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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Sam’s Town

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The first time I left the house on my own after my son was born was probably six weeks after the event, when I had mostly recovered from the caesarean. It was the first time I felt able to leave him for five minutes. I walked out of the house on a grey evening and took a few steps around the corner, where I climbed the steps of the footbridge that crosses the roaring A3 and stood watching the traffic zoom by beneath me. On a clear day it is possible to see miles into the distance, see the tallest buidlings in London. I’m not a big Killers fan, I suppose they fall into the guilty pleasures department…but this song was playing at the time, and I had such a sense of euphoria at being on my own for the first time, no baby in my arms or in my tummy, but also knowing that I’d got through what turned out to be a very difficult birth and the first few weeks of motherhood. It was the first time I turned my thoughts back to the outside world and thought, “What am I going to do now?” This tune popped up on my IPOD yesterday and took me back to that moment, over six years ago, and to many moments after.

“I’ve got this sentimental heart that beats…”

Calm Down Dear: March Tomorrow #Oct20

How you feeling out there?

despairing over food prices, petrol prices,

cost of fuel, academy schools,

GCSE regrades, benefit cuts, ATOS cruelty,

disabled suicides, kids stealing food,

no breakfast clubs at school, no ESA,

university fees sky high,

workfare as P**ndland profits rise,

pensions fall

bed and breakfasts fill to the brim with families

living in grim thin-walled rooms?

How you feeling, out there?

Patrician classes making money

off the backs of the poor plebs

who wanna pay big bucks for

tax evading taste deficient coffee

while the media omit to feature our burgeoning

Vergin’on the ridiculous

private healthcare

Workless, Feckless, Badgered?

Calm Down Dear.

MARCH TOMORROW

I am marching tomorrow because it is still one thing I can do to protest the cynical, cruel and calculating cuts being perpetrated by this coalition government. I find myself in the unforeseen position of not believing a  Labour government to be the answer, which is scary, as I have been a lifelong supporter until recently. The future is precarious for many of us at the moment for all kinds of reasons. For those of us who are homeless, unemployed, sick, disabled or who are single parents it is acutely worrying.

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THEM. THEY ARE BEING ERODED.

POEMS FOR #PUSSYRIOT PROTEST

Tomorrow the appeal for the three jailed women from Pussy Riot will be heard. Their lawyers do not expect their sentences to be overturned but that they may be commuted. The Russian Orthodox church has issued a statement regarding this today suggesting that their repentence should be taken into consideration.

The women are unrepentant following their arrest in February for  performing an anti-Putin song, a ‘punk-prayer’, in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. They apologiesd at their trial for causing any offence to believers but said they were committing a political act. The case has attracted wide condemnation as a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

There is a protest outside the Russian Embassy in London tomorrow to help raise awareness of the appeal and in support of Pussy Riot. Several poets including me will read their contributions to the Poems for Pussy Riot project.

My poem Tricky D.I.S.C.O is here

CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT, edited by Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, is published on 1 October: ePUB, Kindle and PDF versions will be available here from 00:01hrs. 110 poets have contributed to this amazing collection.

I am thrilled to be part of it- as a mother, an ardent feminist, and a creative person I am horrified that these women have been incarcerated and separated from their families for singing a song in a church; for freely expressing their opinions and strong feelings regarding the political and religious situation in their country.

‘Catechism’ is distributed on the ‘Pay What You Think It’s Worth’ model popularised by Radiohead and others. All revenue will go to the Pussy Riot Legal fund, and the English PEN Writers at Risk Programme.

Please see English Pen’s web site for more information and to read some of the fantastic and extraordinary poems and images which have been posted there.

NO PASARAN

FREE PUSSY RIOT!