Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Folly for a flyover...

As well as wondering why abandoned roadside factories couldn’t been transformed into giant fortresses, much of my childhood motorway musings concerned the spaces beneath them. Even as a youngster, I worried about what a waste they were: much better to fill them with grand, childish, dystopian visions, no? It’s got a roof already, why not walls? Apparently I’m not the only person to have seen the potential that this otherwise wasted wonderland offers: for two months only, Folly for a Flyover will be turning the underside of the A12 into a brilliantly artistic omnibus. Hand built from local, reclaimed materials, the ‘folly’ will host everything from cinema to canal cruises, from to performance to play. Sounds like a grand, childish, dystopian vision to me…


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Jim Jarmusch on originality...

Why it's ok to steal things, so long as they speak to your soul:

And equally why, if you pinch ideas purely for profit, you deserve to be punctured to death with a pitchfork...

Portait of a squat...

One day Adrian came to our cinema. During the interval he got chatting to some of the occupants of the Picturehouse and asked if he could come round and take some photos one time - he's a photographer, see? One time became a two month project in which he meticulously photographed and recorded the entire vast property, eventually turning it into a website. A project that became as alive as the house was. Here are a few sample shots:

Yes, we have electricity. And running water.

See what I did there?

'Polite line: do not get cross'

This used to be boarded up, now it's fully floral

The floor: a handy repository for bottoms and books alike.

Light tricks in the basement

Not only is he totally handy with a camera, he's also extremely gentle - and interested, as well as interesting - so we were always pleased to have him round. Have a look at the full site, it's quite something. Saul's speech is my favourite, see if you can find it:

Portrait of a Squat

Thursday, 16 June 2011


"C'est tres dur, tres difficile..."

...until you see the little yellow light winking at you and the car pulling in to the right. In that instant it becomes the easiest thing in the world - all you've done is stand by the side of the road - and your heart fills with joy at all the good in humanity. Since you slammed the last door shut, you've stood there cursing it, thinking, almost knowing, that most people are despicable.

It is this constant flux of emotion, extremes of high and low, that is the most difficult thing about it; the most exhausting aspect of standing in the sun, carrying a heavy bag beside a dusty road, is what happens in your head.

Despite these doubts, one does quite often experience an uprush of spirit, surges of confidence that you can do this - that everything, not only in this scenario but in life, in the universe generally, will be alright. These feelings are of the same order of those felt by people with religious beliefs; that they often come in times of hardship or stress, when they are most needed, is proof for some of their design, of a benevolent being watching over.

More likely it is the power of logic, the triumph of reason; the evidence of humanity's collective experience over millenia coming into a blunt but recognisable focus, and allowing a little bit of truth to shine through. I was not alone by the side of that road: I was with myself.

"So I strap on my sandals and I step like Jesus..."
R. Smith

Street photography...

We’re in the streets, we’re on the streets, we are the streets; London is literally the sum of our parts. Perhaps there are those that are just passing through, the lodgers and the country-residing city-workers, those that use it conveniently; for the most part, we stay here inspite of the inconvenience, because we want to be a part, to be assimilated by the city’s streets; gold paved or no, we give ourselves gladly to the grime. Indeed, perhaps we stay because of the inconvenience: the noise, the dirt and the life. Not only were we aware what a slog it would be at times, we asked for it, we wanted it. It is the daily slog taking place on our streets that is captured in this major new exhibition at the Museum of London. From 1860 to today, London’s flaneurs are fixed in film - a century and a half of seductive street life captured on camera…

Friday, 10 June 2011

People's Kitchen...

People’s Kitchen has been providing perfect Sunday afternoons at Passing Clouds for some months now; a collective culinary experience that can’t help but make the soul smile. Using only food that would otherwise have been wasted, every aspect is ethical; gathering around a table to eat after an afternoon’s food prep, with perfect strangers/new friends, every aspect is loveable. This Sunday sees it being better in the only way imaginable: by getting out into the garden and stepping into the sun as part of the Two Degrees bicycle festival. Foraging on bikes and cooking under the arches with a wooden stove, it’s all tres urban utopia. Other deelites of the festival include a Hammer and Tongue spoken word session, Rollapallooza static bike races and the Passing Clouds sound system. Somewhere between hippy and hip, it sounds Sunday heaven…


Friday, 3 June 2011

Trust issues...

In the first week that I lived in the Manor Avenue squat, my new housemates asked me if it was ok if a band came round to shoot their music video. Is it ok? This kinda shit never happened when I was paying rent.

So they came round, and shot their music video. I actually had plans that day, and missed the shooting (it's possible that part of my psyche made these plans intentionally, so that I wouldn't be hanging around with my tongue lolling out, trying to steal drum sticks and locks of hair). When I did return, the band were all gone, but the crew seemed nice and the director 'paid' us with two cases of redstripe and a bag a doggie biscuits for the doggies. Although they'd saved well over a grand by filming in our place and not in a studio somewhere, we hadn't asked for anything, so this was a nice touch, I thought.

This is what they made, in our house:

I'd almost completely forgotten about the whole affair, and had never even looked up the video, until I stumbled on their name in the line up of a festival I'm going to later this summer. Oh yeeeeah, that's that band that came round my house and nicked my birthday paint tin.

See, the crew used my room as a sort of impromptu production office. At the time I had just three things in that room: a mattress, a bag of clothes and a silver paint tin with the words 'Tolerance - 5kg' written on the side, which I got from the design museum in Copenhagen on my 21st birthday. When they left, they left only the mattress and the clothes bag.

It was like being hit in the nose: it hurt, but not as much as it was a massive disorientating shock to the senses. What sort of a rat bastard steals from a squat? From the home of someone who's doing them a favour?

The lesson here is clear: as with vampires, do not invite media types into your home. If you absolutely must, follow them round like a supermarket security guard on the scent of someone scruffy. If you're married to a media type, look up a lawyer. If you have even the slightest inkling that your offspring may turn out to be a media type, don't hold their hand too tightly in the supermarket.

Better still, and if you can locate it, go out and drive a stake through the heart of the first media type you find - before they even have a chance to be invited into your home to peck at your soul...