Thursday, 31 May 2012

Secrets of Deptford High Street

Shh! Deptford High Street is going to be in focus over the next few weeks, but there's an element of secrecy surrounding matters.

Next Wednesday 6 June BBC2 broadcasts the first episode in its new series 'The secret history of our streets', and the episode focussing on Deptford High Street will be first. It's difficult to know what to expect of this, considering that the programme makers seem to be trying to shoehorn 125 years' history into half an hour.

Time Out's preview gives some indication, suggesting it will be a mix of the usual cliches and some more interesting stuff such as the discovery of council documents suggesting the slum clearance programme that destroyed many of the streets in the northern end of Deptford were unnecessary.

Apparently regular High Street 'celebrity' Harry Hayward is not among the local characters interviewed in the film, so at least not all the cliches about Deptford are being trotted out. As for me, I'm looking forward to finding out which market trader thinks it's 'an angry high street' where 'no-one likes anyone'. I could put forward a guess of at least two or three miserable sods whom I wouldn't be surprised to hear coming out with something like that.

The first episode airs on Wednesday 6 June at 9pm on BBC2.

Meanwhile this Friday 1 June sees the launch of 'Secret Soundtrack', an audio artwork by Jay Harris, which will be accessible throughout June at The Deptford Project café, Bearspace gallery, Arch Materials and Deli X.

Jay's press release explains: "Secret Soundtrack uses '3D sound' recorded in Deptford Market, to create a theatrical atmosphere that people can experience as they wander around the market. Sound art, as a relatively undiscovered art form, seems like the perfect way to bring attention to one of south London’s lesser-known gems: Deptford High Street."

The main drawback is that in order to take part, you will need a smart phone with a QR Code reader and a pair of earphones (although Jay has suggested he plans to make MP3 files available on his website for people to download as an alternative for those who don't have smart phones). Scanning QR Codes on posters in the businesses named above will take you to the Secret Soundtrack website where you will be given instructions on what to do next.

Jay did give me an MP3 file to preview of his work, but he recommends that you listen to it while visiting the market, and I've not had chance to do that yet so I can't report on whether the work is successful.

He says: "You will be encouraged to explore the market while listening to the audio streamed from the website, making sure not to drown out the live sounds. You can expect to hear sounds recorded in the market, reproduced in such a way as to become something new when played in conjunction with listening to the live sounds around you." He has also created a separate audio atmosphere for The Deptford Project café which will be on display there from 1st – 8th June.


Anonymous said...

I watched the BBC program last night. It was very disappointing. The basic premise of the show was that houses got unnecessarily cleared, families moved out, council blocks were erected, the high street was full of drunks back then and it still is now. No mention of the future of the street or any kind of optimism, the regeneration, new station and library, the art scene etc. Overall a program shows Deptford negatively and is an opportunity lost to promote the area in any way (some very nice historical photos though!)

Anonymous said...

Saw the programme this evening, and as well was disappointed by its biased views and negativity. Whilst interesting archive footage from residents, and story about potential cover up as to real reason the victorian houses got bulldozed, there were surely other 'secret' histories from the area to reveal as well, no?