I found this book in a charity shop. It’s a practical guide to alternative living in London from 1969/70 covering a wide range of topics from rent laws, to sexuality, drugs and communes to join. This is the first edition, there were yearly updates throughout the 70s.
Here’s another song for you- The Song is the Single by Barr. It originally came out when I was at university, and then ten years later, Brendan did a show at Power Lunches out of the blue, because he was in town for an art event anyway…
In 2015 I’ve worked long hours in the day job (+ spending the spare time I did have in the summer helping to make DIY Space for London a reality) and not had much time for creative projects. It’s been good for my CV, and my material standard of living has improved, but I’ve not always had the time or energy to devote to doing much in the way of creative work or taking as much advantage of all the interesting things London has to offer as I could do or would have liked. I now have plenty of time and not much money until January, so now seems the time to try to figure out how to get a better work-life balance without going broke (always a challenge in an expensive city like London). It’s a month early to do New Year’s Resolutions, but why let a calendar stop me. I always feel much happier and focused with a to do list to work on. Here’s my goals.
For quite a while now, I’ve been part of the DIY Space for London co-op, working to open a non-profit, co-operatively run accessible music, art and general creativity & activism venue in London along the lines of Wharf Chambers in Leeds. Operating in London has raised its own unique challenges. Most projects of this nature in other places can find a building and have trouble raising the money. We had the opposite problem- we had an incredible amount of goodwill, and people kept giving us money, but we had trouble spending it. London is in the middle of an uncontrollable property boom, and we had immense trouble finding anywhere suitable. Places went immediately, had residential neighbours or plans to build flats in unsuitable places that would immediately result in noise complaints, had legal issues or wanted ridiculously huge deposits.
For the past few months I’ve been weighing up whether to stay in London or to leave. I’ve lived here since 2011. In that time I’ve been a part-time postgrad (and finished the course), done an interesting but mostly not well-paid assortment of jobs, and lived in an assortment of sublets and property guardianships. Since the end of 2013 I’ve lived in a property guardianship that’s unusually cheap, but not at all homely, but far too cheap to give up needlessly.
I often like to get some fresh air in my lunch break by walking along the canal near my work. There’s not a lot there, just some houseboats and a small lock, and a lot of lunchtime joggers and the odd person eating sandwiches on a sunny day. I’m a big fan of canals, and I think I’ve walked along pretty much the whole length of this one at various points.
I made these posters to help a friend campaign to stop Waterloo Library being closed down and sold off (there is definitely no resemblance intended to a certain range of paperback books . . ). Lambeth council is making devastating cuts to their libraries after having their budget cut. This government have been slowly and deliberately destroying every public service they can, if it doesn’t make their rich business friends richer, they don’t care. Libraries are incredibly important, and the poorer the area the more vital they are. Even with my family, who did have books at home, there is no way I would have the education I have now if I hadn’t have been constantly reading books from the public library growing up.
In the days when I worked at Hampton Court I got to go to quite a few of their special events. They had a roster of actors who could portray the various monarchs who had lived at the palace (and two Henry VIIIs) and would do special days with re-enactments based on various time periods or themes. On one of the days they had a day based on science in the time of Charles II. I found some photos when I was tidying up the computer the other day.
Long time, no see. In the last week I started a new design job, had some major dental work done, and also moved. Busy. I now have a bit more money, and a lot more space though, which is always a good thing. I’ve got a fair few things to catch up with here. I’ve got films I took at Homespun Festival to develop and scan, and some illustration and sewing things to finish.
Last night I went to see my friends Frozy play with Dog Legs and Los Cripis. Los Cripis are from Argentina, but play over in the UK quite frequently. I don’t know any other bands from Argentina, so they can be my favourite one. I tried to take some photos, but the lighting in the bar was appalling, and I don’t like to disturb people with flash, so here’s a music video instead. Don’t watch it if you don’t like blood. Los Cripis have an album out now, and Frozy have one coming soon. Why not give them some money?
