Tag Archives: art

The Urban Art of Friendliness and Fun

18 Jul


…bit late sharing this (four days after the event, but anyways).

So I really enjoyed reading Brixton Blog’s account of last weekend’s Urban Art Fair on Josephine Avenue.  And I totally agree that the standard and diversity of the art and the artists exhibiting was incredible.  I was particularly into the colourful, optimistic, super textured paintings of Alce Harfield, the enchantingly imaginative work of children’s storybook illustrator, err, let’s call him Wilf (I can’t find his card anywhere, sorry Wilf).  And it was so refreshing, among a sea of screen printed maps of London areas (I love a locally themed screenprint, but there are a lot of ’em around these days is all I’m saying) to see Angelique Hartigan’s vibrant paintings which use her trademark explosions of colour to create optimistic, dream-like representations of some of my favourite local areas; Crystal Palace, West Norwood and of course, Brixton itself.

BUT.  As well as all of this I wanted to give an account of the other side of the Urban Art Fair.  The side that saw little Nancy and I skip away happy, inspired and feeling reassured of why we continue to live in London (obvs. I can’t be sure that this is what Nancy was thinking, but it certainly seemed that way) on what was one of the hottest, most oppressive days of the year when we could’ve easily been feeling like this instead (I’m not tropical, I am not a toucan, after all).

We probably spent a couple of hours there on Saturday afternoon, and from the minute we left our steaming oven of a car, we felt the vibrant buzz of Brixton as families and groups of young people came and went from Brockwell Park, headed for a cooling drink at the Effra Social or making there way, like ourselves, to the Urban Art Fair.

As we turned the corner onto Josephine Avenue we were struck by Alce’s powerful paintings of bright florals and calming seascapes and the artist herself sitting in the door of her camper van.  We had a lovely chat with her about her life in Somerset and how that compares to London, about her work and about how Nancy immediately started seeing ‘Nonnies’ (translation: lollies) in her paintings.  Clearly her way of telling me she was hot!

As we walked down the road, we had more chats with the artists and the residents of Josephine Avenue.  One asked Nancy to spot the tiger in one of her paintings, another who had a six month old baby herself and was happy to be located under a tree, asked Nancy’s name and helped me located the nearest ‘nonnie’ shop.  We stopped for a while at ‘Chat among the pigeons’, a kids’ area set up by Josephine Avenue residents on the green space outside their houses.  There Nancy and myself attempted hula-hooping, were shown an interesting expanding ball (Nancy was fascinated) and were invited to do some jewel sticking.  When the need for a nonnie was too much we set off to find Sainsburys and on the way met other local residents serving food, playing music and happily picking up litter.  On our return we had no less than four enquiries as to the type of lolly we were eating (it was a Fab) and a huge barrage of compliments from one artist to explain to us how beautiful my daughter is (I agree).

So my point being that it wasn’t just an amazing display of awesome art, but also of how these incredibly warm, generous, creative and diverse communities exist within London and how they can come together to create a wonderful weekend full of colour, fun, creativity, kindness, laughter and (a lot) of sunshine.

I just cannot believe that you can get this in the country or the suburbs – I’m staying.


Look what I found – Chris Green’s awesome ink drawings

21 May

In a moment of weakness I succumbed to the temptation to buy myself a coffee on the way in to work (I’m supposed to have given up coffee, umm).

But I’m so pleased I did, because inside The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs on Leather Lane I came across an amazing ink drawing of Kings Cross by an artist called Chris Green.  This is the kind of art I love – stuff with real depth and detail which at the same time reflects a delightfully wonky version of reality.

Chris Green - Shoreditch View

I found a bit of info about Chris and some more examples of his work over here: Student stories: Chris Green.

Can art change the world?

15 Mar








JR’s ‘Women are heroes’ project in Favela Providencia, Rio

I haven’t posted for quite some time.  And although this week I wrote two or three drafts to explain why and to start writing again, I just wasn’t happy with any of them.  I was either complaining about how tough it is to be a working Mum, or moaning about how exhausted I am after dealing with illness-after-illness.  And if the last couple of months has taught me anything, it’s that a calm state of mind and a positive attitude is the only way to get through these phases with my sanity, relationship and well everything really, in tact.

So I’m not going to talk about it at all.  Instead I’m only going to focus on the things that make me feel happy, inspired, balanced, calm.  For good.

With that in mind I thought I’d share a video of this man I absolutely love.  He’s one of the most inspiring discoveries I’ve ever made – French Artist, JR.  In this video, which he uses to announce his incredible project – Inside Out, he asks ‘Can art change the world?’

Now since I had Nancy, I see her in the face of every vulnerable person or cat (!) I see.  I can’t help but think of the woman (or mama cat) somewhere out there who thinks about them constantly and whose greatest wish is for them to be safe and happy.  Someone who, like me, wants to believe that the world is a great place; full of love, opportunity and fun that means their child’s future will be great.  That all that is wrong with the world can be fixed.  That people are inherently good, if sometimes a little ignorant or misguided.


JR says “Art is not supposed to change the world.  Or practical things.  But to change perceptions.  The fact that art cannot change things makes it a neutral place for exchange and discussion which then enables you to change the world.”

So what this reminds me is that moaning gets you nowhere.  Being angry changes nothing.  In fact, this negative energy is most likely to push people away from you and your issue.  If you really want to change it, channel that energy into something that makes people stop and think.  As JR says ‘what we see changes who we are’.  Art, creativity, ideas draw people in and make them to come to some kind of conclusion on their own.  Don’t be angry, don’t spell it out for people, but appeal to their curiosity and you can make a change.

So now to use Inside Out to change the perceptions around working Mums?!