Thursday, 26 February 2015

Deptford: Local history

Local history is displayed in local places.
This is Deptford, South-East London,
more precisely Deptford Action Group for the Elderly, 

where an archive of local history is gradually being added to.

I don't think there's a plan, a strategy for this collection,
just a conviction and enthusiasm to make sure people and events are remembered.
Whilst the photos above might tell of childhood memories of life in Deptford,
there is much evidence of more recent history:

Like the Olympics, London, 2012,

friends, locals, who have passed on,


trips to the seaside,

 and boxing.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to see all this
whilst hanging out with new friends with a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

Strictly I shouldn't be there at all,
I'm not put off by the no alcohol rule but I've yet to qualify as a pensioner.

I got to know these lovely people through a mutual friend, Rose Bird.
We all worked together.

In 2013 I ran a project called Deptford Decades where older people shared memories of Deptford and the 1940s & 50s, with local school children. The project ran for a few months, ending in a grande finale, a tea-dance in which the children performed dances they had choreographed themselves to tell the older people's stories. Over 120 people turned up. It was such good fun and also very moving at times. I remember that during one dance, the children all ducked down in quick unison, illustrating Barbara's memories of hiding under her kitchen table during an air raid.

We made a film too. It's about ten minutes long, it's beautiful.
You can hear first-hand from Barbara, Rose and others.
'Residents of Deptford tell their Stories'

I'm not advocating visiting DAGE, it's a drop-in centre for the local community of a certain age, there must be many places like this all over the country. However Deptford is brimming with history with associations to Peter the Great, Queen Elizabeth 1 and Christopher Marlowe.

There's quite a bit of history to see just walking back to the car park.

  Second World War air-raid shelter sign.

Deptford Docks established by Henry VIII

Friday, 20 February 2015

...a bit like a Chocolate Orange

The opportunity to get objects out of the cabinets in the Hands-on Base
in the Horniman Museum is irresistible to most visitors,
Kids and adults alike.
"Can I have a go with those wind instruments?"

Knowing that I couldn't let him, for health and safety reasons,
(imagine how many people would have put their lips to that flute, if we had let them)
I tried to distract him with these East African Thumb Pianos made with gourds.
They make a brilliant sound.

It didn't work, he wasn't interested,
"OK. Quite cool",
...not until this caught his eye, a shaker made from Brazil nuts.

The sound it made was really quite amazing,
surprisingly whooshy, "awesome" and not clinky.
He's impressed and having a good time.

I remember something and ask him, "Do you know how Brazil Nuts grow?"
We head over to another cabinet.

"In a pod, a bit like a Chocolate Orange."
As I said this, I remembered that I had a Chocolate Orange at home,
in the bottom of my wardrobe, an un-needed Christmas present.

He goes and gets his wife and daughter to show them too.
It seems to have captured their imagination.
I then send them off to the Natural History Gallery to check out the Agouti,
"the only creature apart from us, who can get into a Brazil Nut Pod".

I expect large teeth, but am surprised by the whiskers.

I love the blue background.
I think I'll add this to my collection of photos of museum walls,
along with the yellow behind Chi Chi the Giant Panda which you can read about, here.

At home I find that Chocolate Orange,

 and tell my family all about how Brazil nuts grow.

I should have perhaps shared my chocolate orange, all in the name of learning in museums,
but food and drink are not allowed in the galleries, it encourages pests.

Discovery for All at the Horniman Museum is every Sunday morning in the Hands-on Base.
Details on the website, here.
Chocolate Oranges best left at home.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mapping The City

A quick post as Mapping the City in Somerset House ends this Sunday, 15th Feb.
Work from 50 Graffiti and Street artists.

I love maps, always have.
From the 3D plotting of contour lines in Geography lessons
to recently studying a local map on a friends wall, 1894,
seeing that my road was yet to be built.
Perhaps not looking for his own street, Brad Downey has found hidden faces in these roads.

Don't know what the Street art world would make of this,
but my friend and I have just found the inspiration for our respective valentines cards.
Hearts in maps. You have to get your inspiration from somewhere?

These contours are not roads, nor countries but walks.
The exact route of each walk, cut out in a seperate colour and hung on a pole.
"I wonder if that work will continue to grow?"

People have different relationships with the city.
This woman is said to be intertwined, 'becoming part of the fabric of the city'.
I like the idea of a woman at the top, looking at ease with herself.

The underground city is also represented.
The Paris Metro.

Casts taken from Hector Guimard's metro entrances.
Saggy shapes of something solid that you vaguely recognise.

Mapping the City has an air of a student show about it.
Nothing to do with the work, but because of the space it is in.

From the entrance with its photocopied sign,

to the catalogue numbers on the floor,

to the newly opened up space, mid-restoration. 

As well as the art, the builders have left their mark, many marks.

"Who's Mick?"

It's an amazing space for an exhibition. We enjoyed the space as much as the exhibition.

After our initial response, "New Zealand is in the wrong place",
my friend had lived there, this grew on us.
It was produced from memory and memories don't always serve you well.
Produced from Martin Tibabuzo's memory which he began to loose around ten years ago.

 A poignant map exposing personal vulnerability,
not something you usually associate with the idea of Graffiti and Street art.

Mapping The City is on until February 15th at Somerset House.
Details on their website, here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

Guy Bourdin, fashion photographer, 'Image Maker'.
The same day I went with friends to see this exhibition at Somerset House, London,
The Sun newspaper announced the end of page three*.
So image, particularly images of women, was a hot topic of conversation.
Men taking photos of women.
Women's bodies used to sell things.

During his training, Guy Bourdin spent time with the surrealist, Man-Ray.

Bourdin seems to have had a thing for shoes.
In the 1970s, for a Charles Jourdan advertising campaign,
Bourdin dispensed with the women altogether, well most of the female body,
and took mannequin legs around Britain  on a month long trip to take photos of shoes.

Very playful and still very much the female form.
A bit like one of those optical illusions when all that is drawn are dots,
but you can't help seeing a 3D cube.

"How on earth did he get them to stand up?"

Bourdin made films too.

There was something about that make-up.
Triggering memories of experimenting with cream eye-shadow that came out of tubes.
Blue for my friend and brown for me.
At this point, my friend admitted to still having her first pale pearl lipstick.

Joyfully we reminisced about lip-gloss,
Roll-on, scented, cherry, lip-gloss.

"There's your blue eye-shadow!"

In our teens, where did our ideas of self image, beauty,
make-up and body shape come from?
We conferred and it seems that for us, it was primarily Jackie magazine.
If you were lucky, a lip-gloss was the free-gift.

"But we didn't appreciate our figures when we were younger."

There's so much to say about the shapes of women's bodies.
This furniture is a reminder of yet another body shape.
My Sindy doll had that chest of drawers, the 'Sindy' version.
Sindy's body shape; waist, bust and hips, surely not aspirational anymore.

Didn't we all want to be a princess (and the pea)?

Incredible shape,


and legs.

 Playing with shape.

Bourdin's photography is intended, like surrealism, to disturb then delight.
For us it did both.
Delight and consternation.
Questions about body shapes, modelling at what price,
how women's bodies are used for publicity
and although not page three, all the women in this exhibition where the same shape.

So for balance, here are our shapes.

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is on at Somerset House until 15th March 2015.
Details on the Somerset House website, here.

*The Sun stopping 'page 3', appears to ave been a publicity stunt.
It stopped for all of two days.
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