Village Raw - ISSUE 4
Village Raw is a magazine that explores cultural stories from Crouch End, East Finchley, Highgate, Muswell Hill and the surrounding areas. The magazine is created by the community, for the community. If you like this issue you can support the project through a subscription or donation. See the links below. The fourth issue of Village Raw magazine includes: THE PYTHONS, A JABBERWOCKY, AND ME - Valerie Charlton on creatures, courses and the need to fail. A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN - Artist and dancer Jo Cork’s work with film. SATURN RETURNS - Yazmyn Hendrix - an a cappella artist who sees her music. THE NEXT MEAL - Local initiatives to help the homeless. A NEW ERA FOR HORNSEY TOWN HALL - Looking to the future. A TRUE INDEPENDENT - The Phoenix Cinema is one of the oldest independents in the UK. SECRETS OF A PERSIAN KITCHEN - A collection of recipes has been brewing in Atoosa Sepehr’s home. A TALE OF TWO DISTILLERIES - A look at two local gin-makers bringing mother’s ruin home again. BEYOND THE AISLES - The problem of farm-level food waste. VILLAGE ESSAY - The importance of local government. VILLAGE GREEN - The Guerrilla Gardeners of Palace Gates. AND MORE… Village Raw is created by the community, for the community. If you like this issue you can support the project through a subscription or donation. See the links below.
Village Raw is a magazine that explores cultural stories from Crouch End, East Finchley, Highgate, Muswell Hill and the surrounding areas. The magazine is created by the community, for the community. If you like this issue you can support the project through a subscription or donation. See the links below. The fourth issue of Village Raw magazine includes:
THE PYTHONS, A JABBERWOCKY, AND ME - Valerie Charlton on creatures, courses and the need to fail.
A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN - Artist and dancer Jo Cork’s work with film.
SATURN RETURNS - Yazmyn Hendrix - an a cappella artist who sees her music.
THE NEXT MEAL - Local initiatives to help the homeless.
A NEW ERA FOR HORNSEY TOWN HALL - Looking to the future.
A TRUE INDEPENDENT - The Phoenix Cinema is one of the oldest independents in the UK.
SECRETS OF A PERSIAN KITCHEN - A collection of recipes has been brewing in Atoosa Sepehr’s home.
A TALE OF TWO DISTILLERIES - A look at two local gin-makers bringing mother’s ruin home again.
BEYOND THE AISLES - The problem of farm-level food waste.
VILLAGE ESSAY - The importance of local government.
VILLAGE GREEN - The Guerrilla Gardeners of Palace Gates.
Village Raw is created by the community, for the community. If you like this issue you can support the project through a subscription or donation. See the links below.
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DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019
STORIES FROM CROUCH END, EAST FINCHLEY, HIGHGATE, MUSWELL HILL AND SURROUNDING AREAS
The Pythons, a Jabberwocky, and Me: Valerie Charlton on creatures, courses and the need to fail /
The Next Meal: Local help for the homeless / A True Independent: The Phoenix Cinema / A Tale Of Two
Distilleries: A look at two local gin-makers / Beyond The Aisles: The problem of farm-level food waste
The latest local happenings
and things to do
THE PYTHONS, A
JABBERWOCKY, AND ME
Valerie Charlton on creatures,
courses and the need to fail
A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN
Artist and dancer Jo Cork’s
work with film
Yazmyn Hendrix - an a cappella
artist who sees her music
THE NEXT MEAL
Local initiatives to help
A NEW ERA FOR
HORNSEY TOWN HALL
Looking to the future
A TRUE INDEPENDENT
The Phoenix Cinema is one of the
oldest independents in the UK
Oh, for more space… Before we launched our first issue, someone said we’d
struggle to find things to write about. Actually, it’s been quite the opposite –
we just don’t have the space to present all the stories we want to feature. It’s
amazing how much talent there is in our area and how many people there are
doing really amazing things, engaging with the community in all kinds of ways.
Even with the stories we’ve covered, it feels like we’re fighting for space – we
want to write more, and show more. We’ve got a cabinet filling up with submitted
ideas (there are some truly amazing ones), and we’re just having to exercise
patience as the magazine slowly evolves and finds its feet. Wouldn’t it be
nice to double the page count?
It seems that we’re looking at a long, cold winter, so we wondered what local
facilities there are for the homeless and how we can help. And for years, especially
since having children, we’ve become more and more aware of the waste
we generate around Christmas. Our sustainability columnist Emma Ross considers
how we can cut down on this at home, while Chris King explores waste on
the farm. As each council deals with rubbish and waste differently, our essay
considers the importance of local government. Following on from Emma’s suggestion
to buy secondhand presents we look at some of the vintage options
in the area – or how about gifting some of our local gins? We also explore the
world of digital dance with Jo Cork and look at special effects model-making
with Valerie Charlton – whose work would surely have been projected on the
screen of the Phoenix Cinema. This issue’s flavour is East Finchley Persian, and
the looped a cappella soundtrack is provided by Yazmyn Hendrix.
David and Luciane
By subscribing you’ll not only
be supporting Village Raw,
but the community as
well. You’ll also receive the
magazine delivered to your
door every two months.
SECRETS OF A
A collection of recipes has
been brewing in Atoosa
A TALE OF TWO DISTILLERIES
A look at two local gin-makers
bringing mother’s ruin home again
BEYOND THE AISLES
The problem of farm-level
Tips from Emma Ross
The importance of local
The Guerrilla Gardeners
of Palace Gates
Luciane Pisani for Studio Moe
Zoe Bee, Dan Bridge, Giorgia Carlini, Jonathan
Carr-West, Aimee Charalambous, Chris King, Kate
Kuzminova, Katrina Mirpuri, Kerrie O’Connell, Carla
Parks, Emma Ross, Dan Snell.
Printed in East Finchley by JG Bryson on chlorine
free paper produced by an EU Ecolabel certified
mill from FSC and PEFC regulated forests.
David Reeve and Philip Taylor
Cover image by Dan Bridge
Tweet us twitter.com/VillageRawMag
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Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Village Raw December 2018/January 2019
Designed and published by
Studio Moe Ltd.
© 2018 Studio Moe Ltd.
All rights reserved. Reproduction
of any contents of Village Raw
magazine without prior permission
of the publisher is strictly prohibited.
Ben Abrahams, Caitlin Alpert, Rachael Booth-Clibborn,
Valerie Charlton, Jo Cork, Lucy Davis, Siobhan
Feeley, Ian Hart, Yazmyn Hendrix, Claire Jury, Caroline
MacAskill, Andrew Major, Jelena Milosavljevic,
Joan Podel, Ian Puddick, Piers Read, George Rees,
Atoosa Sepehr, Kevin Stanfield, Megan Stevenson,
Martin Stone, Ruth Syratt, Hannah Whitehead,
Hilary Whitney, Liv Wright.
VILLAGE ALLSORTS: Things to look out for in the neighbourhood include an
art cafe, music cafe, and natural skincare shop. Words by Katrina Mirpuri.
With Emma’s column
local and second-hand
gifting, we thought
we’d look at some
of the vintage shops
and businesses in the
area. Words by David Reeve.
Mid-century furniture and lighting with a
Scandinavian emphasis. Open Wednesday
to Sunday. 265–267 Archway Road, N6 5BS.
Vintage and antique furniture, homewares
and paraphernalia, with an attached
cafe. Open Monday to Sunday.
1 Hazellville Road, N19 3LW.
Can’t Buy Me Love
Vintage clothes from the 50s-70s, as
well as a selection of homewares, books,
records and handmade cards and gifts.
Open 12pm to 5pm on Saturdays. 16 Avenue
Mews, N10 3NP.
