Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Spike Specific Exhibition

spike specific exhibition square
We had an art exhibition here a fortnight ago. It was advertised in TimeOut and followed all our press appearances so everyone interested could come down and have a real look at the place and see the stuff that goes on. The whole place is a work of art. And that’s what the Spike Specific curator, Mark Hammond, was keen to get across.

We had some big names exhibiting. There was art from Yoko Ono, Gavin Turk, and Bob and Roberta Smith made special Save the Spike pieces along with Mark Thomas. Richard Prince had some art in the exhibition, as well as Crymein, Richard Niman, and many more. We tried to get Antony Gormley involved… he apparently lives just down the road, and would be expected to be in support of the artists who are based at The Spike. We all had a vision of the Angel of the South.. which led on to the idea that if he did make one we could include William Blake on the line up.. with the angels he saw in the oaks on Peckham Rye . We have the oaks here already from our Oak Nursery, which get planted out in our local parks (with permission) every winter.

There are connections to Banksy but we didn’t get through in time. We thought we’d be OK for putting Mark Wallinger on the list. He’d replicated an artwork my friend Sue and I did. The artwork in question was part of the Brian Haw display from Parliament Square that he copied and won the Turner Prize with. No disrespect.. it was great he got it in the news, just to say that I felt just.. but we didn’t get round to repainting the 3 monkey saying “see no truth, hear no truth, speak no …” with the last monkey gagged, so we didn’t put him on the line up.
It was a beautiful day. Andrew Bylo showed up and made some beautiful sketches of the day as it went on. Prasanth Visweswaren exhibited his sleep series of photographs, a stunning collection of sleeping from around the world, linking in nicely with the history of The Spike and its homeless centre past. One graffiti artist came to do a piece saying FREE DPM. They are a crew that have been given 2 year sentences for painting a train. Criminal Damage. It makes me sad that multinationals have such a monopoly on our visual landscape.

Sandie Schells exhibited his wonderful Lowrey keyboard. A 1972 keyboard covered in buttons, keys, pedals which spews colour with its sounds. People couldn’t get off it with 4 or 5 people jamming on it all the time. Yusuf Martin displayed his boat on the roof drawing attention to the ever more threatening results of climate change. Maryanne Gordon got out her array of activist art, which were being painted throughout the weekend. Rob Rub ran a record sale.. local hero DJ Rubbish’s CDs went down particularly well, with all proceeds going to the save the spike fund. Bless him.

Elizabeth Manchester exhibited her plaster of paris boobs in the trees which got a fair bit of attention. NoNo got out his spikes, spray cans and potatoes and made some pieces in situ. Owen Alvares showed his natural art.. taking some beautiful examples of dead trees, cleaning them up to bring out the aesthetic features and putting it into the art environment. Freidal exhibited his wonderful carved wooden rocking ducks, whilst Spring set up a Spike wishing tree for intensions to be set. Raul Pina came and created a fascinating piece from what he found on site, sticking to the ‘site specific’ criteria. And there were many many more exhibiting. Beautiful colours came from the Spike kids art area. Delicate flowers from recycled materials were crafted for décor for the Peckham Green Fayre.

PS Burton was on the line up. That was George Orwell’s tramping name. A few weeks ago Mick Hollylee, a former worker at the Camberwell Reception Centre (1976-1985 or something like that) turned up. His dad had worked here as well. He totally loves the Spike. He had some lovely stories, and some scary ones. We had an interview of his running on repeat in the toilets, along with the history wall, so everyone got a chance to appreciate the fascinating history.

Once again no one from the Council came by. Or no-one with any particular power. Legal services have apparently now advised the relevant Councillors and Planning department workers not to meet with us.. so we’re a little stuck. Challenging times.

But lovely. The Bonnington Square Café did a fundraiser for us Saturday night. I think the place has a similar history as Spike. They make delicious vegan food and the managers, who are married, met at a Spike Halloween! So we’ve got to have another of those! All the staffs wages went towards our deposit.. 240 quid!! Big up!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

We Love Peckham

Woah. It’s been yet another rollercoaster of a month.

It started with a surge of media reporters.. The Guardian was the first one through (after the local press), then a group from the British Film Institute, then the BBC News. It’s mad times.. ‘selling’ the Spike.. it is an incredible thing but it’s always been left down to whatever the individual interprets the place as. Then we were filmed for Sunday Life, a Sunday morning Lifestyle show. The producer, Cathy was lovely and they came whilst we were having our first attempt with the cob oven, which worked!
Donna fueling the cob oven

We got a big response from that feature. People were getting in touch from all over the Country showing there support. One woman is making Spike hula hoops to help raise money to buy the place. A guy is buying a cruise for a Spike fundraising raffle. It’s beautiful and heart warming.

TimeOut was a good one. We were their campaign. They’d managed to get a quote off Councillor Tim McNally (Southwark’s executive member for resources) saying ‘Where the costs far outweigh the benefits, we have a policy of selling property and ploughing the money back into making Southwark cleaner, greener and safer”. He hasn’t been here. We hope he realises the incredibly talented and genuinely giving and inspiring community that uses Spike as a base.

So it was good we had the opportunity to take the Spike Surplus Scheme out last Saturday – to the Canal Bridge (Peckham) Green Fayre - where some of them would have seen us. It was a huge success. The sun was out, fortunately, as The Spike provided the main stage – fully solar powered, some bands, Generator X’s Solar Cinema, a vegan café, a kids craft area, a very popular wellbeing (healing) space, an info stall... and of course smiles and décor. Everyone did it voluntarily with our pay going towards buying the place. Even Southwark’s Regeneration department, who were there with a stall, said they are excited by what the Spike community is doing and had some suggestions of bringing school groups round.
Famous Peckhamite Mohammed

If the Green Fayre were compared with Southwark’s I Love Peckham festival, I think people would probably say the former was better. Leslie, one of the Green Fayre organisers, made sure that as much of the money as possible went back into Peckham for one thing. And there was a really united atmosphere. There was a letter in the Southwark News about the last Spike open day which was part of the I love Peckham festival. We weren’t in the promotional material for one reason or another, but we went ahead because we do love Peckham. It’s even written in huge letters on the roof ready for Google Earth to come over again (the image they’ve got at the moment is about 2 years old). We had a great day. The letter seemed to suggest that it’s not that easy to find community elsewhere in Peckham. So I don’t understand why the Council is being so heavy with this one.

Yesterday we get a new letter from the legal department. A really scary one going on about the deadline on Friday and proceeding with eviction procedures. Oh my. We’re waiting for them to confirm a meeting. There’s a lot of things to settle before we hand over any money.

Anyway, here’s a better glimpse of the Spike Surplus Scheme.. we quickly put this film together.