Learning from Margate: Joint essay with professor loretta lees

Art-led regeneration in Margate: learning from Moonbow Jakes Café and Lido Nightclub intervention

Loretta Lees and John McKiernan



This paper considers whether a new iconic landmark – the Turner Contemporary - is likely to be a successful vehicle for the regeneration of the English seaside town of Margate in Kent. It does so by looking at the socio-economic context of Margate, the evidence about top-down models of art-led regeneration, and the data collected in a bottom up arts initiative – Moonbow Jakes Café and Lido Nightclub intervention – which was opened at the same time as the Turner Contemporary in the Summer of 2011.

KEYWORDS: Margate, coastal regeneration, art-led regeneration, Turner Contemporary



Image 1: Moonbow Jakes Intervention



‘Margate is a great example of how art can play an effective role in regeneration’ (ACE, 2009).


With its ‘golden sands’ and ‘dilapidated seaside charm’, Margate,  a coastal town in Kent on the south-east coast of England,  is now ranked seventh in a respected international travel guide’s ‘must see’ destinations for 2013 (The Rough Guide, 2013)! The new Turner Contemporary Art Gallery (see Figure 1) is seen by some to have played a major role in turning the town's fortunes around - ‘the Turner effect’. But as subsequent media reports have demonstrated locals beg to differ. Resident Robert Spires, 41, was quoted in a number of national newspapers:


‘If this guide causes tens of thousands of people to descend on Margate from around the world I am afraid they will be very, very disappointed…Margate is run down, half of the shops are closed or in the process of closing down, there are yobs on every corner and amusement arcades all over the place…It is not the kind of place you really want to live in, let alone go on holiday to”[1].


In this paper we question how successful the new Turner Contemporary, funded with the public purse, will be in turning around Margate’s social and economic fortunes, in light of the problematic evidence-base around arts-led regeneration and evidence from a live performance and art exhibitions space - Moonbow Jakes Café and Lido Nightclub intervention - which was set up to explore the differing aspects of the physical, emotional, political and communal change that was taking place in Margate, as an area designated for arts-led regeneration through the Turner Contemporary.


The conclusions drawn in this paper are a result of a series of detailed discussions between Loretta Lees - a social scientist who was undertaking pilot research in Margate for an AHRC project on art-led regeneration and urban social inclusion and conceptual events producer, John McKiernan – who founded the micro events company Platform-7, which through conceptual live art performance and exhibitions explores and attempts to understand social issues facing the Western world and how people live life today. Loretta Lees has reviewed the evidence base on art-led regeneration and urban social inclusion in the UK and concluded that the evidence base is both limited and poor and that better measures are needed (Lees and Melhuish, 2013). She advocates more qualitative methods of measurement such as ethnography, rather than the general quantitative measures that have tended to dominate arts evaluations, as such John McKiernan’s Moonbow Jakes Café and Lido Nightclub intervention was an invaluable piece of ethnography in its own right through which to consider the efficacy of arts-led regeneration in Margate.


Margate began life as a fishing village and in the C18th it became one of the UK’s first seaside resorts attracting the gentry who came from London by steamboat to enjoy the perceived health benefits associated with sea water and sea air (see Barker, Brodie, Dermott, Jessop, and Winter, 2007). It is this ‘gentry’ that the Turner Contemporary seeks to attract back to Margate in the C21st. The Royal Sea Bathing Hospital was built in 1791 for this very purpose, particularly as a cure for tuberculosis, and patients were conveyed down a ramp into the sea in their bathing machines. Margate developed grand Georgian and Regency buildings in the C19th and in the 1850s the Dreamland amusement park was developed.  Margate became a traditional British seaside resort – it was the first resort to offer donkey rides and then introduced deckchairs in 1898. During the inter-war years a large lido was built and three new cinemas. But Margate began to decline in the 1960s, as British holidaymakers shunned traditional British seaside resorts for foreign climes Margate’s grand hotels went out of business. Many of the large Georgian and Victorian properties were subdivided into low quality flats or used as multi-occupation houses, care homes and supported housing. The local authority took the decision to fill up the increasingly empty hotels and boarding houses with social security claimants, importing more poverty into the town. The result was further decline and degeneration. According to the 2012 Indices of Multiple Deprivation, Margate Central is the most deprived Super Output Area of the 1047 in Kent, and 357th out of 32,482 in England. The wards of Margate Central and Cliftonville West, in Margate, are some of the most deprived in the South of England, together they suffer from an unemployment rate of 13% (the national average is 7.9%, the average in the South East is just 2.5%). In the poorest parts of these wards the rate is 38% with 63% of the population dependent on welfare. In addition they have some of the highest levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in the country. There are high levels of decay and dereliction among seafront properties. Out of town landlords have left a large number of properties derelict and poorly maintained, attracting squatters and problem behaviour. 82% of households in Margate Central and Cliftonville West live in privately rented flats, the population is young and transient and the flats unsuitable for families. There are also high numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. In the absence of local stone, the use of stucco in Georgian structures has left Margate’s historic fabric particularly susceptible to the local salt-laden air and this is also true of later ferro-concrete structures such as the Lido which closed in the 1990s. Both aesthetically and socio-economically Margate was (still is?) in decline. Having missed out on the coastal gentrification that has transformed a number of Britain's coastal resorts, Margate set about kick starting regeneration.



A large number of British coastal towns, like Margate, have experienced successive decades of social and economic disinvestment and entrenched socio-economic decline (Beatty and Forthergill, 2003). A number of factors inducing the decline of British coastal towns have been identified by English Heritage (2007:2-4): i) declining visitor numbers due to competition; ii) location: coastal towns are often geographically remote from regional commercial centres, sit at the end of transport routes and as such are unable to capture through-traffic, often they cannot then rely on retail for economic health; iii) an outdated market; iv) Victorian accommodation unsuitable for modern families and young people; v) higher building maintenance due to salt laden wind; vi) high levels of multiple deprivation; vii) an ageing population; viii) negative perceptions and; ix) urban design conflicts. One solution identified by English Heritage (2007:7) is the generation of creative industries:

‘coastal towns can offer a low cost, high quality of life to an increasingly mobile workforce, providing the supply-side conditions in which cultural and creative industries thrive. They can also provide a ready source of inspiration to artists and designer-makers. In turn, the presence of a community of artists or designer-makers can help to encourage new visitors to an area, with knock-on benefits for hotels and restaurants’.

A small number of British coastal towns have experienced a revival in their fortunes, for example, the now gentrified Brighton, Hastings, and Whitstable – the latter nicknamed ‘Islington-on-Sea’ (see D. Smith, 2007, on coastal gentrification). Each of these ‘success’ stories are different in terms of the populations and institutions involved. The need to regenerate less successful coastal towns has been identified by policy-makers. In recent years there have been a number of reports focusing on the disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances many coastal communities in the UK have faced (e.g. British Resorts Association, 2000; DCLG, 2007; DCMS, 1999a; English Heritage, 2007; English Heritage and CABE, 2003; English Tourism Board, 2001). There is general consensus across these reports that coastal towns require a regeneration framework, with Walton and Browne’s (2010: ii) Coastal Regeneration Handbook intending to ‘maintain and extend the national debate on how to address the complex social and economic problems that are associated with English coastal resorts’.


Regeneration then has come to the forefront as the state’s solution for many decaying coastal towns, and of course by regeneration, the state enacts gentrification (see Lees, 2003). Persuaded by the Barcelona model (see Balibrea, 2001; Degen and Garcia, 2012) of culture-led regeneration, policy makers in the UK became increasingly focused on the use of top down iconic architecture as a regeneration tool. Shifting Sands (English Heritage and CABE, 2003) publicised a range of examples where iconic new buildings and the imaginative re-use of historic buildings have restored confidence amongst residents and investors. Examples include the successful restoration of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, the development of Tate St Ives, Bournemouth Square, the Whitby Abbey Heritage Centre and the Tern project in Morecambe. Shifting Sands aimed to raise design standards within the development industry, but also to highlight the power of local distinctiveness in the built environment, and to lay the important ground work for the further promotion of coastal heritage assets. The Turner Contemporary is an example of such top down models of regeneration using an iconic building.





Image 2: Turner Contemporary


‘A lot has happened generally around regeneration, but culture has been the real driver for what's happened here’ - Victoria Pomerey, Director of the Turner Contemporary in Margate (interview for BBC News, 13.12.2012)[2].


The Turner Contemporary gallery, the largest visual arts venue in Kent, opened in Margate in 2011, it was intended to act as a beachhead for the regeneration of the town. The name of the new gallery commemorates the association of the town with the noted landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, and it is located on the site of a boarding house where Turner often stayed. The 3 storey, 20 metres high gallery was designed by David Chipperfield, the £17.5 million cost funded by Kent County Council, Arts Council England (ACE) and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA[3]). Turner Contemporary has worked in the town since 2001 through exhibitions in temporary locations, such as Mike Nelson’s Spanning Fort Road and Mansion Street: Between a Formula and a Code, an installation within an empty industrial building. From 2005-2010 the organisation ran an exhibition programme in the former Marks and Spencer on Margate’s High Street.


The Turner Contemporary building was designed to be open to the local community by locating art as close as possible to the front entrance and providing primary public spaces at ground level that are visible from the street. Its architect, David Chipperfield, however, is clear that his building is not about the regeneration of a depressed area, and he laments: “you can only sell architecture in this country if you present it as regeneration…you have to justify it” (cited in Heathcote, 2011).


The original idea to create a gallery or space to commemorate Turner’s visits to Margate came from local resident and former Chairman of the Margate Civic Society, John Crofts, almost 20 years ago; but Crofts passed away before seeing the realisation of his dream: 


‘In 1998, the Leader of Kent County Council and representatives of Kent Artists met to discuss the idea. At the same time, plans were being developed to create a cultural quarter in Margate’s Old Town as part of a wider East Kent Cultural Strategy – the idea of a Turner gallery that would stimulate Margate’s culture-led regeneration was born.


In the late 1990s Kent County Council offered to fund and support the building of a new landmark gallery (later joined by Arts Council England and the South East England Development Agency).


In 2001, Turner Contemporary was officially established, our Director Victoria Pomery was appointed and Droit House on Margate’s stone pier was opened as our exhibition space’.

(Turner Contemporary Website: http://www.turnercontemporary.org/about/our-history)


Before the financial meltdown in 2008, English Heritage and Arts Council England had ring-fenced funds to look at new ways of reimagining regeneration, accepting that many projects had previously failed. Margate was chosen as a test site for £500,000 of this money and Margate Arts Creativity Heritage (MACH) was launched in 2010 to support the growth of the creative sector. MACH has created a series of initiatives including purchasing the Fort Road Hotel[4] to sell on for redevelopment as a boutique hotel. 


English Heritage and Arts Council England could have pulled the plug on the gallery pricking the already inflating property bubble.  With prices quickly deflating an opportunity would have arose to buy up numerous parades of housing and retail stock for conversion into studios, art hubs and low cost retail spaces. Then using an artist residency programme the ‘supply side conditions’ that English Heritage have spoken of could have been met.  There are relatively few artist studios around the Tate Modern in London, the Guggenheim in Bilbao or the Taiwan Contemporary Arts Museum in Taipei, the production and consumption of art are located in separate spheres. The Turner Contemporary could have done something different. They didn’t.


Before the opening of the Turner, opinion was split across Thanet District Council on the worth of such an investment. Arguments across Margate were frequent between supporters and dissenters of the new gallery, the issue created a lot of volatility in the local and wider Kent community.


Despite the claims made by Kent County Council and the funders of the new Turner Contemporary about its ability to kick start the regeneration of Margate and be a driver of social inclusion, there are some strident critiques emerging:

‘I was in on the first discussions about the Turner project some 12 years ago...I supported the original Turner plan to build a museum for Kent (the county does not have one) with galleries attached for short term art exhibitions etc. Unfortunately due to the then Government’s matching funding plans Kent County Council had to go to the Arts Council which wanted contemporary works only...The current “contemporary” management at Turner has from the moment it started alienated locals by a steadfast refusal to support local artists - they would say otherwise! I was told when asking for a week a year for local artists that “I do not want Sunday afternoon artists in an international gallery”. I have myself been to the gallery and have been bitterly disappointed...There have obviously been some creative admissions figures published but for my own part the views fed back show that it is not helping regenerate the town but I would be pleased if proved wrong....I have seen this nation-wide and it’s a complete waste of public money, which we no longer have’ (Michael Wheatley-Ward, Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, personal correspondence[5]).

If this is the case what is the evidence on the success of art-led regeneration?



The evidence on the success of art-led regeneration is poor (see Hewitt, 2011; Lees and Melhuish, 2013). The instrumental role of the arts in solving social problems was justified throughout the 1980s and 1990s on economic grounds.  It was argued that ‘creative cities’ are good for business, attracting inward investment and tourism (eg. Myerscough, 1988; BAAA, 1989; Arts Council, 1989; Wynne, 1992; Bianchini and Landry, 1994; Selwood, 1994; Landry et al., 1996).  Myerscough’s (1988) seminal study for the Policy Studies Institute demonstrated, through the use of a multiplier (‘second’ round impacts of investment), that direct spending on the arts led to spending in other sectors of the economy, which in turn enhanced wealth and job creation, and attracted companies. He claimed that for every job in an arts organization 2.8, 2.7 and 1.8 further jobs were attributable to the arts in Merseyside, Glasgow and Ipswich respectively. Soon post-industrial cities became laboratories for state-sponsored, private-sector-led investment and redevelopment focused around arts and cultural strategies.  The ‘creative classes’ themselves were seen to revitalize economies through their boho lifestyles, values, and consumption patterns (Florida 2002), which were seen to act as a magnet for new businesses. New Labour’s promotion of the concept of ‘Creative Britain’ or ‘Cool Britannia’ was built on these premises, continuing a line of development started under Thatcher.


New Labour’s agenda for arts projects and participation as part of its social inclusion strategies expanded the economic justification, in the sense that arts and cultural projects were promoted as good for the economy because they helped to draw marginalized people back into mainstream productive society, create jobs, and regenerate rundown, marginalised areas, saving money which otherwise would be directed into dealing with social/ health problems. The arts represented a low-cost approach to those issues (Matarasso, 1997; DCMS, 1999b; ODPM, 1999; DCMS, 2002).


New Labour’s position on these issues was strongly influenced by the work of Comedia and particularly Matarasso’s work in the mid-1990s, especially his Use or Ornament? (1997) which was recognized as the first large-scale attempt to reflect the real experiences of those involved in arts projects.  The latter criticized the arts sector’s embrace of an economic case for public funding, and the Arts Council’s support for a Performance Indicator approach, arguing that the real purpose of the arts was ‘to contribute to a stable, confident and creative society’, not to create wealth.  As Merli (2002) noted, the study subsequently ‘played an important role in establishing a near-consensus in Britain’ about the role of the arts in social inclusion. Merli (2002) critiqued the implicit notion of social change which did nothing to suggest how structural conditions which cause social exclusion might be addressed. Belfiore (2002) also pointed to the fact that long-term impacts on social cohesion or wellbeing were not monitored over any period of time, and that the questionnaire-generated data was often incomplete or inconclusive, thus rendering dubious the possibility of any generalized conclusions. Nevertheless, Matarasso went on to work with DCMS and QUEST (Quality Efficiency and Standards Team) on its Key Performance Indicators and the Arts Council based its response to Policy Action Team (PAT) 10 on the understandings presented in his work.


In another detailed review of the evidence Evans and Shaw (2004:28) noted that ‘it is still a new field and much of the literature falls into the category of advocacy and promotion… researchers are still working out what to measure and how to measure it. These decisions are made by researchers and those who commission them, according to the context in which they are working’. Much of Evans and Shaw’s review was echoed in that of Ruiz (2004) for the Scottish Executive, who concluded that ‘Social impact is not only difficult to define, it is also difficult to measure in a ‘hard’, robust way, and although quantitative methods are necessary to measure the extent of social impact across a particular population, ‘softer’ qualitative research methods are required to explore the type and depth of social impact on individuals and communities’. Despite the conclusion that evidence gatherers need longer term, longitudinal, more detailed and ethnographic studies of the impact of art on regeneration and social inclusion (see Lees and Melhuish, 2013) government has already begun to step back towards the old-established economic valuation approach to culture, as a basis for justification of expenditure on arts projects. For example O’Brien’s (2010) report to the DCMS, Measuring the value of culture, focuses ‘on the need for valuation methods that fit the Green Book’s view of value, ie. methods for measuring economic value’ (p 39). The Moonbow Jakes intervention was an attempt at a more qualitative, bottom-up ethnographic view of arts-led regeneration in Margate, a project that allowed people to enter at their own discretion and decide themselves how best to respond.





‘1st July

God bless the Turner in its awkward, anal ways.

This place is the antithesis to the Turner

Contemporary, the true ethos of Margate bubbling through.

God bless Margate’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011






Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011


In the summer of 2011 a derelict greasy spoon cafe at 18 Cliff Terrace in Cliftonville, Margate, situated in a small parade that had not traded in any real sense for over 5 years, facing the sea and overlooking the enormous, virtually derelict, entertainment complex opposite - the Lido - was converted into a cafe-bar and performance space approximately 300m metres from the Turner Contemporary (see Figure 2) and later moved into the Lido itself for the final weeks of the project. The intervention came about through a completely random conversation between the café freeholder, Kelvin Quinn, and the creator John McKiernan.  Kelvin was removing everything from the café and planned to paint the space white to create a gallery.  At the time of the conversation, this appeared to be in line with the belief that there was an underling creative community bubbling away unseen but it later became apparent this was purely an entrepreneurial act, a way of renting out the premises on the back of the new Turner gallery.  John McKiernan wanted to represent the change that was taking place following investment in the Turner Contemporary and to reflect how local people reacted to this new public building. This tallied with Lees’s earlier research into how local people react to new public buildings designed to act as beachheads for gentrification (see Lees, 2001).  Lees has also written about processes of gentrification (Lees, Slater and Wyly, 2008).


Having created and run a successful coffee bar chain in South London for over decade, McKiernan wanted to use this experience to test out some previously held theories by creating a performance café intervention. McKiernan had observed the physical environmental changes in Southwark and East London during the 1990s and 2000s, which had fundamentally transformed the fabric of the existing communities, not always in a positive way.  He related strongly with Richard Lloyd’s book, Neo Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Post Industrial City, which explored the changes that took place in Chicago’s Wicker Park district during the 1980/90s and how profit-focused creative businesses were attracted to the area’s perceived bohemia lifestyle.   McKiernan mused on how regeneration policy during the 1990/2000s looked to use the arts as a form of fertiliser, to grow creative businesses and attract inward investment by profit making companies locating to deprived areas where many artists lived and worked.  Yet, as Lloyd captures in his book, despite companies clearly benefiting from the distinctness of artists and the interweaving community that surrounds them, they often do little or nothing to assist in maintaining the social fabric. 


‘The theory of neo-bohemia invites us to rethink in ways the interrelations of lived space, subjectivity, and instrumental labour in the contemporary period of globalised capitalism and flexible accumulation.’ (Lloyd, 2006, 246)


For McKiernan, policy makers either appear only able to understand wealth creation through an economic lens, thus removing the “creative” distinction that is often liberally espoused, or see the destroying of the originating fabric as the price of progress.  


The former cafe was given a facelift to create a venue for exhibitions and live performances. The existing leather covered booth seating was scrubbed clean and the grease caked floor washed for three continuous days before shoes no longer stuck to it. The intention was to continue to clean the space over the period of the intervention as a representation of regeneration (see Figure 3). The first exhibition on opening was Saif Osmani’s paintings of newspaper images reporting Gandhi’s visit to London in 1931. The newspapers of the time attempted, in Osmani’s view, to hide the fact that many people in the part of East London where Gandhi stayed lived in slums. The photos printed were of rooftops without ever showing the streets. Osmani’s paintings seemed oddly apt as in preparing to set up the project McKiernan found that most local people around Thanet seemed to want to wash away any talk of this particular part of Cliftonville/Margate.


‘I Love this place

At last, the true spirit of Margate and Cliftonville

is being acknowledged. The re-generation through art

by the Turner Gallery & the old town is admireable

but no point if the “SPIRIT” of art is non-apparent.

This pop up cafe/exhibition space is a real grassroots,

down to earth enterprise and is providing a

home to the Spirit of Art.

Nurturing and definitively not Bourgouise’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011


Other activities in the cafe included international concert pianist Julian Jacobson playing a free Beethoven recital, poets sharing their work and impromptu readings around the theme of displacement. Live events took place around the streets - there was children’s disco, organised by themselves, in the Lido with over 100 local kids dancing a Saturday afternoon away and various other live events that encouraged people to join in by making mosaic hearts to cupcakes. Before starting the Margate intervention McKiernan wrote the following on the Platform-7 website:


‘Running from June to September 2011, the space will become a representation of change that often takes place following art-led regeneration and will attempt to become reflective of the way local people view and interact with this change. The ward in which the café is located is one of the most deprived in the UK.  Unemployment is above the national average and the area has a large overseas population.  Operating as a function café-bar the intention is to use live performance and art exhibitions to explore differing aspects of the physical, emotional, political and communal change that takes place in an area designated for regeneration.  The space will engage with the ideas of shifting demographics, culinary tastes, housing stock and commercial investment, affordability, change, resistance, displacement, community, culturalism, memory and nostalgia. It is accepted that by creating this space, even for a short period of 3 months, it will be embedding itself within the narrative and the ripples will be a disruption to the order of any change already taking place.  In an attempt at mitigation the project will become user dependent over the period with customers, viewers, artists and commentators influencing the direction of the space’.


In essence McKiernan performed the ethnographic research that Lees has argued for.


It was envisaged that local people would begin to take a prominent role shaping the space with McKiernan quietly fading into the background.  Initially this looked positive with several locals (that is Thanetians) becoming involved, yet it became immediately apparent that this was an unrealistic expectation, quickly followed by people, quite literally, disappearing.  Throughout the project there was constant flow in and out of local people.  Trust seemed in short supply in Thanet with suspicion and aspersions a constant. In contrast, those who lived on the immediate roads nearby quickly became loyal to the project, many embracing the odd adventure that suddenly appeared in their derelict street, despite not being able to afford to buy even the cheapest item on the menu.  


It became apparent that many Thanetians have a clear unease in trusting other people for a whole host of reasons, especially other Thanetians.  Some of this mistrust surfaced in the comment books and was continuous in the conversation throughout the project.  The local authority, Thanet District Council (or TDC as it were locally referred as), was loathed virtually unanimously.  McKiernan found speaking to councillors a depressing affair, a lack of foresight or wider interests and a misplaced understanding of wider society, sucked away visionary dialogue. There have been many cases of corruption, self-serving and money ‘vanishing’ reported in the local press[6]. There were clearly many unscrupulous landlords who ‘prey’ on the vulnerable and less fortunate.  McKiernan took up offers to visit people’s homes and was shocked by the squalor often found.  With rents sometimes equivalent to those found in London’s Zone 2 it was clear that exploitation was taking place:


‘The people are shouting for one thing and the council are throwing money the other way. And I didn’t trust there was a solution until now’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011


Loyalty in this context was sticking with or completing a task or operation. From the beginning McKiernan was warned by local people of the flightiness of Thanetians, how they had a tendency to disappear.  It was not until some way into the intervention that he could understand these warnings.  Someone would arrive to become involved and say they would be back in 20 minutes and never be seen again.  Although this happens everywhere it was the consistency that made it fascinating.  It is important to point out that the success of the intervention was in large part down to local people coming to the aid of the project when something was needed, eg. when a freezer broke down a local shop sent over a spare to use an hour later. It was the contradiction in one moment helping, the next moment disappearing, that became crucial to an overall understanding some of the problems in Thanet as perceived by McKiernan.


‘Its addictive coming back again and again. Wish the alternative reality could go on to build unity within our community’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011

Unity did exist within the community on the surface but beneath the skin there were many competing entities that rendered the area leaderless.  And a leader was what many seemed to be desperate for, someone who could bring various parties and factions together and create a cohesive plan to take Thanet forward.  The ‘Thanet They’ was a term coined by McKiernan after a few weeks into the intervention.  It came from the constant reference to ‘they should do this’, ‘they should do that’.  McKiernan made a point of always specifically asking who ‘they’ were when the word was used.  But trying to pin down who ‘they’ were proved very difficult, it was always a vague response, sometimes being the district council or the government, sometimes some person unknown who may have had some connection at some point to the complaint being made.  Although visitors and people from outside Thanet also used ‘they’ occasionally it was the intensity and quantity of the use of the word by Thanetians that was intriguing.


The ‘Thanet They’ fed into a wider issue of dependency. There are a vast amount of residents in the location of the café who depend on the state for help. Throughout the project it was clear that literacy and basic verbal communication were difficult for large numbers of people. There was the large overseas population for whom English was a foreign language, and the scale of semi-illiteracy amongst the British born residents was quite disturbing.  Clearly intelligent people felt ‘stupid’, inferior and often intimidated by the lack of ability to read and write.  In the many hundreds of conversations over the 13 weeks it was clear that poor writing and mathematical skills were a huge source of embarrassment and made many locals intimidated. McKiernan would encourage, gently push, people to write in the comments book despite their reservations on spelling and grammar, most were desperate to be heard and were surprisingly candid about themselves, impacts on their lives and how they deal with their situation. Yet the dependency culture was not limited to an educational ‘underclass’. Dependency clearly ran all the way through the local society to developers, councillors and ‘civic’ people.  Throughout the 13 weeks there was a continuous bemoaning of the need for the ‘Government’ to give more financial aid to Thanet.  What was striking from the conversations within the café was that the money required was for physical infrastructure, improving housing stock, new buildings and attracting ‘new people’; there was little or no mention of improving the human capital of those living in the area.


‘The thing I most strongly

Feel the “Moonbow Jakes” has

Achieved is a feeling of belonging. A huge sense

of community. A pinning of the people who loose

something when you

leave. But a seed planted

of new beginning springing

from a fun venture, a

fun summertime family xxx’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011



Property developers, estate agents and landlords were a particularly interesting group who descended on the project as its popularity grew.  There was a predisposition that the café was the beginning of the ‘renaissance’ of the area and that it was a pioneer. Many landlords and developers, etc, became irritated with McKiernan as they were unable to work out why such a project would exist without a clear financial objective. The popularity of the café showed a ‘masterstroke’ in creating a business ‘out of nothing’, yet little thought appeared to be given to the ridiculously low prices for high quality products on offer.  As a business, the price of drinks and food would be incapable of supporting such a venture long-term.  These conversations brought into sharp contrast deeper issues concerning modern capitalism and the barriers to solving the present crisis within the system and finding solutions to making it more equitable.  As with those he met whose mindsets were desperately entrenched with hopelessness at their situation, these conversations showed the opposite where money ruled all decision making and that little or no wider thinking was contemplated.  The approach of every conversation ran into the other of John’s coined phrases ‘grabbing the dollar’.


