Surrey Steampunk Convivial IV -Utterly Bonkers Splendid!

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writing steampunk poems:

Recently I contacted Ben Henderson, who, along with his wife Tixia, organises the annual Surrey Steampunk Convivial, to see if I could offer my poetic services. He was very kind and accommodated my idea of having a steampunk poetry workshop as part of the event, which took place last weekend. I arrived bright and early on the day, to the Royal Oak pub in New Malden, the main venue for this weekend festival, along with the Christchurch Centre, conveniently across the road from the pub. The place was already buzzing with stalls selling various wonderful steampunk accoutrements in the shape of dragon-dwelling hats, goggles and spectacles, be-cogged and geared jewellery and vintage steampunk-style outfits.

There were already several steampunks milling about wearing fantastic garb, drinking tea, and settling in for the excitement to come. A few people dared to try out a writing exercises or two and below is my friend Anna’s rather marvellous poem, which captures the spirit of the Convivial perfectly:

 

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Anna Stickney’s poem:

I wandered lonely as a clockwork snail,

that clanks along o’er cranky planks,

when all at once I saw a crowd,

a host, of extravagant steampunks

beside the cakes, beneath the teapot,

duelling and posing at the Royal Oak.

 

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 loading the specially-built cannon for the ‘fling a familiar’ contest

The two days were a blur of familiar-flinging, snail-racing, tea-duelling, steampunk morris dancing, belly dancing, anamatronic steampunk R&B, snake-snuggling, beer drinking, corset-limbo, radio-play performing, superb steampunk dj soundtracks, shadow-puppet theatre, intellectual superciliousness slamming, storytelling, great live music and bands to dance to and many other bizarre, eccentric and hilarious-but-always so so stylish- steampunk occupations to keep everyone busy.

 

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‘Be Splendid’ is the motto of the steampunk, and indeed it was, and as well as all the fun and frivolity, the Convivial was marked by the friendliness, generosity, good humour and welcoming attitude of everyone there, especially to the newbies amongst us, of which I was one. But- no more a newbie- I am hoping to be back for more creative steampunk mayhem this August, when, due to its’ popularity, there will be a second Surrey Steampunk Convivial of 2015, where I hear rumours of marquees in the beer garden…and possibly flamingo croquet…?

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So please, grab your top hat, goggles, corset and kraken….and join in the fun!

More pics from the event below.

For more information head over to the Surrey Steampunk Convivial website here.

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Diggory mole makes it into the hat

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the purple platypus winner

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‘around the world in 8o days’ radio play

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serious dunking – click here for tea duelling rules

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tense atmosphere at the tea-duelling

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tea-duelling champion

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preparing to snail race

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umbrella duelling

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Herr Doktor’s Raygun

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me, trying to hold on to the super-speedy corn snake

 

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Ichabod Steam’s animatronic  Steampunk band

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 sword-wielding belly dancers!

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the winner of corset limbo shows how it’s done

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 Darren Gooding’s amazing storytelling

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shadow puppet theatre!

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audience participation invloved languishing and carrying a bagful of sky

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 intellectual superciliousness slam…nincompoops!

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 me reading some steampunk’d poems

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the marvellous Moth with Ben and Tixia

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Club to Catwalk at the V&A

VandA1editA night out at the V&A to raise a glass for my best mate’s birthday, take a trip down memory lane at the Club to Catwalk show, and do a spot of dressing up in vintage 80s fashion. Perfect!

My best mate Mel and sister Tania both turned up in their John Crancher skirts. I had intended to wear my black John Crancher shirt, decorated with the same distinctive print of generously-endowed dancing devils in gold, but after two forays into the loft couldn’t find it. Instead, I opted for my skull shirt from Artificial Eye, an infamous label in the long-gone but still missed Kensington Market.

L’Anarchie, John Crancher’s shop was also in Kenny Market, and although none of us could remember much about the shop itself, apart from the fabulous clothing, we did remember where it was (ground floor on the left hand side).

The show had some interesting exhibits, especially the section upstairs with its Body Map, Rifat Ozbek, Pam Hogg, Vivienne Westwood designs and outfits worn by Adam Ant and Toyah. As an old Goth I found the ‘Gothic’ section a bit staid and sanitised, and the exhibition as a whole felt too static, despite the excellent video montages and soundtrack. It didn’t achieve the edginess, experimentation and exuberance of that time,which the recent ICA Subcultures show had in buckets but it does have the actual clothes!

Unlike the ICA show the V&A were strictly enforcing their policy of no photography, or even sketching of the show. Understandable – you will have to go to see what I am talking about, and as I didn’t take a notebook I can’t rattle off a comprehensive list of designers.

The sign of a good show is that your expectations are confounded in some way, and what the three of us had forgotten, apart from the stereotype of legwarmers and day glo etc (yawn) is that there were a lot of BAD CLOTHES in the 80s- terrible jumpers, ruched shiny cocktail dresses, overblown detailing and questionable tailoring. We had a good laugh about the reality…it’s amazing what the memory filters out.

If you went to Kensington Market, then crossed the road to window shop in Hyper Hyper, or hung out in the Great Gear Market, this show will interest and delight you. Also- I’d never experienced the V&A on a Friday evening and would recommend it- the atmosphere in the museum was great, and the addition of a bar and dj definitely helped!

ICA Off-Site: A Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s to Now

I got in there and wondered quietly to myself if they would mind me having a little dance – Metal Guru was playing loudly from a screen at one end showing Michael Clark dancing…lots of Leigh Bowery…vitrines full of all kinds of delights to pore over…Body Map…John Maybury…John Crancher…Shoom…if you grew up in the 80s and were the type of person who enjoyed exploring the black labyrinth that was Kensington Market, then this is a show for you. But be quick, it ends on Sunday. It was lovely to have an indulgent wallow in nostalgia but also a strange feeling seeing fliers for clubs I went to and clothes I bought being displayed as influencing what happened next…Getting old dear…

I went for the memories but came away with gaps in my knowledge filled, and with new names and places to check out, and most of all the feeling that the vibrant, creative, risque, risky, exciting, new and most of all FUN world I knew back then and and grew up with (I was 13 in 1983 when I first went to Kensington Market and the Kings Road) is not completely gone…the threads which weave the post-punk years through to now.

It is not exhaustive, it is not meant to be- the curation is excellent, the vitrines act as useful vessels and the connections between past and present are well made.

Here’s some pics… there may be some more writing to follow in another post.

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