Sunday, 30 November 2014

Deptford Creek bridge close to completion

The new bridge across Deptford Creek has been swinging to and fro over the last couple of weeks, as engineers commission the mechanical and electrical equipment and operators are trained in its use. When I passed by on Friday it looked like lots of snagging was under way on the structure, and I've been told that handover to the council is imminent.

The bridge designer Flint & Neill made a nice little film showing the bridge swinging across for the first time - ooh the excitement of whether it's going to slide smoothly into place and the two ends are going to meet properly as it reaches the other side! (Spoiler - it does!)

According to one of my sources, who lives in a flat with a view of the bridge, it looks 'quite sexy' with its lights on. It's a very pretty little bridge alright, but I think 'sexy' is taking it a bit far. All the same it's much more fulfilling than watching property investors talking about selling Deptford. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

'Rise' marketing leaves Deptford unimpressed

'Rise' developer Cathedral Group seems to have waded into a shit storm in its cosy link up with overseas property investment company IP Global, which bought up all 120+ flats in the development being built next to Deptford Station and is currently flogging them off-plan to its overseas investors.

The property company's promotional video for the Deptford scheme - aka the Deptford Project - in which Martyn Evans, Creative Director of Cathedral Group explained how important the link-up was, because IP Global had such a good knowledge of the Asian market, was pulled from IP Global's You Tube account this morning after complaints from local residents*.

Until this morning IP Global had two films on its website - a 360 degree panorama of Deptford (which claims to have been made using 'drone technology' but looks more like they filmed it from the tower crane), and a promotional film with IP Global CEO Tim Murphy telling all that is great about investing in Deptford - now only the former remains. (See update below for a link to the film elsewhere)

(Believe me you didn't miss much in the latter, but you can probably get a good idea by reading IP Global's wincingly tired piece about Deptford that they published earlier this year when the deal was struck with Cathedral).

There has already been scrutiny of the marketing of these residential units, with Crosswhatfields blog pointing out last month that they were being pitched for more than half a million quid as buy to let investments.

Last week I came across the offending video, and tweeted about it with my comments:

The video was shared on various other places, including the Quay Point and Facebook's I Love Deptford group, where it caused mighty outrage and came to the attention of local resident Maria Livings.

She was so incensed she wrote to Cathedral Group CEO Richard Upton to complain about the company's crass marketing and make some very salient points about the housing issues that dominate our local area.

'The idea that this project is being sold to investors and that the coolness of artists is being touted as the reason why property prices are about to hurtle still further up is completely sickening. None of the interesting, creative people who have contributed to the vibrant culture of the area are able to afford to buy a home and their work spaces are being eliminated wholesale as developers buy up all the land to create yet more unaffordable housing. 

I am an artist/designer and have lived and worked in the area for over 30 years. Although I initially lived in a council flat on Pepys Estate I was able eventually to get a shared ownership home in which I still live. As a result of being part of this fascinating creative community I have become quite successful and have developed a thriving business. 

However, even though I am relatively well off there is no way I could afford to buy a home at today's prices. Where are the people who work in a coffee bar/Sainsbury's/school/garage in Deptford supposed to live? I don't suppose anyone at Cathedral knows or cares. 

You may live in a parallel Universe where moral and social considerations are not an issue and therefore have no interest in anything except making money. However you must know that public opposition to this tastelessly marketed development will be strong. You have made no friends amongst local people and ensured that the cool, friendly vibe that you are using to sell your development will be greatly diminished as a result of your poor grasp of the socio-economic realities of the area.'

The offending video was taken down this morning and Maria has been invited to meet with Cathedral Group to discuss her concerns. She is asking others to join her in writing to the council and meeting with Cathedral - details on the Facebook group.

Cathedral's strong presence in south east London, with developments such as The Mvmt (eugh) on Norman Road, and Morden Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula, not to mention their ongoing efforts to project a cuddly, fluffy not-like-every-other-property-developer image, presumably make them particularly sensitive to this kind of criticism.

