Tag Archives: art and gentrification

(Not) Coming Soon! Walworth Rd ‘vibrant arts quarter’!

Southwark Notes Cultural Front is acting as curator for this. Late submissions, pop-up projects and performances still sought for this exciting new arts festival! Theme is: Who is the public? How is a culture made and who is it for?

Mail us for details! Please forward to creative types. Website goes live November 5th.


Culture is never neutral!


Spotted on Heygate Estate this week!

Southwark Notes In-house Creative Interns (No Wages, daily Pot Noodle and a Kit-Kat thrown in) spotted these this week on the Heygate Estate. If we are honest, they did make us laugh!

Makes a nice change from what we call the endless ruins-porn photos of Heygate that multiply day by day on the Internet. Oh..the beauty of ruins / brutalist concrete / sublime urban decay / South London safari in the wilderness.. etc etc! Blimey it’s like no-one ever actually lived, loved and died there and it’s like no-one is still living there now!

Council Says Council Not Vandals

This week’s Inside Housing magazine picked up our ever circulating story of the Southwark Council vandalism of the Heygate Community Garden paintings and murals. Here at the Notes we found it interesting that they managed to get a response from the Council whereas no replies were forthcoming to loads of people who mailed the Council complaining about this willful and spiteful attack on the efforts of local people. Does that mean that it’s easy to ignore local people’s communications but appearing in Inside Housing in a way that makes your actions look really daft to other housing and local government professionals needs some sort of reply? Answers on the usual postcard, please.

Anyhow, this was the Council reply to Inside Housing:

Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling, said: ‘Like most councils across the UK, it is Southwark Council’s policy to remove all graffiti where it occurs on council land, or with the landowner’s permission, and to continue to maintain regeneration sites before demolition. This will include further graffiti removal across the site. Overall, we’re really keen to get on with the serious business of the regeneration of the Heygate, which is what the majority of local people want to see happen.’

Three quick points on this:

1) It wasn’t just any old graffiti that was badly painted over! It was a targeted attack on all of the murals and paintings specifically around the Community Gardens and pond.

2) Here are some recent photos of the Council’s tip-top job on Heygate of continuing ‘to maintain regeneration sites before demolition’:

The photos below show two of dozens of holes and rubble left by each flat after contractors came to remove the gas connections.

3) We wonder if Barrie Hargreave’s is attempting to smear the works of all the local people active on keeping the Heygate Community Gardens open for all when he describes how the Council wants to get on with ‘the serious business of the regeneration of the Heygate, which is what the majority of local people want to see happen‘. We can assure him that what people are doing on Heygate is an incredibly serious business. Those people are also highly aware and dubious of any attempts by the Council to play off their ‘majority’ against the local people who continue to enjoy the public green spaces within the Heygate.

The Affordables Part Six

We’re offering a Guest Writers Spot for next month’s The Affordables comic to anyone in the Council regeneration team. Just email us your three panels worth of dialogue and we’ll do the artwork! Email at the usual address.

We feel we have to say something to accompany this instalment of The Affordables and it is this – We wholeheartedly welcome the work of the Leathermarket JMB in it’s efforts to get more Council homes built in the Southwark area. This is definitely nothing to be sniffed at. However we remain tired of the much wider Council regeneration agenda and the faith that they put in it to deliver affordable housing on the back of a massive increase in expensive private homes in the area. Destroying structurally sound Council homes as part of that agenda just does not make sense.

Council records show 5656 council-owned homes demolished in the last 20 
years, including leaseholds bought back.

 By redevelopment scheme these comprise the following:

290    Bonamy
3269  North Peckham and Gloucester Grove
22      East Dulwich
148    Marcia Road/ Penry Street
47      Lamps Court
151     Linden Grove
196     Coopers Road
373     Elmington
324    Wooddene
416     Heygate including replacement sites
96      Silwood
102    Bermondsey Spa
110     Aylesbury
112     Other

TOTAL: 5656

More Heygate Community Gardens paintings

Just a small selection from some of the other Heygate Community Gardens wall paintings and drawings that are dotted around the allotment area.

Oh and we can’t forget this great collaborative effort!

Community Restores Heygate Murals After Council Vandalism

After Wednesday’s appalling council vandalism of the Heygate Community Garden murals and graffiti, local gardeners, artists, ping-pong players and other lovers of the green public space spent the last few days waving their magic hands over the ugly grey paint and restoring the artworks back to life. The Chopstick Houses piece is nearly back to life.

