This year’s Get Together and Armed Forces day was partly located on The Arsenal in the former Firepower Museum. Greenwich Council were particularly keen to include local artists to begin promoting what will ultimately be an extensive art quarter. Art Plumstead were out in force with a stall selling jewellery and cards.
Despite the somewhat industrial surroundings, we soon had the stall set up, even adding a jaunty backdrop with an additional cloth. There were several other art stalls and one from London Drawing offering the chance to be photographed in the style of a Renaissance portrait. The results of the session can be seen here. Working with a few well-chosen props the team transformed modern day visitors into a series of intimate Renaissance Selfies . Seeing the end result – taken on a mobile phone – is quite unexpected to the sitter.
Business was mixed, quiet patches were interspersed with busier periods, and some stalls did better than others while familiar faces dropped by throughout the day. We were grateful to be inside enjoying the shade. Meanwhile, in the baking sun the entertainment continued on the Arsenal and in the streets around General Gordon Square. It went on until 8 pm, but by that time Art Plumstead had quit the building and were individually relaxing at home.
Art Plumstead were based in two locations at the Make Merry as they have been for the last few years. Out in the main body of the Make Merry we had a stall selling cards and small prints and pictures, while over in the information tent the theme of the vegetable sculpture competition was ‘Memories of Plumstead’.
During the proceedings, the Queen of Plumstead, arrayed in her purple cloak bedecked with a myriad of badges donated by her loyal subjects could be seen flitting from stall to stall, bringing joy to all who beheld her majesty. She gave kind words of encouragement to dignitaries and commoners alike but took care never to be photographed within the precincts of any stall lest she be accused of favouritism. You can find pictures of her and many other pictures including some of the vegetable sculpture competition here.
The good weather encouraged plenty of people to come and it was generally felt that it was one of the best Make Merry events ever, in terms of numbers, diversity and the good natured atmosphere.
Art Plumstead showcased the creative skills of regular attendees of Andrew’s Watercolour classes with a selection of hand-painted cards and local scenes which flew off the stall; sometimes literally, since the weather, although gloriously hot, had occasional gusts of wind. Luckily, there were enough volunteers to keep an eye on the stall and its contents, and retrieve any stray works.
Later they were joined by Liz who entertained the children with a puppet show depicting the adventures of a crab who found the courage to make a journey to the blinged up crystal rocks at the bottom of the sea. It was an original and amusing way to deliver the message of respect for the environment.
Meanwhile, in the information tent, Erik and Dee had been receiving entries for the vegetable carving competition. The theme was local people and places. The new, streamlined ballot system was aimed at encouraging voters to choose only one sculpture as their favourite piece, then move away so others could make their selection.
There were any number of local stalls and activities, hordes of visitors and anyone involved will say it was a very successful Make Merry 2017.
This year Art Plumstead decided to stay put instead of devising a promenade performance. It was just as much fun, but all in one place, on Winn’s Common. There were three different workshops running concurrently, aimed at all ages, because adults need to play too! The first activity was making a paper cockatoo, embellished with additional feathers and optional beak. As people finished, they were free to choose which of the next two activities they wanted to try next, which made space for the steady stream of new arrivals.
The second workshop was all about quick sketching in unfamiliar ways, such as with eyes closed, scribbling constantly to create a tonal study of the landscape, or using the opposite hand from usual. To end, everyone was invited to make a life study of Andrew, the facilitator, using all the skills that they had practiced so far. The final workshop was an informal group exercise that allowed freestyle weaving of natural materials onto a framework of branches prepared by Marje .
After all that sitting around it was time for a bit of physical activity in the form of dancing with partners, led by John and Erik, who were suitably dressed for the occasion. Weaving a bit of humorous banter into their teaching, they managed to coach the group through a routine involving steps, kicks and doh-si-dohs. To round off the festivities, we all adjourned to the Art Plumstead pop up bar, where snacks and drinks were on offer.
At Art Plumstead we try to put on events for folk to be creative, to try something new or to brush up their talents. Oh yes, and fun! Our recent Knitting Workshop (held at the Community Market) was such an event. It covered the basics from casting-on and simple knitting, to stocking-stitch, to cable-stitch. If that didn’t have you in stitches there was also a drop-in help-centre for people to check on their technique (had they got their purl in a twist?), to stock up on supplies and to ask the more esoteric knitting questions such as how to pick-up stitches and beyond. Knit Nurse for the day was Gill Loader, who has taught knitting skills on a professional basis. As well as dispensing purls of wisdom, she also brought along examples of her own work from knitted dogs to shoulder bags. If the sound of this is making you reach for your needles fear knot as Gill intends to hold a monthly knitting meet up at the Old Mill. If you are interested please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let Gill know.