Let's hope they aren't crass enough to try and exploit the meeting to their own advantage - the cynic in me suspects that they may see it as a good opportunity to get a well-respected local creative on their side, although something tells me Maria isn't the type to be taken in.

* Update: The film is still available for now on You Tube. If you enjoy watching a property developer salivating over the prospect of making shitloads of money, get there quick. But don't say I didn't warn you. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Revised plans for 'the Wharves' redevelopment on Oxestalls Road

Three years after the original plans for The Wharves got planning permission, a new planning application is being drafted for submission to the council early next year. The site, which is bounded by Evelyn Street, Oxestalls Road and Grove Street, has now changed hands and the new owners, Lend Lease, seem intent on wringing every last penny out of the land, with little regard for the neighbours or the local community. 

A few weeks ago they held 'public consultation' to showcase their new ideas - the presentation boards can be downloaded from their website here if you missed it. 

I've pulled out a few of the fundamental changes I noted, unfortunately mostly of them make the scheme much less appealing from my point of view. And as normally happens when developers and their marketing folks get together, and there's things they don't want to tell you straight, you really have to read every sentence to find out what it is they are trying to keep from you. Which is nice, since otherwise the money they lavish on these marketing consultants would be wasted.  

Here's the brief version for those of you with limited attention span or short on time:

Previously 905 residential units - now 1100

Previously 18 storeys maximum height - now 30

Previously a large facility for Ascot Cabs - now a 'creative hub' (*sigh*)

Previously a commitment to retain the Victoria pub - now 'considering options' for it

Previously a water feature to mark the route of the former Surrey Canal - now a 'greened' path

Previously public space - now private courtyards

And my favourite - buried away in the text without any numbers for those who are skim reading:

Previously a maximum of 370 parking spaces - now 'we are looking at providing up to 1 parking space per dwelling' plus extra for work and retail units - i.e. more than 1100 parking spaces. 

Before we get into the nitty gritty, see the rendering of the new scheme above. In the traditional way, the rendering includes every other tall building in the vicinity, and is arranged from a suitable viewpoint so as to make the new development's own towers seem modest even at 30 storeys.

The second thing you should note if you are an illustrator wanting to make a living out of doing renderings for developers, is that you must take ownership of every scrap of green in the vicinity whether it is within in the boundaries of the development or not. So the inclusion of Deptford Park and Pepys Park on the picture make this new development look like it's really green.

In fact this plan probably gives a better indication as you can more easily see the boundaries of the site. All the brown areas between the buildings are 'private courtyards' - inaccessible to the public and raised above street level to accommodate podium parking at ground level. Most of the other green bits are the oversize trees that they seem to be planning for the whole length of Evelyn Street. Better make those London planes, to cope with the appalling pollution they will be subjected to. 

The two images above show the original building heights (top) and the proposed new building heights. The 'feature' buildings at the corners have shot up - in the case of the one on the corner of Grove St and Dragoon Road, it has had an additional 12 storeys plonked on top of it, rising from 18 to 30 storeys in total. Even by the standards of Convoys Wharf this seems like an excessive increase.

Perhaps this building has had all the extra units lumped on it because it is in the first phase of the development - phasing is shown above. I seem to remember that Lewisham Council kindly offered to compulsorily purchase the land in phase 3 on behalf of the developer, which I struggle to get my head around, in particular the financial and moral implications. They are also doing a similar deal on the Surrey Canal Village development. I always thought compulsory purchase orders were designed for major transport links or other 'public betterment' schemes, not just a means to enable developers to make a profit out of land they don't yet own. Call me old-fashioned etc...

The move to try and shoehorn as many units and car parking spaces onto a development site does not surprise me; it's pure and simple greed. Naturally they will try and justify it all with 'solving London's housing crisis' but unless these flats are going on sale at less than £100k then I'm sorry to say it is unlikely to work.