Cha Cha Cha
As well as selling vintage clothing, furniture,
homewares, Cha Cha Cha also regularly
hosts events such as film and music
nights. Open 11am to 5pm on Saturdays.
20-22 Avenue Mews, N10 3NP.
Since 1983, this Crouch End institution
has stocked a range of antique and vintage
furniture and homewares. Open
Tuesday to Saturday. Crouch Hill, N8 9DX.
While a touch out of the Village Raw area,
this is such a great and inspiring project
it has to get a mention. As its name suggests,
Grow Tottenham encourages locals
to grow produce and participate together
An ever-changing stock of mid-century
in a community-led project. Starting as a
vintage furniture and homewares alongside
temporary site, Grow Tottenham is now a
modern designs. Open Tuesday to
council-approved space which success-
Sunday. 28 Stroud Green Road, N4 3EA.
fully runs a community garden, arts venue,
bar and cafe. It’s open from Wednes-
day to Sunday with events occurring in the
day and night, including gigs, gardening
Vintage clothing, vinyl records and retro
workshops, and other volunteering opportunities.
accessories including jewellery, bags and
Having started in Elephant and
belts. Blue House Yard, Wood Green, N22 7TB.
Castle, Grow celebrates its fourth space
in Tottenham by staying busy with exciting
projects, such as their most recent development
of a geodesic dome greenhouse
A selection of vintage and retro homeware
in the garden. Inspired by the masses of
and furnishings. Open Monday to
unused space in London, Grow gives locals
Saturday. 37 Park Road, N8 8TE.
the chance to enjoy a shared space and
learn new skills. Grow also offers budding
gardeners the opportunity to grow crops
on their own personal micro allotment free
Mid-century British, Irish and Scandinavian
of charge, encouraging a more sustainaday
furniture and homewares. Open Monble
way of living. If gardening isn’t your
to Sunday. 84 Highgate High Street,
thing, a meal at the cafe or a drink at the
bar will hit the spot, as they offer a new
menu every day alongside a selection of
local beers on tap.
Forget Me Nots Vintage
A range of vintage and upcycled furniture
and gifts. 22 Aylmer Parade, N2 0PE.
Specialising in mid-century Danish furnish
ings, Gonnerman offers a range of vintage
furniture, lighting and homewares.
Open Wednesday to Sunday. 408-410
Archway Road, N6 5AT.
Junk ‘N8’ Disorderly
An assortment of antique, vintage and
junk oddities and retro furnishings from
an ever-evolving stock. Open seven days a
week. 26 Veryan Court, Park Road, N8 8JR.
020 8340 3222
An eclectic range of vintage and modern
homewares, furniture and fashion,
sourced from France. Open seven days a
week. 39 Park Road, N8 8TE.
Monstrous Vintage Kids
A local, but online, store featuring carefully
chosen, high quality vintage clothes
for stylish children.
Grow Tottenham Mimi’s Café Bistro Avivson Gallery
Mimi’s is Muswell Hill’s newest independent
hangout, offering a family- (and dog-) friendly
space to eat, drink, socialise and relax. Opening
at 8am, during the day Mimi’s fulfils the full
duties of a high-functioning cafe with an allday
breakfast, fresh pastries, and lunch and
a-la-carte menus – all of which have plenty
of options for vegans, vegetarians and those
with other dietary requirements. Taking pride
in freshness and ethics, the cafe serves fantastic
fair trade drinks – including their coffee,
which is ethically sourced by Equal Exchange,
a company which distributes organic produce
made by women in developing countries.
Come evening time, Mimi’s slowly transforms
into a bistro with its own dinner menu and
great selection of drinks, including cocktails,
wine and local beers. If you’re looking to meet
new people, it could be one to watch as they
are soon to introduce a regular senior tea and
board games afternoon every Wednesday
from 3pm to 5pm. Whether you’re looking for a
caffeine pick-me-up or an evening wind-down,
Mimi’s has something for everyone and is open
until 10pm, seven days a week.
With over 30 years’ experience collecting
art and a history of hosting exhibitions
around the world, Janus Avivson
has opened his newest gallery with his
wife Katarzyna in the leafy streets of
Highgate. Following their most recently
run galleries in the art-centric north
London hotspots of Camden Lock and
Islington, Avivson Gallery sees the beauty
of its surrounding greenery mirrored
in its impressive array of eye-catching
artwork – collected alongside his numerous
past endeavours (including mining,
factory work, bus-driving, stunt performance
and publishing). Avivson Gallery
runs regular monthly exhibitions for the
public to enjoy the finest artwork, and it
is open by appointment from Wednesday
to Saturday for anyone wishing to learn
more about what they have to offer. With
galleries and artwork temporarily popping
up across London, Avivson Gallery challenges
the fast pace of modern art as
it’s found its home and it’s here to stay.
For more information about what Avivson
Gallery has on, head to their website.
ART & CULTURE
Valerie Charlton has enjoyed a dual career as both a special effects
model maker and an educator. Here she tells Village Raw about creatures,
courses and the need to fail.
Interview by Luciane Pisani and David Reeve.
The path to Python
I grew up in Yorkshire, and in the early sixties went to Harrogate
Art School. We did a lot of life drawing, life modelling and painting,
and I also studied sculpture, ceramics and graphic design. In
1965 I came to London for a teaching qualification at the Institute
of Education. Here, I met Julian, my partner for the next 14
years – we had two children. After leaving the Institute I taught
part-time for seven years in comprehensive schools, adult education
classes and children’s art classes. Julian went on to
study film and afterwards set up Chippenham Films, a small production
company, with another ex-student, Mark. It turned out
that Mark, an American, knew Terry Gilliam from his time in New
York – through this connection, he and Julian made a Monty Python
commercial for Harmony Hair Spray. Amazingly, this led to
them being asked to co-produce their first feature film – Monty
Python and the Holy Grail.
Tea, sandwiches and the Holy Grail
Pre-production of Monty Python and The Holy Grail was a very
local affair, mostly taking place between our house in Gospel
Oak and a nearby cottage which belonged to Henry Moore’s
daughter. Michael Palin lived across the road; the art director,
Roy Smith, was our next-door neighbour; Terry Gilliam lived in
South End Green; and Graham Chapman was in Highgate. I had
been making props for Chippenham Films over the years and was
loosely involved in the pre-production, mainly getting tea and
sandwiches. There were people already building props in Doune,
in Scotland. One of the props had not turned out as Terry had
designed it, so Roy asked if I would go to Scotland and remake
it. It turned out to be the figurehead of the boat in which King
Arthur was to sail across a Scottish loch. We were in Scotland for
about six weeks during a beautiful spring. Everybody’s families
turned up and were often roped into the film to be dressed as
filthy peasants. Lots of things went wrong - like at the very beginning,
when Mark and Julian had forgotten to supply a canteen
- but we survived and it was great fun.
What could have been…
In 1973-74 Terry Gilliam made the film Jabberwocky. I started
working with him on the development of the creature costume.
At that time most creature costumes were rigid and made of
fibreglass, but Terry had an idea for a very flexible costume with
the brilliant notion that the performer inside would stand back
to front – so the wings would be in a bird-like position and the
legs likewise. After I had helped Terry with the design and made
a model he looked for someone else to make the creature because,
at that stage, I hadn’t yet made a creature costume. Nobody
seemed to fit the bill and eventually I was trusted with the
job. I started experimenting with very unconventional methods,
but then a few weeks into the filming the special effects supervisor
decided that he wanted his man to make the Jabberwocky.
I was furious and told Terry, but by now he was too engrossed
ART & CULTURE
in shooting the film to do anything. This was April and the film
continued to be made right through the summer into the autumn.