Business was steady to brisk at the second Christmas Plumstead Community Market, and the Art Plumstead stall had its fair share of customers.
The newly cleaned Art Plumstead cloth, having been purged of the post-competition residues of the Pickle Festival was (mostly) sparkling clean and set off the wares to good effect. A range of festive wreaths in two sizes to suit all tastes occupied one of the side tables and attracted buyers from the outset.
We were selling right up to the end of the market and as a result will face 2015 with a healthy balance to finance our activities in the New Year. We will be repeating the ideas we know are popular and successful, giving a new spin on others, and trying out some completely new ones. Come along to find out what we are doing and to be part of the Plumstead creative vibe!
Landscape in felt
As pretty as a picture
There was a healthy attendance at Maggie’s felt-making workshop at September’s Community Market in St Mark’s Hall. While it is possible to learn the rudiments of any craft activity from a book or DVD, there is no substitute for actually getting your paws on the materials and experiencing things for yourself. Maggie explained how to gently separate the first layer of merino wool fibres before gently pulling on them to remove a section and lay that across the bubble wrap where the design was to be made. Once a complete oblong had been made, the next task was to lay fibres in a perpendicular direction across the first layer to make a strong foundation.
The creative bit – adding the coloured wool
Then came the creative part of laying coloured fibres across the base layer to form the design. We were shown examples of different fibres which could be used; bamboo has a particularly unpleasant gritty texture when rubbed between the fingers for instance.
Seeking inspiration from a book
Once all the designs had been constructed, the hard work of felting began. It begins with dribbling soapy water over the fibres, laying bubble wrap over the design, dropping a little more soapy water on the back as lubrication, then setting to with knuckles or fingertips, working in small circles to start the process of locking the tiny scales on the fibres onto each other. After 20 minutes or so, the felt is now ready to be ‘shocked’. This involves throwing it violently into a sink several times, to help mat the fibres together even more securely. Then it’s just a case of rinsing, leaving to dry and admiring. And if you feel inclined, adding embroidery to help define the design. By the end of the workshop, everyone had learned a new skill and had a picture to take away with them, all at a bargain price.
Meanwhile, Erik was doing the serious stuff – minding the stall!
These succulent dates taste as good as they look, and the good news is they’re available in a store near you (if you live in SE18 that is)
As if a Watercolour Workshop and Community Market weren’t enough excitement for one weekend, the day after our appearance at St Mark’s Hall, Erik hosted a Turkish Coffee Afternoon. He decided to eschew the ‘Carry On’ theme and went instead for a more cultured and informative but nonetheless relaxed programme, accompanied throughout by suitable music and slideshow set up on the TV. The décor helped set the mood.
Turkish Delight is traditionally served with Turkish Coffee, but it would have been churlish to refuse all these as well
After demonstrating the correct way to brew up Turkish Coffee (it describes how fine the beans are ground rather than a particular bean) in the correct way ie twice in a particular shaped pot or ibrik, and describing how the Turks were encouraged to drink tea rather than coffee after the First World War by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, first president of Turkey, the guests were able to sample the authentic sweetmeats on offer, all sourced locally, and traditionally served with Turkish Coffee. One of the advantages of living where we do is the easy access to a wide variety of food, and there was a full array to enjoy.
Erik shows how to brew a proper cup of coffee – just mind you don’t swallow the sludge!
To complete the amusement there was an activity set up outside in the garden for the creation of a tile based on pictures of original Turkish tiles, either by collage or direct colouring. This allowed for easy conversation while engaging in a shared creative activity. All light-hearted fun, as these pictures show.
A crafty moment in the garden, with the lingering sun making a welcome guest appearance in the background
Same colours, different designs and a memento of an enjoyable afternoon
Handmade gifts in all types of materials
Plumstead Community Market showcases local creativity by hosting a number of stalls where people can sell produce and artefacts they have created at home to the public at affordable prices. It takes place in St Mark’s Church Hall, usually in the middle of the month.
Books for all tastes
Art Plumstead has had a stall at several of them in the last few months and it has been a useful way to swell the coffers for future events as well as networking in a relaxed and informal way. There is a good variety of stalls offering goods that would be considerably more expensive if they were for sale in other parts of London.
Long-lasting wreaths for sale – for door or grave!
If you haven’t yet visited the Plumstead Community Market, you don’t know what you are missing, but these pictures of the Art Plumstead Stall taken in November and December will give you an idea. Otherwise visit the WordPress site here.
Seasonal treats at affordable prices – the robins positively flew off the stall!