Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guerilla art...Boris Island

Before Deptford X opened its doors last Friday evening, a scarecrow appeared on the Bird's Nest roundabout. Made of straw, brooms and a mop head, it sported a double breasted suit, shirt and tie – and the face on Boris Johnson on both sides.

The News Shopper picked up the story from Twitter yesterday and assumed the "man of straw" was part of Deptford X. It is not. Don't ask how we know, but it's not in the programme, and the organisers and artist(s) would have been obliged to seek the permission of TfL Highways and/or Lewisham Council to erect anything on the roundabout and would be highly unlikely to get it.

The scarecrow has survived the last few days without removal, and its tendency to turn in the wind like a whirling dervish (or weather vane) has been corrected. It is now being added to by locals and early this morning was to be seen completely re-costumed (with some very strange accessories) and no longer recognisable as Boris...though he may appear to some like this...

Update: Thursday 2nd October 

Boris is back! With a sidekick – possibly his Chief of Staff, Sir Edward Lister, the real power behind the throne (also known as "Eddie Air Miles" for his frequent trips to China and Hong Kong)...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Deptford High Street re-presented

The Academy of Urbanism has shortlisted Deptford High Street in its Urbanism Awards 2016. The awards aim to recognise "the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments". The Academy has visited and assessed "over 100 outstanding examples of good urbanism" in the UK, Ireland and Europe – and our high street is one of 15 finalists.

There are five categories – European City, Great Neighbourhood, Great Place, Great Town and Great Street. Deptford High Street has been shortlisted for the latter category, along with Cairns Street (a residential street in Liverpool) and Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork. The winners of each category will be announced on November 6th at the Academy's Awards Ceremony.

Tower of Babel by Barnaby Barford
© V&A
Meanwhile, the high street is one of many represented in Barnaby Barford's Tower of Babel at the V&A. Barford has created a six metre tower out of 3000 individual hand-made bone china buildings, each depicting a real London shop. Barford calls it a snapshot of our times; it "forces you to think where you fit into this hierarchy of consumption". Expensive shops and galleries make up the top part of the tower, with the cheap shops at the bottom. Creative Review notes that "It feels apt that it is the cheaper stores that are the easiest to examine at the base of the sculpture, as arguably these are the most unique, compared to the high street chains and even fancy boutiques that are out of sight higher up". There are 32 Deptford shops at the base of the tower.

Each of the small models are for sale, varying in price from £95 to £6000. You can browse the Deptford shops via the online V&A shop – they vary in price from £110 to £250 and, at the time of writing, over half have sold but you can still pick up Kids Love Ink for £210.

Deptford High Street also features in the child-like drawings of Jeanette Parris, who is 'lead artist' at this year's Deptford X. For last year's festival, Jeanette "spent time talking with local residents and stallholders at Deptford Market" and her depictions of those conversations were printed as a comic  and handed out free. This year she has "been building on these conversations" to create an animation called Brief Encounter  (at Deptford Lounge).

A scene from Brief Encounter © Jeanette Parris @ Deptford X 2015

The theme of this year's festival is 'Deptford Conversations' and Jeanette will be talking about Deptford with 50 other 'guest' artists about what they feel is relevant to it. Deptford X runs from 25th Sept to 4th Oct.  Follow on Twitter @DeptfordX and Facebook. Also see the Deptford Dame's round-up.

Meanwhile, local fears about gentrification of the high street are demonstrated in the leaflet below that was distributed in last Saturday's market...(click to enlarge).

Local responses to the refugee crisis

Artists at local studios Arthub collected a large
haul for CalAid at the beginning of September

Despite previous and ongoing news of refugees drowning in their thousands, it was the image of yet another child's death on September 2nd that prompted hundreds of people into action. Londoners' proximity to Calais has resulted in efforts focussed on helping refugees in the two camps there.

Before then, CalAid had already been organising to provide relief and shift public opinion, and its growing network of volunteers were ready to receive donations at various drop-off points, the nearest being in Dalston. Close to the situation on the ground, they have been able to advise on what is needed – and warn against people dropping donations directly to Calais. Their next drop to Calais is October 4th – check their Facebook page or Twitter for latest info.

But rather than go to Dalston, you can now drop off to CalAid locally. Some Lewisham councillors set up Lewisham for Refugees on 3rd September, and arranged for drop-off points in local libraries and other locations across the borough. In Deptford you can leave stuff at the Deptford Lounge and at MP Vicky Foxcroft's office at 82 Tanner's Hill, London, SE8 4PN (10am-4pm Mon-Fri).

Meanwhile, local artists in Creekside responded by organising a speedy collection for CalAid at their studios in Arthub, and two Crossfields residents, Sylvia and Amanda, set up separate initiatives in association with other organisations already working in Calais.

Sylvia's group is Calais in October, based at the Laban Centre where she works. Heading to Calais on 17th October with donations of both materials and "their time", the delegation also intends to provide workshops in traditional Middle Eastern dances for people in the camps, working alongside Music Against Borders. Their creative response is in recognition of "the importance of creativity and culture in empowering people disenfranchised by war".

