Camberwell Arts Festival

Drew writing today, standing in for Peter, wearing my “Chairman of Camberwell Arts” hat [and high-visibility gilet]

Nelson Mandela is in London this week, and I offer Madiba an apology in advance for paraphrasing the song he hears most often — Nkosi Sikelele Camberwell [May the sun shine ever bright on Camberwell]. And I say without fear of sucessful contradiction that SE5 has a fine crumbling beauty in the summer sun…

Last week, for those of you who live in our environs, was Camberwell Arts Festival week, and what a week it was. On the preceeding Thursday we had the opening preview drinks at House Cafe gallery, bringing together the board, the artists, the volunteers, the sponsors, the local partners and big-wigs, and the gentlemen of the press to drink some wine and share scurrilous rumours.

On the opening Saturday I popped along to The Bear to take in the small show It’s Your Round in the new art space on the pub’s top floor. It was loosely on the topic of drinking, and rarely for an gradute art show, was very funny, in fact I laughed more than I have in an art gallery for a while, especially the exhibit with Buzz Aldrin’s shoe grit and Posh Spice’s pregnancy test. I was collared by one of the market testing evaluators on the walk down to The Sun and Doves, who asked me a series of increasingly complex questions about the perception of the arts in Camberwell. Only later did I discover that ‘Felicity Mukherjee’ was in fact local artist Lucy Panesar in a personal face to face performance questioning the perception of the arts in Camberwell. Fortunately I avoided the pitfall of praising the festival to the heavens with the exception of self-indulgent artists, having been taken in completely.

 The big opening event was Pub Crawl, set across four venues, and examining the social interactions that come to play in the traditional public house; I made it in time for the second round of Yara El Sherbini’s multicultural pub quiz, which was packed out, and just in time to see the paticipants in the first round moving on to see the Dulwaich Ukeleles. The quiz was funny and pertinent, and although i did not recall the names of the chiuckle brothers, and didn’t know that isac newton invented the catflap, i did know that pakistani actor Art Malik played characters of various nationalities, simply because he is asian. Unfortunately this over-ran a little, so I turned up at The Castle just in time to see the Dulwich Ukes leave the stage in a packed and hipped up bar crowd.

Mrs Mishmash and The Wee Guy went to ‘Paint the Town Green’ on Sunday afternoon, and had a whale of a time, or should i say a dinosaur of a time, printing a self made stencil of a stegosaurus on a t‑shirt, and then made an heirloom cast of his beautiful fingers. You just can’t beat sending kids home with something they’ve designed and made themselves. This event was sponsored by Cowling and Wilcox — if you haven’t been in there yet, you’re missing out.

I’ve been lobbying hard since I took over as Chairman to get more classical music in performance during the festival week; and on Thursday i went to the Music for the Mind concert in the Institute of Psychiatry. We heard some exciting contemporary compositions and a delightful Mozart piano quartet, and scoffed a delightful sandwich buffet; I counted easily fifty people there, all gently soothed and restored by Kate Halsall’s wonderful playing.

On Friday night I went to the Hermits Cave to join in CalumKerr’s Stone Cold Sober. This was conceptual situationism at its maddest; hardenened drinkers were asked to take a pledge, and this pledge was revealed to be a randomly chosen drinker’s aphorism [mine was Brendan Behan] and to invoke their name whenever we needed permission for another drink. All in the best possible taste.

So that was my Festival, and I have to say I enjoyed it immensely, more than I have in past years, and not only becasue I’m on the board. The one person above all others I would single out for thanks is the superb Director, Kelly O’Reilly, who seemed to attend everything in the whole programme; it is no exageration to say the Festival this year is largely down to her hard work. If you see her, buy her a well earned drink.

I’d love to hear from any of you who attended other events e.g. Perunika, Chutney 11, the Walks, Open Studios, In at the Deep End, films, and also anyone who has any suggestions for inprovements for next year, this being one of the obvious places to do so.

185 thoughts on “Camberwell Arts Festival”

  1. I went to the Arts College open day, mainly to check out some of the juicy young things I sometimes lech over in the Hermit. It was a nice few hours. Some real garbage on show, but some of the illustration / animation was impressive. Enjoyable.