Come November, nobody had seen the Jabberwocky. In
desperation the producer, John Goldstone, and Terry went to
the supervisor’s house, where they found the creature in his
garage in a very sorry state. The person who had made it hadn’t
even understood that the performer should be standing back to
front. John rang me and asked if I could put it right. I was given
a week – I could have had eight months. I don’t know what I was
thinking, but the first thing I did was to take a blowtorch to all
its ghastly hair. Of course I set the whole thing alight – fortunately,
we managed to douse the fire. I was leading a team of
four and we finished the creature in 10 days by working day and
night. We made as many changes as we could, and by the skin
of its teeth and some very clever shooting and editing by Terry
it worked. But I still wonder what it might have been… My next
film for Terry was Time Bandits, but now I was vindicated – I was
A move into education
In early 1990 I was offered a senior lectureship at Wimbledon College
of Art on a newly validated degree course which hadn’t yet fully
defined itself. I saw an opportunity on two levels. The new course
had evolved from a prop-making course for theatre design, but I
realised that it could satisfy a real need for skills training in film-related
special effects. On an educational level I was very committed
to a student-centred approach, rather than a subject-centred approach.
We encouraged students to determine their own pathway
– to decide for themselves what and how they wanted to learn.
We even asked them to mark their own perceived achievements
and they always under-marked themselves. The success of that
course, where frequently 40% of the students were dyslexic, forever
convinced me that when anyone is fully supported and allowed
to discover where their passions lie they are unstoppable in their
learning and in their creativity. More dyslexic students were awarded
first class honours degrees than those that weren’t dyslexic.
Forest of hands, landscape of eyes
The hand forest made for Time Bandits was just one of Terry’s extraordinary
images. He wanted these absolutely colossal hands
as trees which were alive and human-looking. I made heaps of
them – they looked terrific and would have worked, but I think
the scene got cut because it didn’t fit into the plot very well. The
landscape of eyes were made for Brazil – they were part of the
dream sequence where the flying man flies over this landscape
of eyes, which were supposed to follow him. That was shot but
they couldn’t get it to work properly as the eyes kept flicking in
the wrong direction. Terry once said he has these images that
sort of splurge out of him often without being processed – he
produces a heap more stuff than he ever uses.
The pleasure of learning
Desmond Morris was a naturalist who worked a lot with chimpanzees.
He gave them painting equipment and found they
loved putting colour on paper and painted with interest. Then
he started rewarding them and their motivation changed – they
painted to get the reward. They lost the curiosity in painting for
its own sake. I think this reflects a problem in schooling where
everything is geared towards the rewards or punishments related
to students’ achievements. We ‘mark’ students, sometimes
for life; we scrutinise everything they do and applaud them, instead
of supporting them in the joy of learning and exploring –
the pleasure of learning for its own sake.
An imbalance in society
After Time Bandits I was asked to make the landstrider creatures
for Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal. Jim, always an innovator, took
over Studio 8 at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood and turned it
into a joint workshop and rehearsal room so that makers could
work closely with the performers – it was a great working environment.
The four main landstrider performers trained for eight
months to walk on all fours on stilts. The landstriders were big
creatures – nine feet to the top of the back, supported by one
thin wire from a giant crane above. The costume, and especially
the legs, had to be very light but strong. I rejected so many
casts of the legs because they were too heavy and the plasterers
threatened to make a museum of them all. I wanted to put
a tiny pogo stick with a pivot in each hoof but the guys I was
working with couldn’t make it, so I rang my dad, who was very
inventive. He and his engineer friend produced some amazing
little sprung hooves which pivoted and provided the lift-off that
the performers needed while they ran and galloped across the
landscape set. It was incredible – no computer-generated imagery;
it was all done for real.
I came from a skilled working-class background, so I’ve got huge
respect for the skills that people have developed in all kinds of
technologies. I’ve never believed that an academic education
automatically denotes intelligence, though it might. But I know
that there is great intelligence in manipulating all kinds of materials
– steel, wood, fabric, clay, plaster – not to mention in cooking
food, growing plants, and living in a rainforest. The kind of intelligence
in people who can solve problems materially tends to
be undervalued and underpins a massive imbalance in society.
I don’t think I’ve ever made anything correctly the first time – I
fail, I fail, I fail, and then eventually I might get it right at the
end. Failure is just a step along the way. If you are frightened of
failing you can’t learn. How can you possibly get it right the first
time if it’s something you’ve never done before? You’ve got to
get it wrong to get it right. •
An exhibition of Val’s photos is currently showing at Muswell HillBilly Brewers Tap
PHOTOS COURTESY OF VALERIE CHARLTON. PORTRAIT OF VAL WITH HER MONTY PYTHON BUSTS BY KATE KUZMINOVA
Previous page: Val Charlton with landstrider head at Elstree Studios (The Dark Crystal, 1982); The
Landstriders on set at Elstree Studios (The Dark Crystal, 1982). This Page Clockwise: Val in her studio,
with her Monty Python busts; Jabberwocky creature worn by Peter Salmon on location in Wales (Jabberwocky,
1975); model of the hand forest (Time Bandits, 1981); working on King Arthur’s boat on location in
Scotland (Monty Python And The Holy Grail, 1974).
ART & CULTURE
A LEAP INTO
When a serious injury nearly
ended her dance career, artist
and Wood Green resident Jo Cork
turned to working with film.
She hasn’t looked back.
Words by Carla Parks. Photos by Kate Kuzminova.
Only a few years ago, Jo Cork was told that she might never
dance again. Career-ending injuries are not incredibly rare in the
dance world, but Jo’s injury was the result of a freak accident
in an office that left her with a seriously damaged Achilles tendon.
She was told in hospital that she’d recover, but that dancing
might be impossible. Two years of treatment and physical therapy
followed, to try to get her strength back.
It was during the rehabilitation process that she started making
what would become her first film – Sensate, in which she also
takes the role of dancer. “I didn’t know if I was going to perform
[publicly] again,” recalls Jo, “but I needed to perform for myself,
even if no one ever saw it. I just needed to be in the studio for the
sake of my sanity while I was recovering. I needed to be creative.”
Sensate was created at Chisenhale Dance Space in 2016
– where 32-year-old Jo is a member artist. There were no expectations,
but the film ended up being a success and toured
internationally at 15 events in Europe, America and Asia. It was
also selected for a best film award in its category at a festival in
Colombia. “I applied to masses of festivals,” Jo admits. “The film
festival circuit was something I’d never experienced before and,
out of curiosity more than anything else, I wanted to see how
well – or badly – it would do.”
With her confidence growing, Jo has now made two more
works – a sequence of shorts called the Intersection Series and a
five-piece installation called Calibrate, which has been supported
by Arts Council England. The latter explores subjects such as
identity and mental health through interconnected pieces. Jo’s
interest is in making dance films that say something about the
human condition and experience. “If we can draw on that, then we
have something that speaks to people,” she argues.
Jo, who lives in Wood Green, is passionate about attracting
new audiences to dance, and it’s partly this passion that drives
her vision. She recalls a conversation with a film technician who
was working on a Sensate screening in Hereford. The technician
explained how he thought he hated contemporary dance but
surprised himself by loving the short film. “This really resonated
with me,” Jo says. “I thought that was such an opportunity. It’s
With Calibrate, Jo explored using split screens, holograms
and layered projections that can be viewed with custom-made
hardware and stands. Instead of thinking of dance as an art
form that requires an auditorium for a live performance, Calibrate
purposely exploits new digital technologies that can be
used in smaller spaces. As a result, it can be viewed in galleries,
cafes, foyers and even event toilets.
“I wanted the work to be really accessible to both audiences
and venues, so using tech that could be fairly self-contained
felt important,” the creator explains. In addition, she wanted
the works to be found in unexpected spaces, creating situations
where people could simply stumble upon them and have a
“unique encounter”. The music – composed by Bartosz Szafranski
– is designed to adapt as viewers move from one piece to
the next. Jo says the composer, with whom she’s worked before,
“always captures something vital about the work”.
