Make Your Own Damn Festival!

Peter has very kindly agreed to a guest post to let you all know about what’s happening in the Camberwell Arts Festival over the next few days. 

The Big Event in Myatts Field on Saturday was a wonderful opening to the Festival ( HUGE thanks to Laura and the team at Home Live Arts) with a real celebratory feel.  The piano on  Camberwell Green is also proving to be a hit — around 20 people were gathered there for the Scratch Choir practice yesterday evening.  Fitting the Festival’s theme of ‘Make Your Own Damn Festival’, the Scratch Choir is made up of any random soul who turns up, and will be giving a final performance on the Green on Friday evening.  In the meantime, the piano is there for all other random souls to play and sing as the mood takes them.  On Thursday evening there will be an ‘All-Comers Concert’ so get down there if you can play, or even if you can’t.

If you fancy being musically creative in other ways, on Wednesday evening the Complaints Chorus will be setting people’s Camberwell moans and groans to music in the Arts Bar.  Drop in to air your grievnaces, and hang around to see comedian James Sherwood’s take on the area later in the evening. 

If music ain’t your bag, then no fear becuase there’s other ways to get creative instead.  This evening people can drop into the Arts Bar to make posters to hang in windows (you can do this at other venues around Camberwell throughout the Festival too, such as Hosue cafe).  On Wednesday there will be a life drawing class with a difference at the Castle — burlesque artistes and others will be your models as they perform.   And, if you’re still not satisfied with these creative opportunites then get down the Sun and Doves on Thursday evening for a spot of knitting as the Stitch and Bitch crew challenge you to ‘Knit Your Own Damn Festival’!

For those of you not seeking creative outlets, then you might want to try some of the more traditional events — the kind where you can just sit back and appreciate other people’s artistic talents.  Every evening from Tuesday to Friday there will be tours of the Camberwell School of Art Summer Show given by artists and others who will pick out their favourites from what is always an exciting show.  Be in the Art School foyer at 6.30pm to join a tour. 

For something really civilised, then head down to the Grove Chapel on Thursday evening for a concert of ‘light classics’.  Alternatively, head over to the Marlborough for a bit of madness at Creative Routes’ Muses Cafe.

Hopefully, that will be enough to keep you busy over the next few days.  We’ll post again soon to let you know what’s coming up over the weekend.  We’d love to hear comments from anyone who has attended any of the events in the meantime.

All events in the Festival are free.  Full info and details about venues can be found on our website here: (apologies for poor links — just scroll down the page to see everything).

Melanie (Camberwell Arts)

35 thoughts on “Make Your Own Damn Festival!”

  1. There are many felicities in Arts Week. The crucified teddy bear on the railings of the Green on Sunday afternoon, for instance. In the Dog Kennel Hill Sainsbury’s there was an extremely tall lady with long blonde hair in a tight black Chanel type dress and red patent leather, well PVC, clunky, extremely high heels. She clopped round the shop talking brassily into a tiny, tiny silver mobile phone. Even her watchstrap was black shiny patent leather — well, PVC — with a silver watch embedded in it that looked like a landmine. I was mesmerised by her. I was daydreaming about why someone like her could carry that off so well and about where it might culminate. “Nectar?” said the assistant at the till, suddenly, at an interesting moment in my mental meanderings.

  2. Speaking of arts students, I was in the Hermits as usual the other day.

    And I thought, isn’t it a shame that the pub that makes the least effort in Camberwell enjoys perhaps the best trade.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent a lot of time and money in the place, but do you see what I mean?

    Crap decor, no food, no events, no music, no effort, same shit SE5 nightshot photos on the walls for years now. The landlord must be raking it in.

    Still my fave SE5 pub, though if the S+D was nearer to me it might be a draw.

  3. The Hermits was ram packed full to the rafters with arts students on Monday night. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t try that people like it — it’s just an old fashioned boozer like in the good old days.

    The lady Dagmar spotted in Dog Kennel Hill Sainsburys is not actually part of the Camberwell Arts Festival. But perhaps we should consider commissioning her next year, to walk around the streets of SE5 prompting lots of imaginative and creative daydreaming in the local residents.

    CORRECTION to my post, by the way — the guided tours of the Summer Show at the art college start at 6pm. There’s one this evening, and one tomorrow.


    I would like to apologise to all the readers of this forum.

    Many of you will remember my passionate and strident thoughts on Noodles City.

    I felt that their failed spelling was an abomination, a sign of the rot, a grotesquerie which bagged up the worst of modern Britain and laid it at our feet, slap in the middle of our proud centre. I cheered when I heard the council was ordering the sign down (what’s happened with that?). I vowed never to give them any of my cash. It’d be the one place in Camberwell where I never ate.

