Psychogeography: London, Southwark

It’s now the low residency fortnight on the course at UAL. I’ve spent the past three days in the Southwark area of London while attending some of the course events. Since starting the course, most my Southwark walkabout explorations have been from Denmark Hill train station to Camberwell University of Arts on the Peckham Road. Now I had the chance to soak up this buzzing, thriving environment even if it’s just fleetingly. Below are a few observations recorded in sound and visuals. It’s true, what you read does have an influence. I’m currently reading Jon Day’s Cyclogeography: Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier. Day’s (now a lecturer at a university in London) memoirs are very engaging even if the reader (like me) is unfamiliar with areas of London he documents. I make comparisons when I’m weaving through the traffic in central Tokyo.


Camberwell Rd & Peckham Rd Derive


The local cafes offer warmth from the bitter cold and are good retreats to scrutinize the everyday activities. The two that I did frequent were surprisingly almost empty at peak breakfast time. Is it the end for Greasy Spoon cuisine? I hope not.

The Jungle Grill on the Peckham Rd


A recording of a police car’s screaming siren on the Peckham Rd.

Lyrics of an old Jam song spring to mind, more nostalgia:

“A police car and a screaming siren
A pnuematic drill and ripped up concrete
A baby wailing and stray dog howling
The screech of brakes and lamp lights blinking
That’s entertainment”

Peckham Peace Wall

I was really taken by The Peckham Peace Wall. Jonathan had gave us some historical background  when visiting Peckham platform the previous evening. I returned the following morning just to get a better understanding of this moving piece of art.


From the Peckham Platform website:

“Peckham Peace Wall by Garudio Studiage celebrates the wall of post-it notes of love and respect for the area which grew on Rye Lane following the disorder of last year, and launched on the 8th August 2012 to mark this one year anniversary.

Commissioned by Peckham Space with funding from Southwark Council’s Greener Cleaner Safer fund, the Peckham Peace Wall comprises 4000 original post-it messages including those from London Mayor Boris Johnson and Leader of Southwark Council Peter John alongside those from residents. Each of these was digitally hand-traced by artists Garudio Studiage working with young people from Peckham” 

Letterpress Workshop

The workshop was a very nostalgic experience. After leaving school I briefly worked in a small back-street printers for about a year learning how to operate Heidelberg printing machines. The smell of the inks and machinery in the work area instantly came back to me. However, due to new printing technologies at that time, new companies began offering a faster printing and publishing service and sadly our small company went bankrupt. I was made redundant at 17. Disruptive technologies?

James, the letterpress technician gave a very informative workshop and after a brief history of letterpress printing, talking about the tools, how to do basic compositing, dos and don’ts etc, we got round to ‘play’ Here, I began composting letters, numbers, hard objects and anything that I was ‘rollable’ where I got an impression on the paper. My ‘play’ evolved into an urban landscape. How fitting that the brick wall, some insulated wire and an electrical box make up an apt background.



Camberwell Rd-Walworth Rd-Elephant & Castle Derive


I’m up early and on my way to meet a friend who I’ve known for a few years but never met in the physical. A good example of how technologies are making human relationships. We’re meeting at the Tate Britain, so I head towards the Elephant & Castle. As with many inner city London areas, the busy road is lined with a mixture of council blocks, Victorian terraces, open markets, eyesaw-looking shopping centres, eateries=good,bad and seriously ugly  and a few saw dust bars.  Drifting along the unknown eventually bought up to the Elephant & Castle tube and the end of my play. The statue of red elephant prominently marks the area. I wasn’t able to get lost. What a shame. As I now know that I’m not too far away from The Oval, it will be interesting revisiting this area in a different season.

Star Cafe, Arnside Street Walworth

Egg,Bacon, tea and toast= £3.20

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