It's the mean little things that really depress me - the downgrading of the public space provision from a number of permeable squares among the residential buildings to 'green verges' along the edges of the main roads around the boundaries of the site (yes really!) and from an imaginative water feature along the line of the former Surrey Canal to a 'linear park' without water. I would have loved to see something like the water feature that leads into Canada Water replicated here, but I was told firstly that 'there were concerns about safety' (?) and when I challenged this, was given another reason that was so lame I can't even remember it.

The suggestion that the former Victoria pub - the only building of any character within the development - might not 'need' to be retained was also depressing and indicative of the basic mindset of Lend Lease. I hope that responses from the consultation will prompt the developer to reconsider, and if not, any proposal to demolish it will be challenged by the council. There's a lack of pubs in the area and with new housing due to be built right next door, surely this is the perfect opportunity to bring it back into use?

There's no firm commitment on 'affordable' housing ('affordable' being a relative concept and in all honesty only translating as 'slightly cheaper') - the documents suggest the proposed 21% may be retained, but I'm betting this will be revised after the developers have done their mysterious 'viability' calculations and found they can make more profit if they sell their units for higher prices.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Deptford Broadway 'improvement' proposals

TFL has announced its proposed 'improvements' to the Deptford Broadway/Deptford Church St junction of the A2; full details and the consultation page are up on its website.

Campaigners have been trying to get this junction improved for several decades so TFL's consultation is well overdue.

The proposal to add signal-controlled pedestrian crossings across three of the four main arms of the junction is welcome, but why has the opportunity not been taken to relocate the existing toucan crossing next to Deptford Bridge station to a position where it might actually be useful, at the junction itself? TFL claims it rejected the idea 'because of junction capacity and low pedestrian flows'.

I wonder if it has low pedestrian flows because it is in a place where no-one wants to use it? People may find it more convenient to risk crossing at the junction itself because that's the route they want to take.

And the provisions for cyclists, which include 'advisory' cycle lanes and no measures to reduce vehicle speeds, have already been criticised by Lewisham Cyclists as  'seriously rubbish'.

It's not easy to re-imagine a junction layout when you have become accustomed to its perils over the decades, but I only have to ask myself why I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have used the junction on a bike to know it is not a layout that makes me feel safe. I regularly go out of my way to avoid it, and I would consider myself a confident and experienced cyclist. I rarely attempt to negotiate it on foot because I don't need to, but I'm sure I would find it seriously annoying if it was part of my regular route.

Just look at the layout on the plan - a cursory glance reveals the main problem with this junction.

Why does a junction connecting the vaguely dual-lane Blackheath Road to the definitely single-lane New Cross Road need so many traffic lanes? It balloons up into an enormous swollen racetrack - not just left and right turning lanes, but two lanes for the traffic going straight ahead, which then has to squeeze into a single lane within yards of the other side of the junction.

All this type of junction design does is encourage drivers to jostle for position as if they are at the start of a race, then roar away when the lights change in an attempt to jump ahead one or two vehicles. It creates the kind of space that encourages aggressive, competitive driving, a space in which cyclists are regarded as an inconvenience and expected to be safe in 'advisory' lines of paint in between the lanes.

Updated: Lewisham Cyclists have posted a full response to the plans on their website.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Silvertown Tunnel consultation

Transport for London has just launched consultation into its planned Silvertown Tunnel, which is intended to increase capacity for vehicles wanting to cross the Thames between east London and the Greenwich Peninsula.

There's plenty of talk about how the new tunnel would 'relieve congestion' and yet in the same breath, TFL also explains that it intends to impose charges on both the Blackwall Tunnel and the Silvertown Tunnel to 'manage demand' (as well as to pay for the new tunnel). Isn't this just an admission that building a new tunnel would generate so much additional traffic that the new tunnel would be congested as soon as it opened.

TFL has put together a fly-through film showing how the tunnel portals and the tunnel service buildings are intended to fit in the existing landscape and link into the existing roads.