    I see SE London is in the national news headlines again today. Sigh.….

  2. Drew. We didn’t get out as much this year but can I just say well done and thank you for what can be a thankless job. I believe the arts scene is a real bright spot ’round here and the increasing profile of the Festival is encouraging. Thank you.

  3. On top of the New Cross story, this one:

    Dee Willis, 28, was attacked outside a Lidl supermarket on Bellenden Road, just off Peckham High Street, south-east London, at about 11pm last night.

  4. Note to SE5 dog lovers — please discourage your pooch from shitting right in the middle of pavements and at bus stops. That is all.

  5. I’d second that one!!

    On another note i see Boris has launched the competition to redesign the routemaster for 21st century use. Anyone fancy giving it a go? The prize is £25,000

    I would say you would need to make them larger with space for more luggage and a place for wheechairs and pushchairs. Maybe the back could be a hydralic platform to allow disabled passengers to come aboard.

  6. 99p store in Butterfly Walk 100 poop bags. It is not about discouraging the dog it is about picking it up where ever it does it.

    Routemaster design maybe it could be 2 single deckers joined in the middle with an accordion that plays a tune very time it goes round a corner. Or has that been done already.

  7. Save the benders and redesign the roads.

    Every other European city has them. Well loads do at least.

    They are really buggy friendly.

    As for the fare evaders then I have never seen anyone dodge their fare on a Camberwell bound bender who didn’t look like they needed to.

  8. I reckon they should do a double-decker bendy bus that looks like a routemaster and you get on at the back.

  9. Sadly have read more about the Arts Festival since it finished; needs more local publicity — outside the usual arty places — stuff through letter boxes then it might attract more locals (or isn’t that an objective? judging by some of the comments on the blog perhaps the Arts Festival is too inclusive).

    Much as I loved the Routemaster I can’t see it returning, nor do I have much confidence in Johnson doing much about public transport in inner London, already the cross Thames tram looks on its way out. Bendy buses, especially the 436, are a boon for fare dodgers, TfL flood other routes, e.g. the 29 and the 73 with ticket inspectors but rarely the 436. On the one occasion I’ve seen them board a 436, about a third of the passengers quickly got off the bus. They caught one guy — on crutches — who refused to pay and two young Polish men who said that they’d been told bendy buses were free as the travelling conditions were so much more inferior than other buses.

  10. Bendy buses should be free and should run between poor areas and central London.

    Wait a minute.…

  11. If the owner does the shit then maybe.

    Whoever or whatever is shitting in our streets needs to be destroyed or at least permanently removed.

  12. Arts festival I agree I found out more on this blog about what had happened rather than what was on, the website for the arts festival was rubbish! a calender of events would have been better. And definitely a leaflet would have been good. I did go to open studios because one was on my street and the other was an exhibition by a friend.

  13. I’d bring back dog licenses and compulsary lessons in animal care for all owners.

    Let’s put in a entry from Camberwell for the bus competition and share the winnings on a bumper night out in Camberwell!!

    Looking at the specifications all you would need to do is take a regular London Bus and create a boarding platform at the back.

  14. I don’t see how you can better eyechild’s suggestion of a “double-decker bendy”.

    Image those suckers ploughing through Camberwell junction loaded up with free-riding poor people.

  15. Butterball, well done for provoking an outburst of concern for quality of public space locally, although dog shit is by no means the most offensive thing to be found on pavements in these parts…

  16. Went passed the Cambria last night and it is definitely closed as the windows have had a lick of white paint :(. Anyone know what’s happening? And where am I gonna watch the footy now?

    Officially no pubs in LJ now, not ones that are open anyway.

  17. Reg when did you last compare your objectives as an online participant to your results?

    As long as your objective is to annoy people and get cyclists, shop owners and tory voters a bad name then you’re doing great. I worry that you may not be aiming for that though.

    My own objective is to increase house prices in SE5 relative to the rest of the UK.

    The rest of the country is in turmoil but here there are two bed houses for sale for nearly £1m.

    Perhaps I should give you some coaching?

