Thursday, 31 October 2013

Christmas- ification

The tingle of christmas is tangible at map gift shop....the elves have been busy gathering precious things since February and at last the opportunity to fill the shop with beautiful decorations has arrived -  the Christmas Windows is complete! Ta Dah! 

Thank you so much to Dylan Collard for these amazing photos.

Photograph Dylan Collard

We have 5 themes for you this year:-

Vintage Retro:

Memories of  comic book heroes - these glass decorations are very special and will be treasured for years.  Glass decorations with extraordinary hand painted details.

Woodland Animals, Owls, Squirrels, Hedgehogs, Rabbits and ..........Bears? 

Especially good for children - these are not so fragile plastic discs are filled with fluff & stuff and felt decorated animals.
Winter Fruits - beautiful hand painted glass baubles, hearts,birds apples and pears.

........and finally dreaming of a white christmas, the very best traditional fairies and satin white contemporary baubles, crystals, snowflakes and icicles.

Photograph by Dylan Collard

Photograph by Dylan Collard

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Paradise Lost? - 8pm Friday 18 and Saturday 19 October

Archway Tower will be the backdrop for the aerial theatre company Scarabeus when they perform their new work ‘Paradise Lost?’ this week.

Aerial artists will be attached to the tower by wires and scale the heights of the 195-foot tall, 16-storey building. The performance will feature a soundtrack and video projections and draws on the history of the iconic site and the people who live in Archway.

Daniela Essart, Scarabeus artistic director, said: “As an artist, I’m inspired on a daily basis by Archway and its people and history. The Archway Tower and its surrounding area has a particularly fascinating story to tell.

Mexican Orchid House in the Victoria and Paradise Nurseries
© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Between 1854 -1897 Benjamin Samuel Williams cultivated rare and exotic orchids at the Victoria and Paradise Nurseries where the Archway Tower now stands. Later there was The Electric Cinema and Chivers Jam Warehouse.  I remember when I first moved to London in the 80's (taking advantage of the Enterprise Allowance Scheme) I sat in line in appalling conditions when  Archway Tower was home to the DHSS.  In 1985 Jeremy Corbyn MP said "Archway tower is a huge building.  The best that one can say about it is that the view from the staff canteen on the top floor is probably the best in London".

Dave Sinclair Archway Tower DHSS c1985

Archway Tower was also  the inspiration for New Model Army and their track of the same name "Archway Towers" in 1989.  Justin Sullivan, describes it as "nightmarish closing track". At no 28 in the top 100 London Songs Timeout wrote: An alternative landmark for the dispossessed Junction Road’s famous gravestone-shaped office block – former home to the Department of Social Security – inspired this cheery ditty by the Yorkshire grebos which seems to compare drawing the dole with collecting meds at an unsupervised institution for the criminally deranged. ‘It’s open season on the weak and feeble,’ they growl. ‘There’s bulletproof glass in case there’s trouble’.

Paradise Lost? is an extraordinary site-specific aerial theatre work that draws on the history of this place and the people of Archway to tell an intimate story of love, loss and hope against this epic backdrop. The performance of Paradise Lost? has been commissioned by the arts-led regeneration project A Million Minutes, and funded by Islington Council.

Scarabeus will perform Paradise Lost? from 8pm-8.30pm on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 October and residents are invited to gather on the pavement to watch.

Update after the event:

I am still mesmerised  by the show and the universal delight in the whole spectacle.  Scarabeus made such an impact and I really feel that Archway is a richer place for it!

Islington Tribune:Letters: Towering piece of art

Published: 25 October, 2013

• A WEEK after the performance of Paradise Lost on Archway Tower, its breathtaking beauty is still bubbling up in my thoughts and warming my heart.

Over many years of disliking the tower I have become quite good at “tuning it out”.

I never imagined that a work of art would change everything. Now I look up at it with memories and emotions so potent I can’t imagine them going away.

I think we all fell in love a bit that evening on Archway’s pavements – art love – and Paradise Lost truly changed our landscape forever.  

Art really does have the power to transform and bind a neighbourhood. 

Here’s hoping that Islington's brave decision to award regeneration funds to this project will get the praise it deserves and herald more of the same. 



Some of the comments tweeted are below!

What an amazing show! Delighted to be an resident and feel privileged to have seen this!

Never thought I'd describe Archway Tower as beautiful & elegant! Amazing performance by tonight

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Halloween - Love it or Hate it?

Trick or Treating: Kids really love Halloween - and they love being able to dress up like little monsters, it's also a really fun opportunity for enthusiastic mums and dads to throw a themed party with some great spooky treats, but for everyone else - I guess it's a bit of a non event right?  I recall those pre-children days that by the 3rd sound of the doorbell ringing, I was totally over greeting the "little monsters", and enduring at best their disappointed faces at no treats in store or at worst their menacing shouts of "we'll take cash instead" so my solution was to turn all the lights out and pretend I too was out reveling! But now I'm out there ringing doorbells with the cute "little monsters" (or more likely skulking out of sight!) and I am prepared with bucket loads of cheap chocolate, light up lollies and plastic rats as rewards for their dress up efforts! 

Pumpkins: Perhaps I have made a bit of a rod for my own back as last years efforts were rather successful (I'm sure you'll agree???) Will yours be better?  Perhaps we should have a competition!  Just a tip for all those not in the know - there are rules now - no pumpkin should mean don't ring here......if I had known that then - I would have put a note up saying "can you see a pumpkin here? no? then don't ring bell!"

Pumpkins 2012

Pumpkins 2013 - What do you think?

At map gift shop this year it's our chance also to be a little self indulgent by celebrating the Day of the Dead with some fantastic new products - I love the art of Dia de los Meurtos so when one of our suppliers introduced a new range we were straight on it!  We are obviously not alone in this as the "Day of the Dead" Embroidered Cushion particularly is proving surprisingly popular!

Skull Cushion £27.50

Sequin and Lace Cat Mask £15.50
Add a little glamour - sequin bat mask - £3.95

Cute Little Pumpkin £3.95

Set of 5 Masks £8.95

Having a Party: These masks are great fun soft and easy to wear and at £8.95 for 5 it's a good deal too!  These (easy to apply) glitter sparkly tattoos add glamour to any outfit - Get creative! Have fun!
Great Spooky Glitter Tattoos £3.50

And if all this spooky stuff is just too much for your little ones - and sometimes it is a little overwhelming cuddle up with "Casper the Cat"
Casper £14.95