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Life in SE5 and its environs

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Welcome to the Camberwell Online blog, a place for free and spirited exchange on anything with even a tangential connection to the South-East London district.

This weekend: Get ready for Camberwell Arts Winter Open Studios.

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Working on Camberwell Arts is like painting the Severn Bridge: The work is never over!

No sooner has the summer festival been put to bed, then planning for Winter Open Studios took over.

Open Studios is nothing new, however this is the third collaborative event coordinated by Camberwell Arts on behalf of studios of Camberwell, and this winter it is bigger than ever, with over 120 artists, makers and creators across 11 locations simultaneously throwing open their doors to art-lovers and gift-seekers.

With hand crafted jewellery, textiles, fashion, ceramics, homewares, accessories, as well as a wealth of visual art from the internationally renowned to the up and coming creatives of Camberwell, there has never been a better reason to visit and shop local this Christmas for something truly unique and support the creative arts.


Download the PDF brochure from our website

The event kicks off Friday 27th Nov 6-9pm with private views at:

And then will continue 11-6pm on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th, with all studios open*


Follow our social media feeds for introductions to everyone taking part:

We also delighted to have a classic Italian coffee machine mounted on a vintage Russian motorcycle driving around the studios on Saturday and Sunday keeping all artists and art loving public fresh hot beverages. We shall get them to tweet their locations so keep your eyes peeled on Twitter: @Sidecar_coffee

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 09.49.53

If you have any ideas of how we can make the event even bigger and better, or if you have any queries, do not hesitate to contact me: camberwellartsfestival@​gmail.​com

Cheers, and see you there!
Jordana Leighton, Camberwell Arts.


*Please note there will be a mini pop up at Clockwork Studios, however their main event is the 11–13 Dec.

Comment now » . November 26th, 2015. Filed under Art, Events, Shopping

The new Camberwell Library has landed…

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…and what a lovely space it is too!

Whatever you thought about the demolition of the old orchard and the total lack of real consultation about the library (Bad. There wasn’t one.) now that it is here, I think it’s well worth enjoying it.

Camberwell Library

Something that surprised me somewhat was that all the books in there are new. Apparently this is not unusual, and eventually a few of the books will be brought over from old library, but the rest will be distributed to other libraries, or sold. [Update (12th Nov): I’ve now been told this may not be the case. Will check and get to the bottom of this on Friday.]

The selection books is much wider than before, I got rather excited by the selection of art books that I otherwise could not afford.



There are a lot of events on both during the day, and in the evening, including some talks from well known authors at one end like Lionel Shriver this evening and Stella Duffy in a few weeks time, and (ahem) me somewhere beneath that!

I went to the talk by Dorothy Koomson which was well attended and very interesting but you must email southwark.​libraries@​southwark.​gov.​uk to book most of the talks. Having said that, the Dorothy Koomson one was theoretically fully booked but not everyone turned up, so you may be able to wing it!


Dorothy Koomson Talk

Talks and events over the next month or so. Click on the photos to get full size images.

A full list of events is on the library website here: Camberwell Library Website.

The Children’s section of the library seems to be very, very popular. There were about 50 kids and parents there the other day for a storytelling session.


A very well attended storytelling club for toddlers.

The library itself is mostly on one floor, but upstairs there is a long bench where you can work and study, with sockets for laptops.

Upstairs Study area

There librarians have also brought in exhibits from the Cuming Museum relating to Camberwell, and also pictures of Camberwell are being put up from the Southwark Art Collection.

A real (not live) Camberwell Beauty, A Samuel Jones jigsaw and old map of Camberwell.

The Camberwell Palace, which used to be on Denmark Hill where Butterfly Walk is now.


Who knew Camberwell had a toll gate once?


A tablet to commemorate men signing up to fight in WW1 in Camberwell.


Some thought has also gone into the outside areas. The trees in front of the Magistrates Court now sport some really nice little bird boxes!


I also love the welcome to Camberwell vinyl at the entrance to the library. If you look carefully, you’ll find a lot of Camberwell institutions, including the Art School, St Giles, and even Sophocles and Crusons!

The Camberwell Cartoon.

Which brings me nicely to a plug for a talk I’m doing this Friday 13th November at 7.30pm. [Updated 13/11 to correct the time)].

