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Age against the machine: london mayor supports the Lewisham Festival of Creative Ageing

This week it was wonderful opportunity to join the Festival of creative Ageing Creative Walk In Ladywell area, in collaboration with GCDA. Our artists goodie bag contained an A4 sketchbook journal, a graphite stick, sketch pencil, 2 polystyrene printing tiles.

Looking around the area, taking in the local sites and heard about the history. The tour began at St Mary’s Church yard which has stood on the site since Saxon times! This ancient site was central to Lewisham life including trade along the main rd of Rushey Green which contained pubs for the travellers along the way in the age of horse drawn carriages. since then and held community together. Next, past the old fire station (now a training group and hairdressers) which used to house the firefighters in flats above and still has the cobbled courtyard for their horses which pulled the carts, plus a tall tower where the hoses are believed to have been hung, out to dry after use.

Elderberries growing up by the entrance to the former coroners court

Next, around to see the coroners court! Now Overgrown and full of foliage, plus rusty gates. Looking up, we see an Elder (Sambucus nigra), in full fruit with proudly reaching towards the sunlight with rich burgundy berry clusters. This forms my inspiration for a later design. Next door is the old dilapidated Play Tower, a former nursery, which will be turned into a cinema in due course. Previously it was the first public swimming baths, as The red brick wall outside still testifies; apparently children used to grind their entrance pennies into the wall, whilst queuing outside the entrance and the pits are still visible!

Further up the road, towards ladywell on the opposite side of the railway bridge, the words SHELTER FOR 700 are painted in bold capital letters, inferring to an air raid shelter, from WWII built beneath the bridge.

Turning into Ladywell park (the ‘rec’ recreation ground as it was known when we went there in training at school).

history of this local area, a place where each of us had previously visited (in my case daily, as I went to school up the road 1986-1991) gave us each a sense of time and place, much more grounded, feeling centred and part of the ongoing history.

London Plane landscape puzzle

Following the pathway Back to St Mary’s and an exploration of The wellbeing garden. Here we mediated amongst the raised vegetable beds and chose a spot to focus on an artistic piece. Finding an old cherry tree with raised roots, I sat down and made an imprint in granite across the back of the bark. I found a leathery old leaf for a pattern to design later. I looked around the garden; it’s so pretty and peaceful.

Our next stop was at the war memorial where The invictus / Pegasus horse adorns the tall gate posts leading towards the statue. There are wreaths and special stones inlaid into the pathway dedicated to all the young lives which were lost during the wars. My father took me there as a child, more of an escape from home, on Saturdays and we used to play rolling down the raised mound flower bed.

Further on, we walked into Lewisham park, which is bordered by large private houses; previously this park was more of their land. In the centre, a large hollowed our area belied a former lake, now long gone. The ancient London Plane trees had shed their bark so I collected some to add to the collage and piece together as a landscape puzzle. A yew tree held a mass of succulent berries which we enjoyed (whilst delicately removing the poisonous black seeds). Walk over, we drew our ideas at st Mauritius house and artist Ellie demonstrated a print making demo; instantly it brought back my Memories of making roller paint prints as a girl. Those were the days! Back then, during the 1980s, our art drawer contained ink rollers (sadly, long since discarded as they were no longer regularly used.) perhaps a visit to hobby craft is now in order!

The wellbeing healing community garden at St Mary’s church, lewisham, is open to visitors.
Ellie’s leaf print demo
The Hastings map cut cherry leaf design represents the memories of many wondrous holidays, with my grandparents in the area.
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