weirdwalthamstow

Art Night

In Art, Events, Uncategorized on June 30, 2019 at 5:06 pm

“Do you want to go to this ‘Art Night’ thing on Saturday?” My partner asked on the Wednesday.

I hadn’t heard anything about it, and was told it was a late night art ‘thing’, part of the 2019 Borough of Culture programme. The one that apparently needs to put more resources into advertising its major events.

Anyway off we trotted to Crate on the Saturday evening. There were plenty about and we got there about 8:15PM. My partner grabbed a guide and while there we went into one of the Crate containers for our first bit of art. It was an installation with sound from two speakers and flickering video footage projected on the wall. So the pretentious wank quota was filled very early on.

Apparently there was meant to be a march with a pride float but that hadn’t started by that point. Time, as you will see, became our own theme for the evening…

We wandered up the high street to Sainsburys to see a big installation in the car park. However it hadn’t even opened and we were told at least another half an hour. So we decided to do a big loop around Hoe Street to the William Morris Gallery.

Sadly we saw little on the high street itself. The infamous fishmongers show was over, the Harmony Hall event was ticketed. The things in the Chequers pub and the library were scheduled and our timing was awful.

But at least we got to see the new rainbow cobblestones on the high street and the metal ones with facts about the stow on them.

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That’s you told, general public!

There was drinking in the town square, so no different from any other night in the town square.

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Apparently there was a film shown on the town square big screen but we even managed to miss that. Still, the frame it was left on summed up 2019 to date pretty fucking well.

We went to the Empire Cinema and managed to catch the short film showing, ‘Pran Kouraz’. It was on a loop but we timed it perfectly to come in at the start. A strange, surreal film about freedom and liberty with fantastic, dream like costumes and a John Carpenter-esq synthesizer sound track.

We skipped over the road to the former co-op bank to see the Bank Job project. This was a recent art project where artists and financiers raised £20,000 from selling ‘Walthamstow Notes’ to buy £1.2million of debt on the secondary market from dodgy payday lenders. And to make this art they put credit notes for all those debt into a van and blew it up.

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You’re only meant to blow the bladdy daws orf!

The centrepiece that greets you as you enter is the van itself, recreated mid-fragmentation, alongside a video of it being destroyed. Wandering through the space you get to see artists printing new notes and we had a great talk on the coins they are minting from panels of the van’s bodywork.

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The press which creates 6 tons of force to stamp the coins

Also you get to see the inside of the original bank vault, which is pretty neat. It was decorated with colour separation plates from the note printing and banking paraphernalia.

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Printing plates in the vault.

Further along Hoe Street in the former ‘Yum Yum’ premises there was a sand covered floor, laundry on the wall and black light pyramids. I swear this is what I think the inside of a cult looks like.

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Glow in the dark! Woooowooo!

While there we were fortunate to catch a spoken word performance about a woman’s relationship to her laundry and her mother’s expectations of what she should wear. Which added to the serendipity of the evening.

Wandering down Hoe Street illustrated the quiet, glacial impact of the evening; a steady stream of people from all walks of life all clutching event guides. We saw abstract paintings and photography in the Rose & Crown. There was video installations on the computer screens at an internet cafe. The little hipster cafe/bar was showing 1990’s protest film footage and my partner was mesmerised, recognising people she’d protested alongside decades ago. We dropped in to the Quaker Hall to find yet again we’d missed the last show because we hadn’t seen the performance times in the guide. The council shop at number 1 had some performance going on inside; I however was enchanted by photos in the window of alien visitors to Walthamstow (sadly street reflections made them impossible to catch on camera).

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See? More a photo of me than a flying saucer over the town hall.

I grabbed a tin of Southern Comfort and Lemonade from an off licence and we sat outside the William Morris Gallery watching life go by a while. Rested, we went in to see the massive hanging installation in the cafe.

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Art stalactites!

One of the highlights of the night was catching the Madge Gill exhibition in the William Morris show space. Gill was an ‘Outside’ artist (as in outside the art school/gallery system) whose work was motivated by her spiritualism.

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I wonder if Gill saw the world this way? Surrounded by spirits and ghosts?

As well as her art it had notebooks with unintelligible scrawls in. Was she trying to communicate with automatic writing?

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This colourful piece fills a whole wall.

We then wandered back to Sainsburys as the guide said the installation stopped at 11. However when we got there they were no longer letting people in at 10:40PM! Well… bollocks.