The other night I went to see BARR aka Brendan Fowler at Power Lunches. I had pretty much forgotten about him until I saw the gig announcement on the Upset the Rhythm mailing list, but I was really happy when I saw it. I always like good spoken word. He doesn’t do so much music these days, more photography (he’d come over to the UK to give a talk at the Tate). I never got around to seeing him at the time, and somehow only a handful of people I know remembered his existence, and even fewer could make it on that particular Sunday, but luckily it turned out my friend Tobi was coming up from Brighton. I was particularly keen to go, because the next morning I was due to go off for two weeks to teach a residential course in the middle of nowhere, so it was my last outing for a few weeks, and I’ve been a skint hermit recently.
I went to the Tate Britain the other day. I went there planning to go to the Folk Art exhibition, but realised I didn’t have the time or money to do it justice that day, and what I was actually in the mood for was post-war modern art. So that’s what I looked at.
Some people I know put on a byo gig on Friday at the old fire station in Stoke Newington. It makes a great venue. More of these, please. The band in the photo above are Tyrannosaurus Dead. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, because it’s difficult in low light situations, and I don’t like to use flash if the ambient lighting is atmospheric.
My friend Mel put on a space-themed night at Power Lunches with some other students from her MA course. I helped out by designing the flyer, helping with decorating, and djing in the bar. I had a really good time, but I really don’t have anything nice to say about the behaviour of the three other St Martin’s students.
The night was really popular though, the place was packed, and everyone seemed to have a good time, which was the important thing.
Tomorrow at Power Lunches in Dalston, my friend Melanie is putting on an event with her compadres from the Art & Science MA at St Martins. There’s going to be bands, sound art, projections, edible sugar glass planets, and a very large amount of tinfoil. I did the artwork for the flyer. If you like it, and are coming to the event, you will be able to buy A3 posters of it (a few people asked already). I don’t know the exact prices yet, because I haven’t got them printed yet, but the b&w edition will be roughly £1.50 and the colour version more.
I also went to Field Day this year. It was the first Saturday I had off work in about 3 months, so it was good to make the most of it (I also had to go to work the next day- somehow I looked and felt fine, I must be a wonder of biology). I managed to see most of the bands I wanted to, bar Toy and Mount Kimbie. I was there with my housemate, but we managed to keep missing each other. When I left I suddenly had a flood of texts onto my phone saying things like “I’m at the bar by X, we’re going to watch Y in a min, where are you?” which might explain it. Stupid technology. He saw Mount Kimbie and found it disappointing anyway. I managed to find my Medway friends anyway, and spent some time with people from Reading too, which was nice.
The other week I went for a walk along the eastern end of the Regent’s Canal with my dad. I used to live down the other end of it, and I’ve pretty much walked the entire length a lot of times. It’s one of the few short canals around here, most of the others are long intercity ones.
The gallery has some kind of connection with a hotel, and they held another event there the following night, with Jim Sclavunos from the Bad Seeds djing ( a strange mix of Iggy Pop and novelty jazz records), and a repeat of the music. It was quite a surreal experience. I don’t really drink in fancy hotels anyway, it not being in the budget. Also, on the way there, we stopped off to get some food, and eat it in a little park, the sort where office workers go to eat sandwiches. There was a crown green bowls contest going on in the middle of the financial district. We felt very civilised, watching bowls before going to socialise in a hotel.
A little while ago my friend Erika Pál had the animation she made for our MA show in Whirligig Cinema’s Making Tracks festival. She made recordings of the students describing dreams they’d had, and painstakingly created the animation with oil paints on glass and time-lapse photography. Here she describes how she made it. She doesn’t have it available to view online at the moment, so here are some stills from her website.
Earlier today I met up with my friend Chloe on her way up to Glasgow, and we went to the Souzou exhibition with her old flatmates. When she went to catch the train, I decided to fit in a visit to the Petrie Museum round the corner in UCL too, which I hadn’t been to for a long time. (I tried to say hi to Jeremy too, but his box was closed).