‘Elephant and Castle by the


And look what happened


Enjoy it while you can’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011


McKiernan, like Lees, was struck on his arrival by the way that in many bars, restaurants, cafes, shops and other outlets in Margate there was a demand to pay immediately.  Although paying up front is not unusual in other parts of the UK, or the world, it was the sense of ‘demand’ that was striking.  Before the café project began the weather was glorious and many friends joined McKiernan for days and weekends by the sea and to see the new Turner Gallery.  They were bemused, as were Lees and McKiernan, and occasionally surprised, to be asked to pay in advance for a meal/drink in a café/restaurant before the food or service. Too often the product supplied was inferior to what one would normally pay for the price.  Many of the bars asked for payment before pouring pints or making drinks, rare in the UK.


There was also a consistency in comments from visitors and those who had moved to Margate on the demand in advance for poor quality service or goods.  ‘Grabbing the dollar’ as soon as possible felt desperate.  No major retail chain would countenance a till operative holding out their hand as a person reaches for their purse, it would be seen as rude and maybe aggressive.  In Margate, it was/is normal.  In return, the quality of service in many aspects was/is poor.  There was a sense of doing the minimum for maximum return.  For McKiernan, it was a reminder of the service and quality found in many of the state run restaurant and shops in Cuba in the 1990s.


When people from further afield entered the Moonbow café there was a very clear distinction in how they interacted with the project. Londoners and other tourists engaged with the intervention and wanted to know more about Cliftonville and the Lido.  Although many commented on the state of the area few felt threatened or nervous.  People from other areas of Thanet on the other hand were reluctant to enter the café, look at or participate in the art.  It became abundantly clear as time passed that there was nervousness to the project, the area and the people from other Thanetians.  And it was this nervousness that was the most striking thing about the project.  What appears to be lacking in Thanet is a sense of confidence among the population.  Even among councillors and ‘officials’ the lack of confidence appeared to manifest itself in the appearance of arrogance or rudeness. McKiernan all too often witnessed people in ‘official’ positions with aggressive tones and posturing.


Having grown up in Peckham in the 1970s, McKiernan had personal experience of racism and aggression towards minorities by the police and local people, as did Lees growing up in Manchester in the 1980s.  What was experienced in Cliftonville during the summer of 2011 was akin to this, although colour of skin was not the prime motivator, it appeared, of racist manner, it was more nuanced and complex. Police regularly and randomly stopped young people and some officers carried an air of menace.  On several occasions officers would make derogatory reference to the ‘Kosovans’ without thinking that others might have an alternative view.  The main ire of aggression, however, was towards Eastern Europeans; racism was not limited to the indigenous versus new arrivals. There were also huge racial/cultural issues amongst the immigrant communities themselves. For example, there was an almost unanimous adult dislike for the Roma community from all other sections (children under 11 appeared less bothered by ethnic background).  The Roma did not appear to help the situation by not learning or refusing to learn English. Although gang culture was a real possibility from what was observed, it seems that the population is too transient for serious issues to arise.


The thing most frustrating to endure was the constant nostalgia peddled to justify much that has been observed above.  ‘The Foreigner’ was the kicking boy for many of the ills, it was their fault that Margate was as it is.  People reminisced in lyrical terms about how Margate was a town of abundance even if the eye witness accounts did not bear this out.  Margate definitely had better days but it was the area of Cliftonville that was the town of abundance with the wider Margate feeding off the crumbs as people ferried between the train station and their summer pads or hotels.  Indeed, it became apparent that nostalgia has blighted the area and created ardent camps on how the area should be seen and move forward.  Most of the ‘opinion’ was based on hearsay, vague melancholic memories, myth and wishing for some unrealised past.  


As people began to understand the idea behind the Moonbow Jakes project they began to open up.  What was clear from the conversations, and the comment book, was that there was a feeling of abandonment in Cliftonville.  Many felt that the council in particular, neglected the area.  Yet, despite the many complaints, the people living within the immediate vicinity remained very positive despite obvious financial hardship.  There was a strong sense of community on the surface and people did honestly appear to be looking out for one another.  Only when money entered the discussion did the community falter.  Tensions did exist between groups but not to the extent witnessed elsewhere and considering the hardship and cramped living many endured.  Across the board a deep held resentment was voiced towards TDC, there were accusations of corruption and anger at unfulfilled promises.  McKiernan’s own experiences dealing with the council, confirmed many of the comments.  Yet there were also many council officials who obviously cared for the area and its people, but were hindered by a lack of policy, coherent strategies or conjoined thinking.  The council seemed very distant from the people it served.


‘Was interesting to discover this project which is asking questions about the location of the Turner Gallery in Margate. Asking questions about power and culture/art is very important particularly at the moment when we are “all in it together” (Not!).

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011





‘I just hope that Margate doesn’t become so trendy that people have to move away because property prices get too high. But I don’t feel that will happen!’

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011


In 2011 the Turner Contemporary was awarded the ‘Best Use of Arts & Culture’ at the Regeneration and Renewal Awards, having been nominated by the South East England Development Agency, who were key funders of the building. The Turner sells its success in its figures about the numbers of socio-economically deprived people it has attracted through its doors to see its art, and in so doing claims to being improving the self-confidence of poor locals: (see the Director Victoria Pomery - http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art383025). The marketing of the Turner has been exceptional.  Grand claims and exaggeration expound.  But there is a clear disjunction with what was being claimed during the summer/autumn of 2011 and what was being observed on the ground in Moonbow Jakes Cafe and Lido Nightclub intervention. 


The people most singing the praises of the gallery were day-trippers and those with a financial interest in promoting Margate.  Many people had recently bought, or were visiting with intention to buy, property in the area off the back of the gallery.  They found their way to the Moonbow project in hope of ascertaining a better knowledge of whether this was a place where they would see their investment grow.  It was clear that the jury was out on the potential success of the gallery and most of those looking to buy were either investors or those unable to purchase homes in wealthier areas.   For those who grew up in Margate and Cliftonville, and among those who have truly made the area home, there was a genuine hope the gallery would bring prosperity, possible work opportunities and improve the built environment. 


There is some evidence that the Turner has attracted other regeneration monies, for example, retail guru Mary Portas designated Margate one of her 27 ‘Portas pilot’ areas to receive part of a £1.2m pot of government cash to rejuvenate its high street. And Wayne Hemmingway was recently announced as the new designer of a £10m heritage park on the Dreamland theme park site paid for by TDC.  But here again there is plenty of evidence of the community fracturing and of these divisions damaging progress[7].  And it is still questionable whether focusing on the mythical past, as both Portas and Dreamland do, harking back to a ‘better time’, is conducive to the regeneration being led by a modern art gallery and the creation of a future looking artist-led economy?


The ‘Turner effect’ has led to growing property speculation.  This is creating major problems for the local authority in terms of improving the area as landlords sit on their property assets with little or no incentive to keep up even basic maintenance.  Many streets have property that is unfit for habitation, overcrowding remains a huge issue, and there is an air of despondency.  And, ironically, filthy streets, poorly maintained by the local authority enhance the view of many in Thanet that Cliftonville/Margate is a write off and does not deserve its large share of the ever-dwindling local public purse. 


The poet T.S.Eliot visited Margate in 1921, he later wrote in his poem The Waste Land: ‘On Margate sands, I can connect nothing with nothing’. It is perhaps too soon to argue definitively that The Turner Contemporary will connect nothing with nothing, will not be a catalyst for social inclusion and regeneration in Margate but the evidence (despite the property speculation) already points in that direction. The fact that Thanet’s council budget has been particularly hard hit by recent government cuts (they are facing larger cuts than any other council in Kent) is especially problematic given the poor and vulnerable community therein. The location of Margate is a perennial issue, the improved rail links are still expensive, indirect and the journey time is relatively long (the quickest route from London is an hour and a half from St. Pancras). This puts off both upper/middle income commuters and tourists alike.  English Heritage’s hopes that ‘providing the supply-side conditions in which cultural and creative industries thrive’ is implausible in an area where large swathes have little or no mobile phone signal and exceptionally low broadband width.  There is no Wifi infrastructure, cafes and bars lack any incentive to invest and there is a lack of public spaces where creative people can mix and potentially work together. Questions need asking as to why the Turner did not have such spaces built into its design?  The poorly considered Clore Learning Studio in the Turner cannot be deemed a ‘creative hub space’ in any manner.


Significantly there is no evidence to support the Turner’s claims in the quotation above that they have improved the self-confidence of poor locals. The new Turner Contemporary has not connected with the local, socially excluded populations. The large grey imposing wall enclosing the gallery from the main road, Fort Hill, does little to encourage in people who already find art intimidating.  Drawing people into the Moonbow café proved difficult enough, even when there was clear curiosity and gentle persuasion from McKiernan. Little more than lip service has been given to the immediate local population in Cliftonville, Lees and McKiernan found more publicity about gallery events and exhibitions scattered around London than they ever saw in Cliftonville.  They cannot recall seeing any marketing for the gallery in the area. 


The question remains – how will the Turner Contemporary regenerate Margate, how will it engage the local community, instil confidence in it, raise aspirations, and act as a catalyst for social inclusion and social cohesion?  


We believe that the arts can have a positive effect on local communities, as Matarasso (1997) argues in Use or Ornament :

‘Individual benefits translate into wider social impact by building the confidence of minority and marginalised groups, promoting contact and contributing to social cohesion. New skills and confidence can be empowering as community groups become more (and more equitably) involved in local affairs. Arts projects can strengthen people’s commitment to places and their engagement in tackling problems, especially in the context of urban regeneration’ (p.85).


A significant number of local people drawn into the Moonbow Jakes Café and Lido Nightclub intervention were from marginalised groups suffering depression, shyness, poor education, disability, low self-esteem and an overall lack of confidence.  But this lack of confidence did not stifle creativity, especially among the most disenfranchised, who required it to cope with surviving the tribulations that come with being poor.   Q q


‘If art is a form of philosophy then access to it as a space for discourse should be open to all. This is completely different from an image of culture which is incapable of taking the necessary risk, making revolt in order to question the symbolic order we are subject to. Reclaiming space to ask questions, find out what we really have in common, and affirm emerging difference is a really important thing to do right now. I think the more we think about this the more work will mutate to become a medium for real questioning, not cultural ornament, just reflecting an unquestioned hierarchy.

Anyway good luck’.

Visitor book Moonbow Jakes 2011




Arts Council England (2009) Making over Margate,


Arts Council England (1989) An Urban Renaissance: The Role of the Arts in Urban Regeneration. London: ACE.

British American Arts Association (BAAA) (1989) Arts and the Changing City: an agenda for urban regeneration, Keens Company.

Belfiore, E. (2002) Art as a Means of alleviating Social Inclusion: Does it Really work? A Critique of Instrumental Cultural Policies and Social Impact Studies, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Volume. 8 (1), pp 91-106.

Bianchini, F. and Landry, C. (1994) The creative city: a methodology for assessing urban vitality and viability. Comedia: Stroud, Glos.

English Heritage (2007) An asset and a challenge; heritage and regeneration in coastal towns in England


Smith, D. (2007) The buoyancy of ‘other’ geographies of gentrification: going back-to-the water and the commodification of marginality, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale

Geografie, 98: 53-67.

Balibrea,M. (2001) Urbanism, culture and the post-industrial city: challenging the ‘Barcelona Model’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 2:2:187-210.

Barker, N., Brodie,A., Dermott,N., Jessop,L., and Winter, G. (2007) Margate’s Seaside Heritage, English Heritage.

Beatty, C. and Fothergill, S (2003) The Seaside Economy: The final report on the seaside

towns research project. Sheffield: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research,

Sheffield Hallam University web-site (http://www.shu.ac.uk/cresr/downloads/publications/5.%20The%20Seaside%20Economy%20- %20Final%20Report.pdf).

British Resorts Association (2000) UK Seaside Resorts – Behind the Facade. Southport:

British Resorts Association.

DCLG (2007) Coastal towns: second report of session 2006-07 report, together with formal

minutes, oral and supplementary written evidence. London: The Stationery Office.

DCMS (2002) Making it Count: The Contribution of Culture and Sport to Social Inclusion. London: Stationery Office.

DCMS (1999a) Local Cultural Strategies: Draft Guidance for Local Authorities in England. London: Stationery Office.

DCMS (1999b) The Arts and Neighbourhood Renewal: a research report. Policy Action Team 10 (PAT 10) report to the Social Exclusion Unit/ SEU. London: Stationery Office.

Degen, M. and Garcia, M. (2012) The Transformation of the ‘Barcelona Model’: An Analysis of Culture, Urban Regeneration and Governance, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36:5:1022-1038.

English Heritage and Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment [CABE] (2003) Shifting Sands, London.

English Tourism Board (2001) Sea Changes – Creating World Class Resorts in England. A

Strategy for Regenerating England’s Resorts. London: English Tourism Board

Evans, G. and Shaw, P. (2004) The contribution of culture to regeneration in the UK: a review of evidence, DCMS.

Florida, R., (2002) The Rise of the Creative Class, New York: Basic Books.

Heathcote,E. (2011) Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent, Financial Times,


Hewitt, A. (2011)  Privatizing the public: three rhetorics of art’s public good in “Third Way” cultural policy, Art and the Public Sphere, 1:1:19-36.

Landry, C., Greene, L., Matarasso, F., Bianchini, F. (1996) The Art of Regeneration: Urban Renewal Through Cultural Activity.  Stroud, Glos: Comedia. 

Lees, L. (2003) ‘Visions of “Urban Renaissance”: the Urban Task Force Report and the Urban White Paper’ in R. Imrie and M. Raco (eds) Urban Renaissance? New Labour, Community and Urban Policy , Bristol: Policy Press, pp.61-82.

Lees, L. (2001) Towards a Critical Geography of Architecture: the case of an ersatz colosseum, Ecumene: A Journal of Cultural Geographies, 8 (1): 51-86.

Lees,L. and Melhuish,C. (2013, forthcoming) Arts-led regeneration in the UK: the rhetoric and the evidence on urban social inclusion, European Urban and Regional Studies.

Lees, : ., Slater,T. and Wyly,E. (2008) Gentrification, Routledge: New York.

Lloyd, Richard, (2006), Neo-Bohemia, Art and Commerce in the Post Industrial City, New York, Routledge

Matarasso, F. (1997) Use or ornament? The social impact of participation in the arts. Stroud, Comedia.

Merli, P. (2002) Evaluating the social impact of participation in arts activities: a critical review of Francois Matarasso’s “Use or ornament?”,  International Journal of Cultural Policy, 8:1: 107-118.

Myerscough, J. (1988) The Economic Importance of the Arts in Britain. London: Policy Studies Institute

O’Brien, D. (2010) Measuring the value of culture: a report to the DCMS.  

ODPM/DCLG (1999) Regeneration through culture, sport and tourism. (http://www.communities.gov.uk/archived/publications/localgovernment/regenerationthroughculture)

Ruiz, J. (2004)  A Literature Review of the Evidence Base for culture, the Arts and Sport Policy, Scottish Executive.

Selwood, S. (1995) The benefits of public art: the polemics of permanent art in public places. London: Policy Studies Institute.

Walton,J. and Brown,P. (2010) (eds) Coastal regeneration in English Resorts – 2010, Coastal Communities Alliance.



Wynne, D. (ed.), (1992) The Culture Industry, Arena: Aldershot.










[1] See http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4694122/margate-top-10-world-destination.html.

[2] See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-20721574.

[3] Cr. SEEDA (2005) Coasting along: a study of business impacts and regeneration in south east coastal towns. A report from the New Economic Foundation for the South East Enterprise Development Agency.

[4] http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Iconic-Margate-building-demolished-council-fails-buyer/story-11982092-detail/story.html

[5] Michael Wheatley-Ward has stated ‘my basic views are printable and written under a “Without prejudice basis”’ .

[7] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coathangers-at-dawn-mary-portas-rocked-by-margate-walkout-8079568.html

AHRC funding for king's college london research partnership


Platform-7 is pleased to announce the forthcoming research collaborative research project with Andy Pratt, professor of Culture, Media and Economy, King's College London [click]




This project will be concerned with how and why knowledge is exchanged between networks and community participants.  By unlocking new patterns of working and thinking may offer a fresh approach of communicating, collaborating and functioning.  The aim is to formalise platform 7's practice in academic terms, and to examine how academic ideas can be translated into platform 7's practice.  This formulised understanding can then be disseminated to groups and artists looking to work in a codified process of collaboration, whether with community groups and/or with other artists/organisations.  By extension, we hope to develop a stronger understanding of informal community structures and the relevance to creating a sense of place. 


The aim is to examine and implement a novel creative engagement between artistic practitioners and intermediaries, and academics. Our focus is both academic and practical in the broad question of knowledge transfer: generating, filtering and using ideas in creative practice. In particular how and why such activities are embedded in places, organisation and people. We will work to interrogate past and current practice of Platform-7 and translate it into useful current knowledge to apply to live projects. We seek to use a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology, which stresses the role of researched, and researcher as a partnership, which will enable us to collectively reflect upon questions and actions, and ways of implementing them. Specifically to codify, and reflect upon, existing practice of Platform 7, and cutting edge academic research on knowledge transfer and, through interaction, to refine and innovate, and apply new practices.


AHRC website   |   Creativeworks London website   

re-imagining Ladies tights press release

Press Release for Re-imagining Ladies Tights [10th May 2013]


Dress made from tights; Anna Kompaniets



GATHERINGS: age UK, Lewisham & Southwark,  
10 Catford Broadway, Catford, SE6 4SP
Collecting old tights and stockings, public washing, creating yarn while storytelling, a promenade photoshoot before producing something new, this project will re-imagine how women perceive these easily discarded garments. 
When women wear tights or stockings, how do they view themselves?  How does it make them feel and how are they perceived?  Do tights and stockings dictate how society is formed?
Russian women wear tights in Moscow as ‘it’s seen as trashy not to wear tights’ whereas in Gambia ‘some girls would wear fishnets - people would look at them badly thinking they are call girls’  When a Gambian woman meets a Russian woman in Catford, South London, how do they perceive each other?
Re-imagining Ladies Tights is a live conceptual art performance experience that examines the role of tights and stocking in our society.   Commissioned by Lewisham Council, with support from Arts Council England, art-duo Akleriah will be collecting broken tights and stockings from across the London Borough of Lewisham, supported by Platform-7, to ask why such easily disposable attire carries so much kudos.  
Part of Lewisham Council’s drive to encourage more textile recycling, this 6 week intervention in Catford will ask women to consider the wider issues and their relationship with tights and stockings.  It will examine the politics that surrounds an item that appears to be essential apparel and discuss how women use tights and stockings beyond a fashion accessory while men often distinguish alternative views.  
In series of female-only  gatherings at ‘age UK’s’ Catford Broadway shop, the performance experience will generate stories and thoughts on the attire that has shaped female body image for over four generations. By publically displaying these stories on the walls of the old Catford Civic Centre, the project looks to unveil how women distinguish themselves and how men identify with tights and stockings. 
The event begins with our collection from specially handmade recycled bags for recycling tights hanging in locations across Lewisham, including Lesoco (formally Lewisham College), Goldsmiths, age UK, Laban, Lewisham / Catford town centres. Full details on the blog and details on how to order a recycle bag for a specific location.  
A public wash performance will take place on 21st May in Catford Broadway before the tights are cut into yarn on 28th May to create something completely re-imagined.  Women over 18 from any background can become involved in this FREE unique explorative event and asked to donate an item to age UK to be sold in the shop or purchase an item to support the work of this important local charity.
For Akleriah, the event allows them to investigate “the image, gender politics, social and material value of women’s tights. By working with women volunteers in Catford and their personal tights’ stories, it is envisaged that a more significant social meaning, which discarded tights carry, and make their recycling problematic and challenging, will be addressed”.                  
Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: “This is a really interesting idea and I hope it will help women reflect on some of the many social expectations placed on them. Of course, there’s also a very practical element to this installation and performance. We want women to recycle their old tights and stockings by putting them in the textile bring banks across the borough.”
John McKiernan, founder of Platform-7 Events said: “The ethos and name of Platform-7 Events derives from London Bridge Railway station having 16 platforms yet no platform 7, few commuters notice this.  The company presents astute art interventions that engage people and encourages us to explore the significant in the everyday, the world that surrounds us and issues that impact our environment”


Bags Location and Requests
Bags for re-cycling of tights can be requested by emailing :  re-imagining@mail.com 
Locations of tight collection points can be found here :  http://re-imaginingtights.tumblr.com/collection-points 
Akleriah was founded in 2009 by multi-media conceptual artists Anna Kompaniets and Lenka Horakova. Coming from Russian and Czech backgrounds their work is inspired by their heritage, folklore, philosophy, spiritualism and current environmental issues. Akleriah create a performative multi-dimensional art experience with collaborators from dance, music, theatre, film and other creative fields. Akleriah performances and workshops also act as a 'meeting place' to create a close knit community.  Akleriah have previously performed at Tate Britain, The Queen's House Royal Museums Greenwich, Turner Contemporary, Shunt Vaults among other public spaces, museums and galleries.
Platform-7 is South London based micro events company that curates and facilitates abstract live art performance in public spaces.  Formed in 2009, the company has developed a number of highly successful interventions including a single event across multiple London Underground stations exploring war on Remembrance Sunday (2012), discussing the politics of the videocassette in a disused Blockbuster Videostore in Catford (2012), questioning the Turner Contemporary and regeneration policy in Margate (2011), and perception of conflict in various cemeteries at night (2009-2011).  
age UK
10 Catford Broadway, Catford, SE6 4SP
age UK Lewisham and Southwark is a trusted local charity with over 30 years of experience of working to improve life for older people. We deliver services to support the most vulnerable, socially excluded and isolated older members of our community, delivering preventative solutions to negate the emotional, financial and physical challenges that many older people face.
Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people's lives.  We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.  Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. 
How to get there: 
Catford is well served by public transport and has plenty parking
Train: Catford (2mins), Catford Bridge (2mins), Ladywell (12mins), Hither Green (12mins) and Lee (15mins) railway station (walking times)
Bus: 47 Catford Garage - Shoreditch via Lewisham
54 Elmers End - Woolwich via Blackheath
75 Croydon Town Centre - Lewisham via Penge
124 Eltham - Catford (St. Dunstans College) via Mottingham, Grove Park and Torridon Road
136 Grove Park - Peckham via Goldsmith's College
160 Catford Bridge Station - Sidcup via Eltham.
171 Catford Garage - Holborn Station via Brockley, Peckham and Waterloo
181 Grove Park - Lewisham via Downham
185 Lewisham - Victoria via Dulwich
199 Catford Garage - Canada Water/Surrey Quays via Greenwich
202 Crystal Palace - Blackheath Royal Standard via Catford
208 Lewisham - Orpington via Catford and Bromley
284 Lewisham - Grove Park via Crofton Park and Verdant Lane
320 Catford - Biggin Hill Valley via Bromley
336 Catford - Locks Bottom via Bromley
Car: Plenty Parking
Further media enquiries 
Contact John McKiernan 
07808 808 704
Blog:  http://re-imaginingtights.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReImaginingLadiesTights?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/reimaginetights
Further Event information:   http://www.platform-7.com/#!reimagining-ladies-tights/c1a8g 

Want to understand marketing?

Founder of Platform-7, John McKiernan, worked at GGT Advertising from 1988-1995 at a time when advertising was going through huge transition.   A place of brilliant minds, it was only with hindsight did the influence on the thinking of Platform-7 become apparent.  The following is from the blog of Dave Trott, GGT's Creative Director during much of that time, and captures beautifully how marketers often misunderstand the world that surrounds us all: 


Function follows form by Dave Trott

When Starbucks first started I was standing in the queue in the Oxford Street branch. In front of me was a Geordie bloke. He said to the barista: 'Can I have a small coffee, pet?'

In a foreign accent, she said: 'You want a tall coffee?'

He said: 'No pet, just a small one.'

She said: 'A tall one, yes?'

He held his thumb and forefinger apart and said: 'No, no, just a small one, like.'

I leaned over, I said: 'In here a tall one is a small one.'

He said: 'You what?'

I said: 'They call a small coffee a Tall coffee.'

He said: 'Why do they do that? What do they call a big coffee?'

I said: 'A Venti.'

He said: 'What about a medium one?'

I said: 'A Grande.'

He said: 'Why don't they just call them small, medium, and large?'

I said: 'I dunno. Maybe so they can charge more for it.'

Starbucks didn't speak the language of ordinary people. People had to learn to speak Starbucks. The illusion was that Starbucks were the experts in coffee. That's why they didn't use the same words ordinary people did. About the same time, I was doing a pitch with Mike Greenlees to a big supermarket chain. During the pitch, Mike said to the client: 'You can increase stock-turn by optimising your on-shelf margins.' This seemed to go down very well. So well, in fact, we walked out of that meeting with the account. I kept quiet because I hadn't understood a word.

When we got to the car park, I asked Mike what that meant: 'You could increase stock-turn by optimising your on-shelf margins.' Mike said: 'It's simple. It just means if they make everything cheaper then people will buy more.' I asked Mike why he didn't just say that to the client. Mike said we wouldn't have got the account if he had. Mike said it sounded too trivial. It sounded like we didn't know anything about marketing. Whereas 'Increase your stock-turn by optimising your on-shelf margins' sounded like sophisticated marketing thinking. Although it meant the same thing, it allowed us to present ourselves as experts. Because ordinary people don't talk like that. And I realised that there are two distinct markets. Real-life consumers, and marketing people. Agencies are supposedly experts at selling products or brands to ordinary people. Well that's one kind of language. But actually, the most successful agencies are really expert at selling themselves to marketing people. And that's a whole other kind of language.

In fact, it's a different world.

Where people only achieve credibility by the complexity of the language they use.

The more complicated it is, the cleverer it must be.

So marketing people move further and further away from the way ordinary people talk.

And further towards an obscure, specialised language that only those in the know can understand.

And we have a 'them' and 'us' culture.

So much so, that marketing people can't speak or think like ordinary people anymore.

We know this because when we want to know what ordinary people think, we have to recruit them.

Then we have to observe them behind a two-way mirror.

Like a strange species.

And we have to pay an expert to organise all that for us.

An expert observer of the world of ordinary people.

This expert is called a researcher.

And this expert will correlate the results and draw conclusions.

And tell the marketing people what ordinary people think.

He'll tell 'us' what 'them' think.

You see, the real world is too simple for us.

Because the marketing world is all about complexity.

And what we don't get is that complicated isn't clever.

Whereas, in truth, you have to go beyond complicated to get to simple.

As Einstein said: 'If you can't explain it to an 11 year-old then you haven't really understood it.'

So marketing people equate simple with stupid, and complicated with clever.

Whereas the opposite is true.

Almost invariably in a brief, the quality of the thinking is inversely proportional to the length of the words used.

Why is this? Well, everyone learned how to write a thesis at uni.

And what they learned was they were marked on the complexity of the language, the obscurity of the sources, the arcane nature of the arguments, the amount of effort that went into the paper.