What's missing from all the jazzy fly-throughs and optimistic predictions is any explanation of how the roads on either side of the river will cope with this extra traffic. With the 'bottleneck' at the tunnel supposedly removed, the congestion problem will simply move to other parts of the network, increasing congestion elsewhere - outside your front door, your child's school or your local park perhaps?

As we saw from local pollution monitoring earlier this year, levels of nitrogen dioxide are already well above recommended safe levels in many parts of Greenwich and Lewisham. With increased traffic from a new tunnel adding even more congestion, pollution levels will only get worse.

The fly-through produced by TFL offers visualisations of a tunnel with no traffic; campaigners at No to Silvertown Tunnel have created a more realistic version showing the current situation in the Blackwall Tunnel, which is likely to be recreated very rapidly in any new tunnel nearby.

You can find out more about their campaign on the website, including an analysis of the proposed scheme, and some suggested public transport alternatives.

Friday, 10 October 2014

New shop fronts for Deptford High Street

The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed the new shopfronts that have appeared along Deptford High Street.

Six shops have had their signs and shutters replaced using the tail end of the Outer London Funding bid that paid for the repaving works and other projects.

I don't believe this work was actually part of the original bid, and I'm not clear where the funding was diverted from, but it is certainly being paid for out of the money that was awarded to Deptford.

One of the regular gripes by those who care about the visual appearance and public realm quality of the high street is the damage to shop fronts caused by cheap 'improvements' which usually involve ripping out the old shop front and bunging in a roller shutter. This is often done at the lowest possible cost and by contractors whose only concern is the speed with which they can get the work done.

There's also ongoing problems with planning applications for changes that are not appropriate to a conservation zone (yes! Deptford High Street is a conservation zone!) such as internally illuminated signs and plastic-framed replacement windows. Many of these have got through in the past but happily the planners at the council are now more aware of the problem and seem to be taking greater note of new applications.

The new shop fronts are intended to showcase 'good design' for the high street and demonstrate the type of solutions the council would like to see applied whenever renovations are carried out.

In my opinion the designs have all been successful to some extent - even those which I consider too gaudy or disappointingly underwhelming have a solid and unified quality. I assume the shop owners were consulted on the designs and colour schemes, which presumably explains why they vary so much.

At the south end of the high street (above) the replacement signage and awning are a huge improvement on the awful gaudy plastic thing that used to scar this lovely building. I like the colour choice and it seems the designer of the sign made the best of a bad job, considering how many words had to be accommodated.

I admit I find the light green squiggles adorning each end a little distracting though, they do put me in mind of a diagram of the female reproductive system.

Next up is Divine - the colour choice might be more reminiscent of a high-viz cycling jacket than anything else, but at least the shop front is in muted colours and the simple design works well.

AK Continental Foods looks good when it's open but the shutter design makes it look quite fun even when it's closed. Not much thought seems to have been given to how the design would fit on the shutters - to be honest it looks a bit like one of my attempts - but it's cheerful and colourful so the end result is a positive one.

Down at the more subtle end of the scale is Fu Quing Chao Shi Chinese supermarket - auspiciously red, no surprise there, and very clean design. The new awning looks great too.

There's always one who wants to stand right out, and in this case it's Family Halal Butchers & Grocers with their gaudy yellow and red sign and even a yellow edging to the bright red awning. Considering they are sandwiched between the non-too subtle shouty awning of Housewives and their other bright yellow neighbour, it's none too surprising.

My favourite of all the shopfront redesigns is Ralph's green grocery which has a strong Farrow & Ball feel to it - not just the colours of the shop front and contrasting awning, but the lower-case shop name and understated design. I'm sure the Guardian would have a field day suggesting that it's an unmistakeable sign of gentrification although you only have to step inside to note the absence of wicker baskets or eggs displayed in beds of straw.

When the previous shopfront was removed, the original sill of the window on the first floor was revealed, leading for calls to redesign the shop sign and reinstate the window to its original level. The building (formerly Caxton House) apparently used to be a ladies school in the 1800s and is one of the more significant historic buildings on the high street, although there are probably many more than you might think. 

