A travel guide to Camberwell

Earlier this week I encountered a group of baffled Australian tourists boarding the 343 bus on Southampton Way, and was cheered when a (possibly slightly over) friendly local actually SPOKE to them and welcomed them to London. But what this incident has revealed, other than to ignore that advice about talking to strangers, is that there is a burning need for a proper travel guide to Camberwell.

What incredible luck, then, that this year’s Camberwell Arts Festival, which starts this Saturday (16 June) has, at its heart, the intention to create exactly that! And we’re looking for local writers, photographers and artists – as well as residents who love the area – to get involved. We want the Guide to be a unique and unusual take on Camberwell by the people who know it best – and are looking for the personal, the unexpected and the quirky.

So, how do you get involved? Two ways:

1. Join us for our hands-on workshops, led by Samantha Cook and Greg Ward, travel writers for Rough Guide.

Travel writing workshop
Camberwell Library, Monday 18 June, 19:00

Travel photography workshop
Camberwell Library, Tuesday 19 June, 19:00

Pub and restaurant review workshop
The Crooked Well, Wednesday 20 June, 19:00

2.  Or email your contributions to kelly.​oreilly@​camberwellarts.​org.​uk

We can’t guarantee to include all contributions in the printed version of the Guide, but we will put all family-friendly pieces online.

But please don’t try and write a chip lovers guide to Camberwell- I’ve put many hours in to researching that one myself!

And there are plenty of other artistic happenings going on during the week. Check out www.camberwellarts.org.uk for full listings.

Camberwell Arts Festival 2010

I’m nursing a strong coffee and a small hangover after last night’s Camberwell Arts Festival opening party, hosted by Moona in St Giles Crypt, and contemplating what the rest of the week has in store.  The theme of this year’s Festival is to put art in some unexpected places, and get people to explore different parts of the area.  So there’s film screenings on a rooftop, (Well)water-inspired installations in various eateries, trails to follow around and about Church Street, and — we hope — three new permanent artworks to — eventually — be unveiled.

The events I’m personally looking forward to this week are:

The Myatt’s Field Park Tea Dance, taking place today (Sunday 20th), courtesy of Home Live Art.

Also today,  Daniel Lehan’s ‘Your Art Here Too’ on the Green, which follows on from last year’s successful event that drew many passers-by to have a go at creating some art and exhibiting it on the railings.

The Green becomes Speaker’s Corner on Monday evening, and, this being Camberwell Green, who knows how that will pan out…

The mysterious promise of ‘An Introduction to the Art of the Funerary Violin’ on Tuesday will, I expect, maintain the feeling that we’re entering the unknown where anything could happen.

Summertime Sounds in Grove Chapel should bring a sense of calm and civility back to proceedings on Wednesday.

Just in time for the Camberwell Beauty (see what they’ve done there?!) Fashion Day, hosted by the SE5 Forum, on Thursday.

We’ll get back to Midsummer Madness on Thursday night, though, as Creative Routes do what they do best in their Muses Cafe in the Crypt.

And the unpredictability continues on Friday with some story-telling and much more from the Honourable Society of Faster Craftswomen.

All of which brings us to next weekend, featuring a pop-up travel agency on the Green and the now traditional mayhem of The Chutney Preserves Fair on Sunday.

Phew!  I’m going to be busy.  And besides all that I have to fit in a visit to the Camberwell School of Arts end of year show, get a gander at the expanded and refurbished South London Gallery opening on Saturday 26th, and have a quick nosy in the various artist studios open this weekend and next.

There’s lot’s to see and do folks — so get out there and have a look.  The Camberwell Arts Festival is run on a small grant from Southwark Council, put together by our impressively serene and cheery Director, Kelly O’Reilly, and relies on the goodwill and enthusiasm of lots of artists.  It’s no mean feat, and it’s something Camberwell should be proud of.  Make the most of it!