    So I would like to apologise that, after a few pints, with the rain pouring down, and in a bit of a rush to meet some people, I thought, hmmm, all I can eat and instant service? I’ll have some of that.

    Once separated from my fiver I was thrust a tray and cutlery. The rest was up to me, and the bloke at the till didn’t much give a damn what happened next. That said, there were plenty of signs around the place setting out rules about sharing food, trying to take it away, or not being able to finish your plate.

    This joint could teach the government a thing or two about stretching a budget. The curry was the wateriest I have ever seen, thin, almost a soup. Stirring through the various dishes now and then a cheap bit of chicken scrag would spin up, but mostly they were padded with vegetable fillers, or just masked with lurid sauce. Lamb ribs looked good but were rank, with a strong cloying flavour. The fried rice was rice with colouring and a few peas and that was it. I don’t think there was even any egg in it but I may be wrong. The veg dishes were limp. The whole spread was dreadful, even at that price.

    The one bright spot was the chicken wings, covered in salt and MSG and fried. Hard to go wrong there, so I had a few of them. I was not alone in thinking this, as a bloke sat alone near me had amassed a huge pile of wing bones. He was eating nothing else. I watched as he went back three times for more wings. I’d say he must’ve had about 30, maybe 40. This rather, er, unusual young Chinaman had to move seats because a family next to him were so openly fascinated by his diet.

    Now, consider that 5 hotwings from Morleys will set you back a quid and I’d say that this kid had found a way of beating the Noodles City system, but it was difficult path, and not for all.

    Anyway, I let you down. I let Camberwell down. Sorry.

  5. RE the Hermits

    I think the reason why the Hermits succeeds is it makes a virtue of simplicity. They don’t try and be all things to all people, or some multimedia arts-hub. They just do one thing well: they sell booze.

    A major bonus is that they don’t play music – if I’m going to a local I usually want a chat. If I want music I’ll go to a gig or club.

    For all that, though not particularly cheap, they do pour a very good pint (not sure how hard that is) and the service is generally quick, friendly, and they NEVER do that ultra-annoying thing of announcing “Who’s next?” to the bar, so the git next to you who just arrived can barge in when you were there already.

    That’s my two penneth.

  6. Agree with many of your views Eyechild. And the pints are reliably good. They get the basics right.

    Also I like checking the arts students out. My mate talked to a fit one and I was in awe of him. He struggled though and, all too soon, his dream was over.

  7. Anyone been to the Art College Summer Show? Any good?

    Friend of a friend has just graduated. I am hoping in on Saturday.

  8. Anyone been to the Art College Summer Show? Any good?

    Friend of a friend has just graduated. I am hoping to go on Saturday.

  9. The caravan outside is good, Gabe, the caravan outside is good. Another felicity spotted, not to do with Arts Week, but once you’re in the festival spirit — Spar in Vestry Road has a day glow handwritten flash offer “PILLS 6 for £5”. The weekend will be Camberwell’s big midsummer night’s dream when everyone is an artist of some sort, especially with pills at that price.

  10. RIP Silver Buckle. Been the talk of the day over on East Dulwich Forum. How come they get so much traffic?

  11. i saw sunrise on the solstice this year. No pills needed. But at £6 a batch i guess everyone can stay up all night.

  12. Is anyone familiar with the reasons for the Primary Care Trust take-over of a Doctor’s practice. More specifically, the word is that the Hambleden Clinic (Blanchedown, Denmark Hill) is about to get this treatment. The current senior practitioner is Dr. Patricia Critchley who I’ve always found calm and efficient but who some patients regard as cold, disinterested and distant. Star of the practice has to be Claude Triou — an urbane Frenchman who drives an immaculate red Triumph Stag (don’t ask me whether it is ‘late’, ‘early’, Mark 1 or Mark 2) and has been seen doing home visits (remarkable enough these days it seems) on his bicycle wearing a bow tie. Sadly Dr. Triou is not under contract and will almost certainly have to find employment elsewhere following the imminent takeover. Can anyone shed any light on what has been happening here?

  13. I don’t know what’s more depressing, a shut Silver Buckle or an open one.
    Hopefully the next incarnation will be a good one(and hopefully there will be one rather than just a boarded up shell). In my dreams the folk from The Bear will move in and bring their fine take on the pub experience into the middle of town: it would save me having to walk so far anyway.

  14. Buckle shut? NOOOOO!

    Next you’ll be telling me Michael Jackson is dead.

