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. Must give Buddha Jazz a go.

    Anyone know what the pub above Denmark Hill station is like these days?? I used to enjoy the frulli there.

  2. The Phoenix. Pretty good. Particularly nice to have pint on the steps at sunset on a warm day.

  3. Fox On The Hill was great until it became a Wetherspoon…

    I won’t go in there on principle — not so much for anti-capitalist reasons

    It’s more a case of them being just plain shite — that what offends me more than anything…

    I hope they do a decent refurb job on my local — The Cambria

    Keep the live footie, that’s what I say

  4. I’m sure Gordon will be thinking of us all — when he’s tucking into his Scottish Game Banquet at Christmas this year…In the only Conservative seat in the whole of Scotland

    He’ll be toasting us all when he’s drinking the finest single malt and smoking the smoothest of cuban contraband cigars rolled on the silkiest of female thighs

    I’m certain of that…

  5. So — now Ray Lewis, the Mayor’s deputy for youth affairs is not going to face an investigation because it would be “an inappropriate way to spend public funds”. At this rate, his replacement is likely to be Walter Mitty. Two advisors gone in so many months! Now, there’s a track record, Boris!

  6. The Jonathan Swift spin on things, Alan, when a politician says waste less food, is to illogic that to say he means eat less. Swift’s “Modest Proposal” was that the Irish should eat their children, if they were so hungry, and since they had so many children. Food wastage is as much a matter of transport and storage as proligacy — the more sophisticated the methods of bulk transport and chilling, the greater the variety and availability of foodstuffs at a lower price. government from on high will argue that the only real way to stop wastage is to stop eating. Many a time in the pub pissoir has one fellow turned to another to wheedle in a tiny voice and as though the jest was being heard for the first time ever in the history of pubkind, “It’s all money darn the drain, innit?”

    Rising food prices will see more people clutching at the underside of eating economics, rather than surfing the surplus. That’s what happened in the 1950s, it was simple, you were always a bit hungry.

    Gordon Brown is praised by many for the detailed way he handled the national purse strings and is now criticised for fiddling with the minutiae of national governance. It’s the world economy around him, stupid, the stupid world economy which is perched on insane discrepancies, that ironically will do for Gordon Brown and hit this trade-based country relatively hard.

    The Kentish Drovers in Peckham near the library is a Wetherspoons where one may sated for a tenner in the kind of pub atmosphere that is disappearing along with its tobacco-stained denizens and their enormous tax gift to the nation.

  7. @58 — disgusting behaviour from Porsche. They’ve ridden Ken’s gas-guzzler policy largely for publicity benefit and received the kind of Top Gear commercial goodwill that ad space can’t buy. Having got the policy they want they should not have punished Londoners for their place in the electoral cycle. Boycott Porsche (I guess that just means the sunglasses and key rings for most of us).

    I would have expected Mayor Johnson to negotiate a better settlement, failing which he could have let the case ride, and Porsche would have lost because it is up to the Mayor to decide policy. There’s no human right to go 0–60 in town in 3.5 seconds at cost.

    Yams are high in oestrogen, which complements the local water supply very well.

  8. No sign of the majority of bloggers, grumpy men, turning into ladies yet! Why should 4 x 4s have been penalised? That was a political style thing, which would have been unfair to a vast array of owners. The black Hummer often seen near Rye Lane — “What ees eet?” “Eet’s a Hummer!”- was parked in Walworth the other day. The 4 x 4s sure are daft — they were a sort of post 911 panic buy, spurred on by the popularity of the new generation of Toyota pick-ups driven by the Taliban — biggest automotive TV advert ever.

  9. Kentish Drovers – a prime example of the genre.

    I’ll wimp out, though… my preferred pubs in Peckham are Bar Story (younger hipster crowd) and The Gowlett (30-something hipster crowd).

  10. That bar above Denmark Hill station. That’s where my local, local friends used to go and served booze aged 15.

    It’s been re-tooled a few times since, with ambitions (delusions?) of going up-market. It’s kind of worked.