  18. joedamage @21

    re: The Cambria

    It’s having a refit as new owners have bought the place and all the people who were renting upstairs have moved out, perhaps they will re-develop the upstairs as private flats? Or perhaps, shock,horror even live there?

    Apparently the rumour was that they wanted to turn it into a family/gastropub minus the live football

    I think that would be a disastrous business decision — but the previous owners have told them so and no doubt all the locals will too when they re-open — there’s never been any trouble because of the football there, it’s a nice down to earth place

    As you say it’s the only pub left in the Loughborough Junction area — but I have a feeling they will bow to public pressure and keep the footie especially when they take a look at the profit margins

    I saw lots of old anaglypta wallpaper being scrapped off the ceiling the other day — I hope that they leave the wood pannelling well alone though…maybe remove the cream paint and re-varnish it

    If they are not vulgarians, that is

  19. SAFA food review.
    Hopes were high for this place as it is one of few presentable places in Camberwell that don’t double as a pub and also look smart.
    Nice service, good decor, poor food. Starters were tiny and overpriced. OUr fish stick things were forgettable and thin on flesh. The rice was good, but so what. Curries all seemed to come from the same tomato soup-like base. We got one dish where the meatballs were raw and sent it back. Quite a relief actually as we then ordered something totally different which broke the tomato soup monotony. This was a jalfrezi and was OK, but not a patch on an average takeaway.
    So, nice place, rubbish food. Won’t be going back. So many good Indians about, why bother with this?
    Now Chatkhara at Elephant — that is AWESOME.

  20. popped into eroma today.

    Must say, the sandwiches look really good. It’s about time Camberwell had a decent fresh sandwich bar — and now we have two (including caravaggio, I mean.)

    I agree with the new bus designs. Simply slice off the back of the bendy buses and put underground like barriers on them, so that people HAVE to swipe in or out.

    And make it exit only at the front and middle, entrance only via the back.

  21. eusebiovic@23
    Damn, I used to watch footy at the Grove and enjoyed eating nice pizzas there, then that turned into a gastro pub and I haven’t been back since. I always quite liked the food at the Cambria too, not brilliant but decent pub food.
    At least it looks like it will remain a pub.

    and alan@24
    Want to buy a 2 bed flat in Camberwell for £600k? Relatively speaking it’s a bargain I’m sure you’ll a agree. Especially if prices in Camberwell continue to rise, which, of course, they will. Roll up, roll up.

  22. That new pub on Coldharbour Lane, the Amaryllis(?), shows football, I believe. Not sure how long it will be open, though. Otherwise, you’re down to The George Canning (no volume, though), The Hermit’s Cave (minimum spend for big matches), or The Cadeleigh Arms — my local, and still the best in the area for football.

    Re: New Routemasters; the potential timesaving of the jump on/off platform at the rear will be negated by the wait required to pass through the metal detectors.

    The old Routemasters are a design classic, sure — that is, unless you have children / shopping / impaired mobility / any requirement for a reasonable amount of space. They’re too small and poky for modern London. Bendy buses are a better solution, they just need to be managed better.

  23. Drew: re: publicity for Arts Festival. We got loads of info. It was in Southwark Life and on your website and several others. Time Out even had it. And lots of leaflets in local places. Of course you can always do more but it is common for people to say they didn’t hear anything even if they did and just ignored it. Folks — it happens every year and these volunteers work hard so do a little quick research and you’ll find out about it.

  24. Newroad I did look at the Camberwell Arts Festival website and I thought it was difficult to get an overview or understanding of what was going on.
    And some of us live in Lambeth not Southwark so don’t get Southwark Life.
    I am sure that great events happened I however only found out about them after they had happened. I went to a lot more events the year before because the information about what was on where was much better.

  25. Alan, how’s your house price campaign coming along? Seems to have hit a speed bump, no?

    It is true, though, that this area is undervalued relative to other parts of London. And it’s a great place to live.

  26. Got to agree with Gnomee — the Arts Festival website would really have benefitted from having an overall calendar of events.

  27. If anyone has not yet got their art fill, check out the summer MA show at the art college. There is some really impressive stuff on display.