Not on the actual quality of the thinking. Not on the simplicity and power and efficacy of the solution.

Only on the paper.

They learned that Function Follows Form.

And what we've got is ordinary thinking expressed in clever words.

When what we need is clever thinking expressed in ordinary words.


Follower Dave Trott's Blog Here: http://www.cstthegate.com/davetrott


Source: Wikipedia


Resting Place essay by Gill Saunders

V&A Senior Curator, Gill Saunders discusses Dawn Cole’s ‘Resting Place’

Platform-7 will be facilitating a series of live performance events accompanying this artwork in public spaces and museums across Kent, London and Wimereux, France from September 2013 until 2016





Resting Place


Though it is now a century distant from us and has thus passed almost entirely from living memory, the First World War still looms large in our collective consciousness. It was this war which largely shaped our rituals of remembrance – giving us the poppy emblem redolent of the blood spilled in ‘Flanders’ fields’, the Cenotaph in Whitehall which is the nation’s foremost war memorial, and the observation of a two-minute silence at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” (marking the end of hostilities on the Western Front between Germany and the Allied forces at 11am on 11 November, 1918). This war is embedded in modern memory, with a singular power to evoke pity and horror, the power to move us in ways which more recent conflicts do not. As the poet Vernon Scannell describes it in his poem The Great War (1960):


And I remember,
Not the war I fought in
But the one called Great
Which ended in a sepia November

Four years before my birth.



Much has been made of this in literature – in the work of novelists, such as Sebastian Faulks in Birdsong, and Pat Barker in her Regeneration trilogy, for example – and in popular culture, as we see in the recent success of stage and film adaptations of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse - but it has rarely impinged on contemporary art. A notable exception is the artist and printmaker Dawn Cole who has been quietly crafting her own affecting memorials to the events of the Great War, in a growing body of work which draws on the experiences of her great aunt Clarice Alberta Spratling (1891-1942) who served as VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse in Wimereux, northern France, from 1915 until the end of the war.


Clarice kept a diary of her time in France, and it is this modest record (along with the accompanying photographs, and other archive material) which have supplied Cole with the ideas and motifs which have inspired successive projects and sequences of prints. Terse and matter-of-fact, the diary entries often belie the awfulness of the events they record. Clarice notes that the “wounded are continually coming in” and includes accounts of shocking injuries, and of the distress of men who had been wounded and gassed, all set down in blunt unemotional prose: “Dec 21st 1915: Gas boy died”; “Jan 2nd 1916: Men had eyes removed”. In another entry the stark phrase “Amputations, etc” is a brief brutal summary implying literally unspeakable horrors (often the sights and sounds are simply “too terrible for words”). Only rarely does she give voice to any emotional response to the sufferings of her patients, but the expression is conventional and impersonal: “Blue is better, but makes a terrible noise when leg is dressed, making ones heart bleed”. These truncated phrases suggest cauterized emotions, and a “bright immunity from pity”[1] as the result of the nurses repressing their human sympathies in order to remain professional and effective.  In the sentence which follows, Clarice moves abruptly from Blue’s agonies to “Off duty at 5pm and went to the nurses club where there is reading and tea room downstairs and writing room upstairs. Pay 2 francs, warmth, very comfy.”


Resting Place incorporates not only the narrative of the diaries but springs also from Cole’s intensely personal engagement with her aunt’s story, with a larger family history, and with the nature of memory and remembrance as public ritual. This project moves away from the ‘private’ space of home and studio and gallery, into public arenas where it encompasses and re-stages communal acts of commemoration. The multiple allusions of the prints and pillowcases which constitute the material exhibits of Resting Place are amplified by site-specific installation and performance, their symbolism given substance by their context.


Resting Place is inspired not only by Clarice’s account of her nursing experiences, but takes in the larger story of Wimereux’s role in the war and its aftermath. The town was a major hospital centre for the treatment of British soldiers, and it is also the site of a cemetery for those who died in these hospitals. It may be that some of her nameless patients – Gas Boy and others – are amongst those buried in the War Graves Cemetery. The cemetery is unusual in one particular respect – all the headstones are laid flat on the ground because the sandy soil is too soft to support them in an upright position. On a visit to research Clarice’s story Cole was immediately struck by this, seeing the rectangular white stones as pillows, laid out in neat regular rows like the beds in the hospital wards. From this point on, the project was conceived as a series of pillowcases, printed with texts transcribed from the diaries, to be installed at various locations where they would be laid out like beds – or graves. Cole’s visual metaphors echo a vivid contemporary commentary: in a letter to his wife in 1917, whilst he was on an exploratory visit to France, Sir Edwin Lutyens (architect of the Cenotaph, and of the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval) gave an evocative description of the battlefields and “the graveyards, haphazard from the needs of much to do and little time for thought – and then a ribbon of isolated graves like a milky way across miles of country where men were tucked in where they fell…”[2]


The parallels and metaphors multiply: the bed as a site of birth and of death; the grave where the dead enjoy eternal rest. In euphemistic epitaphs death is a perpetual sleep, the word ‘death’ itself a taboo that must be circumscribed in safer, less literal language such as “he fell asleep…’. The white bed linen – sheets and pillowcases – reminds us of shrouds and of linen for ‘laying out’ a body when preparing it for burial. Conscious of these evasions and elisions – in Clarice’s diary as well as in the wider culture surrounding death and burial – Cole has chosen another euphemism for the title of this project, ‘resting place’ being of course another name for a grave. But as so often in Cole’s subtle and multi-layered work ‘Resting Place’ also alludes to the work’s public aspect and the sequence of installations which began with a laying out of the pillowcases as part of a multi-media event, no man’s land [3], at the disused Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo Station and will be followed by further stagings which will reference Clarice’s original journey from Ramsgate, Kent, to London, on to Wimereux, and back. As well as the places mentioned in the diary, the work will also be exhibited on a train and a boat or ferry.


Keen to use not only Clarice’s words but also her hand-writing in the project, Cole undertook a painstaking process of copying the diary entries. Cole identified with her aunt as she photocopied the fragile pages of the diary, and then wrote with fountain pen over these faint traces of Clarice’s tiny hand-writing. In doing so she learned yet more, discovering in the awkwardness of replicating some of the strokes, that her aunt was likely right-handed where she is left-handed. In this physical process, seeking the feel of her hand, Cole has been ‘shadowing’ Clarice, following in her footsteps as she works to know and understand what is written ‘between the lines’.


Having transcribed the text of the diary, Cole chose certain passages to be applied to the pillowcases, thereby amplifying the analogy between these rectangles of white linen and the marble headstones in the cemetery in Wimereux, each incised with an epitaph for the body beneath. The method by which Cole chose to print the text on the pillowcases brings with it further resonances and allusions to this passage of history, now fading from living memory but preserved in photographs and films, diaries, novels, and of course the cemeteries and war memorials which formalise the idea of commemoration. The texts are ‘printed’ using the devoré process: a gel containing sodium hydrogen sulphate is applied to areas of a piece of cloth, burning away the fibres. Usually used to produce a decorative pattern on fabrics such as velvet, the devoré technique (devoré from the French, meaning ‘devoured’) was used here by Cole to burn her chosen words and phrases into the linen. The faint burn-marks which fringe the edges of the handwritten lettering are visual echoes of the sepia photographs of the period, and the faded ink of the diary entries; but beyond this they also evoke the burns suffered by soldiers who were exposed to mustard gas, one of the most horrifying weapons employed by the German forces in World War I. The gas (a compound of dichlorodiethyl sulfide) burned and blistered exposed skin; it could quickly penetrate wool and cotton clothing to produce painful, sometimes fatal, chemical burns, damaging the skin and eyes; prolonged exposure would damage the lungs too (as the diary tells us, at least one such victim under Clarice’s care died from the effects: ‘Gas Boy died’). A British Army doctor describing a patient affected by mustard gas recorded ‘Brownish pigmentation present over large surfaces of the body. A white ring of skin where the wrist watch was.”[4] A nurse wrote “Gas cases are terrible...Their lungs are gone - literally burnt out. They cannot be bandaged or touched. We cover them with a tent of propped-up sheets....One boy today, screaming to die, the entire top layer of his skin burnt from face and body.”[5] Cole’s devoré-etched texts allude to all this suffering, as the war literally ‘devoured’ the lives of thousands of young men, meanwhile scarring the minds and the bodies of those who lived through it – not least the nurses who witnessed the suffering, often helpless to alleviate it.


Each pillow is identified with a soldier nursed at Wimereux; Cole has attached to each pillowcase a paper label, with a name and a date, analogous to the ‘dog tags’ worn by each soldier; from July 1916 all British soldiers were issued with two tags, one to be left on the body for identification, the other taken for record-keeping purposes and often sent to family at home later. Some of the names are those of men who died in Wimereux, others those who were wounded and returned to Britain. French soldiers also wore similar identification tags; in his memoir Louis Barthas recalled the gruesome business of removing the tags from corpses: “It seemed like defilement and we spoke softly, as if we were afraid of waking them.”[6] The labels also relate to Cole’s research in the Red Cross Archives, where she discovered a ‘Diary of Transference’ which contained all the medical documents concerning an individual soldier. Instructions stamped on the envelope state: “Every Ambulance Train or its equivalent Convoy will be shown on the space below on this envelope which must not be destroyed or removed from the patient until his final disposal in the U.K.” Labels were also attached to wounded men, with details of their injuries. A Royal Army Medical Corps surgeon described how speechless exhausted men arriving at a field hospital responded to questions about their condition by simply pointing to their label.[7] This labelling and transporting of the wounded men is recorded in bland unfeeling bureaucratic language that is the equivalent of the business-like prose which characterises Clarice’s diary.


Like every aspect of this project, the labels themselves are carefully crafted and subtly resonant. Having discovered, in the course of her research, that the labels which were attached to injured men recording their treatment as they ‘travelled’ through the hospital system, were blue, Cole set out to make her own. She used a pale blue paper, watermarked  ‘Handmade 1915’ to make a series of labels, modelled on ordinary luggage labels, which reflect this ‘processing’ of people, and emotions, as well as bringing to mind the idea of journeys as embodied in the enactment of ‘Resting Place’. Clarice’s own journey is also commemorated by a pillowcase; the words etched on this one come from the first entry in her diary; this is undated, but the evidence suggests that it was written in the first week of September 1915. An expression of bravado and determination, these first paragraphs suggest a stoical character, but with their scattering of eager exclamation marks her words also have a flavour of optimistic innocence, as if she and her two like-minded friends were setting out on a ‘girl’s own’ adventure (indeed the diary is titled ‘Adventures of a VAD’):


In time of war everyone has an idea that they ought to join the Army or Navy and if they are unfortunate enough to belong to the female sex, ammunition work or nursing! Naturally every woman, girl, and even child who has anyone fighting for their country feel they absolutely must do something, definitely – to help.


These were the feelings of my two friends and myself. Every day we would ask one another ‘What should we do! Could we nurse! Yes! Would the War office employ people that were willing, but unable to find sufficient funds for nursing abroad. Still we wondered! However, where there is a will there is a way!


The pillowcases themselves are a series of tabulae rasae – blank sheets – onto which various meanings can be projected, but they are most obviously emblems of home and domestic life, and Cole has embellished them with hand embroidery as well as the etched texts. Embroidery – women’s work – was closely associated with home-making, a decorative manifestation of a woman’s care for her home and the well-being of her family. It has been commonplace for women to embellish everyday textiles such bed linen, cushions, tray-cloths, antimacassars, with lace, embroidery, and crochet-work.[8] The pillow is an object of every-day comfort and homeliness, and it often occurs in representations of the dead. In memorial brasses and medieval table-top tombs, for example, the recumbent effigies of the deceased are often shown with their heads cushioned on pillows, as if they were simply sleeping. And of course, almost every man buried at Wimereux would have died with his head on a pillow. Cole has unearthed startling statistics which show how many pillowcases the British Army issued in the course of the war: 3,000 between October and November 1914, but in October 1917, 37,672. As this figure implies, the numbers of men wounded and killed had increased at a shocking rate.


Prompted by her research for Resting Place, Cole has collected a number of vintage hand-embroidered pillowcases which have been the starting point for a related body of work, The Pillow That Smells of His Hair. The title is a quote from a mother whose son had been killed in Afghanistan, as she described how she had kept his pillow because it smelled of his hair and was thus a precious intimate reminder of him.[9] Cole has made plaster casts of these pillowcases which she has then used as printing plates for a series of more than 50 collagraph prints. These prints – with their precise replication of the raised areas of embroidery, and even the texture of the weave of the fabric, are like fossilised fragments; the delicate pastel colours copied from the embroidered motifs are no more than faint traces, faded remnants of a vanished life. Stiff shards of what was once soft and comfortable, these prints prompt us to think once more of the marble headstones ranked in the cemetery, and of the illusion of softness we see in the cold marble likenesses of the tomb sculptures. These prints, with their raised surfaces, the grain of the cloth embedded in the paper, invite our touch, just as the incised lettering on a gravestone or a war memorial might do. As Michael Longley says in his poem The War Graves, of a visit to an unnamed cemetery in northern France, “For as high as we can reach we touch-read the names /Of the disappeared”.[10] Just as Cole has reached back to her aunt’s experience through touching and tracing the words in the pages of the diary, so do we seek a physical connection with the dead and with history as we ‘touch-read’ weathered inscriptions as if they were a kind of Braille that we can only know through the sensations of our finger-tips.

Gill Saunders

April 2013


  1. Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth (first published 1933), London: Virago, 2004, p.187 (Like Clarice, Vera Brittain also served as a VAD nurse during World War I).
  2. Quoted by Gavin Stamp in John Garfield, The Fallen: a photographic journey through the war cemeteries and memorials of the Great War, 1914-18, London: Leo Cooper, 1990, p.vi
  3. no mans land, (2012), Platform-7 Events, Annual Remembrance Event, website url; www.no-mans-land.me, 11th April, 2013, London, England, www.platform-7.com
  4. Quoted in Leo Van Bergen, Before My Helpless Sight: Suffering, Dying and Military Medicine on the Western Front, 1914-18, Ashgate, 2009, p.184 
  5. ibid., p.184
  6. ibid., p.482
  7. ibid., p.308
  8. A notebook dated 1908, found with Clarice’s diary, contains patterns for crochet and knitted lace, as well as recipes and remedies.
  9. Cole heard this in a radio interview broadcast on 11 November, 2011, as she was working in her studio.
  10. In Michael Longley, The Weather in Japan, London: Jonathan Cape, 2000, pp.22-23

 [Dawn Cole Webpage]  [Platform-7 'Resting Place' Webpage]


Gill Saunders



Gill Saunders is Senior Curator in the Word & Image Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Her publications include Picturing Plants: An Analytical History of Botanical Illustration (1995), Apocalyptic Wallpaper (Wexner Center, Columbus, Ohio, 1997), and Wallpaper in Interior Decoration (2003). She was a major contributor to Impressions of the 20th Century, ed. Margaret Timmers (2002).  Her book Prints Now: Directions and Definitions (V&A, 2006; with Rosie Miles) was accompanied by a survey exhibition of innovative contemporary printmaking. In 2010 she co-curated Walls Are Talking, a show of wallpapers by contemporary artists.  Her most recent project is Surface Noise, (curated with John Mackechnie) an exhibition of contemporary printmaking at the Jerwood Space, London.

Margate two years on...


Cliff Terrace, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent, England



Sitting in Fort’s Café, the only remaining shop  along Cliff Terrace in Cliftonville, Kent, on a dry and very cold Easter Sunday conjured mixed feelings of possibility and despair.   The seats we sat on were originally in the Moonbow Margate café project further along the street, comfy and clean, they brought back amusing memories of the weeks of cleaning that were required to remove the caked on grease.  The layout of Fort’s is much more conducive than when originally opened, the reasonably priced lunch was excellent and the place had a settled feel.  Relaxing, chatting and looking out of the window over the estuary leading to the North Sea, it was easy to see why so many people are attracted to this part of Thanet.  Stepping out of Fort’s it becomes apparent the challenge the café has to survive. Almost 2 years on from the Platform-7 intervention, there appears, if anything, less hope for Cliftonville and Margate than before 2011.  
When the Moonbow project began, within weeks of the new Turner Contemporary first opening its doors, there were two distinct community camps.  One camp was optimistic that Margate (rarely did anyone mentioned Cliftonville) was turning a corner with the other camp damming the new gallery as a waste of money.   The optimists saw the Moonbow Margate project as just one of the many positive shoots already sprouting from the gallery opening, with people pointing out opportunities to anyone who showed the faintest interest.  Yet the Platform-7 project quickly established deeper issues undermining many of the optimistic hopes that the area would rapidly change and become ‘a more pleasant place to live’.  Greed and apathy were going to be more difficult to alter and, until these aspects could be overcome, the road to an improved living environment was always going to be uphill.  
As with most successful businesses, Fort’s has adapted the business model while becoming more established, understanding its customer requirements, pricing and its place within the wider economy.  Prices at Fort’s are reasonable, although too high for many living in the immediate locality, and will not necessarily deter those who are able to pay.  Yet Fort’s is very exposed as any business that finds itself on its own; it is the only public facing business along a mile of road east of Turner Contemporary.  Fort’s must continuously remind people of their existence, with the very important local customers needing to make a specific journey.  Passing trade from visitors relies on people noticing the café, set back from the road with parked vehicles often blocking it from view.  The lack of street animation makes the café almost invisible to passing traffic set against a parade of derelict properties.  It appeared, when the Moonbow Margate project was packing up to leave Thanet, that the whole parade was about to be rented out by numerous businesses, both new and already established.  Fort’s was going to be just one of many new enterprises creating a fresh sense of place, encouraging the neighbourhood to self-rejuvenate.  
The Moonbow Margate project unearthed an ingrained apathy throughout that whole area, inward looking and nostalgic for some mythical long-ago golden period where everything was perfect.  Cliftonville definitely had a more prosperous time, with the grand buildings and the unique Lido complex giving the area differentiation from other coastal towns, yet there was still a struggle even then to attract consistent visitor numbers.  Opening of Turner Contemporary churned over this apathy, like the sea churns the sand.  An opportunity existed to prove the negative soothsayers wrong.  The combination of local people feeling the pride of a new gallery and out-of-towners attracted to moving-in permanently to the area would create positive and exciting opportunities.    And it was palatable at the Moonbow project, large numbers of people, especially younger 20/30 year olds looking for opportunities to set down roots and start a business/family/new beginning in a place they believed they could afford.   But ahead of them were the ‘property developers’, some local with others from further afield, many sensing easy money, snapping up perceived cheap properties and building a Margate/Cliftonville ‘portfolio’.   This distorted the house prices although for this essay I wish to concentrate only on the impact on commercial units.
Throughout the summer of 2011, numerous individuals approached the Moonbow project seeking advice on business premises - Thanet District council’s business advisory and inward investment approach was atrocious.  One officer sneered ‘rather you then me’ when it was mentioned during a telephone conversation where the Moonbow project was to take place. Most people had small sums of money to invest in a property and an idea that they hoped would turn into a viable business.  What needs to be made clear is this was not one or two people - it was dozens. Combined with various skill sets, there was potential to have a new, highly motivated and skilled workforce descending on Thanet creating numerous micro businesses, many of which may have prospered.   Sensing this, property owners started asking ridiculous rents and demands, including responsibility for all structural repairs to properties, which were often in poor condition due to the salt-laden environment, 10-year leases and other equally nonsensical stipulations.   There was a rudeness and arrogance to the many landlords who came into the Moonbow project, believing that in someway all was good suddenly in the area and it will be gushing in talented new people all fighting to acquire their properties.  Often having got an agreed in-principle rent/price with a prospective tenant/buyer, the property owner would suddenly increase their demand.  Almost daily there were stories of deals falling through due to greed and feeling of untrustworthiness.  Landlords seemed unperturbed by the damage they were probably doing to the town where they had their investment, and there was a naivety that left us involved in Platform-7 flabbergasted.  There appeared little or no appreciation that other towns, Hastings for example, were also vying for these potential residents and businesses or an understanding that as Margate and Cliftonville developed so their portfolio value would rise.  The short-term demands looked desperate, as well as ludicrous, to outsiders. This filtered back to London and other places where many of the potential new businesses were originating; thus staving off others even considering the area in their plans.
Two years on and the results of this are there for all to see - a high street and much of Cliftonville virtually empty of shops and office based businesses also, presumably, declining.  The stalwarts on Cliftonville’s Northdown Road remain resilient, understanding their market and trading towards it, yet it is clear there is little profit left over for investment in their businesses.   The Margate old town was virtually empty; most shops occupied but closed on what should have been a main trading day for a ‘seaside resort’.  We had the Turner gallery almost to ourselves, with few people inside and the gallery’s café also closed.   

Thanet Gazette, June 2011


The town has stalled.  Like Fort’s, Turner cannot stand alone constantly promoting itself, having to continually remind people of its existence.     Yes there are more cafes around offering greater choice, although it is clear that these more than cater for the present existing demand.   This flat marketplace leaves little immediate incentive for potential new businesses to invest in new cafes, bars, or restaurants.   This continuing limited choice leave Margate/Cliftonville little hope of contending with Broadstairs or Ramsgate in attracting people to eat lunch or dinner in the town.  The problem of people visiting Turner then leaving town to dine elsewhere often means losing any subsequent spending they may do in the local shops.  
There is still no Wi-fi and poor mobile phone signal, which is really unforgivable considering the amount of public money invested into the area.  In-fighting amongst interest groups appears as rife as it was in 2011 and the few ‘initiatives’ that were observed appear small minded, inward looking, lacking vision or any real understanding of what is happening outside Thanet.  
Margate and Cliftonville is not finished, in fact there appears to be a sense that things are getting better.  The streets are certainly cleaner, the destructive Tesco plan has gone to judicial review, the quality of food available has improved markedly and the seafront defences, although dreadful workmanship, is at least semi-finished.  There is a determination among many people to improve their town, and there is still good will outside Margate to see the town succeed.   The opportunity to turn the town around remains but the clock is ticking; more new blood is required to support those already trying to get confidence into the town.  More local people need an opportunity, a portal they can enter through to become engaged, and the place needs a radical overhaul in approach and focus on the detail.  It is the little things that will change the town, the people just need inspiring again, something to get behind.
Like Fort’s, it takes time to find where a business fits in the wider ecosystem and become stable.  In the two years since the Moonbow Margate project it was noted that up to 60% of the businesses in the old town had changed ownership or closed down.  In the high street it could be close to 80%.  The turnover of retail leads to a constant repositioning of the town’s attraction to outsiders.  The lack of any coherent policy from the local authority compounds the issue.  
Mary Portas , the TV retail guru, sent by central Government to review Britain’s high streets has chosen Margate as one of her pilot towns to report on.  Her report ‘The Portas Review’  clearly understands the supply side of retail sector yet seems almost naïve in identifying the demand side of the economy, when applied to areas outside the West End of London.   Her arrival in Margate has clearly split the town.  Those spoken to who support her involvement hope that she will provide the leadership the town desperately requires.  Some of those who are against her involvement identify the weaknesses that are apparent in the Review, with others frustrated by different factors.  Regardless of reasons, the town is once again fractured with talk of cliques, interest groups and old-fashioned rivalries.  
The majority of the people we have spoken who live in the area love Margate and Cliftonville, they moan about many things but there is a passion that is not as easy to uncover in other places.  This love and passion is what bonds the people of the town and should be the focus of policy.  Everyone is aware of the issues, especially the affects of the weather, and even the most apathetic appears, on the surface at least, keen to take a pride in the town’s future.  There is enough uniqueness to Margate and Cliftonville, and enough people with passion, to really turn the town into a destination.  There just needs to be an ignition to fire up the bellies and a policy lubricant to ensure it moves forward smoothly.
Within a few years the Turner’s public funding will likely to be a trickle of its present support.  Without a strong marketing budget or a quirky unique town surrounding it, what will draw people to Margate?  It will not be the cold Easterly wind presently blowing.    
Quick Fixes
• The town has to work together and rally 
• Pay attention to the detail: Focus on the little things rather than grand plans
• Wi-fi and mobile phone connection is the number one priority of Margate and Cliftonville
• Eking out what is the uniqueness of the area and displaying this more prominently before building the town around it
• Raising the bar to meet visitor expectations
• Basic service: ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and clean establishments 
Please feel free to share your view on this article, whether positive or negative, by adding a comment below or via Facebook [ click]
John McKiernan


John McKiernan is the founder of Platform-7 and spent 6 months living in Margate and Cliftonville.  The Moonbow Margate project took place over 13-weeks during summer 2011.  An essay discussing this project will be published later in 2013.  For more information on the project follow the link: http://www.platform-7.com/#!margate-cliftonville-intervention-2011/c16z5

Collaborating with Platform-7

Collaborating with Platform-7

Artists' Dawn Cole and Jonathan Pigram discuss their experiences of collaborating with Platform-7




Dawn Cole: Resting Place; working in collaboration
Following on from Resting Place being launched at LPT last Nov there has been lots of activity behind the scenes to develop the project and take it forward. With Platform-7 now collaborating on the project it has made a big impact already, and although not the first time I have collaborated, it will be the first time with an organistion.
Resting Place is being developed in to a series of touring events that will begin in Ramsgate later this year, then travel to London, Folkestone and France before returning to France in 2016. The project will include a series of outdoor performances involving the installation of pillowcases , dance, spoken word and film.
We have already begun to think about how the spoken word element will be performed, with readings taken from Clarice’s diary... [read more by clicking here]     www.dawncole.co.uk
Jonathan Pigram


In March 2012, I was lucky enough to be involved in an intervention organised by Platform 7 in Catford.
I was put in touch with John McKiernan (the guvnor) by the artist Paul Hazelton who I got to know whilst invidilating an event in Margate.  He became aware of my work as he is a great supporter of local artists, galleries and the University for the Creative Arts.  He recommended that I should get in touch with John, and before I knew it,  I had help load up a large van full of some of my old video machines, amplifiers, speakers and a red carpet into the back of a white van.
Due to the riots on August the 11th of August 2011, the Catford Blockbusters was closed and had remained empty for many months.  John had carefully chosen a team of collaborators and artists to put on a two week event, the details of which can be seen here:
Personally it gave me a validity to not only my work, but also to an ideology where all our possessions are precious and should be kept as historical artifacts of our lives, as well as things to be enjoyed by friends and family in the future.   I guess you could say I’m a bit of a hoarder, or collector is the term I prefer. 

Was it worth it? : no man’s land 2012 Remembrance

Was it worth it? : no man’s land 2012 Remembrance


The live performance event ‘no man’s land’ on Remembrance Sunday 2012 set out to try and mirror some of the emotions, thoughts, processes and results of people within a society heading into war.  Deliberately obfuscous for audience and participants, the intention was to distribute confused messages and misunderstanding in the way protagonists preparing for conflict often mediate their intentions.   This essay discusses a question that follows all conflicts, was it worth it?




