Passionate about Conceptual Art

Art Plumstead take Conceptual Art very seriously, to the extent that an evening is devoted to it every Plumstravaganza in the garden of The Volunteer. This year’s entries were more in the spirit of the movement in that the artefacts were relatively simple, and had to be explained for them to make sense. As usual, Alison as curator of the exhibition was suitably attired for the occasion (see above).

Themes covered a range of social and political issues, quite serious at times but without being too po-faced. it was Monday night, after all. For instance there was a short interactive performance piece involving the audience’s consumption of passion fruit, symbolising the inadequate protection of historical buildings by outdated protocols – shown by a flimsy basket made from an old magazine – which, once they are disposed of or destroyed can never be recovered.

 

The magic piece of glass highlighted the way in which it becomes possible to place one’s bum very close to someone’s face in a public situation which wouldn’t normally be acceptable when seated on the tube or DLR. The Death in Greenwich exhibit was a comment on the environmental damage wrought by cruise ships arriving at Greenwich. Erik improvised a skit about house buying with reference to a bird box that just happened to be lying around the garden along with a brimful ashtray. There was a presentation about who should be consigned to a Wicker Man for their relentless unnecessary questions, an exposition about the meaning of the letter yaz in the Berber alphabet, and a tongue-in-cheek funding bid for a series of sculptures made from found objects in multiple locations covering the themes of loss, bereavement, separation and regret.

After all the exhibits had been explained and discussed, it was time to mingle and make plans for Halloween, before making the epic journey up the hill to The Old Mill where Dee blagged a selection of bar snacks to help us concentrate.

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Dipping into The Spiral Garden again

The Spiral Garden hosted another swap/sell/donate event as part of Plumstravaganza. The early arrivals had the chance to taste a delicious German apple cake with crumble topping made by Maggie, washed down with a cup of coffee. Soon, however, there were brown turkey figs and crystal apple cucumbers (a heritage variety bred in Australia in 1933) from people’s gardens to sample as well. The home made raspberry jam was sold in a trice by those who already knew how good it was from last year.

A good selection of assorted plants to swap or to buy were brought into the garden by visitors and before long the central table was covered in a sea of foliage before gradually dwindling as purchases were made and plants were found a new home.
Numbers were up on last year and those who came stayed for longer than last year, seeking advice and exchanging information, but also enjoying the social occasion. The power of the social media helped to pull in people from different sources but the Art Plumstead mailing list played its part. There were flyers advertising Good Food in Greenwich and the Cookery Clubs offered by GCDA, held down by painted stones, such a big thing everywhere last year, and revived latterly by a public spirited soul in Plumstead

High and Dry

The foul weather of Saturday was safely over by the time Art Plumstead hosted a stall at the Shrewsbury Park‘s Lark in the Park a day later. There were plenty of other stalls in the main area and several types of food on sale along the path leading to the field where the dog show took place. Live music was provided by a number of different musicians and John and Rob went around promoting PLUnk, Plumstead’s week of International Music

Art Plumstead’s stall sold cards, small paintings and hairsticks (handmade and gender neutral, as you would expect). It was jazzed up by a length of Hungry Caterpillar bunting from The Woolwich and Plumstead Roses WI lucky dip jar raffle at Make Merry in June; this is already its second outing since then, so it was £1 well spent. When we weren’t selling our wares, we were using the time to capture the atmos. Meanwhile Martin practised calligraphy to publicise the classes he will be running from September at Shrewsbury House.

The Fair finished at 4 pm, which allowed time to go home down the hill, quaff a mug of tea, then nip over to the well-attended Plumstead Live on Winn’s Common for more mingling with familiar faces accompanied by more live music. There had also been the final concert in the Plumstead Peculiars Concert series during the afternoon but you can’t be everywhere at once. Still, we could console ourselves with a cooling pint from the beer tent.

Rain Didn’t Stop Play

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Midsummer 2019 saw a first for Art Plumstead when they presented their own pantomime Jayden and the Beanstalk. Introduced by the world weary narrator in the guise of Dick Whittington’s cat, it told the tale of the dastardly Dick Day and his plans to drive people off the Common so he could build a vast mansion there. To assist him in his plans he had ordered a dragon from the website Wickedpedia (which his friend Dirty Dee Dudwin had told him about) to terrorise the denizens of Plumstead and kill off Ron Rattail, the organiser of the Community Market. However, because he had bought it cheaply it had one fatal weakness. More of that later.

