Tag Archives: friends

Sharing skills to make a beautiful memory book

11 Jan

Recently a friend of mine went to a wedding and wanted to make a very special wedding present. Throughout the big day she took lots of photos and, knowing there wasn’t a wedding photographer, she wanted to make a photo album.

We talked together about what she wanted to book to be like. She found and gave me the perfect cover paper for this unique book (Mr Men!) and I prepared the front and back covers using this paper and grey board.

We set a date and my friend came over. I showed her the basics of coptic single sheet binding. We practiced step by step on some paper. Our first job was to get the photographs in order and stick them back to back in that order. We used double sided sticky tape along each edge, being very careful that the edges lined up. We then pushed 2 holes along the edge we will be binding, each sheet in line with each other and with the covers. Then we set to sewing.Mr Men memory book making

Our paper practice really paid off. I used scrap paper to sew along but all of the sewing on the book was done by my friend and she was very proud to have produced something so special.

Mr Men Memory Book spineMr Men memory book inside cover Mr Men memory book front cover I had a fantastic time sharing my skills, my friend loved gaining new skills and producing such a beautiful and unique book and her friends were over the mood to have a wedding album after all, and such a heart-felt one at that.

If you’ve got a book project that you’d like some help or advice with do get in touch.

Assisting art in the making

30 Oct

I have had the pleasure of working with my very good friend and fantastic artist Zulema Lily on a series of sculptures and instillations recently.

All rights reserved by Zulema Lily

Zulema works accross many mediums. Check out her beautiful work here

I’m looking forward to lots more constructing, light play and whatever other adventures of inspiration come our way. Thanks Zulema.

A week in the life of a Playworker/Maker: Monday

27 Feb

Being a Playworker and making stuff for a living is a precarious way to live. I’ve got 3 jobs plus the self-employed making. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m going to give you an insight into my week of job juggling in East London. Who else can say their week is like this…every week!

I spent my Sunday sewing new lined notebooks and taking a short trip on the DLR to Greenwich Observatory Park to do some drawing. I love that park, and what an amazing view of the city.

From up there you can see the whole skyline of the city which is currently littered with cranes as the pre-Olympics building work goes underway. You can’t escape it. Greenwich Park itself is planned to host the Equestrian events with a strong local campaign brewing against the plans.

This morning I kicked off my week with the all too familiar travel from Tower Hamlets to Hackney where I went to the house of the family where I work 1:1 with a young person with Aspergers Syndrome. I’ve worked supporting this young person since June 2010 and we get on brilliantly. Spending time together is most of the time a total pleasure. In the past I’ve worked as much as 20 hours a week with this young person but currently we have a once weekly catch up.

Today our task was to tidy a typical teenage bomb site of a bedroom. While we sorted the clothes I become agony aunt, acting as a sounding board for interactions with peers. This kind of coaching is crucial for a young person with Aspergers for whom implicit social boundaries and rules must be explicitly learned.

After we had cleaned the bedroom until the sense of achievement was strongly felt we were off on the bus to Madame Tussauds! What an exciting and fantastic time we had. There was even chance for some impromptu history lessons prompted by Nelson Mandela, Hitler, Margret Thatcher amongst many many more.

I was happy to have the chance to vent some anger at a man both me and the young person I work with know as the man taking all the money away from communities…

After meeting all the celebrities and international figures there were to meet we then went on an adventure to find this famed new Routemaster bus that Boris keeps banging on about. We went to Tottenham Court Road to catch the 38. After all the hype surprise surprise it is literally just 1 new bus which wasn’t in the area when we were waiting. The ‘Vanity Bus’ some people call it…hmm…whatever could they mean by that?!

And then home I came.

Tomorrow morning bright and early I’m on the Playbus in Walthamstow. Looking forward to telling you all about it.

50 ways to deal with change

13 Jan

In a recent house move I took a moment to sketch the space I was moving out of. Some people might call this procrastination from packing, but this was the first sketch I had drawn in months. I took out the sketchbook given to me as a gift by a close friend who has now moved away and left a noticable hole in my life in London and without even the usual intimidation of the unimprovable new white pages, I grabbed the nearest pen.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get into the print studio but with the mulitple other jobs on the go and lots to sort out in the new flat I didn’t have time to organise what I was going to print. I thought of my sketch. With a big stack of black cards sitting there always hoping to have something printed on them, I put the two together.

It was really great to be back in the print workshop, feeling my way around again and printing something that had no pressure, no deadline, no purpose and was uncomplicated.

So, I’ve now got 50 cards with my sketch printed on. 50 little versions of a bit of space and time that no longer exists.