It is four months since the 2012 ‘no man’s land’ Remembrance event across the London Underground. Permission has just been granted for the next incarnation of the event, to show the 2-minute silence videos from last year as an installation on Canary Wharf tube station in November 2013.   Overall the conversations regarding ‘no man’s land’ have been muted, with many images and promises of feedback not forthcoming.  A few videos remain outstanding and the website has a trickle of views each day.  For me, the creator, the event has surpassed by best hopes, but for others involved, I wonder whether there is a feeling of was it worth it? 


For some, the event proved pivotal and they have strong views of its relevance.  One or two have shared their doubts, not stating anything negative, well not to me personally anyway, more a vagueness to the point of it all.   I feel there is a certain amount of protectionism taking place, yet who this protectionism is for remains debatable.   Has criticism aimed at the event been curtailed so not to offend me in someway or could it be that people feel a little intimidated by the event, a not getting it?  Not being able to understand something can give a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of being stupid, as everyone else seems to get it.   The feelings are often internalised and only shared if the right forum materialises.  Much in modern society is measured on the success/failure axis; so being on the right side of the success/failure is made to be important.   After all, no one wants to be on the losing team? 


Success/failure is relatively simple to apply to a football match; it is more complex when the parameters and the actors are less obvious, where aims and outcomes are approached in a more fluid manner.   Staying with a football analogy, if a person is neutral to the teams playing, other factors will need determining if a success/failure response is required.  


Creating live performance events has, it seems, become fixated on a narrow focus of metrics to decide success/failure - audience numbers, reviews, ticket sales and the dreaded ‘outcomes’.  Removing these metrics suddenly appears to undermine a live performance event, what is the point if these metrics are not considered?  The issue may reside in the use of the word ‘performance’ in the ‘live performance event’.   Theatre schools across the world ensure that the students know how to understand and engage an audience; likewise, audiences have developed protocols when viewing performance events.  Thus it makes no sense to many people if these long established criteria’s are not applied. 


An inquiry of ‘no man’s land’ was how war becomes a performance event.  Wars for centuries are generally orchestrated at the outset in some form or other.  As the modern world has developed, so has the need to carry the population behind any cause for war, whether this is through nationalistic fervour or coercion.  Much effort goes into performatising the view of war; as demonstrated by the classic images from the first Gulf war of a rocket camera showing the target, as it homes in for obliteration.  Whether it is Afghanistan, Falklands or World War One, the media presentation is formed with a viewer in mind and is presented as such to meet that audience’s expectation.  Yet for those starring in the media article, the actors, there is little sense that it is make-believe or performance, a child being slaughtered is exactly what it is.  The horror and shattered fragments stay with those who survive as an imprint on the mind, as many witness testaments show, even 100 years later, these imprints do not fade. 


What is being stated here is a difference between a construct developed in live performance events and live events.  Creatives, when developing a piece of work as art, rather than entertainment, wish to impact the viewer fundamentally, that the art necessitates a change in the way world is perceived.   Although easy to wish for it is difficult to achieve.


The point of ‘no man’s land’ for me was to try to create an event closer to a live event than a live performance event.  The uncertainty and confusion challenged everyone who came into contact with the event.  Many people found it extremely irritating that it was so vague.  Some were annoyed, most bemused, and it was reasonably surprising to find that over 40 people actually became involved on the day, most of who had no previous direct connection to the Platform-7 network or me.   The atmosphere post event was electric, many comments were made that it was like nothing else every experienced, the event had achieved its intention, to indelibly embed into the memory.  I am confident that everyone involved will remember this event, whether positively or negatively, regardless of how many future events they do.


As in war, people came together for a common aim, executed that aim, and disbanded.  The percussion resonated out among the artists’ friends and family who probably could not understand the point.  And this reflects on how the outside world often looks at war; what is it about, why do it, what is the point.  When watching a 2 minute news item on Sky News about Syria, a civil conflict that is presently raging, it is through a mediated lens with a the words ‘success’ and ‘failure’ littering the report.    It is easy to watch as a distant audience member, a doctor operating without painkillers in a rubble filled room, although maybe disturbing it is quickly smothered by an advertisement for a new car.  Although I suspect that conversations are going on about the Syria conflict and other conflicts in the world, like the ‘no man’s land’ event, the conversations appear muted, in London at least.     


Too much modern performance, from the outset, looks to ensure the audience gets it! For the audience to get it, the performers must get it first.   Many performances want to tax the mind a little but not so much that the viewer has to work at it.  In entertainment, this is how it should be, but in live art performance?  For me, live art performances should be about challenging the preconceived notions of the artist and the audience.  For me, the drowsiness of the European public to understand what was happening in the lead up to World War One was one of the key factors in relatively minor grievances becoming a mass war.   Art has a role to play in helping stimulate the mind of people to broaden their questioning of the world around them;  ‘no man’s land’ was an attempt at this broadening. 





Listening 2 Minutes Silence at Canary Wharf

Installation at Canary Wharf Underground Station from 1-11th November 2013,  Free


Almost a century on, how do people today interact with the Remembrance 2-minute silence?  What does it mean to them?  Television news bulletins show the UK coming to a halt, people taking a moment to consider the atrocities of war, yet is this true reflection of what takes place?


In 2012, Platform-7’s created the ‘no man’s land’ Remembrance event across 10 London Underground tube stations and the disused Eurostar at Waterloo on Remembrance Sunday.  Before the event began, all the performers respected the 2-minutes silence, which was filmed for the occasion.  What these films show is a different view to that which mainstream media show of the entire nation stopping to remember.


With the kind permission of London Underground Limited, Platform-7 will create an installation in the the form of bank of televisions, to be placed at the foot of the escalators in one London’s largest and busiest tube stations, Canary Wharf.  From the 1st - 11th November  2013, tens of thousands of commuters, tourists and Londoners will see the televisions showing the 'no man's land' 2-minute silence films.  For those who stop to look closer, they will have an opportunity to listen to the 2-minutes silence, as it happened, across the London Underground in 2012.

Canary Wharf: Installation Site

With only months before the beginning of the Great War centenary, this event will ask ‘what modern meaning has the 2-minute silence?’

This event will evolve over the coming months.  We will look at ways to develop the conversation of people’s interpretation of the 2-minutes silence and what it means to individuals, as well as collective society.  Platform-7  is interested to hear from potential partners to develop a mini-symposium to accompany this event.  Click Here to read more


3-year collaboration project following a WWI nurse's diary announced

Image Copyright: Dawn Cole


Platform-7 is proud to announce the forthcoming three year collaboration project with artist Dawn Cole following the journey of her Aunt Clarice's WWI diary.  Called 'Resting Place', Cole is embedding the text of the diary into pillow cases that will then form the backdrop to a series of live performances that travels from Ramsgate in Kent to a WWI field hospital in France and back again.  Already with support from Arts Council England this event will begin in 2013 and complete its journey with a museum exhibition in 2015.

To find out more on the diary: [click]

Follow the performance: [click]

Insidehousing.co.uk 'High Street Blues" article response


In response to “High Street Blues, From Inside Out” by Colin Wiles, in online magazine 'Inside Housing', Platform-7’s John McKiernan shares his view on how housebuilders can influence the future of high street retailing



Thanet Gazette, 21st October 2011




The organisation I founded, Platform-7, created a 13-week art intervention in Margate/Cliftonville in 2011 looking at some of the issues highlighted in this article and before Portas.   It is a complex argument, and in my opinion, many of the sweeping analysis are misplaced and lack an understanding of why and how small independent businesses are set up.   The sentiment of Portas is easy to agree with yet changing habits is difficult, with those who are able to shop elsewhere often do, meaning many local people have no real contact with their local area or neighbours.  Although her knowledge is strong in corporate retail she struggles to understand the nuance involved in the demand side of the economy with elementary statements and views.  


‘The independent sector’ has always been a significant part of the retail economy; it has just been displaced into secondary parades off the high street from the late 1970s onwards.  Small and independent retailers are definitely on the rise but the ways of working have adapted to market conditions. Many independents now either have another paid part-time job, to offer income security, or the retail offering is a sideline to a more established income generating operation.   In places like Margate Old Town this causes a problem with shops often only open at weekends crippling those businesses that attempt to trade all week long as potential customers are put off by lack of choice. 


Our project took place in a dilapidated café in a secondary parade of shops virtually unoccupied for over 5 years. Within weeks hundreds were visiting the street, which transformed from near on deserted to a vibrant and colourful meeting point.   A lot was unearthed while running this project and what people, who cannot easily visit out of town shops, require.  A journal article is presently being written with Professor Loretta Lees from King’s College London and myself in regards this project for publication later in the year outlining more on this intervention.


At present, retailing space is still profitable enough for the pension fund industry to control large swathes of units.  Only if return of investment declines significantly will this change anytime soon.  Pension funds are by the very nature geared to highest possible return and will always look for security of income, meaning chains being favoured over independents.  This is where the housing industry does have an opportunity to influence this balance when building housing complexes with retail units.   By developing a strategy that encourages independents to access and develop community enhancing businesses in their developments a shared sense of place and ownership can be quickly established.  The new retail units could become the hub, not only of the new build, but also the immediate vicinity speeding up the merging of the new build into local consciousness. 


 For more on the Margate intervention visit www.platform-7.com



the ritual of 2-minutes silence


Creator of “no man’s land”, John McKiernan ruminates on life as a series of interconnected contrived rituals


2-minute silence at Embankment, videographer Patrick Hoelscher*




Play disrupts ritual.  Whether internalised or on a field, play develops ways of understanding that cannot always be structured in the everyday.  Play allows thoughts, methods and processes to be conducted through the relative safety of game or make-believe.   When excited by a particular outcome or scenario achieved during play, ways of incorporating the positive facet into everyday life are sought, by seeking methods to ritualise the discovered result. Using ritualisation as a coping mechanism, the ritualised act becomes the default routine to manage daily existence.


As a mode of production, the act of ritualising has become the tool of choice for the ‘free market’ to create a web of riches. Beautifully finessed over centuries, art and performance rituals are as enmeshed in the snare as basic food and drink.  The ability to step from the ritualistic path is difficult, as the walls that enthrone choice are built high.


“no man’s land” attempted to tap at the wall of ritualised thought. ‘Terrifying’ and ‘fear’ are words that littered the emails of those involved.  The not knowing what was expected of them, what the event was attempting to achieve, what is Platform-7, an organisation they did not know, created confusion for the artists.  The need to have an end goal, a product or an outcome is so great that when the clarity of any ‘aim’ is removed, many people became immobilized or disorientated.   Paul Nadal notes Heidegger on his blog   “By action or activity one simply means the power to cause an effect—i.e., a causality.  As such, the value we attach to any being or activity is construed only in terms of utility, that is to say, what an act does or can do for a particular end or purpose.”[1]  The masquerade of preordained result often destroys the ability to examine the self.   Yet intrigue overwhelmed the feeling of perplexity for those who became part of “no man’s land”, like eyeing a puzzle in the newspaper, a person chooses whether to attempt what is presented.


The 2-minute silence is the first tangible ‘outcome’ from an audience perspective of why “no man’s land” took place.  The act of travel, so beautifully packaged by modernity, has now become an act of ritual only disrupted by circumstance.   The conceived rituals that society attempts to construct, like Remembrance, are thwarted by the very mechanisms it requires to function in its present form.   The 2-minute silence films’ exposes the myth of composed public ritual: the performers participated in the silence virtually alone before entering a period of serious play.


Michael Heidegger stated, ‘We attempt to think the play, which means to think it according to its mode of representation, we take this play as something that is. […] Thus the nature of play is determined as it is everywhere determined, namely as the dialectic of freedom ’[2].


*Embankment performers, Musician Nathan Robin Mann and poet David Lee Morgan with accompanying sculpture by Lenka Horakova assisted by John McKiernan.  Film Patrick Hoelscher

[1] Nadel, Paul, 18th November 2010, ‘Thinking Being Human: Notes on Heidegger’s “Letter on Humanism”’, [click]


[2] Heidegger, Martin, 1991, The Principle of Reason, Translated by Reginald Lilly, pp 102-113, Indianapolis, Indiana University Press

A Poem to a Deluge

Poem responding to the Deluge, by Nick Scammell, 6th November 2012


Reading the Deluge

(F.Fwd---> ob[…]let(e)<--Rewind)


Bestowal creates that empty place into which new energy may flow

-Commerce of the Creative Spirit, Lewis Hyde.

Image: Paul Halliday



Open up and look: from the undeleted tapescape spill bygone secrets.

A hushed power flows, grows, like seaweed, waves,

A slick, sleeping tangle knows, and on it swims,

A confusion of timeworn strips, has-been strands.

What stories it tells itself, this vulnerable liquid library

Bequeathed beyond redundancy?

Fragile coils give magnetic gleam to outworn, discarded loops - pre-extinct.

After migration from brick to cloud, stuff to code,

Only the beauty, beauty of the useless.

Obsolescing: our tools,

Our ideas, us.

But shining, nevertheless.

Our ideas, us. Obsolescing: our tools,

Only the beauty, beauty of the useless.

After migration from brick to cloud, stuff to code,

Fragile coils give magnetic gleam to outworn, discarded loops - pre-extinct.

Bequeathed beyond redundancy?

What stories it tells itself, this vulnerable liquid library

A confusion of timeworn strips, has-been strands.

A slick, sleeping tangle knows, and on it swims,

A hushed power flows, grows, like seaweed, waves,

Open up and look: from the donated tapescape spill bygone secrets.




Final 'no man's land' cabinet meeting 7th Nov 2012


no man's land - a week to go!


John McKiernan, the creator of the “no man’s land” discusses his personal concerns and thoughts one week before the live performance across 10 London Underground tube stations.



Artist: Patricia Mulligan


When setting out to create an abstract event like ‘no man’s land’, one hopes that it will ascend what it set out to achieve without it turning into game play or dalliance, and something original emerges.  The intention of the event was to, in some way, mimic the experiences of those creating plans and preparing to head to the trenches in World War One.  It was important that this was taken seriously and not seen as ‘just playing for fun’ but a way of trying to understand the stresses and strains that may have been experienced by those caught up in this enormous human tragedy.  Although it is obviously impossible to recreate the actual emotions, the last fortnight has exposed some of the strains and concerns that were probably experienced at that time, and at all times when people have to walk into the unknown. 


Initial Proposal

In January 2012, a speculative email[1] was sent to the Head of London Underground (LU) asking to create an event on a number of tube stations during Remembrance Sunday, based on Platform-7’s successful ‘Up The Line’ performances[2].  Weeks later, a surprising positive response was received requesting details and, after sending the original outline of ‘no man’s land’, “conditional” approval to proceed was given.  Some clear restrictions were spelt out, including that London Underground would not provide any financial support, and Platform-7 was given the green light to continue.


A Week To Go

Now in November, with the event a week away, there are mixed emotions that make me believe the event has already surpassed my greatest expectation in that I feel, at times, a sense of pointlessness, and by raising the question of whether it has all been a waste of time.  The sculptures have all been rejected by LU on health and safety grounds (with less than two weeks to go), we are down to 10 stations due to various reasons, in addition we have only very limited cash left in the bank for an aftershow gathering.


Yet the performance is continuing, to our knowledge at least.  The performers and filmmakers continuing to prepare and the majority of the sculptors, it appears, are keen to find other routes for their involvement in making this a noteworthy happening. Lenka and I, in our hearts, believe something significant will take place, but we are finding it a slog, and I suppose, nervous how it will be perceived.  There are differing opinions in the cabinet regarding the sculptures and the strains and stresses on those taking part are emerging.  Nathaniel on the music committee has always said for him ‘this is a back projecting project – it only begins after the 11th when we review what happened’, a view I strongly share.



The Plan

The plan LU originally agreed was ludicrously ambitious. Platform-7 taking over 30 London Underground Busker Spots and having an orchestra spread out across the stations playing one single piece of music, with responses from poets and sculptors, all caught on film by an army of videographers.  We had no money or any possible sources of funding to actually do it.  As the months moved on the project evolved to suit the prevailing circumstances.  In August, the project was rewritten, still highly ambitious but less stressful for the key individuals whose role it was to create the work.  Giving away creative control, and later, day-to-day involvement meant more time for me to develop other parts of the event, the website for example, but also led to a detachment, a sense of not being part of it.  Committees set up to develop different creative aspects[3] were autonomous and little was known of what they were doing.  Meanwhile artists working in performance, sculpture and film began finding their way to the project.  Deliberately separated, most people who were becoming involved knew their participation was only one element of a bigger possible ‘event’ but had little way of finding out what other people were doing.  Many found this difficult; some wanted to control proceedings, others were distrustful of the potential outcome.  A few were only interested in having an LU gig on their CV.  Arts Council England said on their assessment when rejecting our funding application, that we did not meet the management and public engagement demands by failing on all their criteria’s, and “There is no indication the activity will develop the [arts] sector”.


Understanding Artists

One of the underlying tenets behind the concept was a testing a view that artists are more concerned with exploring the process than a final piece of work.  Artists who are artist’s because they do not otherwise know how to exist in the world, over those who chose to become an artist as a career choice, appear, in my view, to view their art in the way an author views a chapter of a book.  It is part of a bigger work, each is a work in its own right, but it is not finished until all the chapters are complete.  History is littered with examples where these chapters only come together after the artist’s death.  It was these artists who I thought would be attracted to “no man’s land”, a project with no guarantees and that would require a lot of work in advance for people who they have no connection, and often, had not even met.  Those deciding to become involved had to have an almost blind faith in what was being proposed.


A Pointless Project

Many people flirted with the idea of participation but quickly dropped out for numerous reasons.  Even for those close to, and often involved, with Platform-7’s odd, conceptually led events, struggled to fully understand the concept behind “no man’s land”.  The idea of exploring pointlessness appeared pointless, ‘what is the point though?’ one of the cabinet members continues to ask, despite being involved with the organisation since its embryonic stage.  And it is the blind faith in pursuing this question, ‘what is the point though?’ that leaves me, and now many involved asking, are we wasting our time or are we actually coming to understand the point in understanding pointlessness?


Exploring Life 1912 and Conflict in 1914

The purpose, if there is one, of art is to open a door to the world, and our existence within it, that we ourselves cannot open.  Art, for me, cannot stop war or change the world, what it can do is to make us conscious of our impact in it and become more acutely aware of the future.


I am not an art historian, but I would argue that the Western art world let Europe down in the years up to 1914; it did not challenge the orthodoxy enough (or at all).  The search for financial gain and the rise of the marketer dominated. The previous 19th century was relatively stable, compared to the numerous wars of the past, and people seem to have become blasé that peace was forever.   Focus was so much on building a better life economically that many other aspects appear to have been forgotten. 


It is not difficult to draw parallels with the modern day.  Angel Merkel’s grim words in the German Bundestag (26th October 2011), "nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe”, echoes further than just the Euro crisis.  It is the fear of entering the unknown; that people have forgotten how quickly the human world can change even without the ‘natural disasters’ of Hurricane Sandy or a Japanese tsunami.


So what is the point of “no man’s land”? 

“no man’s land” is a one hour live performance art event, at 11am on a Sunday morning.  It is just a fleeting moment that most who pass by will not even notice, especially now the sculptures will not be part of the performance spaces themselves.  There is no press release or much in the way of promotion at all, so why the stress?


The event seems to have uncapped something that is deeper than can be answered here, now, a week before the event.  It could be the same as any creative endeavour, project or undertaking, once started the need to complete the task as originally thought or planned is the priority.  Yet little in life ends the way we originally intended, but society, whether in the form of the boss in the office or an Arts Council assessment officer, seems to believe that life can be predicted. The word ‘event’ has been bastardised to have almost none of its actual meaning in common spoken or written usage.  For me, an ‘event’ is when a host of factors collide to create a single one off occurrence that immediately creates a new set of emotions and/or actions that did not occur/exist before the event.


Society of 1912 seemed to just walk straight into the biggest and totally pointless war of all time, with virtually nothing to gain except prestige, some ‘potential’ raw materials and inflated egos.   The result of this event; many tens of millions killed, injured and displace with consequences still reverberating for tens of hundreds of millions of people a century later.


We will know next Sunday whether there is an event, and whether the energy collectively put into it was worth expending.   


Email to London Underground


Sent: Friday, 13 January 2012, 15:27
Subject: Remembrance Sunday Live Performance on the Underground 11/11/12


Dear Howard Collins,


I curate live conceptual performance events during Remembrance week, in cemeteries after dark with support of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Metropolitan Police, Cemetery Friends groups amongst others, and with financial support from The Arts Council England and various local authorities.  With poetry, dance, classical music, film and multimedia the event encourages people to reconsider their own thoughts and opinions on war, conflict and its consequences. 


For a number of years I have been mulling over such an event on the underground by using the busker spots already in place and station concourses as natural performance spaces.   The underground has its own part in the narrative of war and conflict that will add a unique richness to any event. 


The impact of the cemetery events on audiences has led to conversations with Arts Council England and others about potential franchising across the UK, the feedback from audience and artists since 2009 can be viewed on our blog: http://www.platform-7.com/apps/blog/tag/up-the-line


I would like to open a dialogue before forwarding a more precise proposal whether there may be an appetite to have a series of interrelated performances across the tube network on Remembrance Sunday, which this year coincides with Remembrance Day?  The idea will be to encourage past and present employees of LUL and TFL surfaces, who have an artistic interest, to possibly perform.


For information of previous events, including photos and soundscapes, please visit http://www.platform-7.com/#!events/vstc3=up-the-line-2011


I appreciate you taking time to consider this email


Warmest regards


[1] See email to Howard Collins below

[2] For more on ‘Up The Line’ visit Platform-7 website and blog, www.platform-7.com

[3] To understand how the event unfolded read the ‘Phase’ pages the “no man’s land” website under ‘The Event’







72-Hour Poetry Cafe




Poems Alive in association with Platform-7 presents:

72-Hour Poetry Café (coming to Lewisham in 2013)


Platform-7 will be facilitating a non-stop 72-hour concept art poetry café project on behalf of Lewisham based poetry organisation, Poems Alive. Founded by the hugely talented Masol Artistry, while still at school in Catford, Poems Alive wants to create a space open 24 hours a day in Lewisham that allows young people a safe place to talk and relax. 


By creating a highly conceptual approach that will explore knife crime and gang culture through a lens of art poetry, this intervention will follow the method employed at Catford Tapescape: The Intervention I & II (click) and Margate 2011 (click) to see if new ways of engagement will materialise.



Platform-7 first met Masol when she walked into the Catford Blockbuster intervention in March.  By coincidence, two young men walked in soon after having both been released from Feltham Young Offenders Institution that afternoon.  Although not aggressive, the two young men, both 18, had a swagger and demanded whiskey.  Stating that no whiskey would be served and id required, they both produced their release cards in a way that could be interpreted as badges of honour.  A respectful conversation ensued about the Catford intervention before Masol joined the discussion as it shifted towards performance poetry.  Both men stated they performed poetry. 


John, of Platform-7, insisted on hearing their poetry in exchange for serving them a beer and them listening to one of Masol’s poems that she had performed minutes earlier.    Both gave their best, one of no particular performance merit although interesting, the other more rap and of better performance quality.  Masol then delivered her poem incorporating their names, the intervention, Catford and the impact of poetry; incredible for those listening.  On Masol finishing, both men bowed, subservient style, with one on his knees to touch Masol feet in a show of respect. 


John offered the beer as promised and was told, ‘no, to be honest we were probably just going to cause a bit of nuisance around Catford, think now we will head back to the hostel and watch a film, thanks’.  And they disappeared.


We will see what happens at the 72-hour Poetry Café in 2013.


Deluge Video

Deluge Video - A Video Documentation


‘Deluge’ artist Paul Halliday discusses the making and thinking behind the huge site specific artwork at a disused Blockbuster video store in Catford, South London with Platform-7’s John McKiernan.  The success of this work has lead to the London Borough of Lewisham developing an opportunity for its 265,000 residents  to have their videocassettes recycled.  Essays accompanying this work can be read by clicking here.


The artwork you are about to see consists of 25kg of videotape. 





The video amnesty discussed in the film saw almost 1700 videocassettes returned to the Blockbuster during the Platform-7 Tapescape Catford Intervention, weighing in at 397kg.  Since the end of the event another 500 videocassettes have been dropped into the disused video drop box despite all traces of the event being removed.


Many thanks to the people of Catford and wider Lewisham for being so positive and involved with the event, all the artists who worked on the event including the live performances, our sponsors and volunteers.  To read the Goldsmiths review click here


Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I & II took place from April until June 2012.  More info on blog below


Sponsored by                                             Recycling Provided by








In response to Deluge artist Paul Halliday and sociologist Francisco Calafate Faria presented papers discussing obsolscence, waste and redundancy to an open audience at Tapescape Catford


Regarding Obsolescence                                                                         

An essay by Paul Halliday responding to his own art installation 'Deluge'




Ob-sol-escence. What does this word mean? Such an intriguing word.  A word that points to a rich etymological journey contained within the form itself; possibly even hinting at some remaining traces of onomatopoeia. A word such as ‘bang’ sounds like a bang, and a word like ‘swift’ conjures a visual image of an object moving quickly and resolutely through space. And when I hear the word ‘obsolete’, its lilting, downward trajectory makes me think of an object that is coming to rest. Ob-so-lete. As if those three syllables contain an implicit reference to its own imminent, unavoidable demise. A de-energising. I’m not sure that the vast majority of professional marketers working with planned obsolescence whose daily tasks within the machinery of twenty-first century global capitalism involves the development of things fit for human markets – real or imagined – would be that concerned with the life journey of a word such as this. Why would they be interested in a critical socio-linguistics of this, or any other word whose sole purpose, it would seem, is to reflect eventual extinction and technological failure? It is enough that they should make objects fit for extinction without considering the words that describe such processes.


Marketing, by its very nature is surely all about the here, the now, the happening. Commodity fetishism is driven by the desire to make more profits, to be able to tell shareholders that a good return on investment has been achieved, and that significant proportions of the market have been captured for the company, after long wars with competitors also seeking to maximise profits and dominate the economic ground. Marketeers are trained to think and act like military personnel facing an enemy; the enemy being the competition. Accordingly, there is no place for compromise or for concern about job security, social obligations and the lives of others, but rather, marketing’s primary focus is with the perpetuation of the myth of the invisible hand of economic forces directing human minds and energies towards the realisation of maximal profits; and within such a scenario, any meaningful discussion of social obligation becomes, by definition, redundant. Indeed, within such a framing, one might almost think of such concerns as ipso facto, paradigmatically obsolete.


