who have never been to University which is more along the lines of how to communicate appreciation of art works effectively by becoming confident with texts, IT, seminars and opinions. The essays are all processed and sent up to be marked using the internet. There are loans available and bursaries to help the poor and underpriveleged with their travel and child care expenses so in one way I never expected to meet other seniors.

Rosetta Art Centre is actually housed in Gainsborough Primary School, a Victorian school in a big low level council-housing estste . The 276 bus which starts its journey in Stokey goes there or there’s West Ham tube station.

I was shocked. I thought the Centre was state of the art, not up 4 flights of steps to a narrow corridor on top. Come and see the toilet sink! Old as yer like. With scalloped dips for the soap bars before pump action came into fashion!

A handful of folk turned up for the introductory session about the one year course which springs the successful achiever into the second year of the B.A Arts and Humanities degree or Arts and Media foundation course at Birkbeck. Birkbeck has a new campus coming up in Stratford,E15 otherwise it’s a trek up to Bloomsbury. Couldn’t be much more different in flavour, could it?

What’s appealing is the field trips; out to V&A, Bishopsgate Institute, Whitechapel Art Gallery and the like, not forgetting Tate Modern. Whilst I was attending the introductory session (where no tea was served by the way!) then I was missing out on my special invite to the Whitechapel Gallery for photos done by locals with a tour thrown in. Once a month one can join in a lottery application for a free tour of galleries around Spitalfields. Luck of the draw though.

Back to West Ham, there’s help on hand for the dyslexic, public computer accessibilty in Stratford (Library? Oh, that market-place!)  and UEL along Romford Road. You don’t have to be a Newham resident nor clever as to me it looks like all the encouragement and support will make sure you pass. Wonder if in your second year you meet u3A chapesses. Seems up their street.

I had entered a piece of work for a display at Rosetta Art Gallery. I heard nothing in response. Not bovvered. Now I’ve seen the place……Years ago I refused to go to The Rio Cinema in Dalston because it was a flea pit allegedly and advertised as a venue for the working class. Why would I have to go to dirt? “Me be poor, me be poor, but me no be crazy”

The Rosetta Art Centre was established because of the desire to uplift a community around it which rarely engages with the visual arts. On tap is the captive audience of primary school children who get the opportunity to appreciate all forms of art-funded art projects which is good. Somehow like playing piped Mozart as children tag-tail into assembly. So why wouldn’t the borough with all its Olympic dosh or the government build a proper art venue or we are happy to have a corridor? Not me.

I will find it difficult to promote the course to so many seniors because of the IT element and the fear of they being means-tested. The course is right up my street in its ethos. I needed to know about disability access too.

I was up Essex Road in Leyton  because it is one of the only local places which has a Post Office with free parking outside.  Not any more. Wow! Overnight the linespeople had restricted us and after May 31st it gets worse as the area comes under Olympic non-parking areas. Many will benefit from this and majorly Whipps Cross Hospital  just a walk away with its exhorbitant parking fees.