Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Mighty Scheme - Graham Fagen

A couple of weeks ago (12 June) I went to a live performance by Ghetto Priest and Adrian Sherwood at Dilston Grove in Southwark Park.  The event was part of the 'The Mighty Scheme' exhibition by the Scottish artist Graham Fagen, taking place at Dilston Grove and at the nearby CGP gallery in the park.

I went back today to check out the exhibition in full. Its centrepiece is a four screen film and video installation 'The Slave's Lament', featuring Ghetto Priest singing Robert Burns' anti-slavery song of that name accompanied by strings. In the dark, cool space of the ex-church it is beautiful and mesmerising. 

The only other object in the church is a haunting rope tree, with its echoes of lynchings. Fagen is interested in the relationship between Caribbean history and Scottish identity. Burns, central to the latter, not only wrote about slavery but planned at one point to move to Jamaica. Ironically if he had succeeded it would probably have been to work on a slave plantation. He couldn't afford to make the trip, and then found success as a poet which made his escape from a precarious financial position in Scotland unnecessary.

Outside is one of Fagen's neon works 'Come into the Garden and forget about the war', while there is a series of connected work in the CGP gallery just across the grass. 

Tomorrow - Sunday 26th June - is your last chance to see this exhibition - both galleries are open from 11 am to 5 pm, admission free.

Natural Anarchy - Graham Fagen

Monday, June 20, 2016

Brexit, lexit and Lewisham: why I am voting 'Remain'

Political divisions arising from the EU referendum are shaking all political parties, and a little earthquake has rumbled the Lewisham left with a split in 'Lewisham People Before Profit'.  The group seems to have originally adopted a position of not taking a position on the referendum, but then 'People Before Profit decided at a special meeting on Wednesday 25th May to abandon it's previous "no policy" stance on the EU in favour of actively supporting the Leave campaign' (LPBP website). Among those who resigned as a result was Nicholas Long, the party's parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East in the last General Election. He is a supporter of 'Another Europe is Possible' which argues for a Remain vote on a left wing basis.

The row also seems to have precipitated the departure of another prominent member, the controversial Ray Woolford, who announced on twitter that he had resigned because of the way 'the EU vote was called and key activists forced out!'. Not sure if they've made up since, but Woolford is actually a keen advocate of the Leave campaign.

The precise details of this aren't really relevant, but this is a small local episode in the wider tragi-comedy of the 'Lexit' campaign - those on the left who are arguing for a vote to leave the European Union. By no means all the left beyond the Labour Party is supporting this position - the remains of the SWP following its 2013 rape allegation crisis and splits are pro-Brexit, while some of its more thoughtful ex-members take the opposite view (see for instance respected activist Jonathan Neale's passionate call).

Not sure I believe that the sky will fall in whatever the referendum result next week, the rich will still be getting richer, the poor will still be poor, there will still be housing shortages and refugees will still be dying in the Mediterranean. I can see why some people think it's not worth voting at all. I certainly don't think the EU is some paradise of peace, harmony and human rights, it is quite right to criticise, among other things, its approach to the thousands of deaths of migrants trying to reach its shores. It has played a highly dubious role in the imposition of austerity in Greece, even if technically this relates to the country's membership of the Eurozone common currency rather than the EU as such.

However, I can't see how any of this will change by leaving the EU. In the UK it is precisely the political forces who are most anti-refugee and pro-privatisation who are leading the Brexit campaign and likely to benefit from a Leave majority. In any event, the current state of global capitalism is not the result of a conspiracy by institutions like the EU - a go it alone UK would still be tied into all the other international relations of the market and its crises, like every other country in the world. The notion that a vote against the EU represents some kind of vote against 'neo-liberalism' seems to be a delusion, and as the referendum approaches its real political content has increasingly become about immigration, immigration and immigration.

There is one group of people who are going to be immediately affected in a negative way by a Brexit vote and that is people from other EU countries who have made their lives in this country, doing all the usual things like working, falling in love, sending their kids to the local school. I can think of many neighbours, friends, work colleagues etc. who this applies to, not to mention lots of people working in essential services (like this Dutch GP in Lewisham). I am sure they would not all be kicked out the day after a referendum, but they will be living with insecurity and ultimately if the same rules were applied to them as to people from other parts of the world (based on an income of £35,000+), around 80% of them would not qualify (see 'What Happens to EU Citizens Living in the UK If We Leave?' by Joseph Finlay). While some have hailed anti-EU sentiment as some kind of working class rebellion, the actual working class includes a high proportion of migrants, not to mention the descendants of previous generations who were born outside of the UK.