I recall attending marketing courses during the 1980s. I had been sent there by the Greater London Council to learn how such techniques might be applied to the development of adult and community education programmes. ‘Educational marketing’, as it is now termed, was something that had only just entered into the lexicon of post-compulsory education at the time. I remember sitting in a team meeting at the adult education centre in Greenwich, where I was based at the time, and trying to explain that marketing was not, as one colleague liked to put it ‘selling crap stuff to those stupid enough to buy it ’. On the contrary, there I was, an enthusiastic apostle of the new-found technology for rethinking how ‘products’ could be developed to reflect the lifestyle aspirations of various social groups. There were the As, Bs, C1s, C2s, Ds and Es; and they all reflected a capacity to afford what the material anthropologist Daniel Miller describes as ‘stuff’. Objects that have meaning, that are perceived as life-enhancing, that are enmeshed into the material and social networks that constitute our ideas of community, culture and belonging.


Marketing for me, was something that could be liberating, it could be used to develop educational courses and arts programmes that might be life-enhancing. I found myself gravitating to what was a rapidly expanding field of ‘social marketing’, that is, where the ‘product’ was something perceived to have social value such as education, art development, charity services, NGOs etc. I thought less about how one might develop a critical response to the gradual encroachment into the world of social provision hitherto provided by the national health service, social services, education departments and many other institutions founded to put users, rather than ‘customers’ first. The models we were given have stayed with me until this day, based as they were, on the notion of the ‘product life cycle’. There are many variations on a theme here, and I will spare you some of the more eccentric versions, but one thing they all had in common was the idea that the starting point for any product was the existence of a pre-existing or potential demand from customers that could be linked to a commodity. Accordingly, the classical product life cycle has a shape like a bell-curve and includes sections that reflect the research, introduction, development, consolidation and eventual decline aspects of the thing’s journey through time and geography.


The decline phase might be extended beyond ‘terminality’ through the judicious tweaking of an aspect of the product’s design. Take digital cameras as an example. Ten years ago it would have been virtually unimaginable that a decade later, twelve mega-pixel cameras would be available from low-cost consumer outlets for under £100. In the early days of the technology, the fine tweaking of mega-pixels where cameras went from 5mp to 5.1mp was the norm, as if the product had ‘plateau-ed-out’. And then suddenly, the expectations of consumers and retailers alike were challenged by what might be described as an evolutionary jump into the giddy heights of double and triple the amount of pixels, all marketed at the same price.  Of course, the knock-on effect of this was the decreasing use of film, as it became ‘old technology’, on the verge of, if not emblematic of obsolescence. Around this time, Art and Design departments started to notice that fewer students were using their wet darkroom resources, and believing that the customer is invariably right, started selling off their old analogue printing enlargers, film cameras and processing tanks. Sometimes they didn’t even sell them off; sometimes they were simply scrapped. Devere large-format enlargers were dumped, technologies that had previously been highly prized and very expensive were now considered little more than dust-catching remnants of an industrial archaeology. But there’s the catch; not so long ago, a colleague who runs a college darkroom told me that he had noticed a significant spike in students working with analogue photography, and that this had impacted on the use of darkroom and camera resources.


I was very interested in this as I had continued to work with film on personal long-term photographic projects and had noticed at around the same time, that my professional lab had been struggling to turn around film processing and printing within the 24 hours advertised. Indeed, they had been forced to extend turnaround to 48 hours due to an unprecedented and unpredicted rise in demand for analogue services. The lab’s printer told me that the company’s business plan had been based on a gradual, controlled fazing-out of wet services and that this sudden revitalisation of the market had taken them completely by surprise. Almost as if the analogue had refused to be categorised as ‘redundant’ and had reclaimed a position within art practice that reflected a shift that was not just ‘different’ from the domain of the digital, but also spoke to what Walter Benjamin called the ‘aura’ of uniqueness. Film, with its well-documented limitations, started to become ‘authentic’, fragile, relatively unpredictable and most importantly – tactile. You can hold it, smell it even, hear it crackling as you take it out of the negative holder; it is delicate and vulnerable. Of most importance to photographers and artists alike, is that it has archival qualities that, rightly or wrongly, are thought to preserve our memories beyond the short life span of volatile digital media such as memory cards, CDs and hard-drives. Paradoxically, the very thing-ness of film that was identified within a discourse of obsolescence is now being revisited within an argument of ‘archival-ness’, of structural longevity.



So what does all of this have to do with the installation here? How does this installation speak to and of obsolescence? How might we theorise videotape as a form of stuff? Well, perhaps the work has a presence that speaks of two domains, that of play, and that of nightmare. We have had children passing by, fascinated by the unravelling of the tape, asking if they can come in to look and sometimes ‘swim’ in the work. But we have also had people confiding that they were disturbed by the work. And it would be true to say that there are times when it glistened in the dark, moved gently by the air-conditioning, as if by a hidden force, it took on a different set of characteristics; a kind of personality missing from its daytime form. Six hundred VHS tapes, uncoiled and spreading across the abandoned industrial carpets of Catford’s Blockbuster Video. Such an organic form could only exist because local people decided to donate their used videocassettes as part of the installation. Had this not happened, the work might have been little more than a trickle, rather than the flood that it has become.


Every few days, building up to National Recycle Week, I visited the abandoned shop with a team of dedicated helpers from Platform-7 and Goldsmiths who became experts at disassembling and reassembling the videotape cassettes. We initially tried to pull the tape out manually with our hands, but we quickly realised that this would be an almost impossible task that would take forever, and would cut our hands to shreds. John’s digits bled. Eventually gravity made its presence known to us, and this became our guiding force and accepted modus operandi, combined with the application of Fordist working principles of workflow rationalisation and task specialism. Sara discovered hitherto unknown skills in the unravelling of VHS tape, which required concentration and dedication to the task, otherwise the tape would become entangled and knotted. Nick discerned aptitudes in putting the cassettes back together and collecting their discarded metallic and plastic inner-workings, which he then categorised and piled neatly into boxes on the floor.


Amidst the flowing metallic strands, we could imagine perhaps, the family wedding and holiday videos, episodes of Friends, Richard Attenborough’s Disappearing World, adolescent vampires from 1990s and 1980s disco-infernos, all woven together to make another kind of story, another kind of event, some other reconstituted thing that was and is yet to be defined, that exists through reclamation beyond the domain of obsolescence, within the realm of a possible future imagination.


Deluge, a moving art installation, was commissioned by Platform-7 at Catford Blockbuster as part of National Recycle Week.


Paul Halliday is an artist and urbanist based at Goldsmiths, University of London where he convenes the MA Photography and Urban Cultures.


Text/Image Copyright Paul Halliday, 2012



Deluge: Disembowelling Black Boxes

An essay by Francisco Calafate Faria responding to Deluge





In the beginning there was the motion picture film - a sequence of photographs with a sound track. The reels could be transported in containers - those round metal cans. But the package was not essential to the mechanism. Then, once you opened a can and pulled the film to attach it to the projector, you could actually see the sequence of still images that composed the movie. The projector would do just that: project those images by passing a light through the film.


The videocassette represents a massive leap in the development of the audiovisual. Technologically it is a completely different object as is the process through which VCRs read information from the tape. One of the biggest innovations brought in by the videocassette is that the information on the support is not composed by images – if you look through the tape you cannot see anything. Between the screen and us there is a mediator that has nothing to do with images or sound. There is a translation process which most of us don’t understand. And we don’t need to. It is a black box.


In engineering a black box is a device, the inner workings of which are opaque or can be disregarded. All that matters if that the device produces certain results (often predictable) in relation to the inputs[i]. You put the cassette in the VCR, press rec, then rewind and play and the images are repeated on the TV screen. It doesn’t matter how it works inside. We can think of other examples, say the human brain for example. Or a piece of closed source software. The computer itself. The human brain. Financial systems. A sociologist.


On the other hand, since the invention of the videotape, the material support has become even smaller, more contained and portable. Just think of the sequence: photographic film reels, video tapes (from the first big ones until the video8), DVDs, memory sticks and now ‘the cloud’. The compression of the technological support has been so successful that it has now apparently made materials redundant altogether. We now can take pictures and upload them straight to ‘Instagram’ and there’s no reason why we won’t replace the DVD (digital video disks) with clouds. Certainly, places like Catford Blockbuster, where this piece is installed, are being replaced by online film rental services that allow you to download films for a fee.


Paul Haliday’s piece suggested to me crucial concepts with which I am working in my research on recycling. They relate to processes that in my view are manifestations of wider social phenomena. These processes are: containment, concealment and compression.


Containment: Wrappings and Containers

Most households in London have the experience of separating their waste for recycling. What goes into the recycling containers? In the borough of Lewisham, apart from newspaper and magazines (which by the way used to serve as wrappings for fish n chips or chestnuts) or clothes since last December (which can be seen as wrappings of the human body) the green bin is almost entirely filled every week with containers and packaging objects. This is what cassettes are: packaged films. How the package became so important to the point that is essential to the design and use of machines is difficult to pinpoint. What is evident is that in most aspects of our lives, the amount of disposable containers on which we have become dependent is now much higher than it has ever been. And this creates a big problem of excess material.


Recycling appears to be a solution to this problem. But sometimes it is difficult to disentangle the materials that compose the container – like in tetrapak plastic for example – the juice cartons composed by sheets of aluminium, paper and plastic. Other times it is the container that cannot be separated from the contained, as when food gets absorbed in the package. Or as in videocassettes.


In my visit to Veolia’s Material Recycling Facility in Greenwich, which used to take Lewisham’s recyclable waste, one of the contaminating objects about which they mostly complained was exactly cassettes. When the machines break through the containers, the tape gets entangled causing major breakdowns in the partly automatic separation process.


Concealment: the Black Box

Apart from generating waste, the use of containers in our society has the effect of concealing. Containment and concealment are concurrent forces that tend to separate people from the knowledge of what happens beyond the curtain. Do not cross, this will be dealt with by experts, do not criticize - you cannot understand how it works. One of the most topical examples of a black box, a contained system with which everyone interacts but no one knows the functioning is the financial markets. You put your money in the bank. Something happens in there so that they promise to give it back to you with an interest. When the machine breaks down – as in the present financial crisis-, a deluge of information starts spilling out of the black box.



In recycling, the closest black box we have is the recycling bin. We input the empty packages of our lives in this container. It has a symbol that suggests that it makes things move in a circle. Then we see the same symbol in a packet in a shop and we believe that it is the output of what we have done. How it works inside… “that is not my problem”.


Like a video cassette being slowly swallowed by the VCR, every week I see from my window the recycling containers being attached to the collection truck and mechanically tipped over into the back of the truck. When the truck disappears at the end of the road, I am ready to buy new containers. I have recycled. The verb, the symbol, they both suggest a process. Yet all I have done was to introduce something in a black box – in this case a green box. What happens inside the box? What relations of production does recycling entail? How much does the process contribute to a better environment? Would there be alternative processes more just both socially and environmentally?


One of the main reasons why I undertook research in Curitiba was to try to look through the idea of recycling as the only best solution for the waste problem. Curitiba, in south Brazil was one of the first cities in the world to institute a municipal system of recycling. Yet, underneath the neat campaign and policy design, 90% of the recyclable waste is still collected by informal waste pickers. The self-promotion discourse of the city hides a multitude of human realities and material networks that do not fit it. 


So, underneath the image of circular contained sustainable linearity of recycling a number of social relations and inequities are concealed. Lewisham Council is a good example of positive effort to convey information to residents and to find the best contractors to deal with the materials the former separate. Yet difficulties arise in the mediation between a commercial logic on the one side and an environmental one on the other. But most people know little about it. Part of the recycling process as it has developed relies on this ability we have to trust in black boxes, in experts, in systems of which we don’t want to know the workings. In the case of waste this happens even more smoothly because we are dealing with things from which we want to part. So if someone tells me that they take the package away and that they will bring it back to the shelf we don’t ask if that is a truthful narrative, what’s the cost or who should benefit from the establishment of this cycle. And that brings me to the third process that the videocassette shows.


Compression: Dematerialisation or Displacement?

The ideal of recycling, it seems to me, is that materials disappear from our site to be disentangled and compressed before they re-appear again in an endless cycle. Going back to our history of audiovisual, we are liberated from materiality. We can film and not have to deal with the cassettes. We can have a collection of films on a ‘cloud’ - when I was in Curitiba, I stored my films in Dropbox. I didn’t have to worry too much with the prospect of loosing the hard drive where all of my data was being collected. As videocassettes were shrinking, the number of transistors that can go in a silicon chip have doubled every 2 years since the 60s[ii]. And the development of optic fibre networks has made it possible to transfer information at the speed of light. All of this makes it possible for us to store large amounts of information without having to deal with any storage material. Yet the support hasn’t dematerialized. It has been displaced. We have a good example of the same process when we think that slavery and child labour were abolished in the 19th century. In fact they have been displaced. I bought these trousers in M&S and in the following day BBC tells me that children working in conditions of near slavery in Asia might have manufactured them. Think about degradable plastic bags. All they do is break up in small particles that are contaminating the Oceans. In many ways they are much more harmful for the environment than normal ones.


So when I look at Deluge I can also think about the day when someone will disembowel the earth and the bottom of the oceans of obsolete cables used for communication. I think about the need to open machines, to resist believing in simple stories. It also makes me think that the only form of recording that does away with materials is collective oral memory. But even collective memory is difficult to conceive without the aid of objects.


[i] MacKenzie, D Material Markets: How Economic Agents are Constructed, Oxford UP 2010

[ii] “Oh, that’s near enough: Letting microchips make a few mistakes here and there could make them much faster and more energy-efficient” in The Economist, Jun 2nd 2012 http://www.economist.com/node/21556087

Sponsored by                                             Recycling Provided by









Deluge Poster and Mini Lectures

Deluge Poster and Live Event: A short presentation of academic thought relating to waste,

obsolescence and recycling


Wednesday, 20th June 2012, 2.30pm, Free Admission

The Old Blockbuster, 95 Rushey Green, Catford, SE6 4AF



Poster by Daniel Crawford of Type&Numbers 

More on Facebook page: Tapescape Catford


Live Event: A short presentation of academic thought relating to waste, obsolescence and recycling


As part of ongoing intervention at the now derelict Blockbuster’s in Catford regarding the politics of the videocassette, three Goldsmiths academics will be giving their 10 minute responses to waste, obsolescence and recycling. 

Paul Halliday – ‘Regarding Obsolescence’

A short talk about the concept of the 'product life cycle', planned obsolescence and what happens when marketeers get the planning wrong

Peter Coles - 'Abandoned objects: informal recycling in Paris'


Francisco Calafate-Faria - 'What’s in the package? The hidden politics of waste and recycling'

Responding to Paul Halliday’s art installation ‘Deluge’, Francisco will present some stories of his research on sociological dimensions of recycling in London and in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.


Following the presentations a short panel discussion and an opportunity to ask questions will follow.  This event will be of interest to academics and those with a general interest on how we deal with technology at the end of its lifecycle.


Wednesday, 20th June 2012, 2.30pm, Free Admission

The Old Blockbuster, 95 Rushey Green, Catford, SE6 4AF



How technology makes our body its business: the shaping of the ‘good citizen’ from Jane Fonda to the Wii fit.

Interactive installation followed by a talk and discussion by Roanna Mitchell

Provocation for the Catford Tapescape Intervention, 19.4.2012.




My work is all about bodies. I work as a movement director and choreographer, I teach drama students, and I am writing my PhD about the body politics of acting: what happens to actors in those aspects of their job where they have to look a certain way, or ‘sell’ their body? Does the actor own his/her own body? What expectations do we have of an actor’s body?


I also work with an organization, convened by writer Susie Orbach, called Endangered Bodies, where we raise awareness about how our culture is alienating us from our own bodies, and the dangerous affects this can have. So our social and cultural perceptions of the body are very much part of my job.


I was invited to the Tapescape intervention in Catford by its initiator John McKiernan, who asked me to talk about the technology of the videotape and its influence on our bodies. A conversation about Jane Fonda and her original workout video led to the development of this provocation. It is just that – a provocation. I would like to lay out some points and raise some questions, and I will try to tease out something of the complex web that links us and our perceptions of our bodies and society today with Jane Fonda, her workout video, and the technologies that have followed on from that.


When thinking about the body, again and again I come back to the old feminist slogan: The personal is political. Everything we do with our bodies has repercussions for the way we engage with and live as part of a society.

So what does it mean, politically, that in the early 1980s masses of people were enticed by Jane Fonda’s promise of a ‘good body’ to buy a video recorder and do her workout at home? And what have those events of almost thirty years ago got to do with us, now?

Response: Darren Sperring




Initially, let me take a little diversion before we get to Fonda, to look at what bodies mean to us today.


We live in a society where a ‘good’ body is a reflection of a ‘good person’. In our society looking after your body is a moral responsibility towards yourself and the state. Your bad habits create extra cost to the National Health Service, and if you don’t represent a certain fitness ideal in relation to your age and gender, then you are under suspicion to have all sorts of moral deficiencies; you are selfish, lazy, you don’t care, you are undisciplined or under-educated. So basically: if you look fit and well, then your body represents something morally ‘good’. That, at least, is what is being implied.


The responsibility towards our own body is sold to us very much as an individual choice. The emphasis on responsibility was a political favourite in the ‘80s just as much as it is now.


Here is Prime Minister Margret Thatcher, talking to Women’s Own magazine in 1987:

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.


And here is Prime Minister David Cameron in one of his speeches about the ‘Big Society’ in 2011:


To me, there’s one word at the heart of all this [the Big Society], and that is responsibility.  We need people to take more responsibility.  We need people to act more responsibly, because if you take any problem in our country and you just think: ‘Well, what can the government do to sort it out?’, that is only ever going to be half of the answer. 


This notion of responsibility is a clever tool for manipulation. A sense of responsibility towards the people we love can keep us in our place. It can keep us from committing crimes, keep us in a job, in a geographical location, it can keep us pre-occupied and too busy to develop a way of doing things that might not suit the economic and political powers that be.


A sense of responsibility towards our bodies can also keep us in our place.  In relation to the body, an efficient monster of a machine has developed, guiding us and keeping us on task whilst all the time letting us think that we are following our own ideas and preferences.


This is not a revelation: feminists have been discussing the role of the body in any sort of power dynamics for many years. What better way to tame and shape a smart, hard-working person who can go far, than to attack their body, to make them so pre-occupied with their body that they will expend more energy on the way they look than on what they do? And the most efficient way to get a person to that point is to make them believe that their preoccupation with their body is something personal, their own choice, their own responsibility.


Philosopher Michel Foucault speaks of this development of ‘good citizens’ through the web of power dynamics in everyday practices and subtle forms of discipline and punishment. He calls the tools that help this process: ‘technologies of the self’, and by extension we talk about ‘technologies of the body’. These technologies can be diets, fitness regimes, plastic surgery, etc. And, I suggest, the technologies that this intervention is examining, from VCR to the Wii Fit. All of these can be employed to make us ‘good citizens’: supposedly healthy, functioning, docile, and economically beneficial in a way that keeps society stable.


The call for individual responsibility in making use of these technologies of the body initially appears to follow common sense. After all, if we don’t take responsibility for our own bodies, who will? However, the responsibility called for by politicians can be read as taking place on somebody elses’ terms, and draws upon the human desire to have faith, to trust, and to follow someone elses’ guidance. And this behaviour is certainly more predictable, and perhaps more desirable for those in power. If we start questioning our faith, then we can become a risk to the orderly functioning of society. We might speak up. We might riot. We might vote differently. And that is a question of finding your own personal version of responsibility, of developing your own opinions, beliefs, moral code – your own values. I call this, for want of a better term, ‘creative responsibility’.


Creative responsibility in relation to the body is becoming more and more important, and more and more difficult. The technologies that we are talking about in this intervention are technologies that many of us engage with on a regular basis, and they are technologies that allow us to follow without needing to be creative, in a kind of ‘blind faith’. This notion of following without needing to be creative leads me to Jane Fonda, and her workout video.


Our interactive relationship with technology really took off, many people argue, with the release of Jane Fonda’s first workout video in 1982.  A culture of exercise existed before these videos, in a proliferation of gyms, studio exercise classes, and Fonda’s own highly successful Workout book. However, the technology of VCR found a whole new way of making money while simultaneously shaping the body of the good citizen, and it did so through the vehicle of Jane Fonda’s exercise video.


This video encouraged thousands of households to buy a VHS player in order to be able to play her video at home. Before this point, people had rented VCR because of its prohibitive cost, and because consumers did not feel a need to watch a video repeatedly. However, Fonda’s video was designed to be watched repeatedly, in order for the exercise regime to take effect, and this was an incentive for people to buy. Thus her video contributed to altering consumer-technology relationships, but also body-technology relationships.


How were people convinced that they needed the workout video? Fonda sold her workout as a liberating act, as a woman's right to physical as well as social, political and economic equality. This was a new and successful way of including women in the market for a new technology, by creating insecurities about the body and then offering solutions through these technologies. In a climate where the Prime Minister Thatcher stated that ‘it is our duty to look to ourselves first’, the body became a responsibility, and making use of new technologies offered multiple bonuses on this front: it creates docile bodies, it keeps people occupied and safely within their living rooms, it fuels the economy, and it supposedly protects the National Health System from unnecessary burdens. It also changes our relationships with our bodies. 


Of course new technologies always shape our sense of identity, and there have been many recent debates on how the internet and new technologies change the way in which we think. But not just the way we think is changed: our embodiment is changed. Our perceptions of, and attitudes to, our bodies: Our body image.


Following an exercise video – and later mirroring computer animations with the Wii – requires no creative input, and does not encourage a responsive relationship to your own body. This means that perceptions of self are built in relation to the image you are copying, rather than a perception of yourself developing through really paying attention to what you and your body are doing, wanting and needing.


I have been doing Jane Fonda’s original workout as a little research project for this event. And the experience has been a strange mixture of hatred, fascination, addiction and pain. It is great to be able to workout without having to talk to anyone, or worry about what you look like. It is also great not to have to spend any money – I have just had to cancel my gym membership because I can no longer afford it, and so this could be a great alternative, in theory. Jane Fonda looks great, and the first exciting couple of days of engaging with the video are fun, and fill me with hope: I trust that the fitness guru knows what she is doing, and if I can be disciplined enough to follow her regime, I will develop a similar shape eventually.


However, sadly Jane is not actually in the room with me. The workout does not suit my body, and so I feel it starting to cause damage. And there is something desperate and sad about it all. Despite the whooping of her crew in the background that simulates a sense of group effort, when it is over and the screen goes dark, it is just me, sweaty, in a silent living room, feeling a little bit foolish.


Reflecting on this experience, I would suggest that these technologies have the potential to individualize and isolate us at the same time as selling themselves as tools for communication. The Wii is always advertised as a fun family event, and yet there is something lifeless about those happy families and groups of friends, in a room together, but all staring at a screen. I have to wonder: what happens to empathy? Both towards others and towards our own body? What happens to our ability to respond to the temperature, breath, flesh, reaction of a living human body?

And if we lose the capacity to empathise, what happens to responsibility? Surely, following a sense of responsibility without ability for empathy has proved the most deadly version of humanity.


David Cameron connects his idea of the big society with individual responsibility, and yet this responsibility is only legitimate in accordance to what government, and the economic powers that be, perceive as right and moral.


The scare tactics around the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ are an example for how this responsibility is played out on our bodies. The ‘obesity epidemic’ is based on heavily contested studies which proclaim that every individual whose BMI (Body Mass Index) places them in the categories of overweight, obese or morbidly obese is placing themselves and the National Health System at risk, both in terms of health and in economic terms. The publicity surrounding this so-called crisis rarely mentions the fact that the BMI index is an inadequate measure for health, and that an active person with a balanced diet may well be in the obese category without actually being at a greater risk of health than a sentient person with a poor diet who is in the underweight category. Being underweight remains the fashionable ideal, while being overweight is laden with moral stigma. The discourse on the subject – a favourite topic for the media and various health organizations – is a lucrative one for a large number of stakeholders: pharmaceutical companies, plastic surgeons, diet-and weight-loss programmes, food brands etc. They get to be part of the ‘guru’ culture, the religion of the body, which we must have faith in, and  - literally - pay ‘homage’ to. Theirs is a discourse that generates anxiety about our bodies, encourages us to be constantly aware and diligent in monitoring our bodies, and re-affirms the belief that a good body is the representation of a good, diligent, morally responsible person.[1]


Moving swiftly with the times, those technologies which are normally associated with a sentient lifestyle have developed ways of tapping into these moral anxieties about our bodies, offering us a way in which we can cure our ‘ailments’ by giving our money to the very companies who created those ‘ailments’ in the first place. The solution to lack of exercise is thus not to go out and play in the park, but rather to spend more money on more technology to keep us fit, healthy, happy, individually responsible. This spoof of the official Wii fit advertisement beautifully illustrates the point.


The echo of this is found in the diet industry, where weight-loss programmes and products are sold to us as a ‘life-style’ by the same companies which have sold us the food that the diets then forbid. Weight-watchers products are sold by Heinz, Slimming World is owned by Unilever.


The genius turn in this is that the individual can be safely kept isolated, which is the only way in which the guilt of failing to achieve unachievable ideals can be maintained. Since the VCR and Jane Fonda’s exercise video, you can now make sure you are a functioning part of society (i.e. keep yourself fit and healthy enough to contribute and not cost), while not actually having to make contact with anybody. And if you fail, you must take responsibility, and blame yourself.


These technologies of the body are sold to us as games, as entertainment, then increasingly as a cure, as part of the obligation to maintain your body (The Wii is now being used in rehab centres). But these consumer-oriented interventions are highly ambivalent. In a dangerously playful manner they embed within our leisure activities a sense of obligation, a constant watchfulness and anxiety towards our bodies. They give us an illusion of control without creative input. My collaborator, the dancer Melanie Simpson, has talked to me about children who are placed in front of a Zumba video for a warm-up, which they follow; no corrections to their execution, no creativity in their movements, simple copying. A good dance teacher will teach dancers to think for themselves, and to move for themselves. None of these technologies will ever do that, and indeed I would argue that they stunt the growth of these creative faculties.


Once again I become aware that the body, as the last bastion of the self, is increasingly being used as a source of income, a measurement of our moral conduct, and a passport for the right to be a legitimate member of society. A Big Society on these terms raises some frightening prospects, as the individual’s body becomes everybody’s business. The Daily Mail proclaimed in October 2011:


‘Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.  In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again. Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.[2]


It is worth thinking about what else underlies the ‘new you’ that these technologies are helping you shape. I do not discard these technologies – they have irreversibly become a part of many of our lives. However, we should never stop questioning how they operate. It is not as simple as just ‘I do this because it makes me feel good’. There is always an underlying social and economic agenda, even when it comes to the most personal aspects of the body. We need to think what the activities of our leisure time and our interaction with technology are doing to our bodies, our identities and our society, and what impact they are having on our role as citizens. Are we being creative, or are we simply following?


As we regard our own bodies, Thatcher’s words from 1987 echo uncomfortably, as she states: ‘There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation’.








Boyer, S. (2011). Jane Fonda’s Wii Fit: Continuity, Contingency, and Concordance in Fitness Gaming. University of Glasgow: Centre for Cultural Policy Research.