Here are a few (pictured in a corner of the work in progress that is the new flat):

I’m going to use the opportunity to send lots of note cards to catch up with people. And then I’m going to work on top of some of them. I’m going to see what comes out of that sketch. I’ll post any on here that I finish.

Happy New Year to you. Hope you are having some positive new beginnings too.


Sometimes life gets in the way of printing

23 Oct

What a crazy few months it’s been.

Personally I have helped support the young person with Aspergers Syndrome that I work 1-2-1 with to start settling into a new school. It’s a real challenge for people with very complex needs to be understood and included in mainstream settings. Staff in schools are all working at capacity and taking the time out to get to grips with a particular young persons needs too often falls to the bottom of the priorities. In the mean time, a fantastic young person it made to feel like they are the one failing. There’s lots to be done. I hope that soon the school will get to grips with her needs and she will flourish there.

I’ve been working on the Hackney Playbus. We’ve been thinking of ways to loby to try to secure funding for spring. We are currently commissioned by Sure Start Children’s Centres and no matter what you have heard about Hackney’s Children’s Centres not being hit by cuts, they certainly are on a much tighter budget. To find out more about Hackney Playbus check out their website  and if you know anyone you might like to support us please pass it on.

I’ve also moved house but still based in Hackney. They say it’s one of the most stressful things you can do and they really aren’t exagerating. Especially when London is facing a massive housing crisis. There just isn’t anywhere coming up for rent and the places that are around seem to be about £100 more expensive a month than they were a year ago. So I find myself in an unusually precarious housing position at the moment, which has led to there being less printing. I’m hoping to get back to it asap.

Things are getting tough and people are fighting back. The Ocupy movement is springing up all over the world, and London has it’s very own occupations at St Pauls and now Finsbury Square. I went to St Pauls the day it started but haven’t been back. What do people make of it?

And we’ve witnessed a serious fight over the eviction of Dale Farm traveller’s site in Essex. I was lucky enough to hear some of the residents speak about what happened at a meeting yesterday. They are going to carry on fighting and the supporters are going to be setting up a Travellers’ Solidarity Network. I hope to get involved. I’ll post more news as I find out more.

The days are getting shorter but the weather is still beautifully mild. It’s been a beautiful Autumn that almost let me believe that it was still summer. With Autumn comes new beginnings. Not so far for me at them moment but I’m seeking them out.

Well, just a quick message to restart the regular posting. Hope everyone is well.

The Riots

28 Aug

I live in Hackney and I work in my local community. On the afternoon of Monday 8th August, I left my house and went outside. I’d heard there were loads of police around and that things were looking tense. I thought, I could either stay at home and wait for second hand news of what was happening, or I could go out and see for myself. I felt like I understood what the riots were about, and I knew I wouldn’t be at risk.

A little after 4pm I steped out into a thick atmosphere and made my way to Mare Street. I got as far as St Johns church yard garden before seeing a big group of police surrounded by a big group of people. Someone else in the park said that the police had got all the shops to shut and were stopping and searching people. Tensions grew. One person didn’t cooperate and they may have tried to arrest them. The riot police then pushed everyone out of the church yard and away from the Narrow Way. Luckily I’d bumped into a friend and we ended up being pushed out towards Clarence Road. Everyone in the park was mocking the police, shouting over exagerated comedy orders and refering to them as storm troopers. Not many people have got much time for them round here, and that’s not for no reason.

From the top of the Narrow Way we looked up Clarence Road and could see a street filled with young people in hoods and with face masks. Police pushed us away as rocked started flying in their direction. Me and a few others went to Clapton Square and cut onto Clarence Road further up. People were building barricades, the atmosphere was electric but not threatening at all. They were scaring away people with cameras but appart from that, there were loads of people just milling about, watching what was happening.

Some shops in Hackney did get looted or got their wondows smashed. A JD sport, a phone shop, an off license, several bookies, several banks. The focus, however was here on Clarence Road. The aim was a fight with the police.

Terrible things happened over those few days. People got killed, houses and small shops burned. Anger is an ugly thing.

Since the Tottenham riots a few days before, I could feel the tension in myself. The phrase ‘mindless thuggery’ kept going round and round in my head. And the backlash in the media and in the opinions of people who seemed to know little and care even less about finding out about the areas affected. I knew where the anger came from. I’ve watched as the police stop and search young people time and time again. I’ve seen the dispersal zone notifications that prevent young people from being on the streets in greater numbers than pairs, including in parks. On the way to work I go past the site of the death of  Godwin Lawson, stabbed to death in gang violence in March 2010. 1 of 19 teenagers murdered in 2010. I’ve heard young teenagers refuse to leave their neighbourhood for fear of walking down the wrong street. I’ve spoken to youth workers in Hackney fighting to save their own jobs from being cut. I’ve talked to mums about cuts in children’s services. I’ve lost work from cuts to school holiday playschemes. I’ve been on JSA and been treated like scum by job centre staff. I struggle to get and keep work despite good a-levels, a good university degree, 2 NVQs and my best efforts and I certainly struggle to pay rent.