Swing back towards home we dropped into the beautiful St Michael and All Angels Church for a haunting audio soundscape randomly generated from collected human voice samples. These were projected from speakers in stands that gave them an anthropomorphic  feeling, which were arranged without pattern in the church.

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‘Sitting’ on a bench.

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‘Standing’

Honestly, I could have sat and listened to that for an hour. But sore feet and the call of blackberry crumble at home brought the night to an end.

Overall I think it was a great evening. The point of failure was in the marketing; many people did not know about it until the week before, where we should have been aware weeks before and sharing it all over social media. Indeed there were tie in events in the Kings Cross area. It could have been an event where people got to make use of our wonderful all night Victoria Line service on a Saturday.

Also don’t print coloured text on a colour page that’s going to be read late at night. That just doesn’t fucking work and constitutes an accessibility issue.

Hopefully now we are halfway through the year even greater events are to come!

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Crate review

In Drink, food, Uncategorized on June 23, 2019 at 10:25 pm

So after lunch at St J’s this Saturday we went over to Crate. Having eaten and been drinking in Croydon’s Boxpark a few times I was keen to see the scaled down version we have on St James street.

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Good to see the Pride flags out.

It seems a deployment of two halves. Around the outside of the ground floor are shops and office units. Wandering to the front there is an Italian bakery and a coffee shop, with outside seating (none inside, more on this). It was in use and frankly I fancy trying the calzones soon.

Wandering upstairs there are more food places. Open were a Vietnamese noodle unit, an upmarket burger place and a vegan take out.

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This place will be getting a review before long, I love a burger, me.

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I’ll be trying these too. It’s no wonder I’m fat.

As we’d just eaten my partner and I decided to just have a crafty half. Now, this I what I was really interested in; the new Pillars brewery bar. I’ve been a fan since they invited me to the press opening of the brewery. The new bar crosses the width of the container with a short bar serving both ends. The ‘front’ end is longer to hold the keg case.

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The workings on display. I think the cabinet serves double duty as a standing bar giving a little inside space.

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Compact, over counter taps. They also have canned and bottled beer.

Draft beer prices were £5.20 to £6 a pint, so on the ‘trendy’ end of pricing.

After getting our refreshments we sat out front, which was doing a brisk trade in both beer and food. We saw a good mix of the community (and even the BAME spotting found my partner wasn’t unique there). Lots of families too. A bit of music playing made for a nice Saturday vibe.

Now, here’s the rub; here is only outside seating. There are big umbrella covers upstairs (not in the front ground floor area) with space heaters but zero wind protection. This warm Saturday a cool breeze was welcomed. But frankly I don’t see myself consuming my hipster burger and pint in the wind. At least it’s all non-smoking.

This is a critical difference from Croydon Boxpark. That has a glass roofed, enclosed area for the food stall tables and the bar (the great Cr0nx) has indoor seating. Plus you can bring your food to the bar or your beer to the ‘food hall’.

I’m also reminded of the Rake pub in Borough Market, with it’s tiny room and small garden. They have the space heater umbrellas but also meshing around the wall to almost make it an enclosed area.

The toilets are locked requiring you to queue to get lock codes from one of the shops; inconvenient conveniences. At least the baby changing room is unisex, even if you have to queue with your baby to get the door code.

I hope box park does well. I’m looking forward to visiting with more units open. But I don’t see the food sellers and bar doing so well when we hit Autumn.

St J’s cafe

In food, Uncategorized on June 23, 2019 at 2:19 pm

So I wanted to go to Crate but getting there at 11 found the upstairs bit shut until 12 (I went later on, and I’ll write that up soon). My partner had been to St J’s across the road before and liked it so we went there for our brunch.

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The angle makes it look spacious but the tables are a bit crammed in.

It was full at 11 but a nice guy offered us his table as he was about to leave. We both went for the scrambled egg on sourdough with sausage meat patty (£7.50).

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The food was fine. A bit simple, the bread unbuttered. We were offered sauces. But it tasted okay.

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While we were there my partner played the ‘Spot the Other BAME Person’ game and didn’t see any. Amusingly it was packed when we got there but emptied out in 30 minutes. I’d hope they’d all gone to Crate for a drink and it wasn’t because a brown person turned up! I found it a little busy sound wise; music and lots of flat surfaces add a lot of background echo.

They have wifi.

Overall St J’s is okay. It’s in the same league as Froth & Rind or Wynwood, aiming for the middle class market (yes, there was avacado). I’d go again but given the choice I’d prefer the cheap and cheerful of Jessie’s Cafe.