  28. No speed bump DMAN.

    A national correction is exactly what’s needed to redress the imbalance between Camberwell values and elsewhere. Remember it’s relative increases I’m looking for. A small decrease here outweighed by huge decreases elsewhere is a net gain for me. Not that I actually believe there will be any drop locally. Solid gold in the hills and valleys of SE5.

    I’ll soon be able to trade my two bedroom ‘cottage in the village’ for a farm, a cottage and probably a real village in Lincolnshire. I can then organise tours to see the seals at Donna Nook and rent out huts to countryside shy cockerneys like my daughters.

    Of course I’m not going to do that until the SE5 Forum have solved all of Camberwell’s ‘problems’ and driven out the car owners, supermarket shoppers and yam pushers.

    As for the 600k 2 bedder joedamage then I recommend you speak to Wooster&Stock. Alan Dale’s Agent of the Year, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

  29. Alan@22 — I would not rule out some coaching from you. Although, as I do recall advising you last year to invest in Scotland where prices have risen steadily in actual not just real terms, perhaps it could be a two-way coaching session.

    I have a few objectives — one, raising cyclist safety and issues of quality of public space I have done successfully. I am not concerned with any temporary backlash based on pre-existing mythologies of lycra-clad cyclist do-gooders, as these would self-perpetuate in any case, well-watered by the motoring lobby. At least issues such as pavement parking and local shopping infrastructure are now thought, and talked about, often for the first time, including at Executive local government level.

  30. Splendid post Alan. There’s an old cockney saying, “Yams in rows like puppies, ghastly deterrent to yuppies.” Let’s hope the St George building work is completed, the place is filled with the well paid and that as King John said, “By George, it’ll all come out in the Wash.”

    The MA show is in the Wilson Road annex till Tuesday so anoraks on the rain tomorrow, eh, and let’s mingle, frown, pout and stroke our beards.

  31. I remember your advice about Scotland. Very good. Proof that it’s often easier to advise others than it is to adress your own issues. That’s why there are so many parasites making a living as ‘life coaches’.

    I agree that you have raised these issues on people’s agendas. I personally am an advocate of many of your parking and speed limit policies, and feel I have learnt a lot from your posts although I now find them a little wearing. I also fear that at times you create a situation where people would not support campaigns they agree with because they find you so irritating. Perhaps some sort of soft skills course could help.

  32. yawn — can we just have ONE blog thread, just one, where there is no mention of property prices, poor transport or rising crime ????/

  33. Has anyone been to the new bagel shop where (I think) the Cyprus Bank used to be? I walked past on Saturday and it looks interesting

  34. What would you like to talk about sg? Or are we supposed to guess?

    By the way crime, like property prices, is falling.

    I got the bus to Waterloo this afternoon and later I got the bus home again.

    Takeaway from Buddha Jazz tonight. Ever tried the ribs sg? Want to talk about that? To be honest I’m at a loss.

    Why are we here? How should we live? How much for a two bed-room cottage with a garage and off-street parking?

  35. Re: new bagel shop. Is it my imagination, or was a bookies scheduled to open there? Anyone know if they had their license declined, or if I dreamt the whole thing?

  36. Bookies, offies, yams shops, fat-food takeaways, plunging property prices, poor transport, rising crime, crime caked cornflakes, cornflaked toilets, cream-caked toy corncrake… Now Gordon Brown tells us to eat less. That is a charismatic leader thing to say!

  37. @ 44

    What did you think of Buddha Jazz, Alan? I had dinner there the other night and thought it had gone down a little bit. The Singapore noodles are still great, though.

    Had the Sunday Roast in the Grove yesterday and it was surprisingly good, as were the starters we had.

  38. I’ve never tried Buddha Jazz but Sing noodles is a dish that I use to benchmark places. If they get it right then it’s ace, but it can go greasy and nasty v easily.

    Will try Buddha.

  39. He said waste less. Not eat less. He really just can’t get his message out can he?!

    Assuming we agree that the overconsumption has to be tempered then should we be taxed on what we buy or what we waste?

    Brilliant Norman. Ribs were cracking. And I cannot tire of fresh rolls and their associated dipping sauce.

    Paused pre collection in the Canning. Lovely pub. It’s so ace in Camberwell that sometimes I forget to breathe.

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