Thursday, 18 August 2011

Gardening Club, 10th August

I visited the Gardening Club on a lovely day and recorded some interviews with Kathleen and some of the other members. The vegetables are coming along well!

Afterwards Kathleen and I went to the Cuming Museum, and on the way saw some of the shops on the Walworth Road that had been damaged in the riots on Monday evening.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Tate Stores trip, 21st July

Not a lot of people know that Tate store most of their artworks in a building on Mandela Way, just off the New Kent Road. We invited the Lunch Club to go on a tour of the stores, which isn’t usually open to the public, and as a comparison to the two trips we’ve done to Tate Modern.

We were given the tour by one of the art handlers, who talked us through the processes they use for protecting, conserving and moving the artwork around.

At one point we asked him to open up one of the huge sliding racks that hold stored paintings, and I was pleased to recognise one of them as being by Hurvin Anderson. Hurvin is a fellow south Londoner and the painting was one of the series he made of Caribbean barbers’ shops in the area so it was a happy coincidence.

Back at Pembroke House we had lunch and then talked about the experience of the Stores visit. Although we did talk a bit about the way in which we give value to objects for different reasons and keep them packed away, the group also expressed a slight feeling of frustration that all the work was hidden away from view for so long. One woman suggested that the work should be given out to be in the community and be seen, even if it ended up being damaged.

We also had a talk from one of the architects about the new Tate extension, including about testing the gaps between the bricks to see if pigeons can fit in them.

Wonderful Walworth day, 16th July

The Wonderful Walworth day was organised fairly swiftly over the last few weeks, mainly by Kathleen, who also runs the gardening club, with help from various others who all chipped in to make it a great day despite the heavy rain which put paid to the barbecue. My own contribution was the Wonderful Walworth booklet, which can be downloaded from the website
The day included performances upstairs from, among others, Music For Life, the Afro-Columbian band who practice at Pembroke House, the Youth Club’s street dancers and pupils from Surrey Square School. Downstairs were some stalls and I met some great people from the local area.
Our stall included lots of info about Tate as well as my project at Pembroke. I spent the day asking people for their ‘secret Walworth tips’ as well as trying to sign groups up to the Gift Exchange. Also Eleanor Shipman, who I had met the previous week, collected local recipes from passersby. Upstairs Eileen Perrier was taking beautiful black and white photographic portraits of Pembroke staff and others. We were in the same year at college years ago and although we didn’t really know each other it was nice to cross paths again.

Lunch club- objects and Miriam’s last day 14th July

Leading on from our visit to Lamia Joreige‘s work at Tate Modern last week, I invited the Lunch Club to bring ‘objects that connect to a story’ along to today’s lunch, which also happens to be Miriam’s last day leading the club.

The Lunch Clubbers brought in a whole range of objects, including photograph albums, tape recordings, jewellery, postcards, hand made shoes, and more. What I really like about the people who go to the Lunch Club is that they don’t seem phased by being asked to do unusual things, and always seem willing to take part.

I photographed all the objects and recorded the club telling their stories, with a view to eventually including the texts and images in the newsletter. Hopefully I will be inviting other groups to undertake the same task and through this show the diverse ages and backgrounds of the people who come to Pembroke.

Miriam then led her last Bingo game, and there were a few tears as she is leaving Pembroke House to go back to Cambridge. The group seem to have a few of their own bingo calls, including a shout of “soixante-neuf!” whenever 69 is called, and “Was she worth it?” for 75. I’m not sure I’ve heard these ones before, but maybe I just haven’t played enough Bingo.

30th June: Tate trip 2

Michele and I had chosen three works to focus on: a return visit to the Mitch Epstein room, then to 'Tree of Twelve Metres' by Guiseppe Penone, and finishing with an installation by Lamia Joreige which I wanted to use as a way of linking the activity I will be asking the group to do, and also to the Stores trip. Lamia Joreige is a Lebanese artist, and the installation was full of objects that reminded people in Beirut of war. Some were more directly connected- radios, torches, while others were children's toys, cigarettes, and photographs.

After the gallery visit and the lovely lunch, we had special access to the top of the neighbouring building, to look down at the building work for the Tate extension. It is a fantastic view and not one many people get to see.

Prince's Drawing School, June 2011

I have had an idea I've been trying to encourage people to take part in: that each group at Pembroke House or in the local area could make a gift for another group, creating a Gift Exchange where they would all receive something back. The first group to take part was the Prince's Drawing School, who spent their class in June making paintings of the plants in the Community Garden.

17th May: Tate Trip 1

Our first trip to Tate Modern with the Lunch Club members was back in May. Michele Fuirer led the discussion around some artworks we’d chosen as being relevant to the group: Mitch Epstein’s photographs, Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky’s  Incidents video, and Do Ho Suh’s Staircase-III, an installation in the ceiling of one of the rooms in the Tate. The Epstein photographs probably provoked the most discussion, around power and disempowerment, balance and tension, squatting and temporary prefabs. We also talked about the contrasts in their local area- Burgess Park and the Shard, the different styles and traditions in the architecture of Walworth. Watching the dancing carrier bags in the Kopystiansky piece, I was reminded of East Street market after closing time. Afterwards we had a visit to Tate's Community Garden, which is maintained by local residents.

Ali Kaviani- Walworth walks

Ali Kaviani is a local artist and choreographer. He came to find me when I first came to Pembroke House and proposed a walk in the local area. We spent around 6 hours wandering around, up tower blocks, through East Street market, while we talked about our work and ideas. We ended up in the Heygate Estate, a strange place now that so many of the residents have been moved out. We spoke to one of the people who stayed, and decided to start regular walks from Pembroke House. The walks are updated on Ali’s blog:

Gardening Club

Pembroke House has a wonderful Community Garden, set up by Kathleen Murray and run by a group of local residents. They use old council recycling boxes to grow the vegetables in, and offer the produce to the Lunch Club. Their blog is here:


I’m delighted to be working at Pembroke House in Walworth this year, for Tate Modern’s Community and Regeneration team. I’m going to be producing the next issue of the newsletter Tate Modern and You, which is usually distributed in the area nearest to the Tate, but this time is extending its area to Walworth as well. The newsletter will contain material made by, with and about the people in and around Pembroke House.
Pembroke House comprises a modern community space connected to St Christopher’s Church. It was set up in 1885 as a centre for social action by Pembroke College Cambridge. Today there are a range of community groups that use the space, from Latin American musicians to an older people’s Lunch Club, from youth groups to a community gardening project, and lots more.
I’m a bit late starting this blog, so I’m going to be catching up with myself on past events at Pembroke House before writing it more regularly.