Readers with long memories will recall the fun I had at the Reclaim Love pavement party in 2010. You won’t be surprised to hear, then, that I had to return for more hugs, drumming, music and dancing in central London at the eighth of these enjoyable gatherings, held last weekend on a beautiful and surprisingly warm winter’s day. Here’s a few photos of the fun and games:
This week, we’ve had a few beautiful, glorious sunny days in this corner of west London. In fact, it has been so lovely at times that you might have been forgiven for thinking that spring had finally arrived to relieve this seemingly never-ending and freezing cold northern hemisphere winter we’ve been shivering through. But you’d be wrong.
Despite the fact that spring actually officially begins this coming weekend with the vernal equinox, there appears to be little sign of it in the nation’s parks and gardens yet. I’ve seen plenty of pretty purple crocuses and a few cheerful yellow daffodils in neighbouring gardens, but even the usually early flowering magnolia trees in my area are only just beginning to bud, and most of the other local trees appear to be as bare as they were in January.
The situation seems to be the same across the country, with the Woodland Trust recently estimating that signs of the British spring are anything up to a month late in emerging this year – and they’d know, they have records tracking the start of spring that date back to the 1600s.
Since June 2009, a remarkable group of people have been acting as caretakers of a patch of derelict land sandwiched between Kew Bridge, the A315 into central London and the Thames.
This is a busy, congested and built up corner of west London where available land is at a premium, and this site had lain empty and unused for several decades before the eco-villagers moved in last summer.
Now it is a thriving example of sustainable living, as well as being community garden project and home to a fascinating array of plants and wildlife – the latest in a long line of different functions.
The site has always been much more than just a piece of wasteland; it actually has a long history, probably dating back at least as far as the Bronze Age, and mainly because of its central position between the river and a main road. The A315 has long been an central route in to and out of London – it is built over a Roman road and was later also an important coaching route.
There had also been a ferry (and later a bridge) at Kew since at least the 17th century. You can thus easily see how the centrality of the site to river crossings and main roads would make it a logical plot of land to locate a business or build other property, and how this would eventually give it an element of historical significance.
“If peace on earth was declared today, what would you have to do to keep it that way?”
On Saturday 13th February, a group of like-minded people gathered under the statue of Eros in London’s Piccadilly Circus to dance and drum and eat and hug and celebrate the idea of universal love and peace (photos below). Reclaim Love, the organisers of this, the seventh of these annual ‘pavement parties’, printed up flyers explaining why it was both important and necessary:
“We have called this gathering in response to the fear and confusion in the World at this time. We have decided to send LOVE and HEALING to all the Beings in all the Worlds in an effort to restore peace and harmony throughout infinity”
Now, I am aware that my approval of all that makes the usual cynical lefty me sound like a sad old hippy who has taken too much LSD in her time (um, actually…) and probably says ‘groovy’ far too often for her own good (guilty as charged), but I like the idea of universal love and peace.
In this damaged world where everything has become a commodity, love and peace have become rare and precious artefacts while so many people are suffering because of hatred and war.
Happy New Year! And as a special New Year’s treat, here’s another photo of some of the fascinating and excellent underground art displayed under the Westway in London’s Ladbroke Grove last month by the Mutate Britain team.
Bringing us street art, grafitti art, kinetic sculptures, modern mosaics, poster art, paintings and photography from 130 different artists all working in different mediums and with different approaches, the One Foot In The Grove Winter Exhibition was far more fun, entertaining and thought-provoking than any normal art exhibition has any right to be (despite the freezing cold!), and featured some art you won’t see anywhere else.
Like this guy, for example. He’s a great example of the inventive and witty art on display at Mutate – and proof that traffic cones can be put to more creative uses than just being worn as hats by pissed-up students…
This cute little fella is a… well, I’m not entirely sure what he is, but he’s definitely rather sweet, and he looks like he might be an environmentally friendly, low-maintenance type of pet too, seeing as he’s made of 100% recycled materials.