Jo is currently doing an MA in Screendance at the London
Contemporary Dance School – the first course of its kind to exist
worldwide. Working with industry professionals, she is helping to
develop Frame Rush: A Place for Screendance, a two-day festival
in London in March 2019. While the artist concedes that more
commercial work will always get the lion’s share of funding, she’s
determined to progress her vision for what dance can achieve
through film: “We have to be more tenacious about how we are
working, to make sure that we don’t just dwindle into the background.”
It’s her belief that experimental work will help to ensure
that dance continues to break new ground. Eventually, she hopes,
it’ll reach new audiences who didn’t think dance was for them. •
You can find out more about Jo through her social media channels: @jocorkdancedigi
VILLAGE SOUNDS RAW
you’ll be sitting trying to think of a name
but you’re just seeing this pink cloud with
orange slashes in it – I can see the name,
but I don’t know it.
What does my voice look like?
It looks like narrow tubes of autumn colours,
not just one colour… It’s quite dark,
not because I think you’re dark, but perhaps
because you have brunette hair –
it’s somehow representative of what you
look like too. Every word is a slightly different
thing and intonation changes how
Yazmyn Hendrix is an
a capella artist who uses
her voice and a loop
station to create textured
After several years living
in Brighton, she recently
returned to Hornsey, where
she was brought up. Her
first single, Stay With Me,
was released in November.
Interview by Luciane Pisani.
Photo by David Reeve.
You know when you feel like you have a
purpose? Music’s mine – that’s how I feel
about it. Also, my parents are musical. I
tried to find an instrument that was right
for me and I finally found the trumpet,
but really I always wanted to sing but
never had the confidence. I’d been writing
songs my whole life, but never sang in
front of anyone.
What are your influences?
I’m influenced by a lot of different music.
I love jazz, I love blues, gospel, folk and
pop. Everything I do is quite soulful. I like
to make something which is easy enough
to listen to and follow.
How do you write?
I write in a lot of different ways. I could
get out my loop station and just kind of
vibe off it – it’s on the spot, it’s instant.
Sometimes I do things like listen to a conversation
on the bus, listen to the rhythm
of the words… But improvisation is probably
my favourite way.
How did you find out you experience
When I was about 19 I was at a friend’s
house – we were watching this video and
I said, “Oh, it looks like this song.” They
said, “What do you mean, ‘It looks like
this song’? It looks like the video for that
song?” And I said, “No, it looks like that
song.” That was how I discovered it – my
friend knew what synesthesia was and I
was like, “Oh my God, this is a thing!”
What does it mean to be synesthetic?
The definition is a crossing of the senses
– and, to me, it just means that some
things are blended into one kind of sense
rather than being two separate ones.
That’s just the experience that I have –
everyone’s experience as a synesthete
is different. And it can be really useful –
like I can remember phone numbers and
I can remember names, usually. Although
sometimes it’s really annoying, because
Name a song that’s important to you.
Grateful by Hezekiah Walker. It’s a gospel
song and I usually start my day with it. It
always looks the same – waves of voices
which are mainly green, but there’s also
hot pink. It goes up in harmony, and different
parts come in – they do the low
part and then they do the high part. Visually
it’s really interesting because spatially
it’s all around me. It’s like another
dimension. If I close my eyes it’s more
prominent, and music has more clarity
than speech – it’s more present. If I’m at
home in my room and I listen to a song,
it’s very much filling my head.
Where are you now with your music?
This is a super exciting point in my career.
I’m releasing an EP next year called
Saturn Returns. It’s about life, death, my
inner self, and my outer universe. From
the day you’re born it takes roughly 27
to 30 years for Saturn to return. There’s
all different kinds of astrological ideas
about what this means, but perhaps it’s
a point where you can reassess things if
you want to make a change in your life.
The track Stay With Me is a conversation
with my inner child. I’m also doing collaborations
with Adam at The Boathouse
Studio – an awesome studio in the middle
of nowhere, the middle of nature – and
we have some exciting things coming up.
I also have a five-track collaborative EP
coming out with a Brighton-based rapper/piano
player called Mrisi. •
You can find out more about Yazmyn via her
website and various social media channels:
Yazmyn recorded a live version of Stay With Me,
which you can view at: www.villageraw.com/yazmyn
interesting, local, ethical & sustainable shopping
THE NEXT MEAL
Martin Stone is the heartbeat of the Muswell
Hill Soup Kitchen. From here, he has also
started Next Meal – an innovative website
designed to end begging.
Words by Zoe Bee. Photos courtesy of Martin Stone.
Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen, based in the
Baptist Church on Duke’s Avenue, was
known as one of the “tough-nut soupies
of London”. Martin Stone took over
around 12 years ago, and since then he
has transformed it. “I wanted to produce
a product that others can emulate: to get
the cooking right, get the safety right,
get the support right,” says Martin.
Martin raised £50,000 from the local
community to install a new kitchen. Inside,
there’s an Aladdin’s cave of goods
donated from local schools’ harvest festivals,
Mitzvah Day from the Jewish community,
as well as items from the Sainsbury’s
food bank. Fresh food comes from
Gail’s Bakery and various schemes across
London, including the Felix Project.
There have been challenges on the
way to success. The soup kitchen fills an
acute need in the area – it’s probably no
coincidence that it opened soon after the
Friern Hospital closed in 1993. The original
room was a small, enclosed space
where violent scenes often occurred.
“You could have one disturbed guest
setting off another,” says Martin. “There
could be chaos.” To help, Martin moved
the space into a large, comfortable hall
which by day is used as a children’s nursery.
People told him that he couldn’t do it,
saying it was a terrible idea, but he did it
anyway. “It’s hard to get angry at a teddy
bear,” he says.
At night, the hall is a warm, welcoming
room where guests can eat great
food with great company. The tables have
multiple charging points, so the guests
can charge up their phones. On Sundays,
there are jazz musicians to entertain
people as they eat.
One of the reasons the soup kitchen
works so well is because it isn’t in
an area of deprivation – volunteers and
guests feel safe coming here. Martin
uses the talent in the community and
puts the soup kitchen’s success down
to them. A team of 60 volunteers from
all backgrounds work over five nights to
help with cooking, buying and maintaining
the kitchen’s high standards. Doctors
and psychiatrists observe and give
advice, while professionals come in to
check the kitchens. The musicians are
also volunteers. It’s a fun place to work,
where everyone is encouraged to share
their skills. “The great thing about an area
like this is that people don’t have to help,
but they do,” says Martin. “People have a
confidence that if something needs doing,
they can do it.”
Volunteer Jess has been coming on
and off for two years: “The guests are
cool and quirky. They’ve always got a
smile on their face, even in the circumstances
that they’re in. It’s somewhere
that instantly felt friendly and welcoming
to me, and I think that’s quite important
when getting people to come.”
“There’s a really nice atmosphere,”
says Anne, a librarian who has volunteered
at the soup kitchen for over a year.
“A lot of that is down to Martin. He’s a
very relaxed sort of person. Even though
he’s not keeping control over everything,
somehow it all seems to just work. Everyone
Beyond the kitchen
While visitors to the soup kitchen can
enjoy an evening meal five days a week,
Martin and his team wanted to provide
more support for when the kitchen isn’t
open – so they wrote a booklet to tell
their guests where else they could go for
a free meal.
Martin was motivated to offer this extra
support by an incident in Stourbridge
in 2017. A woman met a homeless person
and, wanting to help, offered him food,
friendship and sometimes shelter with her
family. A year later, he murdered her and
her son at their home. At the trial, her husband
said: “I wish she had never met him.”
Martin says, “I’m really distressed
that a man is wife-less and son-less because
of a homeless person. He doesn’t
know, but I wanted to do it for him.”