This applies more so in London than anywhere else in the country, and out of basic solidarity with my neighbours I have decided to vote to remain. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Limonious Night in New Cross with Paul Gilroy, Dr Lez Henry, Charlie Dark and more

Following the recent exhibition at the South London Gallery of work by Jamaican reggae/dancehall record sleeve artist Limonious (featured at Transpontine recently), there's a very interesting sounding event tomorrow night in New Cross with some great speakers and music:

'One Love Books in conjunction with Sound System Outernational (Goldsmiths) and The Wire invite you to SHOULDER MOVE, an evening of talks and music in memory of Jamaican artist Wilfred Limonious

Saturday 11 June 2016, 6pm–3am @ The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY,, 6–8pm, guest speakers

- William 'Lesley Lyrix' Henry (Introduction)
- Christopher Bateman and Al 'Fingers' Newman ('In Fine Style: The Dancehall Art Of Wilfred Limonious' presentation and book preview)
- Paul Gilroy ('Labels, Album Covers and the Black Public Sphere')

8–10pm, break for England vs Russia (Euro 16)

10–3am, Sound system session with Virgo High Power Discotheque

Selectors Al Fingers and Charlie Dark playing LPs and 45s designed and illustrated by Limonious

Saturday, June 04, 2016

NHS 'Bursary or Bust' Protest

Student nurses, midwives and associated health professionals marched in London today against Government plans to scrap bursaries for NHS students and replace them with loans. Protestors sat down and blocked Waterloo Bridge during the demonstration

Outside St Thomas Hospital
(photo from @LondonNurse2015)

Sit down on Waterloo Bridge (photo @NHAparty)

Waterloo Bridge (@LondonNurse2015)

Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich National Health Action Party banner
(photo from @cambsmeridian)
Speakers include Vivienne Westwood:

photo from :@TheUniPaper

Unison says that 'the net result will be

- Student nurses, midwives and other vital NHS staff graduating with nearly £50,000 worth of debt.
- Fewer potential health workers entering training due to the burden of debt (especially when the starting salary for many of them is relatively low).
- That in turn will lead to universities being worse off (as fewer students take their nursing courses) and potentially even the end of some nursing courses altogether.
- And rather than this cut saving money (as the government claims), few health workers will repay the entirety of their student debt over the course of their working lives – and the burden of additional agency staff (and overseas recruitment costs), thanks to a continued and worsening nursing shortage, means this ham-fisted attempt to save money will end up costing the taxpayer more money'.

Dizzee the ginger tom comes to Brockley

As part of the burst of new street art associated with this month's Brockley Max festival, Kirstin Wood (@kirstinpainter) has painted Dizzee the ginger tom on the hoarding in Crofton Park - corner of Brockley Road and Sevenoaks Road SE4. Dizzee has apparently appeared before in the Surrey area where Kirstin lives.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prince, Maxi, Marley Murals

New Prince mural in Camberwell on Daneville Road next to GX Gallery:

Maxi Priest on shutters of Goldstar Office Furniture, Honor Oak Park, SE23:

Bob Marley by Brockley Station, painted last year by Dale Grimshaw to replace nearby Marley street art on demolished building.

Of these three singers only Maxi has a strong local connection - born and raised in Lewisham, he went to Roger Manwood School in Brockley Rise and  started out with Saxon sound system. Marley played a few times in Peckham, and I guess Prince did play at the 02 in Greenwich so that will have to do for his South London credentials!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Music Monday: Ricky Chohan, Brockley's up & coming Punjabi pop star

So I was having my hair cut at the great KR Barber Station in Brockley last week and I met this guy in there for the same reason as me, talking excitedly about the fact that Dillian Whyte had just posted a clip featuring the boxer listening to his song.