Cameron, D. (2011). PM’s speech on Big Society. [Online]. Available from:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/pms-speech-on-big-society/ [Accessed 4.3.2012].


Deer, B. Epitaph for the eighties? “There is no such thing as society”. [Online]. Available from: http://briandeer.com/social/thatcher-society.htm [Accessed 5.3.2012].


Foucault, M. (1991). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. London: Penguin Books.


Mann, T., et al. (2007). Medicare’s search for effective obsesity treatment: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62, (3), 220-233.


Shilling, C. (2003). The Body and Social Theory. 2nd edn. London: Sage.


Simpson, J. (2011). Parents of seven told: Your children are too fat, so you will never see them again. Daily Mail [Online], News 5 September. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2033486/Your-children-fat-again.html - ixzz1oNjvhpuC [Accessed 27.2.2012].

[1] Shilling, C. (2003) The Body and Social Theory. 2nd edn. London: Sage.






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10th June 2013: Queen Mary confirm desire to be involved in 2013 Remembrance 'Silent Cacophony'

7th June 2013: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Platform-7 to partner on 'Silent Cacophony'

6th June 2013: Cutting of tights into yarn well received in Catford [see facebook here]

6th June 2013: John McKiernan attends Creativeworks London AHRC funding roundtable with partner Professor Andy Pratt from King's College London

5th June 2013: Re-imagining posting of stories  in public space disrupted

1st June 2013: Video of re-imagining ladies tights [watch]

22nd May 2013: John McKiernan on judging panel of Goldsmiths, University of London judging panel for Enterprise Boot Camp 2013 [click

21st May 2013: First public washing of tights on the street in Catford Broadway warmly received by locals with many engaging and recounting stories of tights and their alternative uses [click]

10th May 2013: AHRC Creativeworks London award Platform-7 and King's College London funding to codify the company's collaborative practices.   Andy Pratt, Professor of Culture, Media and Economy, Director of Culture, Media and Creative Industries Dept and his team will look back at Platform-7's working methods and follow projects over the summer to better understand creative collaboration

10th May 2013: An insight into a key influence behind Platform-7 [click to read advertising giant Dave Trott]

9th May 2013: Platform-7's John McKiernan confirms becoming panel judge for Goldsmiths Enterprise Bootcamp [click to see on Goldsmiths Website]

8th May 2013: Re-imagining Ladies Tights officially with incredible reaction across Lewisham.  Recycle bags available at Goldsmiths, Lesoco, Lewisham council offices, and age UK in Catford where we will be running a series of workshops

7th May 2013: New Project Gig-a-Byte presentation complete

3rd May 2013: Arts Council England application for funding of 'Resting Place' submitted

2nd May 2013: Platform-7, Goldsmiths and Musion meet again to develop hologram perspective project

30th April 2013: SHM's Maurice Biriotti interested in another work session with Platform-7

30th April 2013: Attended the TCCE Conference at Cass Business School

22nd April 2013: Joint application by Platform-7 Events and Professor Andy Pratt, King's College London, for Creativeworks London, Localities and the Creative Industries: The Right Place, at the Right Time Voucher Scheme.

20th April 2013: Platform-7 visited Musion 3D to discuss a potential collaboration with Mariah Carey giving us a personal rendition [click to watch]

19th April 2013: Meeting with Musion 3D [click] to discuss potential collaboration

18th April 2013: New Blog created for 'Re-imagining Ladies Tights' [click here

17th April 2013: New essay to accompany 'Resting Place' performance event by Senior Curator of V&A Print, Gill Saunders [click to read]

13th April 2013: New essay update on Margate 2-years on from the Moonbow Jakes intervention in 2011 [click]

11th April 2013: Jonathan Polkest's 'Draw Me InTransit' will take place on the Kings Road, Chelsea, Saturday 20th July 2013 [11am - 4pm] and again at Tate Britain as part of the UrbanPhotFest Saturday 5th October 2013 [11.30am-2.30pm] [click for full details]

10th April 2013: Fascinating essay by Senior V&A Curator, Gill Saunders, discussing Dawn Cole's 'Resting Place' and the thinking behind the forthcoming event - will be published soon. 

10th April 2013: very interesting long conversation with Prof Mark Plumbley, Director of Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary, regarding possible collaboration on Platform-7's 2013 Remembrance event 'Silent Cacophony'

9th April 2013: Platform-7 had fascinating meeting with Martyn Ware, from Heaven 17 fame, to discuss potential collaboration regarding the Canary Wharf 2-minute silence installation [click] with his company Illustrious [click]

9th April 2013: Kent County Council provides part funding towards Resting Place, scheduled for 29th September 2013 in Ramsgate, Ellington Park [click]

9th April 2013: 'Re-imagining Ladies Tights' facebook page [click] 98 Likes in 24-hours of creation without promotion and 160 page views on the Platform-7 website.  

8th April 2013: Application submitted to Thanet District Council for Dawn Cole's 'Resting Place' event in Ramsgate's Ellington Park, Sept 2013 [click]

8th April 2013: Arts Council Funding for the collaboration with Akleriah [click] to return to the disused Blockbuster in Catford for a new project 'Re-imagining Ladies Tights' exploring the politics around tights and stockings [click

4th April 2013: Platform-7 has submitted joint application with Goldsmiths Sociology dept to AHRC Creativeworks London 'Entrepreneur-in-Residence' scheme to fund the company advising the UrbanFotoFest team and facilitating managed growth during 2013.  Partners include Tate Britain, British Library and many others

26th March 2013: Attended Creativeworks London Creative Voucher Scheme workshop for 'Localities' with application partner Prof Andy Pratt,  King's College London

25th March 2013: Attended full day workshop at NESTA to learn more on NESTA/AHRC/ACE R&D Development Fund.  

20th March 2013: London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea commission Jonathan Polkest's Draw Me with Platform-7 for the InTransit festival in July 2013 [click]

19th March 2013: Professor Andy Pratt, Director, Culture, Media and Creative Industries, Kings College London agrees to a joint application for Creativeworks London, Localities and Creative Industry to better understand the concealed bonds that are required for there to be 'a sense of community' and devise practice ways of describing and explaining them.  We aim to formalise Platform 7's practice in academic terms, and to examine how academic ideas can be translated into Platform 7's practice.

18th March 2013: Confirmed place for Digital R&D workshop regarding Paul Halliday's London Project [click]
18th March 2013: Met with Kate Sayer, Education Manager, The Poetry Society to discuss potential future collaborations.
15th March 2013: Akleriah private view of Olympia workshops to accompany performance at Queen's House, Greenwich next Saturday.
15th March 2013: Attended First Worl

18th March 2013: Confirmed place for Digital R&D workshop regarding Paul Halliday's London Project [click]

18th March 2013: Met with Kate Sayer, Education Manager, The Poetry Society to discuss potential future collaborations.

15th March 2013: Akleriah private view of Olympia workshops to accompany performance at Queen's House, Greenwich next Saturday.

15th March 2013: Attended First World War centenary in Kent and Medway with artist Dawn Cole to look for partnerships for Resting Place [click

14th March 2013: Films complete for updated Knightsbridge page on no man's land website [click]

13th March 2013: Had meeting with Prof Ross Brown, Dean of Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

13th March 2013: Attended NESTA R&D Briefing regarding Paul Halliday project

12th March 2013: New Moonbow Jakes page explaining history of Platform-7 [click]

8th March 2013: Essay 'Was it worth it?' by John McKiernan asks whether live performance events like 'no man's land are worth the effort [click to read]

5th March 2013: Waterloo 2 minutes silence completes the silence page on no man's land

5th March 2013: Platform-7 was not chosen for the London Legacy Olympic Park poetry bid

4th March 2013: Opportunity to use the disused Eurostar terminal again at Waterloo

2nd March 2013: New Platform-7 website now fully operational www.platform-7.com

1st March 2013: Webpage for Canary Wharf underground station installation ready [click] and posted to 1914.or the IWM Centenary website

28th February 2013: Positive meeting between Dawn Cole and Florence Nightingale Museum regarding potential 'Resting Place' event in 2016

27th February 2013: London Underground welcome a new 2-week installation of Platform-7's 'no man's land' 2-minuites of silence films from 2012 Remembrance event

16th February 2013: New updated Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I & II webpages with gallery and videos [click]

12th February 2013: Bid submitted to the London Legacy Development Corporation for their brief to have poetry in and around the Olympic park, it looks great. Partners, Young Chicago Authors, Queen Mary, Bath Spa Uni, Goldsmiths, St Bride Library, Flipside Youth Film Festival and possibly Royal Central School Speech and Drama and Cisco.

11th February 2013: Queen Mary University of London pledge support for our bid for poetry around the Olympic Park

7th February 2013: Got our first institutional support for LLDC poetry bid in writing "I would like to offer a strong offer of support for your proposed [poetry] project. As a Reader in Creative Writing and the module co-ordinator for performance poetry at Bath Spa University" http://www.lucyenglish.com/

6th February 2013: Getting great interest from potential partners and many collaborators

5th February 2013: Attended very informative HLF workshop at British Museum and Creative Works at Geffrey Museum, Hoxton.

1st February 2013:  Poet Steve Tasane is supporting our Olympic Poetry bid [click]

31st January 2013: Ladies Tights collaboration with Akleriah confirmed that will see artwork and workshops in Lewisham during National Recycle Week June 2013 [click]

30th January 2013:Platform-7 is bidding for £170,000 poetry in the Olympic Park bid, with many amazing partners interested in collaboration ... "an opportunity to shape performance poetry for a generation" John McKiernan, Platform-7 founder

29th January 2013: Joint application to Kent's art fund with Dawn Cole for 'Resting Place' a 3 year ongoing performance from Ramsgate to France and back again starting 2013 [click]

28th January 2013: Proud to announce a new collaboration that will see Platform-7 tasked with taking photographer Paul Halliday's seminal 20 London Project out into public spaces in London and internationally [click]

24th January 2013: Second draft of journal article on Margate intervention completed, over 8,500 words and looking interesting

23rd January 2013: Platform-7 announces new 3-year collaboration with Kent artist Dawn Cole [click]

23rd January 2013: John McKiernan responds to Inside Housing article on High Street Blues [click]

21st January 2013: Return to work after 3 weeks in Taiwan where several opportunities presented themselves for possible collaboration in Asia.

20th December 2012: Professor Loretta Lees of Kings College London has completed the first draft of our joint article on the results of the Moonbow Margate project in 2013 [click]

19th December 2012: Platform-7 invited to Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to discuss the possibly collaborating on one of our projects

18th December 2012: Platform-7 and Akleriah draw up plans for textile intervention with LB of Lewisham in 2013

17th December 2012: Platform-7 submits bid with artist Natasha Reid, Professor Loretta Lees and Grassroot Gardens to create a mobile artist studio around the Olympic Park with Natasha Reid as Artist in Residence 

16th December 2012: Interesting article by Professor Ross Brown [click] discussing 2-minute silence in keeping with John McKiernan's "no man's land" blog post [click] on the London Underground silence [click]

13th December 2012: Developed a strong theoretical framework for joint pitch to the Olympic Legacy Development Company for mobile artist studio opportunity

12th December 2012: Was approached by several major London Universities regarding possible collaboration at Creativeworks meeting 

7th December 2012: new blog post questioning ritualism as a construct through "no man's land" [click]

5th December 2012: new Platform-7 website progressing, discussions taking place around 3 projects 

30th November 2012: no man's land completely updated, including new look blog [www.no-mans-land.me]

29th November 2012: Charing Cross station page complete, [click]

29th November 2012: Dawn Reid blog post 'Resting Place' posted to "no man's land" improved Tumblr blog [click]

28th November 2012: Natasha Reid blog posted to "no man's land" new improved Tumblr blog [click]

28th November 2012: first draft of new website design complete for Platform-7 launch (Spring 2013)

22nd November 2012: no man's land website being updated, with images and new 2-minute silence page - a fascinating insight to the 2-minutes of silence that takes place across the London Transport system on Remembrance Day [click]

19th November 2012: New Platform-7 website now being actively developed

18th November 2012: Watch first clip out of Knightsbridge [click]

16th November 2012: First clips of video battle arriving on "no man's land" website [click]

15th November 2012: A poem by Nick Scammell responding to the Catford Tapescape: The Intervention II sculpture "Deluge" by Paul Halliday [click]

14th November 2012: A tired team

12th November 2012: A massive thank you to all the artists and crew involved in making "no man's land"  such a special and successful day and all at London Underground stations and Jim Lynott, at BRBR , for being so accommodating in allowing it to happen

11th November 2012: The day has arrived, see www.no-mans-land.me blog for details and choose your nearest station incl Eurostar Waterloo http://www.no-mans-land.me/#!tube-stations-occupied/c15go 

7th November 2012: Cabinet meeting tonight,7.15 [click for agenda] Previous Cabinets minutes available on the "no man's land" facebook [click]

7th November 2012: www.no-mans-land.me website stations and information updated

5th November 2012: BRBR (Residuary) Limited have granted Platform-7 the use of the disused Eurostar terminal at Waterloo to display the "no man's land" sculptures and have post London Underground performances on Sunday 11.11.12 

5th November 2012: Another twist potentially in 'no man's land' event, a potential new ally want to meet at 6pm

5th November 2012: Received London Underground's written confirmation that 'no man's land' event can proceed.

4th November 2012: Artist Natasha Reid responds to 'no man's land' pointless essay [click]

4th November 2012: All risk assessments and information to artists complete and sent.

3rd November 2012: Creator of "no man' land" discusses his personal thoughts and concerns on the event with one week to go [click]

1st November 2012: London Underground issue licenses for 11/11/12 "no man's land" event

31st October 2012: A robust and very interesting Cabinet Committee meeting updating on individual elements of the 'no man's land' event and discussing how sculptors can be further involved. 

30th October 2012: Reaction of sculptors to LU decision remarkable, solutions being sought.

29th October 2012: London Underground reject sculpture proposals on a number safety grounds, more to follow.

20th October 2012: A week of changes and decisions leading focusing on quality over quantity.  First group of sculptures sent to London Underground for approval.  Standard of work is looking exceptional.

14th October 2012: Music and Poetry committees work complete

11th October 2012: Number of stations halved to 15 due to insurance cost

10th October 2012: Second Cabinet meeting held [click]

5th October 2012: concerns about financing of no man's land following Art Council England's funding rejection [click]

1st October 2012: Very busy with no man's land

25th September 2012: First Cabinet meeting for no man's land this evening [see agenda here]

24th September 2012: Many new people join the event, see facebook page [here] for details or the pool page [here]

23rd September 2012: Busy weekend on www.no-mans-land.me

22nd September 2012: Platform-7 wishes to welcome Anthony Fairweather to no man's land, a multiple slam winning poet from Southampton who’s supported Elvis McGonagall, Byron Vincent and others…all with a speech impediment supplied as standard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h3qAfQATS4

22nd September 2012: Platform-7 wishes to welcome David Turay, a London-based musician who was seen playing sublime sax very late under Southwark bridge during the summer, to no man's land http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_uu6gt7zbw

21st September 2012: no man's land Cabinet line up for Tuesday 25th meeting with Pat Codd Melanie Simpson John Huntingdon Karl Richter Lauren Lapidge and tbc on the night Roanna Mitchell, Nick Lawrence and Tony George -plenty to discuss

21st September 2012: platform-7 welcomes John Huntingdon to the Cabinet as head of Health and Safety, Fire Risk Assessment and Sculpture Security for www.no-mans-land.me

20th September 2012: Platforma, the arts art of the UK Refugee Council is to partner Platform-7 in developing 'Transport Hub' an intervention discussing the politics of migration, immigration and displacement

20th September 2012: no man's land welcomes our new Head of Operations:North America, Rachel Lehrman, in charge of artists and promotion from Canada, USA and Mexico http://eoagh.com/?p=397

18th September 2012: no man's land is already metamorphosing in new directions not even considered http://captainreidnomansland.tumblr.com/

18th September 2012: no man's land welcomes our new Head of Operations:Southeast Asia Angie Chen in charge of artists and promotion from Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Burma, and Taiwan

18th September 2012: Poems Alive and Platform-7 are to create 72-hour cafe exploring knife crime and gang clture through spoken word

17th September 2012: Platform-7 wishes to welcome Daniel Merrill a London-based musician and researcher to our Underground event no man's land http://www.danielmerrill.co.uk/#

17th September 2012: Platform-7 wishes to welcome Daniel Merrill a London-based musician and researcher to our Underground event no man's land http://www.danielmerrill.co.uk/#

17th September 2012: no man's land welcomes our new Head of Operations:Southern Central Europe Elisa Testori in charge of artists and promotion in Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia

17th September 2012: no man's land welcomes our new Head of Operations:Northern Europe Hülya Ucar in charge of artists and promotion in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Estonia

10th September 2012: Platform-7 meeting/brainstorm week in Montseny nr Barcelona

4th September 2012: The first major adaptation to the planning of no man's land now in progress...

3rd September 2012: no man's land Press Release (Sept 2012)

30th August 2012: no man's land logistic rethink

28th August 2012: Hoping to complete no man's land website later

16th August: POETRY COMMITTEE for no man's land : Nancy G. Esposito, Ronnie Mc Grath, Isabel White, Kathryn O'Reilly

15th August: Tense and passionate first meeting of the poetry committee

14th August:  An amazing first meeting of the music committee, full details on our no man's land facebook [click]

12th August 2012: MUSIC COMMITTEE for no man’s land

James Young [click] Nathan Harmer [click] Julian Jacobson [click] Nathaniel Mann [click]

10th August 2012: no man's land taking a life of it's own and new collaborative project coming up with Poems Alive

6th August 2012: IMPORTANT: NO 'UP THE LINE' DURING 2012

Arts Council unfortunately have not the money to fund Up The Line this year despite the application fully meeting the criteria. ACE Letter: 'There are a number of factors we consider when assessing applications. Your application was not successful mainly because:
COMPETITION FOR FUNDS. Our funds are limited and we had more good applications than we could fund. Although your application met the criteria, we had to make difficult choices about which applications to support.' [End no other reasons given].
Average success rate April 2012 - June 2012 was 39%

3rd August 2012: Goldsmith's University of London give wonderful review of Paul Halliday's 'Deluge' inastallation at the Tapescape Catford:The Intervention I & II [link to Goldmsmiths]

3rd August 2012: no man's land has been revised creating a highly conceptual approach to live performance in public space

3rd August 2012: Team all back from holiday

19th July 2012: no man's land has been updated [click]

19th July 2012: Email migration appears complete, new main contact email address projects@platfom-7.com

18th July 2012: Major issues with Platform-7 email migration, apologies if you are trying to contact us

17th July 2012: Scarborough based Split Infinitive charity offers funding donation towards Up The Line 2012

17th July 2012: Deluge documentation video available here

16th July 2012: Platform-7 invited to the opening of the new Tate Tanks

13th July 2012: Humanities strategy company Shm holds workshop for Platform-7 to try to understand how to develop the model within the legal and cultural frameworks that exist while remaining true to the principles and ethics of the company.  Happily everyone became somewhat stuck and more work is required.

10th July 2012: Lewisham Council opt to continue Tapescape video amnesty for all Lewisham residents

12th June 2012: 'no man's land' website ready to launch [www.no-mans-land.me], more funding applications submitted for 'Up The Line'

9th June 2012: Website construction for 'no man's land' begins.

6th June 2012: Office team update:  Lenka Horakova, Lauren Lapidge, Isabel White, Darren Sperring, Tech, Lurca, IT for 'no man's land' James Stevens, Environmental Andy Blue, Finance Keith Graham

5th June 2012: Paul Halliday adds more to Deluge from returning videocassettes as part of the video amnesty

5th June 2012: Goldsmiths lecturers agree talk on Waste, Redundancy and Obsolescence at Tapescape Catford: The intervention II 20th June 2012 [click]

4th June 2012: Team working Platform-7 increases

2nd June 2012: International supporter of Platform-7 pledges funding for 'no man's land' on London Underground

2nd June 2012: Founder, John McKiernan begins joint journal article with Professor Loretta Lees of King's College London on the Moonbow Margate intervention during summer 2011

1st June 2012: Many opportunities appearing.

28th May 2012: London Underground provide Letter of Introduction for new event 'no man's land' to begin across London on 30 tune stations simultaneously

28th May 2012: Deluge poster now being printed [click to see]

25th May 2012: Roana Mitchell's provocative piece on how Jane Fonda's workout video was not only a bit of fun but a cynical ploy to sell technology by selling a person's body image back to themselves [read here]

25th May 2012: Latest news page moved to blog to ensure quicker and regular updates [click

25th May 2012: Wonderful Flipside event last night

24th May 2012: London Underground approves Platform-7 event ‘no man’s land’ across 30 tube stations simultaneously

24th May 2012: 4th Annual Flipside Youth Film Festival Gala, 24th May 2012 tonight at the Tapescape Catford[Click] 

23rd May2012: Deluge: The Return Of The Videocassettes: Tapescape Catford: The Intervention II, 23rd May - 24th June 2012 [click]

22nd May 2012: Facebook: tapescapecatford

22nd May 2012: National Federation of Cemetery Friends adds Platform-7 button to webpage and recommends 'Up The Line' event on news page [click]

1st March 2012: Provisional permission given to take over disued ex-Blockbuster video store in South London for 2 week art intervention

28th February 2012: Platform-7 attended the excellent The Future of Festivals symposium at the the Southbank Centre, London.  Hosted by Jerrwood Trust and  LIFT

24th February 2012: Proposal to the National Federation of Cemetery Friends ready for presentation



11th November: We would like to apologise for the cancellation of this event.

The Head of Art at the Royal Park has deemed that Bromptom Cemetery is too dark for ‘Up The Line’ 2011 under health and safety.  There was a demand that the paths must be bathed in enough light for a person with poor sight to see clearly.  The glowstick route, used so effectively in Margate on Thursday 10th Nov 2011 and at both the 2010 and 2009 events was not sufficient.  An offer by the Royal Parks to move the event to the daytime while the cemetery was open, as a form of compromise, was declined by Platform-7.  We believe that an enormous opportunity has been missed to bring a important event to West London.  If you wish to have more information regarding this event please email johnm@platform-7.com. 


21th October: MOONBOW MARGATE HAS A FULL PAGE ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THANET GAZETTE: http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Cafe-project-gave-people-feeling-belonging/story-13621571-detail/story.html 

21th October: POETRY CURATOR ISABEL WHITE HAS POEM PUBLISHED IN THE THANET GAZETTE http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/FACT-FILE/story-13622238-detail/story.html





























20st September: BBC HERE

20st September: GALLERY UPDATED























2nd September: BBC News South East may be coming to Lido with Councillor Chris Wells


1st September: MOVE IN STARTED

1st September: KEYS SECURED

1st September: Mayor of Margate Iris Johnson confirms she will join the Lido Sands Pool clean up on Saturday 3rd September





































Deluge: Return of the Videocassettes by Paul Halliday

Blockbuster Catford

Part of Tapescape Catford: The Intervention II



Poster by Daniel Crawford from Type&Numbers

Facebook: Tapescape Catford


Original Deluge as part of Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I by Paul Halliday. 


23 May 2012







Forgotten Catford can claim a London rarity: a 24-hour live art exhibition space

May 23 to June 24, 2012


More than a thousand old videocassettes will be recycled after an art installation at a former Blockbuster video shop in Catford SE6 in April.


“Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I” received such a big response that Lewisham Council, owners of the Blockbuster have extended the use of the premises to Platform-7 Events to display ‘Deluge’, a moving installation by artist Paul Halliday


Deluge explores notions of flow, flux and the morphologies of redundancy. The installation uses VHS tapes, returned as part of a ‘tape amnesty’, to slowly grow, as if the tape was gushing out from the shelves, creating a glistening pool of dark magnetic detritus that forces us to look closer and imagine what is left as traces of memory.  The scale of the pool of tape inspired discussions from children to grandparents on how much waste just one cassette creates, and the size of the task dealing with disposing of this now obsolete technology


Sponsored by Repic and Lewisham Council, the video amnesty will be extended until June 24 with Lewisham residents able to return old videocassettes, players and other redundant entertainment technologies to the disused Blockbuster drop box to become part of a new larger and more frightening ‘Deluge’ installation.  Over the next four weeks, people can watch through the windows of the Blockbuster as the installation expands at a terrifying rate, reflecting the waste disaster we face.


A bank of old televisions will transmit images 24 hours a day reminding passer-by’s of the rapid speed of redundancy that exists with modern media technology.


Artist Paul Halliday says: ‘The response to the original group exhibition was really good, and we didn’t imagine that so many people would bring in their used VHS cassettes. It’s quite strange to see the installation spreading across the floor like this, especially given that the space was so profoundly associated with this now redundant technology.’


John McKiernan, founder of Platform-7 says: ‘The way people interacted with the artwork and performances during our two week event at the Blockbuster really shows how many are thinking about the environmental damage we all cause and how art can focus the discussion and help challenge the accepted wisdom’


Dr Philip Morton, CEO of Repic said: “It’s really important that WEEE is recycled responsibly, end of life electronic and electrical equipment can end up at landfill which is damaging to the environment. It may even find its way into the hands of illegal traders who unlawfully transport the WEEE to Africa or other developing countries with a potentially devastating social and environmental impact.”

All videocassettes returned to Blockbuster will be fully recycled by EMS Limited and all electrical items will be recycled by Repic Limited, in line with WEEE (The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive in conjunction with Lewisham Council.




Opening Times:


‘Deluge’ can be viewed 24hours a day from Wednesday 23rd May




95 Rushey Green, Catford , SE6 4AF








How to get there:

Trains:   Catford, Catford Bridge, Ladywell, and Hither Green railway stations

DLR:        Lewisham DLR station (15min walk)

Bus:        47, 54 , 75, 124, 136, 160, 171, 181, 185, 199, 202, 208, 284, 320, 336, N136, N47 N171



For further information and images contact:

John McKiernan on johnm@platform-7.com or 07808 808 704

Further Event & Company information http://www.platform-7.com





Paul Halliday has an exhibition opening at Horniman Museum this year and will publish three books on his London work, material cultures in urban spaces, and images from a global project about ‘nowhereness’.  He is the founding co-director of Urban Encounters, and continues to curate this annual conference and seminar programme at Tate Britain.  Paul has been collaborating with Platform-7, see below, for several years, the most recent being a conference held at Goldsmiths focusing on the relationship between London and its related South Coast (City to Sea, 2011).



Platform-7 is a micro events company that creates live performance in public space that we see as blank canvas for artists to create and communicate original and challenging work that encourages audiences to notice things they see everyday. 


London Underground has confirmed the company can use 30 tube stations simultaneously across central London for its international ‘no man’s land’ event in November 2012.  The company has recently created interventions in Catford, South London, (April 2012), Margate, Kent (Summer 2011) and its annual signature event for Remembrance ‘Up The Line’ is presently being readied to appear in cemeteries nationally.  www.platform-7.com



Repic is the largest not for profit Producer Compliance Scheme in the UK and are responsible for around 50% of the WEEE collected in the UK. Repic  is  always keen to work with the local community to promote WEEE recycling and have been working with Lewisham Council since 2007 to ensure that all waste electrical items deposited at its sites are recycled responsibly.



