Sunday 26 September 2010

Deptford town centre regeneration 'consultation'

Another last minute 'consultation' announcement from Lewisham Council has been brought to my attention via the News Shopper.

Apparently two exhibitions/consultations are to be held at the Albany this week where residents can find out about the plans for refurbishment of Douglas Way, which is set to begin in January next year.

This is the first I've heard about either the meetings, or the plans for Douglas Way (which you may recall me moaning about on previous posts - musing as to why it wasn't included in the existing regeneration/improvement plans). Take a look at the council's own page here and you'll see I'm not making this up.

I'm delighted to find that improvements ARE planned, and interested to hear about them. By dint of good luck I'll be around for one of the events, but a bit more (or indeed any!) notice would have been useful for many people I'm sure.

It seems the council has been so busy making videos about all its regeneration plans that it has forgotten about good old fashioned publicity. You know, the type which involves actually telling people about meetings and consultations and so on. Or has everyone else had this notification/seen posters etc and I'm just missing it?

Events are at the Albany.
Wednesday 29th Sept 4-7pm
Saturday 2nd October 10am-12.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Deptford X 2010 preview

A post by Marmoset over on Crosswhatfields blog nicely captures my own feeling of anticipation at the imminent arrival of Deptford X.

Art-lovers in Deptford are very lucky to have year-round access to contemporary art in our local galleries such as Bearspace, Arch Gallery and APT, as well as the opportunity to visit late-night openings and tours such as those organised by the Deptford Art Map.

But it's festival time that I really love; I like to see art set free into the real world to amuse, surprise and provoke the general public - in particular those who may never consider setting foot inside a gallery.

It's exciting to see ordinary places transformed - those facilities we use every day without a thought, the streets we walk along and the views we observe are transformed by colour, shapes and sound into something brighter and more stimulating. A tedious journey to work may be improved by the sight of an incongruous artwork in an unexpected place - and that particular location may never be the same again in our minds.

Last year the grimy surrounds of the station were brightened by colourful street scenes...

..walls told stories...

...strange items were found abandoned on ledges...

...streets acquired stripes.

I like to think that such interventions and site-specific creations might touch someone's life in an unexpected way - whether simply by making them smile as they walk past, by giving them pause for thought, or even by inspiring them in some way.

This year
it seems we are in for just as much of a treat with Mark Titchner's curation. A bit of bad organisation on my part means that I won't be around to experience the vibe this weekend, but happily Deptford X runs over two weekends, giving me the chance to check out at least some of the shows and events.

Liz Harrison's sound installation of birdsong in the stairwells of Deptford Station promises to be truly magical - a perfect example of the type of thing I love about Deptford X. The thought of birdsong lightening the steps of all those grumpy commuters trudging up to the platforms fills me with a certain degree of emotion. (I'll be the one hanging back trying to work out if that's a thrush or a blackbird.) Apparently Liz's creation, which will be competing for the Deptford X Award, was inspired by reports that the pitch of birdsong is rising in competition with the urban noise levels.

If you have a limited amount of time, I would suggest checking out the Deptford X Award nominees - they are all within a fairly short walking distance of the high street, and you will probably come across quite a lot of the other galleries and installations on the way. Depending on when you visit, you may also come across some of the events or artists in residence, or even the gallery plots, performances taking place within some of the galleries.

Whether you are a regular gallery goer or a total Deptford X virgin, it's certainly worth spending an hour or two finding out what's going on in our vibrant community. And don't forget to check out the more unusual locations such as Johnny's DIY, where you'll be able to see Charlie Pi's 'human figure formed of tools', or the Creek at low tide, where Sue Lawes' 'Creekery' can be seen sticking out of the mud.

Full listings can be found on the Deptford X website - unfortunately no downloadable map as yet, but hopefully that will be available by the start of the festival.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Open House: Master shipwright's house

There's nothing I like more than a good snoop round someone's house, and when it's a house on this scale and in this kind of location, so much the better! Luckily Chris and Willi, the owners of the Master Shipwright's House in Deptford, kindly welcomed us nosy types into their private house this weekend as part of London's Open House weekend. The house was built in 1708 by Joseph Allin, who was the master shipwright for the royal dockyard next door.

I've visited the house before for an art exhibition, but it was about five years ago and the restoration work has advanced in leaps and bounds since then - and continues to do so. I notice that they've even given the front of the house a lick of paint since I had a peek at it from Convoy's Wharf last year.

Quite aside from being a significant structure in both Deptford's history and in the history of England's royal dockyards, the house is truly beautiful and serene. The restoration work has been painfully sympathetic - William explained that they were careful not to invent any period detail for the restoration, and stuck rigidly to this philosophy throughout. As a result the story of the restoration is incorporated into the house itself - traces of its history are visible in some rooms while very little remains in others.

Visitors can enter the main door of the house and enjoy the two enormous rooms that face out to the river on the ground and first floors. Adjoining the house is the single-storey garden room where archive photographs and historical documents relating to the house and to the royal docks can be seen, as well as information about the new garden house that has been built on the water's edge.

The garden structure was inspired by the idea of a 'banqueting house' and it is made entirely of leftovers from the restoration of the house, unsympathetic items that were removed, recycled timbers from skips etc, and even the old doors from Deptford Station. It perches on the river wall and offers a peaceful and sheltered outdoor retreat that makes the most of the vista (although not particularly peaceful during open house!). Each elevation is markedly different - the west end is clad entirely in slate and rises much higher than the rest of the building, while the red doors from the station contrast with the various windows and timbers making up the main elevation. I'm not entirely won over by the rather jumbled visual appearance of the structure, but given its starting point and the materials to hand, I accept that the intention is more important than the aesthetics. The garden house was built by Robert Bagley and Roo Angel.

Visitors were free to wander the grounds, which are dotted with tables and chairs taking advantage of every sunny corner. The south-facing vegetable garden round the back also made me feel very envious - and it is groaning with ripening tomatoes, squashes and so on.

At this stage I felt it necessary to leave before the urge to fetch my sleeping bag and set up home in one of the quiet corners became too strong.

Friday 3 September 2010

The Dame is out of town

Now that school holidays are over, the Dame is off for a break.

Back in time for Deptford X!

Thursday 2 September 2010

Surrey Canal Road station funding

London Reconnections has published a letter from the DfT about funding of the proposed Surrey Canal Road station on the East London Line extension.

It's not good news - but they have been wavering and mumbling for so long that it's not very surprising.

It would make much more financial sense to build a station at the same time as the new line is being constructed, but naturally the new government wants savings in the short term.