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Conversations with the Gardener

30 Jun

New Cross Sunflowers viewing We caught up last week with Dan Hudson, gardener with the community garden learning project Greenshoots on Besson Street and Edmund Waller School, to hear about his work with on the collective 1,000 Sunflowers project in New Cross. Dan has been nurturing about 100 seedlings with the afterschool gardening club at Edmund Waller Primary and about 50 seedlings at Greenshoots’ community garden. More sunflower seedlings being nurtured in private gardens, at schools and in community gardens are being transplanted during June and July, with hopes they will be in full bloom in September. He’s also helped scatter seeds in the scrubby piece of land behind the billboard at the entrance to Sainsbury’s carpark and in the beds at St James. He warns though that planting in public areas mean the plants are under “all the pressures,” listing foot traffic and hungry rodents as a few. The scattered seeds are obviously also at the mercy of the elements: they need six hours of daylight (maybe a struggle in the unpredictable British summer?) and a fair amount of rain (slightly easier to guarantee). Given his caution about the seeds’ success, he said they had decided to “attack on all fronts”, and also scattered wildflower seeds, specifically corn flowers, corn cockles, and poppies, to brighten up some of those less-than-welcoming bits of New Cross in the months ahead. If you’re looking after any sunflowers, send us some pictures (#newxing). If you’re interested in volunteering during the summer to keep the sunflowers going, email us at artmongers.studio@gmail.com.

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Looking at the Launderette

29 Jun

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In exploring how creative interventions — what we’re all about here at New X ING —can change the feel of a high street or improve a rundown urban park, we thought we would investigate some local spots where creativity has made a difference.

One such space is Angelo Savoia’s Launderette on New Cross Road. We recently spoke with Angelo to hear how introducing artwork changed how people respond to what would normally be an overlooked spot.

When Angelo Savoia agreed to let Artmongers and New X-ING’s Patricio Forrester introduce some artistic flair to the Launderette on New Cross Road, he wasn’t expecting to turn the shop front into a local attraction. “It’s been brilliant; it’s a focal point. People come in and give us compliments about it. We get people even now taking photographs,” Savoia says.

The focal point is arguably just that. Employing the centuries-old trompe l’oeil (“deceive the eye”) technique in a modern way, Patricio photographed the shop’s gleaming washing machines and then transferred those images to the Launderette’s shop windows. The effect often makes passers-by do a double-take: are the washing machines of that launderette inside or out?

“He came along and looked at it from a completely different angle,” Savoia says, adding that originally he had imagined some simple signage to bring in additional customers and ended up with a landmark. The Launderette’s new frontage came after Patricio unified that particular strip of shops along New Cross Road with waving lines of colour in a project he called the Harmoniser.

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The artist returned to the shop this past winter to build on the windows’ success. In keeping with what Patricio call

s the “otherworldly” effect of the washing machines on the windows, he painted a space scene scattered by flying saucers, or rather, flying tumble dryers. Again, Savoia had originally agreed to an improvement on the faded magnolia walls with a paint colour with the unlikely name of “Pineapple Twist” but then gamely went along with the flying saucers idea. “People come in saying its just a like an 80’s disco,” chimed in the Launderette’s sparky employee Linda. “I don’t know if that’s an insult or a compliment”.

Regardless, Angelo loves the changes and Patricio’s enthusiasm. “Sometimes when you believe in an artist you just have to go with it,” he says. “Patricio’s good…. He takes an interest in the whole community.”

What do you think of the Launderette? Any other spots of successful intervention come to mind? Or spots that could use a shot of creativity?

The Big Lunch: This Saturday

29 May

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We want to give a shout-out for the second annual Big Lunch at St James this Saturday 1st of June from 2pm to 6pm! The event is organised by New Cross Learning, the Hobgoblin pub, the local school and church, who have all come together as ‘Hatcham Village’.

Organisers have already been busy with a big community cooking session earlier this week, preparing a vegetable stew, samosas, German meatballs, and spring rolls. Grow Wild will be running a pop-up kitchen, keeping salads and other such goodies coming. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, the Madcap Coalition will keep the kiddies entertained with face-painting, street dancing, races and much more.

Please come, bring your favourite dishes to share, and join in the Big Lunch!

http://www.thebiglunch.com

New-Cross-ifying Goldsmiths

24 May

What do you say to New Cross-ifying Goldsmiths? Recently we had a chance to do just that: get more of New Cross into Goldsmiths.