“We want people to care about homeless
people, but we want to help them in
the centres where there’s a level of expertise,”
he adds. Martin is an expert in
social housing and is sad that his skills
couldn’t help the family in Stourbridge. “If
people have talent, they should use it,”
he says with passion.
So when a neighbour, Oli Roxburgh,
mentioned that his talent was making
“app-y things”, Martin asked Oli to turn
the soup kitchen booklet into an interactive
tool – and thus, Next Meal was born.
The website lists locations which offer
food and advice for vulnerable people.
Anyone who is concerned can visit
the website, print off a set of Next Meal
cards, and give one to anyone who is
begging. When this person looks up the
website on their mobile phone, GPS will
identify their location and Next Meal will
tell them their nearest place to go for immediate
Martin’s idea, which has been a huge
success in Muswell Hill, has now been
rolled out to 300 Next Meal sites across
the UK and in Dublin, Paris, Milan, New
York and San Francisco. Martin predicts
Next Meal will eventually reach cities
where there are no centres, but by then
he hopes they’ll have enough money to
set up places of safety. “Using modern
technology, we’ll be able to track phones,
see what’s happening in the centres, and
monitor them from London.”
Next Meal has been rejected by some
cities, but this has simply motivated Martin
to try harder. “We have to think, ‘What
can we give?’. We have talent and we’re
accountable to that talent – all I’ve proven
is that you should just do it. I used my own
resources and believed in the project.”
Martin has written a book on poverty
and been awarded a Points of Light award
for significantly improving the lives of
Opposite page: Soup Kitchen
volunteers Rebecca, Amos and
Bradley. This page: Ann talking
with Martin Stone.
others. Is he proud of his achievements?
“Next Meal is a good idea,” he says, “but
it’s not me, it’s the community that’s
done this. But when people say they like
it... I’m chuffed.”
Other initiatives in the area include the
Community Cafe at St James Muswell Hill,
which is open every Tuesday from 11am
to 1pm. This is another friendly and welcoming
space where people in need can
come for soup and cake. Community Cafe
partners with various high street shops
in Muswell Hill which help to support it.
“The best way for people to help out is
to simply come along and have a coffee,”
says Hannah Whitehead, Head of Community
St James Muswell Hill is also taking
part in the Haringey Churches Overnight
Respite initiative. From 5 December to
14 March, the church is offering a threecourse
meal, bed and a warm breakfast
for 12 people in need during the coldest
12 weeks of the year. •
MUSWELL HILL SOUP KITCHEN
If you would like to volunteer
at the Muswell Hill Soup
Kitchen, contact Martin Stone:
Local businesses can request
Next Meal cards to display and
give to their customers, while
individuals can print them off
to carry around. You can find
out more about Next Meal at
www.nextmeal.co.uk and share
the page on social media.
To help at Overnight Respite,
contact Hannah Whitehead
at St James Muswell Hill:
org.uk. There are lots
of shifts available, from
helping to cook the threecourse
meal or dining with
the guests in the church,
to taking a night shift or
clearing away the breakfast
things in the morning.
People are also welcome
to donate toiletries and
warm hats, scarves, gloves
or socks (they all need
to be new).
The following charities
also offer suggestions on
how people can help a rough
sleeper or homeless person.
“Buildings are vital organisms. They contain people who are doing
something and it is people who matter, not the buildings.”
So said Reginald Uren, the architect who designed Hornsey Town Hall,
unveiled in a grand ceremony on 9 November 1935.
Words by Carla Parks. Photos courtesy of Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre.
A NEW ERA FOR
HORNSEY TOWN HALL
Clockwise: A holographic projection in Hornsey Town Hall; The flexible workspace; Outside Hornsey Town Hall with Kerb X.
Looking at Hornsey Town Hall today, it doesn’t feel very much
alive or vital. It still, however, contains people doing things.
Among them are David Reeve and Luciane Pisani, the editors
and creators of Village Raw, who continue to work from a small
office space on the first floor of the building. They aren’t the
only office tenants - other rooms are occupied, and Hornsey
Works, a co-working space, has recently opened to house more
creatives working local to Crouch End.
But the building itself is a shell of what it must have looked
like 83 years ago. A beautiful wrought-iron grille guards the
entrance, opening onto a functional reception desk. Nearby, a
clock is permanently frozen at 4 o’clock. It seems an apt metaphor
for a building that seems lost in time, stuck somewhere
between the grandeur of its past life and its uncertain future.
Into this breach steps Piers Read, managing partner of The
Time + Space Co., a business that specialises in urban regeneration
projects. Appointed as the arts operator of HTH in April
2018, it’s their job to breathe new life into what will become the
renovated arts centre – over 10,000 square feet of space is
guaranteed for community uses. Their vision is to focus on five
pillars: community, performance, events, workspace and hospitality.
For Piers, community is his number one priority.
“We want to get people, in particular the local community,
into the building. To let them know that we are totally collaborative
in our approach,” he says. “Part of the process is to understand
what the local need is for the community, the demand,
and how we can use the building for the ultimate benefit of as
many people as possible.”
To get a better understanding of what locals might want for
the arts centre, The Time + Space Co. commissioned some independently
run consultations themed around the pillars. The
last of these takes place on 13 December and is seeking views
on performance and events. “It’s not a tick-box exercise,” Piers
explains. “It’s a catalyst for how people will communicate with
us from that point going forward.” It’s his intention to use the
feedback as much as possible, but any suggestions will need to
work spatially and fit into the overall business plan.
This is, after all, a commercial venture. There is no subsidy
or grant to help fund the £30m redevelopment of the arts centre
or its future running costs. It’s being funded by the Far East
Consortium’s development of the site and The Time + Space
Co.’s investment. Piers, who has lived with his family in Crouch
End for 10 years, acknowledges locals’ concerns about issues
ranging from the likes of public access to pricing.
One fear was that current occupants would be turfed out of
the building and it would close, although Piers maintains that
was never the plan. In fact, they will be opening a new cafe on
the ground floor in December, one of four eventual restaurants
on site, selling both cocktails and coffee. Just down another
corridor, a co-working space is ready for new occupants and
about 50% of the desks had already been pre-sold to local freelancers,
entrepreneurs and creatives.
Piers is hoping to draw a “creative cluster” to the arts centre,
like-minded individuals who might be inspired by each other.
Other plans include hosting corporate events, weddings and bar
mitzvahs and offering full-service catering. Meanwhile, it’s hoped
that the performance and events programme will be a mix of the
traditional and cutting edge – such as 3D holographic imagery.
Belinda Chorley, the owner of bespoke wedding-wear shop
Beyond Bridal, has worked from the Hornsey Town Hall for two
years. She’s optimistic about the plans: “Time + Space have instilled
confidence in me that they will manage the building and
do everything they can for the creative community.” Chorley,
who lives in Crouch End, is pragmatic about what needs doing.
“I understand that it’s a business venture and to overhaul the
building to the Grade II listed standard requires huge financial
investment, but it will be truly amazing when it is complete.”
Chorley’s only concern is that she and other creatives who
currently work from HTH will be able to afford a working space
when the arts centre is fully renovated in about two years’ time.
But Piers is clear on this point: “Our pricing model is being developed
so that it will be affordable for local businesses. We
want to support and nourish the existing creative cluster here
so freelancers and SME’s can thrive under one roof.” He wants
to encourage people to have a voice in the arts centre’s future.
“We are very passionate about this building, the project and its
potential. It’s a journey we are going on and it’s about welcoming
everyone to come on board and get involved.”•
To find out more about Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre check their website:
16 1 17
VILLAGE IN PICTURES
A TRUE INDEPENDENT
East Finchley’s Phoenix Cinema is one of
the oldest independent cinemas in the UK
Words by David Reeve. Photos by Dan Bridge.