As far as I know, extra funding is being sought to adjust the shopfront accordingly, let's wait and see.

And finally, here's the latest new shopfront. As far as the new occupier goes, shame to see another 'chain' on the high street (although in reality it's a franchise) but apparently there are lots of people out there who think buying sandwiches by the foot is a good wheeze.

I'm of the opinion that there are much better sandwich options available on the high street, and the only time I went into a Subway I got rather confused by the aggressive questioning about filling options. I like the old-school method where the customer tells the sandwich maker exactly what they want and the sandwich maker puts aforementioned ingredients in the bread. Mind you I seem to remember it was a branch in the US so I was confused as to why I might want cheese in a ham sandwich, particularly since I was then asked to choose between four types of cheese, none of which sounded real, and all of which had been processed to exactly the same extent except for subtle differences in colour.

I suspect the new Subway will probably impact most on Percy Ingle's and Greggs' sandwich and hot food sales. Other branches seem to open late and I hope this one will too - it would certainly be good to see more places on the high street that open into the evening.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Lesoco's expensive rebrand thrown out after two years

There are times when I think I must be in the wrong job. 

Last week, further education newspaper FE Week revealed what I'd first heard several weeks ago, but which was confirmed when I glanced up at the big red brick building on Deptford Broadway as I passed it this evening and noticed this change.

Yes indeed, 'Lesoco' is no more.

If you weren't even aware of Lesoco in the first place, it's hardly surprising since it was only brought into being a couple of years ago after a major 'rebranding' exercise. The rebranding took place after Lewisham and Southwark Colleges (the latter judged 'inadequate' at the time) merged in 2012 and became Lesoco. Or LeSoCo as they liked to write it (*cringe*).

The piece in FE Week is interesting because it answers a question I'd been musing on - how much were 'consultants' paid to carry out this rebranding?

Almost £290k according to the results of FE Week's freedom of information request. 

The 'rebranding' was done by 'the world's most effective brand design consultancy' (according to its own website) Elmwood. Certainly effective at extracting payment for ageing cordage, perhaps. There was even a rather lame video made by another agency. 

Here's some of the guff that was written about the rebranding at the time: 

Elmwood chose the LeSoCo name as it blends the words Lewisham and Southwark, and was influenced by other amalgamated place names like New York’s Soho – a shortening of ‘South of Houston Street’. (Ah yes, of course that's relevant to a small college in south east London).

The visual identity depicts a folded page corner, which Elmwood says suggests ‘the building sense of anticipation that’s felt when you can’t wait to turn the page to your next assignment, your next module or the next chapter of your life’. (Oh good grief).

The graphic device surrounding the name uses an ‘L’ shape with the corner turned up, ‘revealing an exciting new future’, says Elmwood. The red and white colour palette was inspired by London iconography such as buses, post boxes and London Underground signage. 

Elmwood says, ‘At the heart of the LeSoCo vision is the strong belief that the two colleges united as one are greater than the sum of their parts, setting them apart from other London colleges through their mission to instill students with an enterprising spirit and equipping them with the skills they need for the future’.  (*guff detector goes into overdrive*)

Simone Davies*, LeSoCo director of marketing and communications adds, ‘The new branding reflects our aspirations for the future, it has signaled the beginning of the new: joining two organisations, post merger, in to one to create something new and exciting’.

Since the rebrand things have not gone well. Ofsted gave the merged college an 'inadequate' grade at the start of this year, and in June, principal Maxine Room 'stepped down' to be replaced by interim consultant principal Ioan Morgan.

It seems one of his first acts was to ditch the pointless name that was despised by staff and misunderstood by students. They have managed to re-use the expensive logo to bring it back to something that makes sense, but they are still stuck with a website url that makes little sense and presumably a whole load of other branded stuff that will have to be phased out. Not to mention a big hole in the finances.

*Update: I note that Simone Davies, director of marketing and communications, also left Lesoco in May of this year.