I asked him about it and he told me that his name is Ricky Chohan. He works at an estate agent in Brockley Road and is maybe not a fully fledged pop star yet. But his new track 'Do Akhiyaan' ('two eyes') has a high quality video (plainly not filmed in Lewisham!) that has been viewed more than 300,000 times in its first few weeks. So watch this space...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Save Lewisham Libraries demo today

There's a demonstration today (Saturday May 21st) to opposed proposed cuts to Lewisham Libraries. As part of a £1 million cut to the libraries budget, Lewisham Council is proposing to remove staff from four local libraries - Catford, Forest Hil, Manor House and Torridon Road. The council hopes that these libraries will then be run by local volunteer organisations.
While this may be possible, the evidence from previous experience is that what remains, despite the best efforts of volunteers, is a diminished service with reduced opening hours and a declining stock of old books.
The demonstration today assembles at 12 noon in Limes Grove next to Lewisham Library and then marches to the town hall for a rally with speakers. Unison members in Lewisham libraries will be striking today to join the protest

The Save Lewisham Libraries stall at the recent London Radical Bookfair,
held at Goldsmiths on May7 2016


Friday, May 20, 2016

Alison Goldfrapp & Idris Elba at the Rivoli

Yet more Rivoli Ballroom action.  Alison Goldfrapp held her 50th birthday party at the Crofton Park ballroom this week. Not too many photos around of this private event, but seemingly there were plenty of balloons...

photo by @misshoney333

Brockley Central noticed that the Rivoli also features briefly in the video for Dance Off by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - yes that is Idris Elba in SE4.

Elton John was spotted using the facilities at the Rose (previously the Hobgoblin) in New Cross Road this week. 

Elton in The Rose - full story at Newsshopper

 Been a while since he was spotted in the Rivoli, but he did shoot the  video for his 1983 song 'I guess that's why they call it the blues' there.

Elton John in Rivoli Ballroom

Monday, May 16, 2016

Celebrity street art in Deptford and Hackney

 Deptford High Street has some famous visitors' albeit only in 2D representations.
Jim Hendrix (I think):
Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia meet John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

Nothing quite as grand as the Frida Kahlo mural I saw last week by Hackney Wick station:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dora Project: Nazi terror in Germany & SE London

Last weekend coming up for the Dora Project at Peckham Platform (in Peckham Square by the library). A very interesting exhibition  that 'combines art, WW2 London and early rocket engineering' it has been put together by artist Françoise Dupré in collaboration with Rebecca Snow. Essentially it documents and displays the links between the Nazi V2 programme - which entailed slave labour in a concentration camp and the death of thousands in rocket attacks - and later US and Russian space exploration. In particular, after the second world war Nazi rocket engineers played a key role in the Apollo programme:
'DORA PROJECT connects two sites of terror: London and Mittelbau-Dora Nazi Concentration Camp in Central Germany. V2 rockets were assembled by slave labourers in an underground factory in Mittelbau-Dora where more than 20,000 inmates died. Between September 1944 and March 1945, V2 attacks on London killed around 2500 Londoners and destroyed homes and families'.

Mapping the connections between slave labour and rocket attacks

Wernher von Braun, architect of both the V2 rocket and the Apollo programme

Commemorating SE London victims - a list of V2 attacks in Lewisham

As this exhibition combines my local history interests and my previous time in the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, it couldn't have been more me. Dora Project closes on 15 May

Monday, May 09, 2016

SE14's secret sanctuary for garden creatures

Somewhere in SE14 there is a hidden pond where gnomes, rabbits and other creatures sit next to a waterfall.  These poor things had been cast aside and abandoned, but have now found a new home at this South East London sanctuary.
If you want to find it, you will need to look beyond this barrier at Lewisham's Reuse and Recycling Centre, Landmann Way, SE14 (off Surrey Canal Road)




Tuesday, May 03, 2016

May Day 2016: Jack in the Green in Deptford and Greenwich

Another May Day, another procession through the streets of Deptford and Greenwich with the Fowlers Troop, featuring the Deptford Jack in the Green.
As in previous years it all started at the Dog and  Bell pub  in Deptford, before heading eastward down to the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Park and various pubs.
Of course the area is changing, as it always has, some old pubs and bars have been and gone, others have sprung up in new riverside developments. In a way this procession represents something of a beating of the bounds, the enveloping of new spaces within a story of an older South East London (the current Jack in the Green dates back to the early 1980s, reviving a tradition recorded at the start of the 20th century). So on Sunday for instance, the procession visited the new Sail Loft pub overlooking the Thames between Deptford and Greenwich town centre.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Broca Prince Tribute

Good to see a Prince tribute in the window of Broca. His purple majesty has always been honoured in that Coulgate Street café by Brockley station, and as on many other times when I've visited his music was playing there yesterday.