VILLAGE IN PICTURES
Photos: 100 years of cinema - the facades from 1918 (top left), 1954 (top right),
1965 (middle left),1978 (middle right), 1983 (bottom left), 2018 (bottom right).
In 1912 The East Finchley Picturedrome opened its
doors – its mission, to screen the “world’s finest picture
plays”. Since then, the cinema has become known for
screening independent, foreign, classic and specialist
films. While Granada tried and failed to introduce a more
mainstream programme in the 1970s, the cinema is no
stranger to change. Major renovations in 1938 moved
the screen to the opposite end of the auditorium and
gave the cinema’s facade a modernist makeover. Over
the years its name has also changed, from the Picturedrome
to The Coliseum (1924), The Rex (1937) and finally
The Phoenix (1975). When the Phoenix was under threat
from property developers in the 1980s, the community
came together and petitioned the council. The Phoenix
Cinema Trust was formed and awarded a grant by the
Greater London Council to purchase the cinema, which
they did in December 1985.
Being owned by a charitable trust means the Phoenix
is an independent, not-for-profit community cinema
operated on behalf of the people of north London. Alongside
its diverse programme, the cinema also works with
schools; runs a filmmaking course for young people; and
runs dementia-friendly screenings. Receiving no regular
subsidy, the Phoenix has been struggling financially. With
Curzon Cinemas poised to take control, Save The Phoenix
was formed to campaign to keep the Phoenix as an independent,
community cinema. After pressure from staff,
the public, and national coverage, The Phoenix’s Board of
Trustees pressed pause on the takeover to consider other
options. The future of the Phoenix Cinema, as a true independent,
may once again be up to the community. •
To find out more visit: www.phoenixcinema.co.uk
To support the cinema visit: www.change.org/p/save-the-phoenix-cinema
ARCHIVE PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF PHOENIX CINEMA
FOOD & DRINK
SECRETS OF A PERSIAN KITCHEN
A collection of recipes has been brewing in Atoosa Sepehr’s
East Finchley flat for over a decade – and they’ve just been
published in her debut cookbook, From a Persian Kitchen.
Words by Katrina Mirpuri. Photos by Kate Kuzminova.
Challenging the traditional expectations of an Iranian woman,
Atoosa Sepehr studied computer science and became a success
in the steel industry, where she worked as the only woman
in a predominately male environment. Her life and career took
a U-turn when, after unforeseen circumstances, she left Iran
for England – leaving her old life behind and starting afresh.
Atoosa describes her surreal first weeks in the UK with reminiscent
eyes: “When I came to London, I started missing my home
– and the only thing that made me feel at home was food”. Living
alone in East Finchley, Atoosa found comfort in cooking and
relished in recreating the flavours of Iran. “There are so many
Turkish shops and Persian shops where I can find all my ingredients,”
she says. “The only thing I still get from Iran is saffron.”
But despite London’s endless supplies, some things just aren’t
the same here: “The yoghurt in my country tastes completely
different. To get that same umami taste here, I started adding
cheese,” she explains.
As she perfected her craft, fresh aromas would dance down
the hallways of her flat – spiking the attention of her passing
neighbours, who constantly asked what she was cooking. As the
weeks went by and her neighbours begged for recipes, the idea
sparked in Atoosa to write a cookbook. The interest in her food
was overwhelming and it was then that she realised that while
London’s Iranian community is large and thriving, Persian cuisine
is a mystery to many. While flicking through the colourful
pages of her book – fittingly named From a Persian Kitchen –
she says, “Hopefully my book will bring a bit of awareness about
Persian food, because it’s really not like other Asian cuisines.”
The imagery in Atoosa’s book is vibrant and incredibly personal,
and her style comes through strongly across the pages. The
food is displayed effortlessly, with elements of still life creeping
into the pictures – vases filled with delicate flowers sit behind
loud, bright dips, and photographs of dishes rest between stills
of Iran’s landscape. You could be forgiven for thinking the pictures
are from a professional photographer but, like its recipes, they
were created in Atoosa’s flat and were all taken by Atoosa herself.
“The background in the photographs is some black slate that
I saw at my neighbour’s house. I thought it looked good, so asked
to borrow it”, she recalls, giggling at the concept. DIY is a recurring
theme in Atoosa’s life. Her self-made business background, her
cookbook and new life in England all come from a strong urge to
move forward and succeed. Having already achieved so much in
Iran, her peers were shocked when she decided to write the cookbook.
“People were like, ‘Why did you do that? You shouldn’t have
done that. It’s a shame to leave your job’.”
While moving into cookery seemed like a drastic switch at
the time, it was the change Atoosa needed to move onto the
next chapter in her life. “When I was writing the book I thought
about all the negative things you hear on the news about Iran.
I wanted to show a different side, like the beautiful food, the
people and the landscape”. Atoosa’s current success in the food
world reflects her new life, which is as bright and colourful as
the pictures in her cookbook. From a Persian Kitchen is a love
letter and a tribute to Iran. Hoping to open more eyes to Persian
cooking, Atoosa’s easy recipes are the perfect gateway to the
flavours of the east. •
This page: Barberries, pistachios and almond in saffron with
rice. Opposite page: Atoosa preparing a Persian delicacy.
You can find out more on her website: www.atoosasepehr.com. Atoosa will be signing
books at the Aylmer Pantry, Aylmer Parade, N2 0PE from 12.30pm to 1.30pm on
Saturday 15 December. For a short recipe film visit: www.villageraw.com/atoosa
22 1 23
FOOD & DRINK
A TALE OF TWO DISTILLERIES
One old, one new, both the same spirit. A look at the gin distilleries
bringing mother’s ruin home again.
Words by Aimee Charalambous. Photos by David Reeve.
Long neglected, British gin is well and truly back. The spirit once
known as mother’s ruin is reinventing itself with spectacular
success, and the new gin craze has seen Britons buying almost
60m bottles of the juniper-based spirit in the past 12 months.
One of the pioneers at the helm of this reinvention was Highgate’s
very own Sacred Spirits. Launched in 2008, Ian Hart and
Hilary Whitney started Sacred in a very different world to the
one we know today. “Gin didn’t always have the cool millennial
edge it has now,” says Hilary. “A decade ago it was associated
with suburban cocktail hours and crusty old generals.” Over the
years gin had lost its spark, but Sacred discovered a way to restore
Naturally curious and fascinated with science and distillation
from an early age, Ian started playing around with vacuum
distillation of Bordeaux wines as a hobby. One day, he decided
to use the same method for gin – launching what would become
a gin-volution from the kitchen of his family home. Ian realised
he was on to something and enthusiastically set about experimenting
and distilling dozens of well-known and obscure botanicals.
Every Sunday he took his experiments down to his local
pub, The Wrestlers, for people to try – and, after a year of trial
and error, a panel of regulars declared Recipe 23 a winner. Sacred
The Sacred distilleries are unique, having a touch of the mad
scientist’s lab to them. A modular system of pumps, silicone piping,
and quick-release fittings has been designed by Ian to his
exact specification. The precision gives him complete control
and flexibility to distil botanicals individually and achieve exceptional
flavour profiles, as in Sacred’s distinctive Coriander or
Cardamom gins. Vacuum distillation occurs at much lower temperatures
than traditional pot distillation, where botanicals can
be stewed at somewhere around 90C, and brings a much fresher
character to the end result. “Think of the aroma of cooked
oranges in marmalade versus fresh cut orange,” Ian explains.
“Vacuum distillation allows us to capture that initial flavour,
preserving it and opening up a whole new way to appreciate the
botanicals that make our gin’s flavour so distinctive.”