The day after the Hackney riots I went to Clarence Road again and spoke to some people who were out and about there. Loads of people were around. Neighbours talking together. The message was pretty much universal. This wasn’t a supprise. The government had to start listening to young people who now have no future. People pointing to the scrapping of EMA, the closure of youth centres, the cutting of youth workers, the rise in uni fees and police harassment. Lots thought the police had it coming. All of them said that they understood why young people were angry, but that they couldn’t burn up their own communities.

I dug around online to try to get to grips with how the media were reporting it. I found some but few useful, meaningful things. Things from before the riots that gave an indication of what was to come:

In the aftermath of Tottenham:

In the aftermath of Crydon:

In the aftermath of Hackney:

That last video says a lot. A bit that particularly strikes me:

I’ll tell you a quick story. Two dogs dies in a car that was owned by the police. They started an enquiry there and then, it was announced that was what they were going to do. They suspended the officers that was involved. That’s what they did. This guy that got shot, for whatever reason it was, nothing got said. They didn’t even go and see the family. And that told everybody in this environment that we’re nobody. The youngsters are the ones really that are more braver than the people of my age, because they reacted. Because they’ve got nothing to lose. And you know what, that’s a sad indictment on the society that we live in at the moment.

And for every piece of media that talked to anyone involved, that asked questions and that took a minute to think, there’s been a million ignorant, racist thoughtless and useless articles, discussions and interviews. At the end of the day, it’s happening, there are reasons and whether or not someone in Surrey or Westminster thinks they are reason enough is completely irrelevent.

We had the mainstream media giving David Starkey plenty of broadcasting time to tell everyone that he thinks Enoch Powel was right and that ‘the whites are turning black’.

I’ve watched that clip and was pretty disturbed. I recomend watching these rap remixes for some light relief:

But it’s not just Starkey that’s stuck in the dark ages. We’ve had journalists asking why weren’t the police “clubbing these looters like baby seals, which is what they deserved”? which sounds bad enough but try reading the whole article…

There was also anti-Europe Tory Member of the European Union, Roger Helmer who Tweeted “Time to get tough. Bring in the army. Shoot the rioters.”

And don’t forget Mr Cameron, Prime Minister with a grand total of 23% of people in the country supporting him at the polls (that calculation is including those that did not vote) with his speechs outside number 10 and in parliamant which both mearly nod towards his plans for law changes, removal of civil liberties and further attacks on communities that have been bearing the brunt of someone elses bad choices for years
And while you’re watching Dave talk about responsibile youth, take a minute to reflect upon how responsible he was in his younger days

In the wake of the riots we’ve seen councils threaten to evict whole families off the back of 1 individuals involvement in the riots. The first council to announce their plans and serve the notice was Wandsworth. It looks like other councils are set to follow. Westminster, for example, has made the pledge but as yet not served the notices. A group of 20-30 people went along to a protest outside the house of the leader of Wandswoth Council. It was a calm but vocal protest until officers decided it was all a bit too calm for them. They intimidated the crowd and then arrested 1 person for swearing.

People have been handed down extreme sentences for minor crimes, or things that previously weren’t crimes at all. Nicholas Robinson will be in prison for 6 months for stealing water costing £3.50. Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan were given 4 years each for posting stuff on Facebook. Ursula Nevin was given 6 months in prison for just acceptng a pair of looted shorts. At appeal this got revised to 75 hours community service.

Police and courts have also refused bail to a lot of people. People that have not been found guilty of anything and many who are only charged with minor crimes may be held in prison for months before they’ve even had a trial. It seems now, after the leak of the Met Police’s ‘Prisoner Processing Strategy’ this was planned. A friend of mine happens to be one of those being held. We have no idea when he might be bailed. Some suggestions it might not be until December.

And, since the riots, there have been a spate of people dying in police custody or operations, 3 in 1 week.

So here we are. Many are cheering on the government’s moves to further kurb civil liberties and have little interest in admititng that it might not be mindless and that there are causes other than ‘lack of responsibility’ and ‘bad parenting’. As I said before, at the end of the day it doesn’t much matter how many people condem what happened. While the underlying issues are still there, there will be more riots.

To finish, while rap is one of the many things being wrongly pointed to as a cause of riots, it’s musicians continue to tell it like it is on the streets. This is Lethal Bizzle’s Babylon’s Burning the Ghetto, released in 2007. This is the way the streets have felt since before then.