At the moment at the Wellcome Collection they have a free exhibition of outsider art from Japan. All of the artists live in assisted living facilities, and most of them create their artwork as part of art therapy classes.
On Sunday I went to an exhibition about wool at Somerset House with Natalie. As well as the expected demonstrations of things like Fair Isle and weaving, they had interiors and artworks made out of wool.
On Saturday I did zine stalls at Brixton Record Fair and Bloody Icecream. I brought a film camera with me, and the film is at the lab still, but I took some (not fantastic) phone pics too.
I’ve always had a soft spot for 30s suburbia. These two pictures are a place called Twydall, near where my mum lives. I went along there to buy some wool, and I wasn’t disappointed, the area is full of old ladies. Also, the fact that the wool shop is called World of Woolcraft and is run by what could be the brother of the Comic Book Store Guy made me laugh.
Here are some pictures from the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton. It used to be an almshouse, and is now a museum of furniture and interiors. They have rooms set up showing typical London living rooms in various time periods from the 1600s onwards for families with a medium income, with information about all the objects in the room. They also have a historical garden and restored 18th century almshouse interior, but I didn’t get a chance to see them this time. In the run up to Christmas, they’d arranged each room to show how different winter festivals were celebrated in each era (until the 1800s New Year and Twelfth Night were much bigger than Christmas).
I took these couple of pictures on a visit to Portobello Market a couple of weeks ago. The film was expired slide film anyway, and it went through the airport xray machine twice on my way to and back from Bulgaria, and it ended up with a large red section. Not an attractive red tinge, a muddy red effect that blew out highlights and blurred details. I took more pictures at the market, but they ended up unusable. That’s expired film for you.
Before I went to Bulgaria, I helped out at Pick Me Up, a yearly graphics art fair. My tutor was running a “Drawing Olympics” workshop, and some of us students went along to help.
These are some photos I took in Little Venice with my old Pentax film SLR a few weeks ago. They call it Little Venice, but it’s really just a canal basin out the back of Paddington Station with lots of houseboats, some nice pubs and a cafe and a puppet theatre on boats. I guess “Little Holland” or “Little East Anglia” don’t sound as exciting. The slide film was much more out of date than I realised, but I like the orange and purple impressionist look I ended up with, some of the photos look more like paintings than photos.
At the end of the summer I went to an exhibition by stage set design students at the National Theatre. It’s strange, I’ve never had much interest in dollshouses, but I love toy theatres and set design models.
At my work they’ve got a butterfly garden in a heated tent over the Easter holidays. I popped in to take some pictures in my tea break earlier this week. I don’t know what any of the species are, I don’t know much about butterflies. They had a reference board to compare the live ones to, but I didn’t have time to look closely.
On Saturday morning I did a zine workshop for the Brighton Popular Education Collective who run a day of free classes and lectures on things like bike mechanics, sewing and local history one day a month. It was the same workshop I’ve done loads of times, and it always seems to go down well. This time I had both a lady in her 50s and a very enthusiastic boy of about 7 there.
Sunday was the London Zine Symposium, and I had a stall with the other Brighton Zinefest people. We went up together on the train, and that seemed to counteract the jinx that plagues me any time I try to go to a zine event in London which cancels/seriously delays any known form of transport. I did forget to bring the “up for trades” badges though, and we had to make do with German ones (not that useful in an English-speaking event!). There were two rooms this year, about 2 million people I knew and it got very hot. I did a workshop with Alex about Etsy, we basically made it up as we went along.
I shared a stall at the Alternative Press Fair at the start of Feb with my friends Scott and Chris, and their friend Pete who I hadn’t met before. Thanks to Jimi and Peter for organising such a great event.
At the end of January I had a stall at the Zine Fest at the women’s library at London Met Uni in East London. I was horribly late, as it seemed almost every form of transport I could possibly use was closed for engineering works that weekend, so I ended up having to walk from Monument to Brick Lane to get there. I had a ridiculously huge table to myself in this cosy little library, and I made quite a good bit of money and did some shameless promotion of the Brighton Zinefest.