The London Borough of Lewisham is a London borough in South-east London, England and forms part of Inner London. The principal settlement of the borough is Lewisham. The local authority is Lewisham London Borough Council and it is based in Catford.   Last year Lewisham dealt with the responsible disposal of 224 tonnes of WEEE recycling (April 2011-March 2012). Much more is disposed inappropriately and by co-sponsoring this event, awareness of WEEE recycling will be raised. Lewisham Waste & Recycling Team will be running a number of events during National Recycle Week (June 18 – 24th June)



EMS specialise in the recycling of all types of recordable media and electronic equipment. Providing waste management solutions for the television production, broadcast and medical industry.  Certified by FACT and licensed as a carrier and broker of waste, the material is handled in a safe and legal manner.



Blockbuster LLC (formerly "Blockbuster Inc.") is an American-based provider of home video and video game rental services, originally through video rental shops . At its peak in 2009, Blockbuster had up to 60,000 employees.  Because of competition from other video rental companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster has undergone significant revenue losses. The company filed for bankruptcy on September 23, 2010,[4] and on April 6, 2011, was won by satellite television provider Dish Network at auction for $233 million and the assumption of $87 million in liabilities and other obligations.


Blockbuster Catford was heavily looted during the 2011 summer riots and the management decided not to restock and handed back the keys to the landlord, Lewisham Council.  The store has since remained vacant although several potential tenants are interested in letting the site. 


Flipside Youth Film Festival will be holding their opening Gala evening at the Blockbuster to launch their 2012 Youth Film Festival in association with the BFI:   https://www.facebook.com/LondonFlipsideYouthFilmFestival


Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, dance, games and more, the intervention questions the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short-lived innovations.


We held a 'Video Amnesty' allowing Lewisham residents to bring in old videocassettes and players to be returned to the shelves for one last time before heading off to be completely recycled and re-emerge as something new.


The aim of these Platform-7 art interventions is for the space to transmogrify each day as the audience interacts with the work.  New artwork or performance arrives and other artwork leaves, continuously creating a distracting place, often uncomfortable to understand. 


A full description of the artist involved is available on the website: http://www.platform-7.com/apps/blog/tapescape-catford-artists-1



DROPBOX MOUTH by Lurca                 Paul Halliday's 'Deluge' by Jonathan Pigram








Demonstrate being Affected by 14-15-77

Blockbuster Catford

Part of Tapescape Catford: The Intervention II



‘Demonstrate being Affected’ has 8352 pictures taken every 20 seconds for 3 days on a train from Lhasa in Tibet to Beijing. The sky train we travelled on is one of the highest in the world at 5,072m above sea level.


The still pictures have been edited together to make a stop motion animation and a sound track was composed from chanting monks recorded in the Tashilumpo monastery (2nd largest in Tibet) mixed with the transfixing train beat.


The installation of the above content is shown over 9 screens, 5 of which work perfectly, 1 slightly and 3 not at all. The installation over the monitors is symbolic of beauty and symmetry with cracks appearing. The piece is hypnotizing and follows a wondrous journey through the, until recently, rarely seen Tibetan nomadic territories.


This work is a collaboration between Jonathan Lockwood & Kevin Walton

More info www.14-15-77.com

TV bank in Catford Blockbuster window showing Demonstrate being Affected by Jonathan Lockwood. Image: Platform-7

















Rioted Blockbusters Becomes Screening Site for Youth Films



Blockbusters Catford: Thursday 24TH May 2012 at 8PM

               With Continuous Shortlist Loop Installation Running the 24th to the 27th of May


The Fourth Annual Flipside Youth Film Festival

Showcasing the Talent of London Based Filmmakers Aged 10-25







On Thursday the 24TH of May, you are cordially invited to the Fourth Annual Flipside Youth Film Festival Screening at the vacant Blockbusters in Catford. While management decided against restocking the looted Blockbusters and returned the establishment to Lewisham Council, the building has attracted artistic events such as Platform-7’s Tapescape Catford and will now showcase a variety of youth films.


Once a target of the 2011 summer riots, Blockbusters Catford has recently become a site for artistic expression and youth involvement. The Blockbusters Catford screening is part of a larger film festival traditionally held at the British Film Institute. The disused building will be showcasing the immense talent of young London filmmakers aged 10-25. From political statements to artistic experimentation, the films prove the creative and productive brilliance of London’s youth. 


The Flipside Youth Film Festival is now managed by Youth Animation and Media www.yammers.org.uk and is funded by the Big Lottery. B3 Media are supporters of the project. Hosted by a team of dedicated young volunteers, the Flipside Film Festival Youth Committee Team was recruited in February 2012 to plan, programme and deliver the 2012 Flipside Youth Film Festival. Feeling strongly with regards to the concerns and issues of London’s youth in light of the recent riots, the Flipside Film Festival Youth Committee sought to be constructive and positive by holding a screening of the 2012 film submissions at a location negatively impacted by the riots. This year, the festival sought to expand in order to give participants even greater exposure, provide more chances for interaction among young filmmakers and show the positive impact young people can have on their surroundings and society at large.


Other Free Screenings Include:


  • Thursday 31st May – The British Film Institute, 2pm Awards Ceremony and Screening
  • Saturday 2nd June - The Cinema Museum Kennington, 2pm Screening
  • Saturday 9th June - The Horse Hospital, Russell Square, 7.30-10.30pm Closing Gala Screening
  • Further Screenings TBC 


Follow Flipside on Facebook and Twitter!







Contact: Alison McCloskey, Flipside Youth Film Festival Director

c/o Education Department, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, Southbank, London SE1 8XT

Tel: 07748480817

Email: info@flipsidefilmfestival.org.uk

Website: www.flipsidefilmfestival.org.uk



Notes to Editors


The call for films is open all year round. The deadline for films to be selected for the 2012 shortlist was April 1st. All entrants have been informed as to whether or not their film has been selected for screening.


The Flipside Film Festival Youth Committee Team has selected the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize-winning films across three different age categories, 10-14, 15-18 and 19-25 to form a shortlist. The lucky winners of 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes from three different age categories will have their films screened at NFT 3 on the 31st May and we more than welcome camera crews, photographers and journalists.


All shortlisted filmmakers will receive goodie bags and certificates at the awarded at the Awards Ceremony. First prizewinning film will receive trophies, special prizes and will be showcased on the festival website. Audience members will also have the opportunity to vote for their favourite film and an Audience Prize will be awarded a few days after the BFI screening.


All young people who entered their film have been invited to attend free workshops run by YAM and the Youth Committee Team in May and June 2012. Further information regarding the Flipside Youth Film Festival and the Terms and Conditions for entering the festival can be found on the festival website.




Platform-7 is a micro events company that creates live performance in public space that we see as blank canvas for artists to create and communicate original and challenging work that encourages audiences to notice things they see everyday.  The company has recently created interventions in Catford, South London, (April 2012), Margate, Kent (Summer 2011) and its annual signature event for Remembrance ‘Up The Line’ is presently being readied to appear in cemeteries nationally.  Our current work is continuing in the Blockbuster Catford with Deluge by Paul Halliday: http://www.platform-7.com/apps/blog/deluge




Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, dance, games and more, the intervention questions the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short-lived innovations.


We held a 'Video Amnesty' allowing Lewisham residents to bring in old videocassettes and players to be returned to the shelves for one last time before heading off to be completely recycled and re-emerge as something new.  The aim of these Platform-7 art interventions is for the space to transmogrify each day as the audience interacts with the work.  New artwork or performance arrives and other artwork leaves, continuously creating a distracting place, often uncomfortable to understand. 


A full description of the artist involved is available on the website: http://www.platform-7.com/apps/blog/tapescape-catford-artists-1





FRIDAY 20th from 9pm

Riot Act 2012 Night: Sculpture Presents

An incautious amalgam of mutant electronic forms, mechanical and digital animation techniques, computer sequencing and analogue tape edits,  the avant-garde and looney tunes.



Dan Hayhurst plays digital media devices, reel to reel tape recorder, sampler, effectron and walkman.


Reuben Sutherland plays video zoetrope record deck.


Psychophonotropic picture discs printed with intricate visual patterns animate when videoed, beaming looping fragments of surreal, luridly coloured imagery into eyeballs and brains at 25 frames per second  – Victorian mechanical imaging technology combined with digital video.


Sculpture’s second zoetropic picture disc LP, Toad Blinker (Dekorder 058) was released in October 2011 and made numerous best of year lists including Boomkat and Wire magazine.


badass Boomkat


like WALL-E, this music portrays business as usual for the rogue unit in a dead world, free to go about and do what it wants, forever Still Single


inhabits the technologically bipolar soundworld of steampunk…the sound design perfectly complements [the] animation….a small revolution The Wire


visually and sonically this is clearly a labour of love 5/5 Norman


Their first audio-video picture disc LP, Rotary Signal Emitter (Dekorder 046) appeared in September 2010 . It was a Wire magazine Top Outer Limits Release of 2010. Arthur magazine described it as the coolest object since the Buddha Machine. Brainwashed said: an act of vinyl alchemy not easily surpassed.





It’d be a mistake to conclude from the vintage of their gear that Sculpture are pursuing a retro analogue agenda. Their purpose is to explore perceptual thresholds…Sculpture hover at these sensory junctures, invoking the cortical feedback mechanisms of the brain – The Wire


Like a collab between an ADHD Boards Of Canada and a noisier Andrew Douglas Rothbard on LSD. Some crazy shit in here. It’s a techno glitch madhouse with ’50s avant garde electronics & sci-fi sounds, ’60s psych, and ’70s film score snippets….all manner of awesome thrown into a blender, soundtracking the only kind of club I’d ever want to go to. Digital music that most certainly belongs on the turntable – Antigravity Bunny


As with Nurse With Wound at their best, there is a manic energy and deranged sense of joy in these recordings (and indeed animations)…as if a hyperactive toddler had snatched the avant-garde and ran away with it, laughing uncontrollably. As a result, what could have been a dry and merely ‘interesting’ project turns out to be a hugely entertaining joyride – Freq


A dose of lysergic hauntology patching pieces of Radiophonic tape music with freeform drumming, digitally mangled modular synth sounds and all manner of sample textures to pull off an album that sounds like Keith Fullerton Whitman jamming with Roj round at Bruno Spoerri’s place – Boomkat



Exploding Cinema Spontaneous Happening !

Saturday 21st April - 8pm -  Admission Free




Platform 7 are holding a two week art event at the former Blockbusters store in Catford, which closed after being looted in the August riots. Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, dance, games and more, the intervention questions the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short lived innovations.


The Exploding is staging a free spontaneous video happening this Saturday featuring classic VHS work from our archive, live video mixing and performance.





95 Rushey Green,

Catford ,



Catford National Rail

Buses : 185 : 171 : 46


More details at:   https://www.facebook.com/TapescapeCatford










RIOT ACT 2012 (TBC) 











Alex Fitch reading This Town Will Never Let Us Go by Lawrence Miles


Alex Fitch is a contributor to, and assistant editor of Electric Sheep Magazine, an on-line cult film periodical that covers offbeat and world cinema, previously printed quarterly by Wallflower Press and now in journal format by Strange Attractor.


Alex will be reading from This town will never let us go by Lawrence Miles, a 2003 Science-Fiction novel about the War on Terror and media culture which depicts television and video tape as a way of making reality malleable when played back and observed, quantum mechanics as videomancy, if you like... with soundtrack accompaniment by DJ Robin the Fog and live drawing interpretation. This town is part of a series called Faction Paradox, which chronicles the interventions throughout history of a time-travelling voodoo death cult who wear masks made out of bone and skulls - such audience attire is not required to enjoy the reading, but encouraged for full effect.


Alex also presents the UK's only weekly radio show about comics - Panel Borders, Sundays, Resonance 104.4 FM and a six weekly show about publishing - Book List - also on Resonance.






2ND APRIL 2012






This April an unusual multi-disciplinary performance and visual art intervention will take place in a disused Blockbuster Video Store in Catford, South East London.

The free exhibition, called ‘Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I’, brings together new media and traditional arts in an exploration of the politics of the videocassette.  The intervention has attracted international artists and performers among a host of emerging London artists.

Events will include:

·         a provocation on Jane Fonda’s exercise videos and female body image

·         a documentary film ‘VH-Essay’ of non-return rental videocassettes

·         ‘Ext1’ an interactive sound installation around the nostalgic qualities of magnetic tape

·         sculpture, photography, live performance, quiz and huge quantities of now neglected and often nostalgic equipment and cassettes and more

Audience members will be able to interact with some pieces and are encouraged to bring in old videocassette and recorders to be completely recycled by Environmental Media Services (EMS) and Lewisham Council.  There is a bar serving fresh coffee and little you would expect in a video shop.

The show is produced by live performance micro-events company Platform-7 and follows the acclaimed ‘Up the Line’ events (2009-11) and last summer’s ‘Moonbow Margate’ intervention.  

Artists include Terry Duffy (Venice and Liverpool Biennale), Berlin’s Rimini-Protokoll (Venice Biennale), Hugh Stoddart (To The Lighthouse, Remembrance), British Pianist Julian Jacobson (Royal College of Music and Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle), Paul Halliday (Urban Encounters: Tate, Goldsmiths, Horniman), Documentary Filmmaker Kai Clear, sound artist Nathan Harmer, Roanna Mitchell (Movement/Artistic Director: Endangered Bodies London), John Pigram (Home Museum).
Local artists include: Darren Sperring, Isabel White, Yeu-Lai Mo, Tom Bresolin, Lauren Lapidge and JC Jazzman John Clarke and more.

John McKiernan of Platform-7, said:
“PLATFORM-7 is establishing a reputation for innovative events that really challenge the way people look at the world.  Tapescape Catford will encourage people to question the way they think of technology, how it changes the way we behave, and the environmental impact these innovations make on our World”

’Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I’ is not financially supported by any funding, with all work provided for free by artists and crew.  The Blockbuster Video Shop has been provided rent-free for three weeks by London Borough of Lewisham.  

Platform-7 wishes to offer its gratitude for the recycling of old videocassettes to (EMS) and the recycling of the video recorders and players to London Borough of Lewisham Waste Services, also to John Street Beverage for providing a coffee machine without charge.  To support the event visit Tapescape Catford on the www.Pleasefund.us website.



Opening Times are as follows

April 12-15th Thursday to Sunday              12noon - 11pm
April 17th       Tuesday                                  12noon - 11pm
April 19-22nd Thursday to Sunday             12noon - 11pm


·         Entrance is free

·         Audience is encourage to return old videocassettes for recycling

·         The event has a paid bar and coffee machine

·         Some age restriction will apply to certain events or need adult accompaniment

·         This event is wheelchair and pram accessible

How to get there:

Trains:    Catford, Catford Bridge, Ladywell, and Hither Green railway stations

DLR:        Lewisham DLR station (15min walk)

Bus:        47, 54 , 75, 124, 136, 160, 171, 181, 185, 199, 202, 208, 284, 320, 336, N136, N47 N171




For further information and images contact:
John McKiernan on johnm@platform-7.com or 07808 808 704
Further Event information http://www.platform-7.com/#!events/vstc3=moonbow-blockbuster
Further Company Information: www.platform-7.com


Platform-7 is a micro events company that creates live performance in public space that we see as blank canvas for artists to create and communicate original and challenging work that encourages audiences to notice things they see everyday.  

The company was founded in 2011 combining 18 years of experience of mounting interdisciplinary arts events in a community environment and championing new and emerging artists and artforms in a variety of media. For further information please visit: www.platform-7.com

The London Borough of Lewisham is a London borough in South-east London, England and forms part of Inner London. The principal settlement of the borough is Lewisham. The local authority is Lewisham London Borough Council and it is based in Catford.

Blockbuster LLC (formerly "Blockbuster Inc.") is an American-based provider of home video and video game rental services, originally through video rental shops . At its peak in 2009, Blockbuster had up to 60,000 employees.  Because of competition from other video rental companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster has undergone significant revenue losses. The company filed for bankruptcy on September 23, 2010,[4] and on April 6, 2011, was won by satellite television provider Dish Network at auction for $233 million and the assumption of $87 million in liabilities and other obligations. (Source Wikipedia)
Blockbuster Catford was heavily looted during the 2011 summer riots and the management decided not to restock and handed back the keys to the landlord, Lewisham Council.  The store has since remained vacant although several potential tenants are interested in letting the site.

EMS specialise in the recycling of all types of recordable media and electronic equipment. Providing waste management solutions for the television production, broadcast and medical industry.  Certified by FACT and licensed as a carrier and broker of waste, the material is handled in a safe and legal manner.

Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, dance, games and more, the intervention questions the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short-lived innovations.

We will be holding a 'Video Amnesty' allowing Lewisham residents to bring in old video cassettes and players to be returned to the shelves for one last time before heading off to be completely recycled and re-emerge as something new.

The aim of these art interventions is for the space to transmogrify each day as the audience interacts with the work.  New artwork or performance arrives and other artwork leaves, continuously creating a distracting place, often uncomfortable to understand.  

In addition to the established artists, many of the local artists behind the creative work that underpins Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I’ are in the vanguard of an emerging wave of European artists working with new media, technologies and traditional methods, bringing cutting-edge work to areas identified as lacking creativity.

A full description of the artist involved is available on the website: http://www.platform-7.com/apps/blog/tapescape-catford-artists-1

Terry Duffy: Terry Duffy is an international artist with a reputation for unique and challenging work. He has exhibited in London, Paris, Berlin, Philadelphia, New York, Venice, and many other places around the UK and World.

Rimini-Protokoll: Rimini-Protokoll intervention ‘Ciudades Paralelas’ is a Coproduction between HAU Berlin and Schauspielhaus Zürich, commissioned by Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Swiss Cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and Goethe Institut

Huge Studdart:  Hugh Stoddart was director of the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham 1978-81. Credits include the films ‘To The Lighthouse’ and ‘Remembrance’ and several successful stage plays. Hugh is now a screenwriter and an art critic

Julian Jacobson: Julian Jacobson, who studied with Lamar Crowson, John Barstow and Louis Kentner, has established a reputation as a pianist of extraordinary breadth and versatility. His repertoire is firmly centred on the great classics of the repertoire.  He is lesser known for his films scores that include ‘The Forth Protocol’ and ‘To The Lighthouse’.

Paul Halliday: Paul Halliday is a photographer, filmmaker and sociologist based at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He studied social anthropology and art history at Goldsmiths College and Oxford University.  He completed a twenty-year photographic project in 2006, about London’s street cultures, on which he gave a talk at Tate Modern, and is currently completing a photographic project about global cities.


For online version of this press release and images please visit www.platform-7.com/apps/blog    






Appearing in alphabetical order…

Hugh Stoddart & Julian Jacobson         

Rewind - A Conversation About Music In Films  [CLICK]


Isabel White - Poet in Residence

Home Video [CLICK]     


Jonathan Pigram           

I Love Videotape  [CLICK]


Kai Clear              

VH-Essay  [CLICK]


Nathan Harmer     

Ext1.  [CLICK]



Ciudades Paralelas – Paralle Cities [CLICK]


Roanna Mitchell         

A Jane Fonda Provocation  [CLICK]


Terry Duffy            




Tom Bresolin           

Site Specific Work  [CLICK]


Yeu-Lai Mo             

Yeu-Lai’s House      &      ‘En-light’ [CLICK]



Frog Morris             No DVD

NO DVD - A Special Video Screening Event In New Cross People's Library


Video Amnesty           We Want Your Videos! [CLICK]





More to come…




Terry Duffy presents…

More information to follow...


Terry Duffy is an international artist with a reputation for unique and challenging work. He has exhibited in London, Paris, Berlin, Philadelphia, New York, Venice, and many other places around the UK and World.


Earlier in his career he worked with Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Roy Adzak, Stuart Brisely and has received major awards and international media coverage including in-depth coverage on BBC World News.



Image and Copyright, Terry Duffy, click for website


In 2008 his MONUMENTS work was installed during the Liverpool Biennial, sponsored by Barclays Bank. In the same year, he exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery. In 2009 Terry was included in the prestigious Venice Biennale, sponsored by Sotheby's. Recently, his MONUMENTS project was launched at the Bloomsbury Festival.


Other important works such as 'Victim, no resurrection', inspired by the 1981 Toxteth Riots, is on a world tour focusing upon religious and cultural conflict worldwide. It was recently shown at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and is in progress to tour to Dublin, Belfast, Dresden, Poland, Cape Town, New York, Palestine and other places.


Recent works have also included text/poetry addressing issues such as anti-Semitism, war, religious conflict, commemoration and death. Other recent projects include a series of talks and discussions focusing upon creative strategies, commodification, architecture and healing.



Image and Copyright, Terry Duffy, click for website

Image Details


53rd Venice Biennale 2009

Palazzo Contarini Della Porta Di Ferro

4th June - 19th July 2009


MONUMENTS in Venice was a thought provoking and visually inspiring dialectic juxtaposition of imposing contemporary art and 15th century gothic palazzo.  Installed in the Palazzo Contarini Della Porta Di Ferro during the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. The sponsors were Sotheby’s International Realty and Venice Estates; previous sponsors have included Barclays Bank and Urban Splash.



One of the Poets in Residence will be Isabel White


Iz will be responding to events in verse as they unfold throughout the intervention.  Here is an idea of what to expect…




When first we met,

we swapped popcorn for bodily fluids,

sitting in the back row of the movies

on a Saturday night.

Oblivious to the screen,

we lived our teenage dreams;

from X rated flicks we moved seamlessly


to flicking channels, and the VHS.

Saturdays were now for staying in

with vino, video and a takeaway.

We watched the film,

scrutinising every frame

for evidence

that would stand up in court.




Rimini-Protokoll from Berlin presents

Ciudades Paralelas – Paralle CitiesA project curated by Lola Arias und Stefan Kaegi



Hotel rooms, shopping centres, factories... these are functional places, not usually thought of as interesting to the outside eye. But without them life in the city would be uninhabitable. Their ubiquitous, parallel existences the world over mean these places are instantly recognisable, each modelled on similar rules but displaying a local face.


For “Ciudades Paralelas”, Lola Arias and Stefan Kaegi have invited several artists to devise interventions into these kind of spaces. Eight artists have each chosen a location in the city as observation stations for urban phenomena. Some of them chose to work with radio recievers or headphones, others with a choir or with people in their workspaces.



Image and Copyright Rimini-Protokoll [click for website]


The pieces vary in form: You can listen to some of them, others you can read or touch. Some are for 1, others for 100 spectators. Some of the performers are singers, others writers, passers-by or even the audience themselves.

Dominic Huber stages the inhabitants of an apartment block, and positions the viewers on the other side of the street. Like detectives investigating a crime never committed, they can spy on the residents and hear their conversations.


Gerardo Naumann’s factory workers take viewers on a subjective journey along the production line at their place of work.


Via headphones, Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells whisper to us over the silence of a library reading-room.Christian Garcia inscribes a Renaissance choral for amateur singers into the charged atmosphere of the columned entrance hall of a court building.


Mariano Pensotti turns four authors into literary surveillance cameras who describe scenes in a railway station as they happen. The viewers read the texts as a novel unfolding live on large screens over the heads of its real-life figures.


The Ligna activists choreograph their listeners in a shopping mall, turning their movements into a conspiratorial radio ballet.

Lola Arias presents hotel rooms haunted by the stories of the cleaning staff composed primarily of foreign women – ghosts who appear when nobody else is there and clean up after other foreigners. And, late in the evening.


Stefan Kaegi invites you to a roof with a view over the city to review all these experiences with a blind man. Rewinding the experiences from his perspective you find yourself wondering what you will remember of the day.


Image and Copyright Rimini-Protokoll [click for website]


The projects make theatre out of public spaces used every day, and seduce the viewers into staying long enough for their perception to change. They invite you to subjectively experience places built for anonymous crowds.


“Ciudades Paralelas” offers eight perspectives on one city, three times over. A festival that doesn’t transport stage sets or companies of actors but ideas. In Berlin, Buenos Aires and Zurich, the projects are re-contextualized and staged over a three-week period with performers from each city. Via location scouting and casting sessions the eight artists are networked with each city. In this way, Ciudades Paralelas wanders from country to country as a


Image and Copyright Rimini-Protokoll [click for website]


Ciudades Paralelas is a Coproduction between HAU Berlin and Schauspielhaus Zürich, commissioned by Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Swiss Cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and Goethe Institut.



Jonathan Pigram presents I Love Videotape


After badgering my parents for several months, they finally bought a front loading Telefunken VHS recorder for the family.  I think it was around 1984 and cost about £800, which was a bargain at the time.

Image and Copyright, Jonathan Pigram [Click image for website]


My love affair with video technology had begun and led me to pursue a career in the TV industry.  I didn't want to be famous, I just craved being around cutting edge video technology, and learn what all the hundreds of buttons and switches did in a video edit suite.  Video formats changed several times, from reel to reel 1" tape that needed to be manually laced onto a machine, right up to today's HDCAM SR which is in fact a distant relation of Betamax.  I'll be bringing along an old Betamax machine, a large array of old videotape formats, and a few freshly prepared videos, on how to maintain your VHS recorder, as well as some other bits and pieces that show just how boring todays video technology really is.  I'm really excited to be a part of this project, and well keep you posted on what I'll be up to.......


Hugh Stoddart And Julian Jacobson Present

Rewind - A Conversation About Music In Film




Image and Copyright Hugh Stoddart [Click image for website]


Hugh Stoddart


Hugh Stoddart worked in the West Country in the 1970’s and his collaboration with director Colin Gregg began there. Their first film was shown at the London Film Festival, won the Grierson Award and was bought by the BBC. Interest from Melvyn Bragg led to their second, THE TRESPASSER, and for this film, Hugh sought out his friend Julian Jacobson to advise and coach the actors (Alan Bates and Pauline Moran) on how to look convincing as violinists. Julian and other musicians he knew made the recordings that were dubbed on to the film.


Hugh went back to Julian for three more films: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, HARD TRAVELLING and WE THINK THE WORLD OF YOU.


TO THE LIGHTHOUSE  was shortlisted for a Bafta – starring Michael Gough and Rosemary Harris, it was also Kenneth Branagh’s first film. Hugh and Colin cast Michael Gough again in HARD TRAVELLING (for the BBC drama strand Screen Two) and paired Alan Bates with Gary Oldman for WE THINK THE WORLD OF YOU. An earlier film written by Hugh, REMEMBRANCE, was Gary’s first film role.


Music has been a growing part of Hugh’s work – his short film LIFETIME, currently on the festival circuit, was built round music by Bach, played by Julian and cellist Jessica Burroughs; Julian is advising on the feature Hugh is planning that is derived from the short. Hugh is also hoping to revive his adaptation of EARTHLY POWERS, not filmed as yet – Anthony Burgess believed that musical structures should inform and shape fiction writing.