Deptford Fun Palaces

Next weekend (4 and 5 October) there's lots of free, family-friendly stuff going on in Deptford as the Albany and other community spaces create their own 'fun palaces'. 

It's all part of Fun Palaces 2014, a nationwide celebration of arts, culture and sciences which has been created to mark the 100th birthday of Joan Littlewood. Fun Palaces 2014 brings to life the vision she and Cedric Price created for spaces linking arts and sciences, entertainment and education. 

Across two days, a consortium of creative and cultural organisations in Deptford will host an array of free spectacles and activities, alongside the weekend’s central event Source (Sunday 5 October, 3pm), which brings to life an underground world of six forgotten rivers of London.

Created by two of the UK’s leading creative event companies Cirque Bijou and Nutkhut, Source is performed outdoors by circus, dance, theatre and cabaret artists and depicts historic moments connecting Victorian London to pioneering philanthropists, social reformers, artists, inventors and engineers.

The event ends in a 'bring-what-you-can' party in the Albany's main theatre. For more information see listings below or visit the website.

Make Believe Arts Giant Science Playground 
Deptford Lounge
Saturday 4 October, 12-4pm
Make Believe Arts is inviting children/families to create bunting and other crafty delights in preparation for the Giant Science Playground.

Sunday 5 October, 11am-4pm 
The whole family is invited to help solve a mystery of GIGANTIC propositions. Deptford was once the land of giants and the Ministry of Mysteries has unearthed some interesting findings, and the they need your help to work out how a giant from the past got sick!

Teatro Vivo Grimms’ Collecting Agency
Woodpecker Community Centre
Sunday 5 October, 11.45am 
Collecting stories is a family business for the Grimms, handed down through the generations - ever since their great great great great grandfathers, those famous brothers, heard the one about Hansel and Gretel. This year Grimms’ Collecting Agency will be popping up across London. On a mission to assess the state of the nation, the Grimms will be collecting stories. Your stories... Meet the Grimms and share your tales; who knows what you might inspire... Grimms’ Collecting Agency is a performance piece that will interact with a large audience, provide some one to one experiences and offer a performance of a brand new story each time it pops up!

Hunt & Darton Food Fight, 
Albany Garden
Sunday 5 October, 1pm 
Treated as seriously and adjudicated with the same respect as an Olympic sport the makers of Hunt & Darton Cafe bring you Hunt & Darton Food Fight.
Get ready to roll up your sleeves for some brutally brilliant food warfare. After a series of warm up workshops offering activity vital in your preparation to become a food fighter you will be ready to enter the arena. Take note of the rules and rigorous marking system, as there are unexpected ways to win. Perhaps you will be crowned ultimate champion, or be disqualified because your focus face was insincere, maybe you’ll secure additional points with legwork that deemed as beautifully absurd’, or maybe one of the meringues you threw caused the biggest and most spectacular splat. The rules are set, the pitch is painted and the food is prepared – Fight!

Dean Blunkell; Fibonacci Divine Principle
Sunday 5 October, 12.15pm & 13.15pm 
The performance starts with performers appearing and encouraging the audience to view the architecture, apprentices begin to place models of baroque style buildings while other performers mark out on the floor Fibonacci plans gradually a model cityscape is created under the direction of the architect. At the end the ensemble all dance the Fibonacci, created especially for the performance.

Khiyo; Raga to Reggae
Market Square
Sunday 5 October, Midday & 1pm 
Khiyo is a London band that gives Bengali heritage music a modern, fresh sound. Its radical interpretations draw from rock, folk, and Indian and Western classical music. Khiyo is gaining a reputation as a formidable world music band, performing at the Purcell Room for the Southbank Centre’s 2013 Alchemy Festival.

Stefano Di Renzo; Hold On
Giffin Square
Sunday 5 October, 1.30pm 
Hold on is a circus theatre show using slack rope as the base of the theatrical language, exploring the relationship between a man and the system that governs his life.