Yes and there's a copy of Parade on proud display inside. Maybe his finest album, it includes my favourite Prince track, Sometimes it Snows in April (and yesterday it actually did)

Coulgate Street is closed for roadworks at the minute, leaving the stretch in front of the café temporarily pedestrianized. I am sure that this cat isn't the only one who would prefer it to stay that way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival 2016

So many great films to see for free in fine locations this week in the New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival. To choose just a few:
- tonight (Tuesday) there's a chance to see Roman Polanski's Macbeth in the evocative setting of Deptford's ancient St Nicholas Church;
- tomorrow night there's a 'Spiceworld the Movie' Spice Girls singalong showing at the Golden Anchor and 'Pride' (the film based on Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) at New Cross Learning.
- On Saturday 30th April there's an open air cycle powered showing of  Labyrinth in Telegraph Hill Park, featuring David Bowie as goblin king.
- On the last day of the festival Buster Mantis, the new Jamaican themed bar in Deptford, will host an afternoon of films (in association with the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival)  and music (courtesy of Unit 137 Sound System). The triple bill will include Sound Business (1980s London sound system film), We the Ragamuffin (1990s film shot in Peckham) and Countryman, with Q&A from one of the leading experts on Jamaican and Reggae film culture, Julian Henriques.

Convivium at Catford Constitutional Club

South East London is becoming quite the centre for experimental and improvised music - so much so that SEEM (South East Experimental Music) has been established as  'a not-for-profit collective designed to promote the burgeoning scene of experimental, left-field, alternative, noisy, electroacoustic, acoustic, improvised, digital, electronic, etc. musics and sound art in our favourite corner of London'.  Regular events locally include Sonic Imperfections at the Montague Arms and the Linear Obsessional concerts at the Arts Café in Manor Park.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday 27th April) sees a new night start - Convivium at the Catford Constitutional Club:

'A new space for improvised and experimental music- the brilliant Catford Constitutional Club - an extraordinary space, the very definition of "faded grandeur" and great beer at reasonable prices. It's a shortwalk from Catford Railway Station, and there are loads of buses. For our debut production we present:
- RABBIT- Dave Aylward - Drums/Percussion etc; Tom Scott - Reeds and Electronics.
- the trio of  James O'Sullivan - guitar; Ed Lucas - Trombone; Tom Wheatley - Double Bass/
-a brand new text piece from Catford based avant legend Adam Bohman
- the debut appearance of a new duo- Richard Sanderson - melodeon and amplification; Tim Yates - monochord and assorted objects.
Admission - £5 (suggested donation)'

Monday, April 18, 2016

New Cross History Walks

The main part of the Telegraph Hill Festival 2016 has been and gone, but a Telegraph Hill Festival Extra weekend is coming  up on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 April) with a series of events including two local history walks on Sunday hosted by Malcolm Bacchus of the Telegraph Hill Society:

Part 1: The Original Telegraph Hill Walk, 11.00 am - 12:30 pm (meet in St Catherine's Churchyard, top of Pepys Road)
'A historical and architectural ramble around Telegraph Hill and New Cross with Malcolm Bacchus of the Telegraph Hill Society.  Where was the telegraph?  Who was John Arbuthnot?  Who or what is Flemish Bond?  And what do the Red Flag and Brunel have in common?
All these questions and more may be answered on Malcolm’s new tour of Telegraph Hill and its environs.  Whether you are new to the area or been here for years, join us to discover a host of lesser known facts about the people and buildings that made it what it is today.  And if you have come on one of these walks before, come again:  they are never the same twice'.
Part 2: Exploring New Cross Gate and Hatcham, 2.00pm-3.30pm (meet outside the White Hart pub, New Cross Road)
(both free of charge)


'Miss you Already' - Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette in The Lord Clyde SE1

'Miss you already' (2015) stars Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette as life long friends dealing with breast cancer and infertility in London. Good film with some lovely moments, and some sad bits obvs.

A lot of the filming took place around Southwark, including the great Lord Clyde pub in Clennam Street SE1

I think this scene was shot in The Lord Clyde

According to FilmFixer: 'Southwark Forge on Lant Street was used extensively and Bankside Open Spaces Trust Eco house on Ayres Street plays the workplace for one of the characters. In Pattison House gardens on Ayres Street, a space is cleared for a community garden; you’ll see the stars walking through Mint Street Park; the boutique Joy on Sumner Street features; GP Studio on Great Suffolk Street hosts dancing and celebrating..