    Alan Dale’s got it right – it’s best to get a beer and catch a few evening sun rays on the steps.

  11. Back to politics & house prices… the best way to get a re-rating of house prices around here is surely to help the poorest and most disadvantaged through investment in community projects and public spaces of all kinds.

    Relative gain is certainly achievable for property (part) owners in and around Camberwell.

    Reg, I’m generally against increasing housing density. The place is crowded enough as it is. So for that reason, Dulwich residents did the right thing.

    If history tells us anything, the last thing we need is government planning, aided by bent developers, of more housing estates in Southwark.

  12. D‑MAN@65 re Dulwich residents — sure they did, and as a result they have a healthy quotient of amenities to residents.

    But we didn’t. And it was a good time for Camberwell representatives to protest at the Dulwich double-standard. The result is that, because each Council must build a certain number of homes per year, they will get built in areas already largely overcrowded and amenity-poor if considered in terms of existing residential density, such as Camberwell.

    My solution would be to immediately bar any developments containing car parking spaces, to block all conversions away from retail and leisure uses, and to compulsorily purchase shops converted to flats in order to let them at true market rates to independent traders. And, of course, dedicated free short stay parking on-street, which is what has helped Herne Hill a lot.

  13. Speaking of Dulwich, did anyone see the story about English Heritage’s newly-updated list of listed buildings at risk? SE22 has a few, as we also do here in SE5.

    The English Heritage website has a searchable database — Southwark brings up about 35 at-risk places. In SE5 they include the scaffolding-covered tower on Wells Way (“Chimney attached to former public baths and wash house built 1902 by Maurice Adams… Condition: very bad”) and the Georgian house on the corner of Addington Square — which, last time I looked, was being refurbished.

    But the one I was most intrigued at is over the SE22 border, a crumbling, neo-Gothic near-mansion at 549 Lordship Lane. I’ve never seen it but will have to take a look:

    “House built in 1873 by Charles Drake of the Patent Concrete Building Company. Mass concrete walls, rendered, with artificial stone dressings and slate roof with crestings. Serious structural problems. New build works on the site have breached planning permission and local authority has issued Compulsory Purchase Order and a Dangerous Structures Notice. Public Inquiry pending.”

    Apparently it is believed to be England’s only surviving example of a 19th century concrete-built house.

    Any local eccentric millionaires with a taste for heritage out there?

  14. It’s our Harriet minding the shop at Prime Minister’s Questions again today. I missed this, but apparently after her last (sort of) storming performance against William Hague, SE5’s (well, SE24’s) finest has been talked of as a possible replacement should Brown fall on his sword/get stabbed in the back. Really? Well, it’s in today’s Sun.

    Political pundit Andrew Rawnsley makes this very sage point: “You know things are bad when Harriet Harman thinks she’s got a chance.”

  15. That crumblig gothic grange on Lordship Lane is a hell of a sight. Fantasy amounts of money would have to be spent on it to get it right, unless it is kept as it is with some ghost train mechanical bats installed and owl hootings broadcast at night. Interesting, PeteW. That gothic parliament on the other side of the river ditto.

  16. H Harman looks like Delia Smith. Both are quite fit, in a MILF sort of way.

    However, I’d rather Delia was running the country than HH.

    Sadly with HH’s majority in our ward there’s almost no point voting against the cow.

  17. @Phil G
    .……Because we all vote on the basis of how “fit in a MILF” (no idea what that means, I’m afraid) “sort of way” the candidates are. Suddenly, universal suffrage (look it up!) doesn’t seem such a great idea after all. I could look up “MILF” as well, I know, but I don’t think I’d like the answer.

  18. It means “Mom I’d Like to Fuck”. The word comes from American porn as viewed by pungent adolescent boys. PhilG is being vulgar. Honestly, people from East Dulwich read this website, looking up to us for our organic verbiage, eclectic intellect and high-mindedness. I think Missy deserves a big hurrah and e‑hug for her somewhat courageous report from the front line.