Calais in October are receiving donations at the Laban Building in Office 1 (or leave with Reception for the attention of Sylvia Ferreira) and are requesting the following:

• Tents, Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Camp beds, Roll mats, Canvas sheets
• Men’s: Socks, Waterproofs, Jackets/Coats, Trainers and Boots
• Pans, Pots, Grills, Cooking utensils, Plastic cups, Mugs, Plates, Bowls, Cutlery
• Mobile phones and the Chargers (Unlocked)
• Plug adaptors (UK -> continental, for UK phone chargers, etc)
• LED wind up lanterns
• Wind up Radios
• Basic Learning books (different languages)
• Instruments (for Music Against Borders project)
• Money – via CalaisDonation to buy food and hygiene products

Music Against Borders have a musical instrument donation programme and will be taking mostly drums, guitars, percussive (and children's) instruments and running music workshops in Calais from 18th October. See here for more info on how to donate your unused instruments – or drop them off at the Laban.

Amanda's group is Drive 2 Help Refugees, created among friends on Facebook. They are heading to Calais on 7th November and have have obtained large material donations from Robert Dyas, Decathlon and Waitrose, and are also collecting individually in their workplaces (so no local drop-off point, but they could pick up from you nearer the time if you join the group).


Friday, August 21, 2015

Deptford wears Prada

Spirit of '69 from WE ARE VANDALS on Vimeo.

I've no idea what this is about, but we're apparently so cool at Crossfields that Prada, Doc Martens and a host of other top brands decided to pay us a visit.  That's me in the Armani...

Spirit of '69 from WE ARE VANDALS on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tidemill redevelopment 'consultation': Saturday 18th July, 2-5pm, Deptford Lounge

Frankham House residents were given under two weeks' notification of the 'drop-in' being held this Saturday at the Lounge, where the plans for the redevelopment of the Tidemill school site will finally be revealed.

Tidemill consultation: Saturday 18th July, 2-5pm, Deptford Lounge

Frankham House sits on the corner of the site, and residents will be affected by building works which are scheduled to start in Autumn 2016. Presumably those also living close to the site in Frankham Street and Reginald Road will also have been notified. The gardening group, Assembly, who have had meantime use of the school garden area have not. Concerned that there will be a considerable loss of green space (the garden is one of the very few 'lungs' in the area), they have long been requesting site of the plans without success, and have even drawn up plans of their own that maximise use of green space.

Most affected by the proposals are the highly concerned residents of 2-30a Reginald Road whose building will be demolished. 

Others not notified will include those who will be affected by pollution and congestion from construction vehicles using Deptford Church Street (the rest of Crossfields, for instance), and Deptford High Street traders who will be troubled by the loss of parking space in Frankham Street.

The plans have been in development for a very long time amidst huge secrecy, and are fully backed by the council and local councillors, as the proposals are said to include a large amount of affordable housing for rent, shared ownership and private sale, with (apparently) relatively low building heights. A planning application will be submitted later this year.

The consultation notification (dated 7th July) came from Family Mosaic & Sherrygreen Ltd, the Council's selected partners, who will also be redeveloping the former Deptford Green School at Amersham Vale. Family Mosaic said (rather ungramatically), "The events will provide an opportunity for you to update you and receive your feedback on proposals for the development, the design and layout of the new homes and provide information about the construction programme and timescales for completion".

The last time there was any form of consultation was about five years ago when a board was displayed in Deptford Lounge, and information was available if you knew where to look – as Marmoset reported on this blog in September 2010.

Plans have since changed. The Council's website presently says: "A previous proposal incorporated the demolition and rebuilding of two blocks on Giffin Street (no’s 22–80 and 82–150), one block on Reginald Road (no’s 2–30a) and the conversion of the old Tidemill School buildings. However, after carrying out further investigation over the past year including in-depth technical surveys of all the above buildings, we have had to re-evaluate this scheme. Recent information about Lewisham Homes’ planned programme of works and the housing market conditions in the area has also led to us investigating a revised scheme which incorporates the following:
    •    demolishing 2-30a Reginald Road
    •    converting the old Tidemill School buildings into residential properties.
Under the current proposals, 22-80 and 82-150 Giffin Street and Frankham Street parking boulevard would be retained."

UPDATE: post consultation

Unfortunately, there were no pretty pictures to bring away from the exhibition and we forgot to take photos! We were told there will be a website soon. Areas on the plans that were debated were:

– an eastern extension to the old school building would, at five storeys, greatly infringe on the north end of Frankham House, whose residents presently look out over the small two-storey school-keeper's cottage. This would be demolished to be replaced by a sheer brick wall (no windows to overlook Frankham). Really bad for Frankham!

– an area of green space in the south eastern part of the site that would be walled off from Frankham House and paid for by new residents through service charges. It was suggested this should not be walled off and the area used for community growing. Oh but people will want a private area, said the architects, who would like to put a children's play area here "so that parents can see their children playing". Why must it be private? Why so exclusive?

– a wide pedestrian avenue would run from north to south in the centre of the development. The only reason for this, apart from opening up the estate, was some old tosh about it meeting the pathway through the blocks on Giffin Street that in turn would meet the gap between Wavelengths and the new Tidemill school/Lounge. There was apparently an earlier vision to open up one of the arches in 'Resolution Way' to lead through to Crossfield Street on the other side of the railway. Well, what a naff reason! The arch will never be opened up! The avenue is welcome, however. It was suggested the children's play area could go here rather than in the 'private' green area. Oh no, they said, we can't have a children's play area in a public space. What planet are these people living on? Inclusivity makes for a better community than fear-ridden security-driven exclusivity!

More soon...