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For now, in Scene 2, life in the Community Market continued as usual, with the two long term stall holders (old friends and arch enemies) Sally and Millie selling their wares – bakery and macramé. Being unaware of Dicks fiendish plot they both had a crush on him. There was a certain amount of innuendo which naturally, none of the children understood. Quite a few adults didn’t get all the rudery but they certainly understood it when Sally and Millie raved about how much they liked Dick! The love interest came from the attraction between Dick’s nephew Robin and the new stall holder Jayden of the Uphill Gardeners on Shooters Hill. Much to the two ‘ladies’ chagrin, Ron Rattail had arranged for Robin to provide a musical interlude at the Market instead of their offering and although initially miffed, they soon appreciated the song – as did the audience. They also appreciated the – real – cakes that were distributed as Millie’s ‘new line’ to try out.

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Who can stop the dastardly Dick Day?

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Dick discusses Fire Watch with Ron

Soon, the children were besides themselves with even more glee at the water pistols that appeared in the next scene when Dick demonstrated to Ron how to use them to control fires on the Common as part of his taking over the Common Fire Watch. This scene featured a certain amount of buffoonery with both Dick and Ron squirting each other – and of course the audience, old and young. Then the duplicitous Dick sent Ron to the other side of the Common as per his plan for the dragon to pounce on Ron. Cue plenty of ‘behind you’ as the dragon sneaked up on Ron. Surely all was lost?

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The dragon is about to pounce!

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The evil Dick Day is brought on, ensnared by Sally’s macramé

Well, no. Earlier, Dick had lent his mobile phone to Jayden to film Robin performing at the Community Market before it was returned to him via Robin. It was still in Robin’s possession when a text message came through from Dirty Dee Dudwin. Encouraged by Jayden he read it and learned of Dick’s vile plot. The second text message that came through moments later gave away the one thing that could destroy the dragon. At once, they fled the scene into the woods on their mission of mercy, together with Millie who had wandered onto the scene picking flowers (much to the chagrin of one little nature boy who had earlier informed the steward that he had been looking for crickets) They emerged just in time to see the dragon preparing to swoop on the hapless Ron who had fallen to the ground. While the dragon relished the moment before falling on his prey, Ron called out ‘kick him up the bum!’ – for this was the dragon’s one fatal weakness – and with one well aimed boot up the bottom, the dragon was slain and Jayden had saved the day. The dastardly Dick was then brought on, ensnared in a piece of Sally’s macramé – so it had been useful, after all! This time, the two dames were allowed to lead the cast and audience in their song, the words for which just happened to be printed in the programme. After which, orderly bow and exeunt cast.

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Sally gives Millie a different kind of ‘flour’ from the one she was expecting. “They’re balloon flowers. Close your eyes and make a wish” said Sally – “No, on second thought, they’re Poppies!”

Now, in all the excitement at the market over Dick and encouraging the audience to admit how much they liked Dick as well, Millie and Sally had missed out a bit of entertaining nonsense which was supposed to have happened as part of their ongoing rivalry. Luckily, since the audience had enjoyed themselves so much and didn’t want to go straight home, the routine was duly performed by popular demand as a brief vignette and served as an encore, after which all the cast came on and milked the adulation with freestyle bowing and general showing off. Finally, Art Plumstead’s first ever pantomime was over. After dropping off various props and bits of costume, the cast, crew and hardcore supporters adjourned to The Old Mill for a well-earned refreshment or three.

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For those who didn’t make it on the night and wish they could have seen it, click on these links in turn. It’s sheer hokum!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Waxing Lyrical about Watercolours

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A chance to mass-produce Christmas cards

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All similar but all different

The theme for the last watercolour session of the year at St Marks during the Plumstead Community Market was how to capture winter scenes. It was a particularly well-attended session with just enough room for everyone who came. There was a selection of suitably snowy pictures for the benefit of anyone who hadn’t brought their own to work from. Several people used candles to create a wax resist while others used masking fluid as they had been taught several workshops ago. Luckily for us, the heating was working more effectively than in the main hall with the consequence that everyone who came into the room exclaimed at how warm it was.