    I tried the piano on the Green and twas fun.

  15. Fantastic review post, Mel, you should take on the marketing brief at Camberwell Arts, you could remind Dagmar that Artsweek has been called Camberwell Arts Festival for two years now!

    Its been an incredible Festival so far, but the two events that promise to thrill before the pub tonight are Stephen Appleby at the Library in Church street at 7 pm, and The Camberwell Scratch Choir at the free piano on The Green at 8 pm.

    Look forward to seeing you all there!

  16. Also don’t forget the fair on the green tomorrow. I’m hoping the world food will be of interest.

    The Buckle was a big part of Camberwell. I rarely went there but savoured the times I did.

    Had a few pints and a superb kebab wrap from Falafel last night, but the wind today is ferocious, really horrific. I’m dying in my own stink. Somebody help.

  17. I wondered why the Buckle was sheu at 10.30 on a Sunday night last weekend — did it go voluntarily?

    Although it was a aprt of Camberwell life i won’t miss the intimidating crowds of people you sometimes have to walk past when getting off the bus late at night or the male customers who think it’s amusing to try and physically drag a lone woman in to the pub “for a bit of a dance” at 1am.

    That said it did provide a bit of street life and occasionally police presence to that area at night that wasn’t always a bad thing.

  18. @ Drew — I have a feeling that Dagmar actually knows it’s not really called Artsweek any more.

    Forgive me for crashing in again to plug a few of the Camberwell Arts Fest events taking place over the weekend.

    Friday (tonight):
    Camberwell Library, 7pm, FREE

    ‘Join local artist Steven Appleby for an insight into the extraordinary
    world of one of the country’s leading cartoonists. A regular contributor
    to The Guardian, he has published over 20 books, including Steven
    Appleby’s Normal Life & The Secret Thoughts of Cats. Steven will show
    examples of his work, discuss the inspiration behind them, answer
    questions from the audience and sign books.’

    Camberwell Leisure Centre, 6–8.00pm, FREE

    ‘Camberwell Swimming Pool provides the spectacular setting for an evening
    of under–water entertainment as the public is invited to float or dive
    through water to experience a collection of especially made sound art from
    around the world. Wet Sounds is a mobile gallery for sound art, curated
    by Joel Cahen of Newtoy. It aims to make sound art accessible to the
    public through a unique listening experience.’

    Camberwell Green, 2–7pm, FREE

    ‘An artist’s encampment on Camberwell Green. More than 40 artists will be
    commissioned to create art works, interactive activities and performances
    for public consumption, all in the spirit of collaboration, exploration
    and exchange. In the tradition of the historic Camberwell fair, the event
    will culminate with a performance of fighting puppets — Puppet Wars.’

    Plus, on both Saturday and Sunday:

    ‘Camberwell artists create studios in extraordinary places, from garages to
    garden sheds, Victorian carriage works to a disused pottery. Open Studios provides an opportunity to visit some of the major studio collectives in Camberwell.

    An Open Studios tour will take place on Saturday 27th June, departing from Vanguard Court at 3pm.’

  19. Apologies if this has been mentioned elsewhere: the Nag’s Head is up for sale for £425,000. Estate agent’s description includes this: “Cameo Properties are delighted to present this pub that could either be converted or demolished and redeveloped into residential or mixed use accommodation. The existing use class of the property is A4 ‘Drinking Establishments’ although planning consent is not required to change the current use to A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services) or A3 (restaurants and cafes).

  20. The Buckle could be intimidating for us blokes too, and not just because of the male clientele.

    Last time I was there a lady in her late 40s/50s, dressed quite provacatively and with a demeanour that suggested a, er, difficult life, was stood right outside the men’s toilets for ages aggressively eyeing up all the fellers who went past her. I was scared. My mate was terrified.

  21. Billie-Jean. Is not my girl. What a nice evening, balmy. Vanguard Court are having their open studios tonight. The Butterfly Walk Artsweek art art show of photos of art is good — they’re pinned up on the side of the 99p shop.

  22. Blame it on the boogie. Or as gricers say about creaking trains, blame it on the bogey. Or children when they get tummy ache, blame it on the bogey. What a hot day. Down to the art college now to see the sights. The Hermits Cave tonight will be the place to be.

  23. There’s a chance there will be less speculation about Michael Jackson from now on, which will be a relief, and at least a highly confused and tormented person is no longer tormented.

    It’s desperately sad in some way but desperately irrelevant in others. So few people have the life and pressures he did that there is little to learn from the observation other than family and society let one wildly privileged person down very badly. But not in the way that families and societies let down countless millions of people all the time.

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