The production expressed their gratitude to locals through a generous donation to the Lant & Bittern Tenants and Residents Association... And during the shoot the stars helped Breast Cancer Campaign host an afternoon tea at The Goldsmith Pub in Southwark'

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lewisham Pensioners Forum Big Book Sale

Lewisham Pensioners Forum is holding another Big Book Sale fundraiser later this month - in fact the last it will be holding in its present location of the Saville Centre by Lewisham Hospital.

The Big Book Sale takes place over three days:

- Tues. 26 April: 12noon to 8pm
- Wed. 27 April: 10am to 8pm
- Thurs. 28 April:10am to 6pm
Admission is free and prices low - hardbacks: (mostly) 50p to £2;  paperbacks: 25p or five for £1

The final day will be a clearance sale - everything just £1 a box.  There will also be a Yard Sale/ Give-away cellar clearance of bric-à-brac and bits & pieces.

Venue is the Forum's current base:  The Saville Centre,  436 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LJ (a couple of blocks south of the hospital and on lots of bus routes from Catford or Lewisham—street parking after 7pm).  Lewisham Council is planning to close this community centre, so the Forum will be moving elsewhere. For more information phone 020 8690 5213,


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Drone Folk at Rye Wax

Tomorrow afternoon (Sunday 2.00 pm to 6:00 pm) at Rye Wax in the Bussey Building SE15:

'Cunning Folk Music invite you to a free afternoon of drone folk at RyeWax. Analogue synthesis combined with singing & playing. An eclectic selection of artists collaborating in an experiment in cross genre pollination.

The bill is expanding. At present confirmed artists include acclaimed Anglo-Polish folk singer Katy Carr, R2 folk award nominees Stick In The Wheel, storyteller Vanessa Woolf, psychedelic songwriter Jack Ellister, Cage & Aviary alumni Jamie Paton & George Hoyle, Teleplasmiste (Mark Pilkington & Michael J York), GentleFolk, Moonswift & Sand Snowman, the Delta Ladies & Richard Rufus'.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

John Roan Resists Meeting

Last November staff at The John Roan school in Greenwich took strike action against plans to turn the school into an Academy. While 'academisation' (horrible word) was put on hold, it is now back on the agenda nationally with the Government threatening to make every school an Academy whether they want to or not, as well as to scrap the role of parent governor and other changes that will further distance schools from their communities.  The policy is already proving very unpopular across the political spectrum - as most schools are doing fine already, why put them through a costly and disruptive organisational change with no evidence that it will improve them? Shouldn't they be focusing on education?

At The John Roan meanwhile staff, students and parents are now concerned about cuts and redundancies as well as the ongoing Academy threat. Tomorrow night (Thursday 14 April 2016) John Roan Resists are holding a public meeting at Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road in Blackheath.

Somerville Adventure Playground Build Day

The new building at Somerville Adventure Playground
Somerville Adventure Playground in New Cross (in Queens Road opposite the Montague Arms) has been going through a period of redevelopment with a new building and refurbishment of the playground in the lead up to its reopening in May. This weekend - Saturday 16th April (10 am - 3 pm) - they are holding a Build Day to fix and build new structures, and are asking for volunteers to come and help  out:
'Come and help us with the build of this amazing space for our local children. Opening in May we need Mums, Dads and anyone willing to help for few hours to finish off this amazing project in time. Working gear will be available and afterwards we'll enjoy a great BBQ and some drinks. Bring your food/drinks if you want otherwise we'll make sure there is enough for anyone! No kids allowed unfortunately (not yet!). 

We've got lots of exciting new features, a bigger slide, two tree houses, a stage and more more, so its a great time to get involved! Tasks will include; painting, construction and gardening'.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ben Smith - Cityscapes

CITYSCAPES is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Ben Smith at Xavier White’s Gallery in Blackheath:

'Ben Smith draws and paints the urban fabric of South London, drawing from life and creating paintings in his studio, aiming to portray the depth, repetition and interchangeability of the contemporary cityscape.  The works exhibited at Xavier White’s front room gallery capture a city in flux, caught in the cross currents of redevelopment, displacement and demolition.

Ben trained at Central Saint Martins in the 1990s. He has exhibited in group shows in Brick Lane, Camberwell and Peckham. This is his first London solo show.

Elephant I - Ben Smith

Elephant II - Ben Smith

View of Southwark - Ben Smith

Cityscapes is at Xavier White’s Gallery, Top Flat, 26 Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath, London SE3 7AF. Until May 6th. To view the exhibition call Xavier 07 88 99 72 374