  19. amusing bendy bus story to share -

    yesterday, I caught the 436 from Victoria to the Green. As normal, it announces each stop just before you reach it.

    As it approached the Green, it announced “Camberwell Green”. Fine.

    Then followed a second announcement: “Please have your tickets ready for inspection at the next stop”.

    I swear I haven’t seen people move so fast. As it happens, I was getting off anyway but I nearly got knocked over in the rush.

    I shook my head and laughed — and then thought “damn, even more reasons not to swipe my oyster card in future”. I mean, if they’re going to give you advance notice.

    Is this part of TFL’s policy to cut down on fare dodgers — simply telling them to get off so they don’t have to fine them.


  20. They call me blood, they call me rude boy, they call me oy, they call me mate. That’s not my name!

  21. I was on the top floor of a double decker last week and heard the same “Please have your tickets ready for inspection at the next stop”. announcement; my heart skipped a beat; no one else stirred; and there was no inspection. Does this mean something?

  22. THE POLITICS SHOW midday BBC1 today Sunday 13 July. Should be interesting. I was interviewed for a piece looking at the plight of pubs in Britain (currently closing, never to reopen, at a rate of about four a day).

  23. Hat tip to Mark D for pointing the way to watching the Politics Show; it was an interesting piece on the future of pubs in the UK. Worth checking out “The decline of the English pub” by Christopher Hutt, if only because it was published in 1973 and some of the issues in the early 70’s were similar to the issues of today. (If anyone’s interested I can put my copy up for sale on ebay with a hefty reserve price 😉

  24. Much of the Dagmar family has lurked in Camberwell Grove visitor centre like ghosts of urchins past, showing an interest and making encouraging noises to the sales execs. We had an invite to the launch weekend but could not face sharing the same room with cava-drinking tumbleweed. What a sod that the new development comes post-crunch.

    Camberwell is funny. If you have the recession dread, you always see lots of people in crutches in the town centre. But there really are always lots of people on crutches in the town centre, like ghosts of crutch people past, who still seek the well.

    Never mind! There was an interesting documentary on Ian Curtis and Joy Division on the box last night. Or was that last year?

    Anyway, the Martin Creed artwork of people running down the main hall of Tate Britain is really good. It really is a local must-see and is free.

    Once we were there and this nice lady in one of the rooms suddenly started singing beautifully, “This is propaganda, you know it is, you know it is.” That was dead cool.

    Tate Britain is dead cool, so is Dodds for going on the box to support the small pubs. If there was a nuclear attack announced, what would we do? Have sex? No, we’ve be too uptight. We’d go down the pub.

  25. No, I’d never vote for HH no matter how fit she was. Her work at the then DCA was deplorable and thank God her own party had the sense to water down her bats “equality bill”. Just what the country needs right now. Still, I’m sure you love her Mushti. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas and all that.

  26. SG — great bendy bus story.
    Those new bus announcements — I see the point of them, almost, but they’re just so loud!

  27. hi Pete — I don’t know as I was getting off anyway.

    I could see a few inspectors standing at the stop on the other side of the Green though, so maybe.….… mind you, I don’t think there were many people left on the bus 🙂

  28. @92 Phil G
    OK — cards on the table — I did vote for her, yes. But I too did not like the sound of that “Equalities Bill”, because it aimed to positively discriminate in favour of women, ethnic minorities, etc in employment law and I think that would actually damage the working reputations of those very people. I don’t think there’s an easy way to equality in employment. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I love her and don’t be so hard on yourself, calling yourself a turkey!

  29. + URGENT + URGENT + URGENT + URGENT + Does anyone know of a washing machine engineer in the area?

  30. Slightly OT — does anyone have a good and trustworthy cleaner that they can recomend? I need someone to come in about once a week for an hour or two to clean and iron. please let me know. I would rather not go through an agency.

  31. Has anyone had experience of “1st Call Washing Machine Repairs” on the South London Press website?

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