The provenance of gin drives Ian as he explores each new
flavour with his own local, familiar take. Take the Rosehip Cup,
which was developed as a fruiter, less bitter alternative to Campari.
It combines with Sacred Vermouth and original gin to complete
a perfect – and truly English – Negroni. Then there’s Sacred’s
Christmas Pudding Gin, which is made by distilling whole
Christmas puddings cooked according to Ian’s Great Aunt Nellie’s
Even the label emphasises the authentic, meaningful experience
Ian and Hilary seek to create. If you look closely you’ll see
nods to the constituent parts that made Sacred a reality. Hilary
points out the nightingales of Highgate Woods intertwined with
the gates. A snake’s head represents the mythical serpents legend
says protect the Boswellia sacra tree – the tree from which
frankincense is obtained, and Sacred takes its name. Ian’s mark
is there in the hearts that adorn the crown, and the hinges are
pen nibs, referencing Hilary’s previous life as a journalist. The
label is even cut at the bottom to suggest precious drops collecting
in the still.
You can find the masters at work upstairs at The Star Pub in
Highgate. From 6pm to 11pm, Thursday to Saturday, you can sample
a bespoke collection of gin cocktails crafted by mixologists
from across the world. The team also host regular tastings and
cocktail masterclasses – the next of which is on 12 December.
For the love of gin
On the other side of north London, a very different discovery
brought about another new distillery. Six years ago, Ian Puddick
bought some old buildings in Pymmes Mews, Palmers Green to
use as offices. During renovations and a land dispute, he uncovered
a long-forgotten secret buried deep in the building’s past.
Once an old bakery, Ian’s new office had, at one time, also
been the site of an illegal gin distillery. After tracking down the
bakery owners’ descendants – specifically, a seventh-generation
grandson – and uncovering the original four ingredients,
he set about recreating the recipe. “Initially I was just playing
around, enjoying a window into the past and a new hobby,” says
Ian. “Unlike most distillers I didn’t come to this with a view to
build a business. It was a love of gin and a love of the story. The
thought of gin being made in or around my office was too much
to bear – I couldn’t let it go.”
Most new brands seek to differentiate themselves through
weird and wonderful botanicals or novelty twists, such as
launching ingredients into space and adding moon rock into the
mix. Old Bakery, though, keeps thing simple and stays true to
the origins of the spirit. Ian points out that Old Bakery’s recipe
is probably one of the simplest around. “Back in the day gin
was made with what was available, containing botanicals that
were easily accessible – which is especially important if what
you’re making is illegal! Our botanicals may not seem like a lot
but, when handled right, they make a gin that’s extraordinarily
flavourful and complex. Our simplicity is a major selling point.”
That said, while tradition is at the core of Old Bakery’s identity,
Ian has begun to experiment. In June he launched a Baker’s
Pepper edition, and in November he debuted London’s first rum
– paying homage to Wen, one of the original bakers at Pymmes
Mews. Created as a one-off, the recipe has taken a sharp, harsh
dark Jamaican rum and transformed it into a super smooth tipple
- perfect neat over ice.
You can find Ian in action and get a taste of Old Bakery first hand
at the monthly Enfield Gin Palace Pop-Up, running 4pm to 11pm on
the last Saturday of every month. The next is on 22 December. •
Top: Ian Hart, from Sacred Spirits, discusses the
chemistry of gin with apprentice distiller Siobhan Feeley.
Bottom: Ian Puddick, from Old Bakery, measures out the
juniper berries as fellow distiller and plumber George
Rees watches on. Previous page: The Old Bakery stills.
You can find out more about these distillers and their events on their websites:
www.sacredgin.com / www.oldbakerygin.com
There are more photographs and short videos of the distillation processes at:
BEYOND THE AISLES
We all have a role to play when it comes to the issue of food
waste – even what occurs outside of the household – but how do
we take action against something we cannot always see?
Words and photos by Chris King.
When we think of food waste, we tend to think about what we
ourselves are throwing away – that half-eaten burger, that bag
of unopened salad leaves forgotten at the back of the fridge.
And for good reason – we can see it, and we feel the sense of
guilt and shame when we throw it in the bin. But we’re also reminded
of food waste through supermarket and government- or
council-funded initiatives – where the spotlight is also firmly
placed on the household.
Current statistics, used to justify the focus on us, seem
to validate this view. In its report on food waste in the UK, the
government-funded non-profit organisation, WRAP, claims that
more than 70% of the waste produced comes from the household
– 70% of which is edible. What isn’t always apparent is that
those statistics only relate to what happens beyond the farm
gate, and so doesn’t provide a complete picture. What happens
on the farm stays on the farm.
There has been some attempt to put a figure on what gets
wasted on the farm – a report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture
Organisation in 2013 claimed that 20% to 40% of fresh produce
was wasted for cosmetic reasons alone. However, even
this is likely to be a conservative estimate, due to the lack of
up-to-date, comprehensive and complete data available. I’ve
witnessed field after field of crops being left unharvested. It’s
shocking to see, but from the farmer’s perspective it must be
incredibly frustrating, disheartening, and economically devastating
– to devote so much time and energy into nurturing the
plants, only to have to let them rot into the ground.
But, apart from farmers’ wellbeing and livelihoods, why should
we be concerned about farm-level food waste? Surely the farmers
can just plough produce back into the ground, or let it fall from the
trees, and fertilise the soil or the tree roots? Well, they can, and
they all too often have to. However, not only does this fail to replace
all the nutrients taken from the soil, but it also wastes all the
resources that were embedded in that food – the fuel, the labour,
the water, the fertilisers, and everything else used to grow it – just
as we are when we throw uneaten food away. Food that moves from
the farm to our fridges has more and more resources embedded
into it, because of the additional transportation, refrigeration,
packaging and everything else required to get it on to our plates.
Why is so much perfectly edible food going to waste? Some
of it is built into the system by default – farmers will often overplant
by a certain percentage to allow for the unforeseen. But a
significant amount of what is wasted comes down to supermarket
practices – from imposing unreasonable cosmetic standards,
to cancelling or reducing their orders at the last minute.
This means some or all of the crop is left in the ground or
hanging on the tree, simply because it is considered too small,
too big, too blemished, inappropriately shaped, or indeed even
because of excessive ‘soil splash’, to name just a few of the justifications
supermarkets give for stopping perfectly edible food
making it on to their shelves. I’ve documented delicious, sweet
red apples, juicy pears, beautiful, dark green cabbages – all rejected
and left to rot. And when you think that it takes roughly
15,400 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef (compared to 237
litres for 1kg of cabbage), wasting meat – anywhere along the
supply chain – is an even bigger waste of resources.
find out more at
We can all reduce the amount of edible food we needlessly
throw in the bin (or hopefully food waste caddy or compost
heap) by changing our habits, but what can we do about what’s
happening on the farm? Us urbanites are very disconnected
from where our food comes from, largely because we have come
to rely so heavily on the supermarkets to source and supply us
with the vast majority of our groceries. But there is a co-dependency
there – in fact, they need us more than we need them
– and we can use that to affect positive change.
When enough people stand up and make their voice heard
– whether through petitions, engaging with local politicians,
supporting organisations lobbying the supermarkets, or by
some other means – supermarkets will eventually listen and
take action. We can demand greater action to reduce avoidable
farm-level food waste; we can call for greater transparency
around the quantities and causes of farm-level food waste; and
we can communicate our willingness to purchase fruit and vegetables
that are currently rejected by supermarkets on cosmetic
grounds. The supermarkets have engineered the food system
in the UK for the sole benefit of their bottom line – such is the
nature of any company that wishes to survive and thrive in a
particular market – but it’s also one of their biggest weaknesses,
and it’s one we, their customers, can use to the advantage
of our communities and environment.