As you may remember from this post, Goldsmiths is working on a new masterplan, and the college’s imposing presence on the high street means their plans will affect our community. We have ideas to get our community to affect their plans.

So it was great when we heard that Goldsmiths had asked James Dixon, of the architecture and urban design firm John McAslan and Partners (contracted to develop the masterplan) to meet with us earlier this spring to discuss New XING’s many ideas for the area.

High-priority plans we discussed include encouraging Goldsmiths to open up Deptford Town Hall (including us helping them to provide disabled access) for community concerts, performances and meetings. Another simple step to a better relationship will be making the college’s nature reserve open to the community as well as students.

The college has ambitions to build a new building at the corner of St James and New Cross Road. We proposed designing a structure with an open-air ground floor (ie a building on stilts) to give New Cross a much needed town square where citizens and students can gather for conversation, exchange and performances. Of course we also talked about the light projections on Goldsmiths buildings and the great X pedestrian crossing across the A2.

Our proposed creative interventions could make a big impact on the New Cross community and the synergy bewtween the college and the community so we were glad that James was enthusiastic about the ideas. When the college presented their Masterplan in a public consultation during April, they included a board showing our ideas (see below).

Getting our ideas in front of the planners gets us a bit closer to getting our ideas put into practice.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas about how Goldsmiths can impact New Cross? Feel free to comment on this article and join the debate.

community board

1459 CONSULTATION BOARDS A1 community-1

Sunflowers Brighten Spring

20 May
20 cms tall and counting....

20 cms tall and counting….

The sunflowers are making a brave appearance during this often chilly, rainy spring! Here’s a shot of some in our care. We’d love to see any that you’re helping grow. Tweet your pics to @newxing whenever you can!

Shared Histories

28 Apr

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The Lewisham Local History Society has had a chance to showcase a few choice pieces from its fascinating trove of treasures stored at New Cross Learning. They have been working in partnership with the Goldsmiths Collection during the Shared Histories exhibition in April/May.

We were excited to introduce the exhibition’s curator Jenny Doussan to the society so that artefacts of New Cross’s manufacturing past (including Twinings tea, a box of Turkish Delight and the air meter pictured above) could reach a wider audience.

A small kitchen table laid for tea suggested daily life in Lewisham in years past while an iPad detailing the history of the items at all four exhibition spaces reminded viewers of more modern technologies. With Goldsmiths contributing a range of art pieces, including 19th century etchings, early 20th century paintings of local activists, and contemporary art from its graduates alongside Lewisham Local History Society highlighting the area’s more practical creativity, the exhibition connected Lewisham’s rich and varied histories.

Image: Vane Type Air Meter, model C.4, circa 1980, Lowne Instruments, Ltd., Lewisham

New Cross Grows Summer

24 Apr

New Cross Sunflowers viewing

Where might you find a thousand sunflowers turning their heads towards the sunshine—the French countryside in high summer? Or the A2? One of southeast London’s busiest, grittiest thoroughfares may seem an unlikely spot but it’s true thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between local schools, shops and community groups initiated by New X ING and funded by Grow Wild. In addition to brightening the A2, the flowers will provide much needed foraging for bees in one of the only places  in the country with a growing bee population.

Starting this week, one thousand sunflower seeds will be planted and nurtured in pots in schools and homes across New Cross with a vision to bring growing sunshine to the A2 this summer. Local volunteers from Grow Wild, Greenshoots, Common Growth, New Cross Gate Trust, New Cross Learning, Goldsmiths, local schools, shops and homes will be watching over these small seeds in pots and in beds along the A2 and by the entrance to Sainsbury’s next to the petrol station.

Those plants growing in schools and homes will be transplanted over the next few months, with support and maintenance shared among the community. We hope to explore unusual sites for the sunflowers—billboards, roof terraces, windows, balconies, in shop windows and on the pavements—to create an urban wilderness of sunflowers

By late summer, there should hopefully be a landscape of sunflowers, culminating in a Harvest party in September. We’re excited about making the A2 grow wild, grow beautiful.

If you want to help out let us know (email Artmongers.studio@gmail.com)! Next community planting session is Saturday 27 Apr 1-3.30pm by the entrance to Sainsburys. Or join the seed planting session at New Cross Learning baby bounce session Tues 30 Apr 11am-12pm.