Full info about all events can be found here: www.camberwellarts.org.uk

Camberwell Public Meeting

A little while back, as I was talking to one Camberwellian, I said something like, “there’s so much good will in Camberwell but do we need to be louder?” The Camberwellian replied, “it’s always the same people who get to do anything.’ ”

Those same people have done some good work, SE5 Forum, The Camberwell Society, Camberwell Renewal, to name but a few. But what about the large proportion of those who are not in any way involved in any of the mentioned groups? Part of the reason for the apparent apathy when it comes to being actively involved with your surroundings could be lack of information about ways to get involved, or (un)intentional obscurity of available information. One of the things we, the People’s Republic of Southwark, had found out on our monthly events is that, while the cyber communications are significant and precious, nothing beats the RL (real life) people interaction.

So we are now hoping to set up a very very public meeting to find out how those who for whatever reason feel excluded from decision making feel about the demise of Camberwell and how we go about making a difference.

Any help with any aspect of organising this would be greatly appreciated.

Some of the things which I think would need to be worked out at the beginning are:

  • which areas would come under the ‘Camberwell’ umbrella?
  • how would we engage people (not just TRA committees) living in those areas?
  • which officials would need to be involved (councillors/TFL/GLA representatives)?
  • what would be the best way of determining the agenda/running the meeting?
  • what are the current initiatives/issues around Camberwell? Where are they at?

If any of you have experience of any of the above (organising large scale events; lobbying/negotiation with the local government; promotion, etc) please let us know if you would be able to help out in any capacity/for any length of time.

Thank you


Camberwell Social

A few social things:

1. Liliana is organising a general meeting regarding Camberwell, and would like help; Liliana, would you like to write a guest post about it here? I’ve emailed you about it.

2. For those of you into popular social media, you can show your attachment to this blog by becoming a fan of the Facebook page, or sign up for updates on Twitter, which will have brief notes, links and observations that may not merit full posts. I’ve included the latest Tweet on the right hand side of this blog →.

3. What does everyone think of holding an offline meet-up in March? It’s been a while since we had one.

Fun in the (winter) sun

On Sunday a few hundred(?) of Camberwell’s great and good gathered in Southwell Road to help local photographer Conor Masterson recreate the Fun Factory photograph of 1907. You can see some photos of the event here, and a short video here. It was nice to see so many people turn out to get involved, and I hope it provided a boost to the artists at Clockwork Studios, which had an open day to show off the range of arts and crafts made there. Prints of the original and new photograph are available to buy; details are on Conor’s website.

Being that side of SE5 provided an excuse to drop in to The Cambria for a couple of beers and some sausage and chips. Nice pub, nice food, but was a little put out at being moved around by the landlord in order to provide more space for customers (who didn’t arrive while we were there). Doesn’t he know who I am? Then a walk back through Ruskin Park, with a lovely haze providing beautiful golden beams of light.

Dwellers in ‘forgotten Camberwell’ and around may be delighted to know that it seems Tesco have decided to open one of their Metro stores on Southampton Way, if this report on the SE5Forum forum is to be believed (and I have no reason not to). That will make five booze shops in a 50m walk, by my reckoning.

The latest Camberwell Quarterly has an article on a saturation policy for licensing. Apparently there are 76 licensed premises within our borders, and a licensing sub-committee recommended that a saturation policy be introduced; the Council decided not to act on it, however. There’s confirmation of what we heard about the three pitches for the development of the Baths as well.

Possibly have another guest post coming soon, and shortly after it will be Christmas!

Update: I forgot to mention that I finally got around to setting up an email address for this blog. Questions, complaints, compliments, notices, money transfers, etc, can be sent to peter@​camberwellonline.​co.​uk. Please use it wisely.

Update 2: Added a link to buy the Fun Factory print, and made some cosmetic changes to the website; removed the ‘reply’ option from comments, as I wasn’t happy with them, and added support for gravatars.