You can, of course, cut the middleman out altogether and
support your local farmers’ market, grocers, butchers and bakers,
of which there are plenty to choose from. This is a great
way of taking power away from the supermarkets, and buying
locally brings with it a range of other benefits. And while there
remains a criminal amount of food being wasted on farms, you
can always volunteer as a gleaner – someone who goes onto a
farm post-harvest and gathers food that might otherwise go to
waste, which is then redistributed to charities supporting vulnerable
members of our communities.
I would like to leave you with this thought – our food system
has a direct impact on all the environmental issues of our
time, from climate change to ocean acidification; deforestation
to biodiversity loss; soil degradation to water security. If we’re
wasting a third of the food we produce globally, addressing the
flaws in our system, along with changing our own habits, can
potentially have an incredible impact on helping mitigate the
damage being done as a consequence of those issues.
So, let’s take action! •
You can find out more about the issue of food waste by visiting Chris’s website:
www.foodiswasted.com. To volunteer as a gleaner, visit: www.feedbackglobal.org.
Feedback, the Food Ethics Council (www.foodethicscouncil.org), and many other
great organisations lobby for a more sustainable food system.
that’s been grown responsibly – look out for the FSC certification
logo or one that is Soil Association approved.
Fake plastic trees are not a great solution (unless you already
own one) – they’re mostly imported, are incredibly
energy-intensive to manufacture and at the end of the
day create more waste as they cannot be recycled. Finally,
if you’re using fairy lights, choose LED, solar-powered
or ones with a rechargeable battery – they’re the most
energy-efficient – and put them on a timer.
A NEW SOCIAL
Words by Jonathan Carr-West.
Illustration by Kerrie O’Connell.
HOW TO HAVE A LOW-
Words and photo by Emma Ross.
Can you believe it’s that time of the year again? The
clocks have gone back, the days are growing shorter, and
we’re starting to pull out our winter jumpers and think
ahead to the festive season. There are many wonderful
and meaningful rituals associated with this time of year,
but it’s also come to be a period synonymous with pressure,
consumption and waste - in fact, an alarming 30%
more rubbish is produced.
It’s time to challenge some of the conventions out
there, embrace nature and enjoy a more mindful, more
economical – and equally joyful – way of celebrating.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways we can
celebrate and respect Earth’s natural resources.
In the UK alone, we go through an estimated 108 million
rolls of wrapping paper at Christmas. Given that it contains
plastic and is often impossible to recycle, that’s a
colossal amount of waste. Why not consider wrapping
in newspaper, fabric, or brown paper? Look to nature to
spruce it up by adding a sprig of holly. If you celebrate
Christmas, also consider your choice of tree. Every year,
an estimated six million Christmas trees are bought in the
UK alone, and most of these are thrown out just weeks
later – generating an estimated 160,000 tonnes of waste.
Why not rent a tree or, if you want to buy one, find one
It’s time to radically rethink the act of gift-giving. Each
festive season, 4,000 tonnes of products arrive from
China. Why not avoid importing gifts or buying from the
online giants and instead opt to buy locally, supporting
our small businesses and our community – all the while
minimising your carbon footprint. There’s a multitude of
wonderful shops on our high streets as well as several
wonderful Christmas markets in the area. Buying second
hand is another sustainable way to shop – preventing
waste, giving to charity and saving money at the same
time. We’re fortunate to have a plethora of brilliant charity
shops in Haringey, so next time you pass one, take a
look inside. Finally, gifting should be about time, effort
and love, so why not consider creating homemade gifts
this year? Pinterest is full of ideas, from DIY candles to
hand-cut cloth wipes - and once you strike upon a good
idea, go bulk and make it for everyone!
Food and drink
Approximately 10 million turkeys are eaten in UK every
Christmas – that’s a lot of turkey – and given that the meat
industry is one of the biggest single contributors to global
climate change, the festive season is an opportunity to
eat less meat and opt for some winter veg. Head to your
local grocers or farmers’ market for delicious, plastic-free
choices. If you do choose meat, go for organic, which has
shown to be higher in nutrients and lower in “bad fats”. And
don’t overbuy - we already waste about a third of all food
produced, but with the increased intake over the festive
period, this rises even more. Approximately two million turkeys,
74 million mince pies and 17.2 million brussels sprouts
are thrown away every Christmas.
It’s time to stop putting pressure on ourselves and
on the environment and to reclaim what we love about
this time of the year: nature, good food, and people.
However you choose to celebrate, here’s to a meaningful,
sustainable and wonderful festive season. •
Follow Emma on her social channels: @mamalinauk
The word “municipal” has a rather dreary image these
days. For too many people it is evocative of concrete,
of multi-storey car parks and of faceless, labyrinthine
bureaucracy. Once, things were different. Once, “municipal”
spoke of the civic pride of great cities; of education
for the masses; of clean water and sanitation; and the
biggest increases in public health and life expectancy
this country has ever seen.
All these were delivered by local government. Councils
continue to deliver the things that matter most to
us: schools for our children; clean, safe neighbourhoods;
new homes; care for our elderly; vibrant high streets. All
these everyday good things come from the town hall,
not from Whitehall.
Local government is the most important bit of government.
Yet local government is under threat as never
before. A decade of deep cuts has left councils in many
parts of the country perilously close to breaking point.
Over the last ten years, local authorities in London have
seen their funding reduced by £4bn. In Haringey, for instance,
the council’s spend per head of population has
dropped by nearly a quarter.
We’ve all seen the effect of the cuts in closing
children’s centres, reductions in support services to
schools and less frequent waste collection. But the real
impact is in the expensive statutory services on which
councils spend three-quarters of their money: adult social
services (including care for older people) and children’s
services. Both face massive funding gaps.
Of course, this is hardest on the people who rely on
those services, but it affects us all. It goes to the heart
of our social contract – how we think about ourselves
and others and our obligations to each other within
society. The diminution of the local state leaves us all
poorer and more isolated.
So what can we do about it? Well, firstly, we can vote.
Everything the council does is ultimately decided by
elected local councillors. There are very real differences
in how Barnet, Haringey and Camden run their councils,
and that’s down to local politics. Yet six out of ten of us
don’t even bother to vote in local elections.
Secondly, we can get involved in our communities:
through schools, through faith groups, or even just befriending
our neighbours. The more connections we create
within communities, the better their “social health”
– that means people are better able to support each
other, and that in turn means the council can focus its
scarce resources where the need is greatest.
Finally, we can put pressure on central government
through our MPs and through our vote to ensure that
local government isn’t always first on the list when it
comes to cuts.
And all of this needs to take place within a broader
conversation about the places we live in and what’s special
about them. (Village Raw is a good place to start).
It’s time to reclaim the word “municipal” and to reframe
it for the 21st century. To make it not just about
bureaucracies, but about relationships. Not just about
bricks and mortar, but about a new social architecture
of which we are all a part. •
Jonathan Carr-West is the Chief Executive of: www.lgiu.org.uk
Gorgeous knitting, crochet & embroidery supplies
THE GREEN-THUMBED GUERRILLAS
Words by Dan Snell.
Photos courtesy of the Guerrilla Gardeners.
For six years now, the Guerrilla Gardeners of Palace Gates
have taken it upon themselves to transform litter-ridden
rubble and uninspiring verges into horticultural havens of
colour. The growing group of green-fingered volunteers from
the Palace Gates Residents’ Association meet on the first
Saturday of each month, through rain and shine, for a spot of
gardening and a cup of tea.
The Guerrilla Gardeners are sowing seeds not only in the
flowerbeds of Alexandra Palace, but also in the neighbourhood.
Thanks to their work, community spirit is truly blossoming. No
experience or expertise is necessary, and all volunteers are
To get involved, visit: www.palacegatesra.info
15 CAMDEN PASSAGE, ISLINGTON, LONDON