Here are two of the murals that we hadn’t time to photograph before the Council decided that splashes of grey paint irregularly applied was nicer than these colourful images. The one on the right was even made by a kind of famous-ish Belgian street artist or so we heard!

The nice pink Elephant was the first to be restored back to good health. A few more waves of the magic hands and she will be as pink as she was before as will the artist who put so much time into painting her on the wall. Well done everybody.

Council Spitefully Vandalise Heygate Community Gardens

Yesterday the Council in its infinite and omnipotent wisdom decided to carry out another (1) aggressive attack on the popular Heygate Community Gardens by spitefully destroying the colourful and thought-provoking artworks that have been brightening up the dull spaces within. As part of  people’s amazing efforts to keep the place public and enjoyable local artists have been welcomed in to use the old walls of houses as canvases to paint murals, graffiti and street art on. As you can see from the pics these were a collection of lovely, considered and sometimes wry artworks created for the benefit of all.

Yesterday, under the direction of Andrew Ashaye (Heygate & Aylesbury Case Management Officer), the Council aggressively decided to return the walls back to uglier and now badly painted over blank walls once again.

It was noticeable that they mostly singled out for painting over the large and thoughtful pieces around the Community Gardens and pond. As you can see from above however the rest of the estate is still covered with scribbles, tags, obscenities and so on but these remained up after the Council had done it’s paint slapping. We ask the questions: What possible offence can be caused by the Heygate murals and with what mindset does the Council operate with to come and destroy local artists work without even any warning or debate?

LET THEM KNOW THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE: We suggest that if you feel that this was an unnecessary, wholly unaccountable and aggressive act that you make your feelings known to those who carried it out and to CC in your email Peter John and Fiona Colley, who are the leading Council lights in the Regeneration Dept.

Write to:
Andrew Ashaye – andrew.ashaye@southwark.gov.uk
Peter Johnpeter.john@southwark.gov.uk
Fiona Colleyfiona.colley@southwark.gov.uk

For more than two years local people have been using the green spaces within to put into practice what the Council has been twiddling their thumbs about and that is how the space within the Estate can be used for community benefit whilst the bureaucratic stages of regeneration grind ever slowly on. Called ‘interim use’ it means that instead of sealing up the giant forest within the Heygate to await demolition in two or three years time (2), the space is maintained for exactly the sort of the thing the Heygate Community Gardeners have been doing there all along.

Not only does the act of growing flowers and vegetables, giving out free allotments, keeping chickens, running a pond, having growing and planting days, seed swaps and also showing films and having small social events maintain exactly the kind of things that grows communities, it also acts as a deterrent to crime inside the Estate. Leaseholders living on the estate have not been burgled since the community activity started something that had been a regular occurrence before.

All of this local effort and hard work comes from a desire to actually see the Heygate site as still part of the public space of The Elephant area and to maintain the enjoyment to be had at wandering amongst the 400 plus mature trees inside. As part of these acts of growing and nurturing, the work done by artists inside the estate has been welcomed and enjoyed by all involved in the Community Gardens. They were an integral part of keeping a community spirit alive against the whims and anti-social behaviour the Council engages in that pretends to care about community benefits but by it’s actions shows nothing but contempt for local people and how they make this a much needed reality here and now.

In March 2012, the Council came to the gardens and stole the pump for the pond and were threatening to remove all the exhibition stands and other objects by which we thought they meant the chairs and tables people use. It was pointed out to them that that ‘the council’s time and resources might be better spent on things including basic estate maintenance and cleaning‘. They argued that they would ‘continue to monitor the general health & safety on the site prior to demolition works taking place to ensure that the site also remains safe for the remaining residents‘. We had to laugh as the remaining residents are the only ones doing any actual looking after the site whilst the Council does nothing to the collapsing walls, holes in the paving and so on.

Before                                                           And After…

This is exactly what is happening at the vast Oakmayne development site at New Kent Rd / Elephant Rd, right next door to Heygate. The site has now sat undeveloped for 6 years now. A couple of years ago without any local consultation The Council agreed to let Oakmayne destroy and seal off the popular open green space next door despite protests from local users and especially the Latino community who used it at weekends for football games. This part of the Elephant’s public lands now sits destroyed and enclosed as Oakmayne struggle to find the finances for the daftly-named Tribeca Square – New London scheme.

The Affordables Part Five

Click comic to view. Click again to enlarge!

The Affordables: Part Four

Our own Southwark Notes Regeneration Noir comic is back! Pass it on!!

Elephant Leisure Centre Consultation Made Even Simpler