I was rather chuffed to be invited to do a talk on my photography series 36 Reasons To Love Camberwell. Unlike the other talks you don’t need to book, just turn up.

There will be a short question and answer session about the original project by the Head Librarian, Mark, and me. Then we’ll be opening up the floor to everyone and discussing the changes around Camberwell in the last few years, and those changes coming.

I’m going to update the series, and the discussion will form the basis for new photos and eventually a new book some time next year.

So please come along. It would be lovely to see you all, and while you are at it, you can have a look around this fantastic new edition to Camberwell.

36 Reasons


22 Comments » . November 11th, 2015. Filed under Art, Development, Events, General, Guest Author, Places

Halloween Silent Film Night

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Piccadilly (1)

On Halloween night, Saturday 31 October, at 7 pm, St Giles’ Church will be showing 1929 silent film Piccadilly with a live band and Camberwell Community Choir.

Directed by E.A. Dupont, Piccadilly is a story of ambition, desire and jealousy. Nightclub and restaurant owner Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas) is enjoying tremendous success, largely due to his dancing stars Vic (Charles Laughton) and Mabel (Gilda Gray). That success begins to waver when Vic leaves for Hollywood after a heated argument and Valentine is forced to try out a new act, a scullery maid from his own kitchens, Shosho (Anna May Wong). Set in roaring 1920’s London, Piccadilly is notable for qualities not typically associated with British silent films: opulence, passion and a surprisingly direct approach to tackling the issues of the day.

It’s the third time St Giles’ has put on a silent film with live music — and this year’s screening hopes to build on the success of last year’s film, Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A tale of the London Fog. The film will be accompanied with jazz played by a live band and a solo pianist together with Camberwell Community Choir. Some of the songs which are due to be performed were original hits for the band featured in the film itself — The Savoy Orpheans led by Debroy Somers.

Tickets for the film will be available at the door (£8, or £5 concessions). Or you might want to buy combined tickets online at where for £12 you can buy film tickets and tickets for a speakeasy-themed night in St Giles’ crypt, featuring the band after the film screening till late.

Halloween / period outfits welcome! 

4 Comments » . October 25th, 2015. Filed under General

Theo’s Pizzeria

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Theo’s Pizzeria opened just over a week ago, but I hadn’t the opportunity to visit until yesterday (Sunday) evening. I dropped in at about 6.30pm and it was pretty busy already, and got progressively busier as I was there. This is great for them, but had a few drawbacks.

The space itself is quite lovely; clean, bright, modern. The layout remains similar to the former Johansson’s, with three main spaces: a dining room, a bar/counter, and a small connecting room. The major changes are the new toilets (three very spacious unisex stalls) and the bar/counter, with the big new pizza oven and a small bar selling a couple of local craft beers. The garden has been spruced up, although it has no outside seating yet.

I had a few niggles about the service. First, we were shown to a seat and told to order at the bar, but when we went to the bar to order we were told it was table service—so we went back to the table to order. We ordered a starter of oven-cooked onion and mortadella, but were brought onion and burrata (it was replaced quickly). At the end we asked for the bill to be brought over, but had to go to the bar to pay as no-one remembered (the guy serving at the counter seemed quite overwhelmed). This is all mitigated by the awareness that the place hasn’t been open long, and they’re all things that can easily be ironed out.

The big question, of course, is: how good is the food? We ordered a Margherita with sausage, and the Camberwell Scotch Bonnet Nduja. Both were very, very good. The dough is excellent, and cooked very well, puffed up and slightly blackened by the wood-fired oven. The toppings were plentiful and tasty; lots of tomato, lots of mozzarella.

This is, without doubt, the best pizza in Camberwell—and you can extend that out to Peckham, Walworth, and the surrounding areas. It’s major competition would probably be Franco Manca in Brixton, and for me it’s not quite as good (and a little more expensive). The two are very, very close, however, and I really look forward to seeing how Theo’s improves in the future—I know from a quick chat with owner Theo Lewis that in the near future there will be a daytime menu featuring panuozzo, a type of pizza sandwich.

Theo’s is a very welcome addition to the area, and I’ll certainly return—I can already see myself buying a takeaway from there and eating it across the road in Stormbird…

Update: Went back again last night (8th November). All the service issues had been ironed out, and the food was great — roasted onion and burrata starter, anchovy pizza main.

51 Comments » . October 12th, 2015. Filed under Eating & Drinking