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Andrew showed how he had produced his Christmas card for this year by basing his composition on a standard landscape scene and then imagining it covered in snow, inventing the colours. Usually there is an air of intense concentration but as it was the last class of the year a more lighthearted atmosphere prevailed with a bit more good-natured chatter than usual. In spite of this a number of accomplished paintings were produced. Now that most regular attendees have built up a body of work, the idea of participating in the Open Studios during Plumstravaganza was mooted.

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Not a woodcut, but a watercolour, showing the source material

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Based on another picture, but with new colours imagined

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A relaxed atmosphere at the last watercolour class of 2018

With half an hour to go before the end of the market, homemade spicy apple cookies, shortbread and a selection of chocolates were produced, all washed down with a bottle of sherry and a bottle of port for the benefit of anyone who fancied a festive drink. A couple of regulars who hadn’t been able to participate this time also dropped by and socialised, before we all packed up and went home in the perishing cold and rain.

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A Maxfield Parrish moment, but not based on one of his pictures!

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Local street scene after rain, working from mobile phone

Preserving an Art Plumstead Tradition

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Tasting under way – which will be the winners?

By now, the Pickle Festival is an established event in the Art Plumstead calendar. As usual it was held in The Old Mill, and as usual there were a few tweaks, not for a phoney ‘new, improved service user experience’, but just to make it easier to manage. The main change was the re-introduction of texture as a category in this, the 5th Plumstead Pickle Festival. By the time the competition started, 15 pickles and chutneys had been delivered in time for judging at the start of the competition a couple of last minute entries bumped it up to 17. Butter, cheese and biscuits were pre-prepared ready for distribution to all the tables and there were also three sour dough loaves baked by Ashley that day and delivered by Julia from the Plumstead Pantry next door. 

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Her Maj at the pickle table

20181204_202808.jpgAll three categories were judged concomitantly, with up to five points to be awarded among any pickles in each category. Most of the tasters divided their plates into labelled sections to facilitate identification of the pickles. The peer voting system tended to sift out clear contenders for first, second and third place, all collated by Dee and Geoff. Meanwhile there was a buzz of lively discussion about the various offerings  – who knew the world of preserved fruit and veg could be this gripping?! Erik, as master of ceremonies exchanged whimsical banter with Alison as Badge Queen of Plumstead while the certificates were written out by Kevin. 

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The Badge Queen of Plumstead en promenade

The results were as follows:

Appearance 
 
1st Ross Jardine  In Persistence of Piccalilli
2nd Gilly Loader  Piccalilli
3rd Angela Fletcher  Pear Chutney
 
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1st Gilly Loader  Piccalilli
2nd Ross Jardine  In Persistence of Piccalilli
3rd Gilly Loader  Tomato and Red Wine Chutney
 
Taste
 
1st Ross Jardine  In Persistence of Piccalilli
2nd Malcolm Fletcher  Festive Fruit Chutney
3rd Keith Hawkins  Apple, Choko and Date Chutney.
 

pickle-winner-2018-2.jpgAt the end of the evening, the vanquished collected the dismal remains lurking in their jars while the victors went home clutching their certificates and corresponding rewards but there were some new faces and everyone present had got out of the house and mingled instead of sitting at home watching rubbish on TV.

Pickle winner 2018 (3)

The winners

 

Spiral Remembers 100 years on

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A lone poppy at Spiral Garden

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Art Plumstead created a remembrance display in collaboration with two local Plumstead schools on the 100th  anniversary of the end of WW1.

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Art Plumstead Poppy

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Seen from above

In addition to the outline of a poppy made from stones painted by Art Plumstead and arranged to be visible from the street above, there were also stones painted by pupils from Gallions Mount Primary School. These were placed on the upper level of the garden.

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Gallions Mount Poppy before…

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Gallions Mount Poppy after…

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Gallions Mount Poppy brightening up a dull corner

Rockliffe Manor Primary School provided paper poppies which had been part of a special assembly earlier that day. These were displayed on the circular table in the middle of the Spiral Garden.

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Paper poppies made by Rockliffe Manor School pupils

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Poppies at the Spiral Garden

Rain swept over from the west later on Friday and fell on everything in its path, but not before the entire display had been captured on camera.

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