Wednesday 12 May 2010

Mass Observation Diary 12th May

This blog post is a bit different to usual as it is my diary contribution to the Mass Observation project. I don't keep a diary and found that writing this was very different to a blog. There is a limit of 750 words which is useful but I found it hard to write about the entire day, retain everyday details and convey complex views that can take weeks of conversations to evolve and may come over as glib and sweeping without more explanation. I feel I needed to add in some explanations to the person in the future who may chance on this, and describe more everyday detail. It was quite tricky to write, but I guess it is just a glimpse into life on that day, and altogether the different diary entries from people of all ages across the country will create a picture of our lives.

"We’re woken up around 7.30am by our tabby cat, mewing loudly and nestling in the duvet. The day looks sunny through the gap in the curtains, but feels chilly. It’s so much colder than this time last year. There is a chill in more ways than one as we wake up to a new Conservative government. We talk about it over a breakfast of fruit from the organic box, juice delivered by the milkman (we like the reassuring clink of bottles on our doorstep), toast and honey.

I feel sad we have a new government based on privilege and the planned cuts to our services; thinking about this dominates my day. We talk about the many things that are hard to believe a Labour government could be responsible for, the war in Iraq, plans to introduce national identity cards, attacks on civil liberties, the deportation of people living with HIV to countries where they can’t access treatment. But I still feel sad that there is a change and that people who have such privilege are in control and the ideals of some of the Tory MPs, like the condemnation of the rights of gay couples may undermine the small progress we have had in the past 13 years.

My husband leaves around 8.30am on his bike to cycle into the West End where he works on website production. Before starting work I cheer myself up by posting video clips on social networking sites of David Cameron showing his true colours (Twitter and Facebook). There is one with David Cameron chatting to supermarket workers and he’s been told by one of his advisers to move the England football wristband he has on for the occasion so it’s more visible on camera; he looks very shifty and disingenuous. With a cup of coffee I spend a few hours on the laptop computer answering emails and promoting the gift shop I’ve been working and selling my handmade textiles in using social media sites. I have a mix of work to, planning some interviews with people working in hospitals to find a way of protecting them from outbreaks of infections, and helping out with a local festival by making some bunting out of recycled plastic bags.

I finish early today as I’m meeting a friend I haven’t seen in over a year in Islington. From Tooting the journey takes an hour by bus and tube. The tube passes through the city and I feel uncomfortable seeing all the suited people getting on the tube and wonder who voted Tory. I read a poster on the tube carriage about the boxer Frank Bruno and his experiences of mental illness. I meet my friend by Angel station and we walk up Chapel Street market as it is packing up and traders are selling off pots of geraniums. At the end of the street is a very cheap Indian vegetarian buffet cafĂ©. It’s been there for years and seems little changed, serving a mish mash of curries, rice and bhajias. The walls are adorned with posters promoting vegetarian food. We drink Cobra beers and catch up about home, partners, family, our hopes and dreams. Afterwards, we walk around the back streets, past beautiful homes, parks enclosed in railings, towards the cool green calm of Regents Canal. I remember walking around here years ago as a student, I can’t remember what I was doing, but the area has echoes of familiarity. After a last drink in The York pub (diet coke and gin and tonic), we had home early as we have to be up for work the next day.

I get home to hear my husband's stories of his day. We laugh about the trend for labeling the new Conservative and Libdem coalition government ‘con-dem’ and us the con-dem’d nation, but the situation’s not really funny. We make cups of tea and watch Desperate Housewives, a TV programme so unrealistic and clumsy that we wonder why we watch it, but maybe that lack of reality is what we need. I have a poetry book to read, lent by a member of my local book group after she heard I like Adrian Mitchell. It’s an original 1971 edition, ‘Ride the Nightmare’. Sounds like just the thing for now and I find some poems to read before I go to sleep."

It's not too late to take part in the project and to send in your diary to Mass Observation.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

We've popped up!

Our window display is now on show at Craft Central - visible 24 hours a day from St Johns Square, Clerkenwell. We spent all of yesterday window dressing and making signs. I loved the way the sun shone through Xtina's bunting and made these shadows as we worked.

And Mr Woo made a special appearance, keeping an eye on Linda's stick-o-rock bolsters and gillian's naughty kitty...

We spent a long time hand stitching our Souvenir Shop sign so it was just right. The letters are sewn into an old, faded canvas door curtain. It is such lovely fabric and as we sat on the floor with our legs tucked under it's crispy swathes as we sewed, we shared memories of bungalows, caravans and summer days with our nans.

As well as the window, we have a display in the foyer. The display cabinets are amazing feats of engineering, jutting out of the wall and floating across the foyer. I had fun making some mini bunting and finding a use for my shell collection.

The 'Souvenir Shop' will be open for sales for one day only on May 8th running alongside our workshops.

Craft Central
33-35 St John’s Square
London, EC1M 4DS

Also hosting Seaside Sisters this month is Covet, a lovely boutique shop near Angel tube in Islington, full of accessories and beautiful handmade things by Britain-based designer makers. Find it in the road running behind Sadlers Wells between St John St and Roseberry Ave, round the corner from Bobbins cycles.

21 Arlington Way
London EC1R 1UY
020 7713 8453
Open 7 days a week, from 11.30am

Dulwich Open House May 8th

Fabric Nation will be joining Hils Tranter and her lovely print works in her open house along with Chocolate Creative, Caroline d’Auria and Keren Cornelius. Our house will be open May 8th and 9th from 11am to 6pm. Tea and homemade cakes will also be on offer in the garden.

Here are a few pictures from last year, including Chocolate Creative's textiles and Hilary's prints.

With over 100 artists showing in beautiful locations across Dulwich, it should be an inspiring day out next weekend. There is some fantastic work being displayed, in many different mediums. I love anything vintage inspired and recycled, so hope to take a peek at Roddy & Ginger's prints, Clare Young's collages, Judy Hammond's pictures and the Skip Sisters discarded art. More women artists can also be seen at the SLWA showcase. As a longtime Londoner, I'm also drawn to work that explores our city and life in it. Adam Hemuss' paintings and prints promise just that as well as Helen Bridges' screen prints looking at the local history of Brixton. I'm enjoying the ways in which people are using different techniques to create new and exciting printed textiles, so hope to also see Trisha Needham's pea pod cushions and Sally and Peter Nencini's reupholstered furniture. Amelia Critchlow will be joining the Art Dog show, and finally, I don't want to miss Leah Germann and SLAG (South London Artists Group).

You can download the Open House guide here to find out where all these artists are exhibiting. We are venue number 90.