He’d certainly be cheap to feed, seeing as his diet seems to consist solely of old drinks cans, and he probably wouldn’t need very much in the way of exercise. The perfect pet in many ways!
I want one….
And if you want more information about Mutate and some great images of their art, check out the Mutate Britain blog.
Originally uploaded by slow_fade
Sadly, yesterday was the final day of the brilliant One Foot In The Grove art event in West London. If you weren’t able to make it down to Ladbroke Grove to check out Mutate’s memorable Winter Exhibition, fret not, for – as promised – I bring you some exclusive images of all this amazing renegade art
This image shows the far wall of the gallery room, which was used to showcase unusual, witty and though-provoking poster art, sculpture, photography and other objets d’art. However, despite initial appearances, this is not a conventional art gallery.
There are no bored-looking security guards ensconced on plastic chairs, just ready and waiting to give you a good telling-off if you get a millimetre too close to the artworks. There’s no insistence on a pretentious dimly-lit hush being necessary for appreciating the art all around you. There’s no expensive catalogue, badly-written in incomprehensible arty-farty language, which leaves you even more mystified as to what it’s all about than you were in the first place.
Instead, this is about the art, and about the people who make and who love the art. This is about democratising art, making it open to anyone and everyone, of any age and any background. This is about making art fun, making it an experience, about completely breaking all the conventional rules of art and art appreciation.
This is about real art, and real artists. This is about taking art back to the people at long last. This is a very different sort of gallery.
Watch out for more Snapshots from Mutate Britain over the festive season!
If you want more information about Mutate and some great images, check out the Mutate Britain blog.
Originally uploaded by slow_fade
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s going on under the Westway in London’s Ladbroke Grove right now. Readers with long(ish) memories will recall that I posted some photos of the One Foot In The Grove art event back in October, when it was first on. And now it’s back, with some exciting new art, in the run-up to Christmas.
As before, the exhibition is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 20th December (there’s also a Wednesday night opening between 6-10pm on 16th December). Kids are welcome too – and they seem to love it just as much as the grown-ups do! Wrap up warm, bring the family or your mates and check out the most original and interesting art exhibition in London. You’ll love it, even if you think you don’t like art, I promise…
You’ll find amazing art, great tunes, art and other goodies to buy, food and a licensed bar (serving some lovely hot rum punch) – one of the few in London where you can still smoke! – at:
3-6 Acklam Road (under the Westway)
London W10 5YU
Nearest tube: Ladbroke Grove
And keep an eye out here for more of my photos!
December has only just arrived, and London is already decked out in all her finery for Christmas. The famous and gaudy Christmas lights of Oxford Street and Regent’s Street have been on for a couple of weeks now (personally, I wasn’t impressed), and the shops have been full of Christmassy stuff since the middle of October at least.
Of course, that’s assuming you can wade your way through the stressed-out throngs of Christmas shoppers who are already filling the shopping streets and malls of the city.
But there are some things about Christmas time in London that I do like. I’m grumpy about Christmas, but I’m also a bit sentimental when it comes to certain seasonal things. I like walking through the cold streets after dark, all wrapped up warm, and looking at Christmas trees lit up and twinkling in people’s windows as I pass.
I like carol services, despite not being religious in the slightest. I like the Christmas lights on the South Bank, and driving down the Great West Road to look at the numerous Christmas trees along its length. I like walking in Richmond Park on a frosty morning.
And I like the idea of the outdoor skating rinks that seem to sprout like mushrooms at historical sites all over the city. These days, you can go skating at Kew Gardens, or Hampton Court Palace, or even at the Natural History Museum, where this photo was taken.
I love the contrast between the wintery sky and both the imposing bulk of the museum and the gaily-lit merry-go-round, it neatly defines the duel nature of the season. Winter is a cold and dark time which hangs heavy on us all, but that is offset by the light and warmth of whichever midwinter festival you celebrate, because they all serve that same purpose.