Cirque Bijou and Nutkhut 
Market Square
Sunday 5 October, 3pm
When London’s sewers and underground system were first created, six tunnellers were sent underground in a secret mission to find and save the sources of London’s rivers before they became buried forever. Now, 158 years later, during building works for London’s new super-sewer, these curious long-forgotten tunnellers emerge, travelling with their giant mobile water-spurting laboratory in a burst of song, dance and acrobatic displays. Cirque Bijou and Nutkhut invite the people of Deptford to join them as they seek the Source, in a mobile, free, outdoor show for all the family. 

Deptford Community Party
The Albany
Sunday 5 October, from 4pm 
A Bring-What-You-Can Party for all the community with live music and performance

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Kingfishers in the Ravensbourne

Several months ago I stopped to chat to a fella who was hunkered down on a low seat overlooking the Ravensbourne right outside Elverson Road DLR station.

I spotted him first on my way into Lewisham - he was facing the bit of the river that's barely visible from anywhere else, where it runs in a wide concrete channel behind the rail station and into Brookmill Park. At first glance I thought he was fishing, and given the level of river water, that he was also hopelessly optimistic.

But on my way back I saw he was watching a camera on a tripod in the river bed, so I stopped to have a chat and he told me all about his kingfisher watch. He told me that he spent several hours a day trying to get good photos of them, that they covered large distances along the river looking for food, he showed me their favourite perches and told me other places that were good for spotting them.

I was surprised and delighted to hear that there were kingfishers on this stretch of the river - I've only ever seen them down at the end of the Creek although given their range it was probably the same ones! - and impressed by his dedication to something he had such a passion for.

Tomos and his kingfisher photos were featured on the One Show yesterday and you can watch the clip here.

Some reporters get all the best jobs - crouching in a concrete culvert for three hours wearing a bin bag. Luckily they did get a sighting!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Deptford X: what is the value of art?

Our regular annual festival of contemporary art kicks off this Friday with a launch event at Faircharm and rounds off with a 'march for art' on 5 October, followed by Fred's traditional Art Quiz at the Dog & Bell.

In between there will be comics, a musical, film installation, music mash-up, book launch, dinner, workshops and a human chain. And maybe even some more traditional art too.

The theme of the festival, which this year is curated by artist Bob & Roberta Smith, is 'what is the value of art?' Bob & Roberta Smith will be working on a new painting and encouraging people to contribute to a collective response to this theme.

On the main programme I'm particularly looking forward to the film installation by Komori & Seo - not specifically because I am familiar with their work and feel an affinity for it, but because it will be in the crypt of St Paul's Church and you don't often get to go down there, especially if you are a confirmed heathen like myself.

Of course in days past it used to be the venue for parties hosted by the famous Father Diamond - such as the one featured in this film about Deptford (I've been looking for an excuse to post that for months). Ironically the comments in the film about St Paul's Church seeming to be aloof from the community could apply today. The frequently-locked gates might reduce litter and petty vandalism in the church grounds but do little to convey any welcoming message to the community.

But I digress.

Deptford X has a very healthy programme of fringe events, which I often find more fun and stimulating than the main events. I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of the Dancing Builder (live feed here), so much so that I may have to make a special trip on the DLR to see him; anything with the word 'fanny' in it immediately attracts the attention of my juvenile nature, and considering this particular fanny will be in the Job Centre, it's even more attractive; while we're on the subject, I've already done the screw jokes, but there's always room to slip another one in, so let's not ignore Johnny's DIY; and just to demonstrate that I'm not just about smut, I am looking forward to seeing Mandy Williams' photographs of Kentish riverbed despoilation, which will be on show in the Creekside centre and appeal to my love of urban landscapes, warts and all.

There's a myriad of stuff on offer, as well as all the open studios and South London Art Map late Friday opening on the first day, so you're bound to come across something going on even if you don't mean to. You can't ignore it, and to be honest, you'd be foolish to miss it!

Deptford X

Printed programmes will be distributed around Deptford on Thursday or Friday, and available in PDF format here