Image and Copyright Julian Jacobson [Click image for website]



Known primarily as an outstandingly creative pianist, Julian Jacobson has maintained a parallel activity as a versatile and original composer since his earliest years.  He studied with Arthur Benjamin - composer of the famous "Jamaican Rumba" as well as many more serious, large-scale works - from the age of seven up until Benjamin's death in 1960. By the age of ten Julian had written many piano pieces and had four songs published by Curwen's. Entering the Royal College of Music in 1965, he studied composition  and analysis with Humphrey Searle and Alexander Goehr. At this time he was also a founder-member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain.


While studying at Queen's College, Oxford (1968-71), he was invited to compose incidental music for OUDS and other productions. Several choral works also date from this time.  Jacobson has composed and conducted the scores for several successful TV and feature films, including "To the Lighthouse", "Hard Travelling" and "We Think the World of You", which has had particular acclaim in the USA. He was music consultant and composed some of the music for "The Fourth Protocol" - which also had him making a brief screen appearance conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, alongside Michael Caine.


He has continued to compose a steady stream of songs, instrumental pieces and works.   A song-cycle, "The End of Love", was commissioned by Luton Music Club.


Other commissions have come from Steven Isserlis (a cello piece in Faber's "Making Tracks" album), Lowri Blake (tango song "Stop to Think" for A Man, a Woman and a Double-bass, recorded by her and Peter Buckoke on Lowri Records), Tango Volcano and others. 


His series of "Waltz-Caprices", published by Bardic Edition, have had many performances by artists such as Steven Isserlis, Lydia Mordkovitch, Judith Hall, Paul Silverthorne, Sylvie Gazeau and Selma Gokcen, who has recorded "The Gothenburg Waltz" (originally composed for Zara Nelsova).


An accomplished and imaginative arranger, his work in this field includes songs by Percy Grainger for Anne-Sofie von Otter and the Brodsky Quartet and an arrangement of Debussy's "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" for the Paxos Festival, Greece. His tango-song, "En Humahuaca", was premiered at the Argentina 200 Festival at King's Place, London, by the great Argentinean tango singer Liliana Barrios, with Yuka Matsumoto (violin) and Julian on piano in July 2010.

www.hughstoddart.co.uk    www.julianjacobson.com





Roanna Mitchell Presents A Provocation:

How technology makes our body its business: Jane Fonda, leisure, and the embodiment of the good citizen

Thursday, 19th April 2012


In this event Roanna Mitchell raises questions about the way our bodies and identities are changed through interacting with technology, and in what ways these technologies are being used to shape us into good citizens. After laying out her provocation, there will be space for discussion of the topic, also in relation to the artwork and personal experiences of the impact of technology on your body: how are you different now, with your Wii and iPad, to how you were way back, watching and handling your first video tape?


Uploaded by  on Jun 15, 2011, Source YouTube  License: Standard YouTube License


The entry of video recorders and tapes into households around Britain is commonly associated with the release of Jane Fonda’s Workout video in 1982. This period marks the beginning of a new relationship between technology and the body, leading from VHS exercise videos over game consoles and computers to today’s Wii fit. These technologies are advertised as entertainment and as benefitting our health. But how, really, do these technologies change the ways we experience and perceive our bodies? What political, economic and social agendas can be found underlying their marketing and sale? If communication takes place through the transmitter of the hardware rather than flesh to flesh, where does that leave the body? And how does the meaning of our interaction with these technologies change, when we view them in the context of contemporary politics and notions of the good citizen and society: from Thatcher’s 1982 statement that ‘there is no such thing as society’ to Cameron’s 2011 call for the Big Society: ‘To me, there’s one word at the heart of all this, and that is responsibility’. 



Visual Art Response by Darren Sperring

Performance Response by Mel Simpson


Copyright Mel Simpson



Nathan Harmer: Ext1

Ext1 presented by Nathan Harmer


Ext1 is an interactive sound installation by Nathan Harmer centred round the nostalgic qualities of magnetic tape, particularly VHS.


Copyright Nathan Harmer.  All Rights Reserved


The piece takes place in a darkened room lit simply by the flicker of a cathode-ray tube television set playing back a video tape loop spliced together from videos found discarded in the street. As the loop runs it gradually degrades over time engaging the audience in repeating hypnotic visual glitches. 
With large clusters of tape hanging from the ceiling to enhance the atmosphere, a motion sensor is used to detect both the differences in lighting from the television flicker and the movements of the audience within the space. These fluctuations and reactions directly affect the transformations of three cassette tape loops that complete the constructed atmosphere.
The audience is encouraged to take a moment to be immersed by these phasing cycles and consider their relationship to the ever evolving mediums we use to document, entertain and escape and the technological casualties that arise from this progression.






Directed by Kai Clear


VH-Essay is an essay film concerning several missing rental videotapes taken by customers of the *name deleted* video library as recorded in the investigation database.



Copyright Kai Clear All Rights Reserved


 The work is part autobiographical in detail from the time working in different video stores around London in the 1990s and partly inspired by the films of Peter Greenaway and Chris Marker.




Video Amnesty – We Will Take Your Old Videocassettes And Recorders


Bring back your old videocassettes and video player for us to recycle them for FREE.




Image and Copyright, Ludovico Sinz; Flickr Account 2007


Platform-7 is pleased to announce we  have teamed up with the London Borough of Lewisham and recycling company EMS to recycle all videocassettes and video player that are brought to our Catford Moonbow Blockbuster Art Intervention this April. [click for more on intervention]


This is your chance to clear all those cassettes clogging up your attic and feel good inside knowing that they will become something completely new once EMS have done their magic. 


For no cost we will return videocassettes and recorders brought to the Old Blockbusters in Rushey Green, Catford, SE6 [map] to the shelves of the store for one last time before being sent to be recycled.  There are a couple of rules,


  1. You got to be a Lewisham resident and,
  2. You need to own them, i.e. your property.  If you have outstanding fines or charges imposed by vendors or lenders you remain liable



There will be opportunities to show your video at New Cross People’s Library on April 30th [Click here for more]



Note: This is an art event and not in anyway connected to Blockbuster Video Store

Platform-7 accepts No Responsibility for any items handed to us as part of this Amnesty and will pass on for recycling in good faith.  EMS is fully accredited see below for terms. 














NO DVD - A Special Video Screening Event In New Cross People's Library 30th April 2012


If you have old home videos stashed away in attics or cupboards then we’d love you to bring them along for 'No DVD', where they can be lovingly projected once again as part of New Cross and Deptford Film Festival.


Image: NoDVD All Rights Reserved


There will be a box for people to drop home videos into for the screening.  Submissions must be on VHS tape and a maximum of 10 minutes in length.
Films shot locally will be particularly welcome. 
No digital or DVD submissions please - we want the 'reel thing'!
The screening will be at 7pm on 30th April 2012 in New Cross People Library. 
Contact frogmorris@frogmorris.net for more details.
7pm Monday 30th April 2012
New Cross People's Library, New Cross Road, SE14 6AS 


Tom Bresolin Presents a Site Specific



As part of the survival series artist Tom Bresolin will initiated a militant camp at arcadia missa.  A week long social experimental performance camp. Involving physical and mental training to prepare for the inevitable apocalypse and collapse of capitalism.


Image and Copyright Tom Bresolin


Tom is creating a new piece in keeping with his practice specifically for the Blockbuster intervention


NOTE: It should be noted that Blockbuster Catford closed after being looted during the 2011 summer riots.


More to follow


Review: http://www.a-n.co.uk:81/interface/reviews/single/2071572



Yeu Lai Mo Presents  'Yeu-Lai’s House' (10th April) & â€˜En-light’ (19th April)


Catford based artist, Yeu-Lai Mo (Elay Mo) will present an old piece  and a new piece for the ‘Catford Intervention’ in the former Blockbusters shop. 



For the opening event, Yeu-Lai will recreate a scaled down version of  ‘Yeu-Lai’s House,’ an earlier work where  she deconstructed the Chinese takeaway and challenged expectations and assumptions of women working behind the counter.  Featuring the video ‘Service, Kissing & Licking’ she mimes welcoming  gestures and sympathetic looks towards the viewer in a site specific video  installation for the opening of Catford Intervention.   


As part of the evening event on the 19th April, Yeu Lai will present her latest film


‘En-light’ For this piece, Yeu Lai is interested in capturing the essence of Tai Chi Chuan and transferring the moment of realisation onto film, portraying this ancient Chinese art form in its purity. This work aims to blur the boundaries of film and the still image such as painting and photography.  Balletic in form, participants go to a higher plane of enchantment and meditation.  Yeu Lai is interested in taking the viewer to a higher plane, a tall order from a mere artist, she intends  to entrance the viewer, to convey and share this moment of realisation.


Thanks to Frank Trembath, Tai Chi Chuan tutor and the Students at Brockerly Rise Adult Education Class (Weds).



Tapescape Catford

This April Platform-7 presents

Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I 

A Moonbow Blockbuster   


Exclusive Preview Tuesday 10th April 2012



We are taking over the now empty Blockbuster Video Store in Catford, South East London to explore the politics surrounding the videocassette.






Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, dance, games and more, the intervention questions the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short lived innovations.


We will be holding a 'Video Amnesty' allowing Lewisham residents to bring in old video cassettes[1] and players to be returned to the shelves for one last time before heading off to be completely recycled and re-emerge as something new




A full listing of artists [click]



Teaser night April 10th from 6pm then open at the following times

April 12-15th Thursday to Sunday              12noon - 11pm

April 17th      Tuesday                                12noon - 11pm

April 19-22nd Thursday to Sunday             12noon - 11pm


Licensed Bar and Proper Coffee 



95 Rushey Green, Catford , SE6 4AF [map]

 This event has been enabled due to the kind support of the London Borough of Lewisham and its Valuer Team for the building and the Waste Management Team and Environmental Recycling Services for supporting our Video Amnesty  




[1] Terms apply





Survey Responses and Interviews with Friends of Margate Cemetery 2011 Up The Line Remembrance Event


There will be no Up The Line 2012 event, please see our London Underground event no man's land [click]

Below is a short film from behind the scenes that includes many interviews with the Friends of Margate St John’s Cemetery and a taste of why they got involved.  There is also the feedback from our formal annual survey conducted 3-months after the performance to ascertain whether the event had residual impact months later.  All feedback is provided verbatim.  


If you are interested in a possible Up The Line event in your area during 2012 or beyond please get in touch as we are about to embark on our location search for this year.


Film by Dougal Squires, Up The Line Remembrance, St John's Margate Cemetery,

10th Novemeber 2011


Survey responses to Up The Line Remembrance event in Margate St John’s Cemetery

10th November 2011


Survey was available on Survey Monkey throughout February 2012 

Survey responses to Up The Line Remembrance event in Margate St John’s Cemetery

10th November 2011


Survey was available on Survey Monkey throughout February 2012


Survey remains open until 15th March 2012 CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE


Response Summary up to 27th February 2012



Response Summary up to 27th February 2012


Total Started Survey:         17

Total Completed Survey:   17  (100%)


Page: 'Up The Line' 2011 Remembrance Event


1. It is 3 months since you attended 'Up The Line' in St John's Cemetery, Margate. How would you rate the event now?

                 answered question                17

                skipped question                     0


Response                Percent                Response             

Excellent                70.6%                12

Very Good              29.4%                5

Good                       0.0%                  0

Fairly Poor            0.0%                  0

Poor                       0.0%                   0


2. Would you be likely to attend another 'Up The Line' event in Kent with new performances in 2012?

                 answered question                17

                skipped question                     0


Response                Percent                Response

Definitely                52.9%                   9

Very Likely              29.4%                   5

Very Unlikely         0.0%                      0

Definitely Not        0.0%                      0

Not Sure                 17.6%                    3



3. If you do plan to attend a future 'Up The Line' event in 2012, how far would you be prepared to travel to a different cemetery?

                 answered question                17

                skipped question                                0


Response                                                                                               Percent                Response

I will travel anywhere in the South East                                          5.3%                 6

Only if it is within 30 minutes travel time from home                  7.6%                 3

I only want to attend Cemeteries in East Kent                                7.6%                 3

Don't Know                                                                                             9.4%                5

Don't plan to attend a future event                                                   .0%                   0



4. Has 'Up The Line' 2011 encouraged you to consider the impact of war and conflict?

                 answered question                17

                skipped question                      0


Response                               Percent           Response

Yes Very Much                      47.1%                8

Yes Occasionally                 47.1%                8

Only At The Event                5.9%                   1

No Made No Impact           0.0%                   0

Don't Know                          0.0%                   0

Other (please specify)  0



5. Do you believe it is important that new ways of engaging the subject of Remembrance is needed?

                 answered question                17

                skipped question                      0


Response                               Percent                Response

Very Important                     76.5%                13

Fairly Important                  17.6%                3

Not Very Important                5.9%                1

Not Important At All              0.0%                0

Don't Know                              0.0%                0

Other (please specify)  0


6. How well did the event help you connect with the cemetery?

                 answered question                17

                skipped question                     0


Response                                                                                                               Percent                Response


Created a strong connection to a place I would not normally visit                70.6%                12

Reaffirmed my existing connection to the cemetery                                            11.8%                2

Created no connection for me to the cemetery                                                     11.8%                2

Diluted my existing connection to the cemetery                                                   0.0%                  0

Don't Know                                                                                                                   5.9%                  1


7. What is your favourite memory of 'Up The Line' 2011?


The pianist, the poems and the candle-lit atmosphere

11/2/2012 19:54View Responses


Enjoying people listening to the Harry's journal reading and watching the installation video

10/2/2012 12:59View Responses


The overall feeling of the war imagery, music and it being in a cemetery created a new feel and style to the idea of remembrance events for me.

9/2/2012 8:50View Responses


the musicians and poetry

7/2/2012 19:51View Responses


The dance performance

6/2/2012 12:43View Responses


The keyboard and vocalist combo with dead rat orchestra close second

5/2/2012 15:01View Responses


The lighting was excellent, complimented the artists very well.

4/2/2012 17:06View Responses


The dancers and the wonderful weather. The cemetary itself is wonderfully atmospheric place, the monuments to the Battle of Britain airmen were very evocative by moonlight.

4/2/2012 11:52View Responses


the 2 music performances : The piano play and the dead rat orchestra

3/2/2012 8:49View Responses


the shift of tones

2/2/2012 17:49View Responses


Dance performance and film. The candelit walk and the general feeling of being a part of something very special

2/2/2012 16:14View Responses


Poppy on the busj

2/2/2012 14:30View Responses


The performances impressed me a lot. stop around 3-4 mins per gig and immersed in the mood. I liked the dance, pipe and DRO the most

2/2/2012 14:03View Responses


The music and the candles, the memories of the soldiers who fought. One of our party lost a brother in WWII, he found the event deeply moving.

2/2/2012 13:57View Responses



2/2/2012 13:01View Responses


The poetry readings from Jazzman.

2/2/2012 12:44View Responses


8. What least impressed you about 'Up The Line' 2011?


Can't think of anything

11/2/2012 19:54View Responses


I think it would be better to use animated photos instead of video clips next time.

10/2/2012 12:59View Responses


probably the dance - though good in its own right - i had difficulty in connecting it to the war.

7/2/2012 19:51View Responses


The opening piper

6/2/2012 12:43View Responses


Dead rat orchestra got lost at end felt it/they were wasted opportunity

5/2/2012 15:01View Responses


Nothing, was happy to see such a good turn out

4/2/2012 17:06View Responses


Nothing, it was all good.

4/2/2012 11:52View Responses


the children too young to understand very playful and quite loud who made it difficult to hear poems and texts

3/2/2012 8:49View Responses


the door open of the messy chapel.

2/2/2012 17:49View Responses



2/2/2012 14:30View Responses



2/2/2012 14:03View Responses


I can't think of any criticisms. Perhaps the marketing could have been better. I only found out about when I called into Bachelors in Margate and saw a poster.

2/2/2012 13:57View Responses



2/2/2012 13:01View Responses


9. Any comments, suggestions or feedback


Not very well advertised.

11/2/2012 19:54View Responses


Perhaps some war uniforms could be worn, partic. WW1 with the leg binders etc. Also some very low background music of 1914 music. 'Roses are blooming....' Madamoiselle of Armetieres' etc

7/2/2012 19:51View Responses


Pretty dam good and inspirational experience thank you

5/2/2012 15:01View Responses


Thank you for putting the event on

4/2/2012 17:06View Responses


There should be a similar event during the summer months.

4/2/2012 11:52View Responses


It was excellent

2/2/2012 14:30View Responses


It was the most moving evening. Simple and very effective. I am not a pacifist. I believe in defensive action. We are highly socialised animals and war brings out the best and the worst sides of that instinct. I heard that in the material chosen. I was so glad I went.

2/2/2012 13:57View Responses


a great and emotional event that should be an annual thing and needs funding from tdc and kcc

2/2/2012 13:01View Responses

When do witnesses or onlookers become an audience?

At what point do witnesses or onlookers become an audience?  How much does the cultural conditioning of the viewer influence how this video is internalised?


WARNING: This video contains distressing images.

For content and copyright see YouTube



Poet Isabel White's Response to Akleriah Event and Blog Post (22/12/11)

Click Here to see the original post


Some thoughts on Akleriah 'Let's change the rhythm of the clock!'



Akleriah  Photo Kelvin Quinn


Living statues are at the far end of the engagement spectrum, in that they do not engage at all with their audience, except to allow for tourists to be photographed with them (which surely destroys the illusion they are trying to create in the first place?). They make no comment about their locality or purpose except to the extent to which humans can disguise themselves as inanimate objects. On the other hand , the fool was always the wisest person in court, the one who whispered in the ear of the king maker, the one who dared to think and speak the unthinkable and who, generally (until they fell out of favour) had a licence to do so. Over time, the fool evolved into the jester and in so doing, lost his (it was nearly always a man) wisdom and influence, challenging stereotypes or the status quo and ultimately becoming an object of fun. The tradition of clowning goes back millennia. But over time even clowns evolved into a parody of themselves, being divided into factions – Pierrot, Whiteface – that were dictated by custom, fashion and circumstance.


More recently people have used adornment to make statements or to disguise themselves (Goths) that are little more than badges, saying of the wearer – I belong to a particular ideology, cult or tradition. At its more basic, uniforms make weaker statements about the wearer and the extent to which they belong (school, Boy Scouts, regiments...), chose or have to comply with other societal norms or values. They can be very loaded (traffic wardens).


And then there’s Akleriah. Akleriah defy pigeonholing. They are neither statues nor fools. They evoke response in a way that statues and fools cannot. I have been trying to unpick what exactly it is that sets them apart from all those on the spectrum of clowns and performers, except that of course you could say they are not performers at all and in some way fulfil some deeper purpose.


Akleriah is not about decoration for its own stake; it is not a fashion statement, as it does not belong on the catwalk – the designs and statements that make up the physical presence of Akleriah are far too intricate and complex and would inevitably detract from any “product” that the model is there to promote.


No, what fascinates me about Akleriah is the sheer extra-ordinariness of their appearance, not extra ordinary in the sense of it being “out of the ordinary” so much as being “extra to the ordinary”.


For example, had the group just paraded round Margate in period clothes they might have been viewed as some sort of re-enactment society, and, as an object of curiosity, been observed by visitors and residents alike. No, what stands out here is the extent to which they engaged with locals in a way that no mere “performance” might.


For at least two centuries people have been coming to Margate to observe and be observed, for that is why a resort exists in the first place. If people wanted nature and solitude, they would fetch up on the Faroe Islands or in the Australian outback and get as far away from people as they could. But what brought people to Margate was and is the fundamental human need to interact with one another. That interaction is about seeing and being seen. The extrovert takes that concept to its logical conclusion and is there to preen and show off. Those who for whatever reason lack the courage or motivation to show off themselves, nevertheless like to see and be in the company of others that do.


Akleriah holds up a mirror to those who for centuries have come to Margate to see and be seen, as they still do today. Paul Hazelton referenced the “faded grandeur” of the resort. Its grandeur was short lived, but it nevertheless enjoyed a brief spell as the resort of choice for the leisured classes. In its way, Akleriah’s makeup reflects this faded grandeur, almost as if Dickens’ wonderful grotesque, Miss Haversham, was abroad; very apposite, given that Dickens himself resided for so long just down the coast at Broadstairs.


The exotic, doll like, “innocent abroad” appearance, especially when juxtaposed in a mundane environment like the bench seats of the burger bar, also invites curiosity and response. It is easy for the shyest of adults to engage with babies and small children - you only need to see how individuals’ defences drop in public places, when they are in the presence of the very young or indeed the very old. So on another level, Akleriah makes it very easy to achieve a response from its audience. This is demonstrated by Lenka’s comment: He, as much as the little girl, did not understand a word I was saying but was answering me back with a joyful expression and laughing sparkly eyes while nodding his head to almost reassure me that he understands. We humans can communicate with others on a very banal level, simply with facial expressions; we do not need to understand the spoken word in order to be understood.


Behind such disguise, the performers themselves have, by their own admission, been able to become dispassionate observers of the process in which they are participating.


Let's change the rhythm of the clock!' sums them up perfectly. It is not about time, place, rules and behaviours. It is not about mere observations or predefined solutions. It is not about arrivals. It is about something much more fundamental. It is about the road less travelled, the journey for its own sake, the comfort of the familiar and the surprise and delight of the extraordinary. Above all, it is about the human need to communicate with one another. Akleriah achieve this in spades. Long may they continue to explore it.


Margate or Cliftonville: Who do you Love?

A beautiful mosaic artwork, in the form of a giant mobile, that for many captured the communities of modern day Margate and Cliftonville. 


Artists: Maureen (Mo) Black and Jane Black


Concept: Maureen Black and John McKiernan



Cliftonville and Margate are two separate areas on the Kent coast interweaved in a physical sense yet, as the Moonbow Margate art intervention found, distant in the sense of harmonic living.  Moonbow Margate was situated on the very border between the two areas ensuring a mix of customers from both neighbourhoods.  What became apparent within a week was despite being entwined physically, many people in each area had deep-rooted suspicions of their neighbouring community.  It was felt by us inside the café, as people from outside Kent, that many in Margate had animosity towards Cliftonville, while Cliftonville had more envious feelings towards Margate.  The comparison was of two sisters competing for the attention of a suitor, with one feeling positive and the other feeling neglected, downtrodden and maybe having her best days behind her. The suitors being sought were in the form of government funding, investment or the elusive tourist. 


Discussing how to capture this somewhat sad yet fascinating dichotomy in a conceptual way, environmental artist Maureen (Mo) Black and the intervention curator, John McKiernan conceived ‘Margate or Cliftonville: Who do you Love?’ Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ was to be exhibited at the Turner and it was this, in keeping with the overall aims of the intervention, which inspired the final piece.


Mo, along with fellow artist and daughter Jane Black, made a series of hearts of differing sizes out of light scrap wood.  Over two weekends local people visiting the café were asked to write on the wood which area they loved most, Margate or Cliftonville, before decorating the heart using mosaic.  This was a free event with over 50 hearts completed.  Unknown to the participant, the hearts were not to be used as hearts but turned sideways to resemble lips.  These lips were hung as a giant mobile that gently spun with the lips occasionally touching; resembling a kiss. 


Aesthetically beautiful, the mobile engaged the viewers of all ages and generated many discussions regarding how the local neighbourhoods interact and the way they see themselves and their neighbours.


Opening Observations

Before the Moonbow Jakes cafe opened as part of the Moonbow Margate intervention, there were already a number of aspersions being cast upon the area from people living in and around the Old Town of Margate.   On opening it became quickly apparent that this negative feeling was widespread among many living in Thanet towards Cliftonville.  Race was often cited as a key reason for Cliftonville’s ‘decline’.    A woman who has lived all her life in Thanet told me that ‘people of Kent look down on Thanet, Thanet looks down on Margate and Margate looks down on Cliftonville’[1].  There was credence in this statement as the project bore witness and the comment book seems to show.  The recent publication, Saving Thanet mentions similar views going back over a century.


For those who do not know Margate, the area of Cliftonville, which is vast, comes under the postal address of Margate.  Many in Cliftonville state they live in Margate although it is clearly not Margate.  There is no longer any identity to Cliftonville even though it has a high street, the biggest park and cemetery in the area, numerous iconic buildings and was once the most up market costal resorts in the UK.


One of the more striking aspects of the project has been despite clear animosity towards Cliftonville from other Thanetians, people of Cliftonville did not seem to have any similar hostile attitudes towards other Thanet towns. 

John McKiernan



[1] Krista Bubble, June 2011



September 2011, part of 'What is Food'









Darren Sperring, trained as a dietician and worked in hospitals and surgeries throughout England while pursuing his art practice. The concept for the exhibition ‘What is Food?’ initiated from discussions on Darren’s humorous observational practice on how people consider their diet and how and what they eat. 

Click for gallery


Darren's response


What is food?


Answer: Any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body.

The wider answer is a bit more of a tricky biscuit to answer but working as a dietitian for 10 years did give me some understanding of food, in a chemical, social and psychological context.

In my work I explore concepts like GM, supermarkets, food technology, marketing and the social, psychological and philosophical relationship we have to food. I also explore possible new concepts in the food industry for example; Left Handed Food (patent pending), Homosexual Wine, Virtual Reality Gluten-Free Biscuits, Eggless Scotch Eggs, Super Foods that can make you invisible for an hour.

A significant part of my food-art includes food/s presented in a slightly altered state which is designed to explore how we view food, its relationship to us and society.

My work has a splash of conceptualism, an ounce of absurdity and 50 grams of humour, mixed together and cooked in the oven until golden brown. 



September 2011, Part of 'What is Food' Exhibition


Clare Pattinson’s food menus were designed for the ‘What is Food?’ exhibition at The Lido in Margate, and also specifically for the Dining Club of Margate. 



Click for Gallery


The three menu holders are humorous, interactive mechanical toys, inviting the diner to partake in the animation of the characters on top of the wooden mechanical boxes. The characters signify the food police in pursuit of the food thief, and aims to question food fashions, food propaganda and expectations and prejudices around food.


Clare has worked with street homeless people for the past twenty-five years and finds it interesting how ‘we’, as a society regard food.  This is heightened when she observes some of the clients she has worked with, who have more pressing dependences such as alcohol or substance misuse, or people with eating disorders who have little interest in food other than as a necessity or fuel. On the other hand, there are people dying around the world from lack of basic nutrition, which sometimes makes the whole food rhetoric business appear even more absurd.


The automata or mechanical toys are made from wood, copper and various found materials in and around skips in Cliftonville. They bring together Clare’s skills as an animator, cartoonist, illustrator, plumber, ceramicist, model maker, woodworker and anthropologist.


To find out more about Clare and her work http://http://www.art-spaces.com/clarepattinson/.art-spaces.com/clarepattinson/://www.art-spaces.com/clarepattinson/www.clarepattinsonillustration.com



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