Saturday 11th January 2020

The Victorian Vision: 19th Century British Artists & How Art Changed

Speaker: Jef Page

From Constable and Turner to Gwen John, art went through great changes. Landscape views, the sketch and portraits became acceptable (e.g. GF Watts’ portrait of William Morris) as did women artists in their own right. New galleries (National founded in 1824, National Portrait 1856 and Tate 1897) opened their doors to new avant-garde artists like the Pre-Raphaelites and Whistler. These galleries were and still are free, bringing culture to the public. Working class subjects such as poverty, work and even strikes began to be portrayed (Fildes, Crowe, Dore, Herkomer). Jef worked in the National Gallery for 25 years, is an experienced free-lance gallery guide and lecturer in art history and much else. As he’s President of Ilford Historical Society, we are inviting other historical societies in east/northeast London to come tonight with their programme leaflets for us.

Saturday 8th February 2020

Heading for Extinction? Two Very Different Responses

Speakers: Dan Ritman & Ros Bedlow

The planet is in ecological crisis: we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event this planet has experienced. Scientists believe we might have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown. This is an emergency. How do we propose to deal with it? We feature two speakers: Extinction Rebellion and the Transition movement. XR will share the latest climate science on where our planet is heading, discuss some of the current psychology about climate change and offer solutions through the study of social movements. Transition Leytonstone has been working on local solutions to the climate change issues for the past ten years and is now creating an action plan for the next ten.

Saturday 14th March 2020

Pioneers and Radical Voices:

A Look at Black Visual Artists from the 1960s to the Present Day

Speaker: Peter Ashan

Peter Ashan, a lecturer, museum educator, youth worker & sports coach, focuses on Black arts and culture. He leads Freedom Walks in Waltham Forest looking at the development and struggles for a multi-ethnic, multi-faith community in the borough and has written a book on the subject: Remembering Slavery: The Roots of Diversity in Waltham Forest. The talk will be inter-active using the internet, to show films, artists and community organisations’ websites to tell the story about the development of Black artists in Britain and their struggle for recognition.

April 11th 2020

Muse from Nowhere: The Magic of ELLSO

Speaker: Chris Shurety MBE

What would constitute a music-making utopia? And if such a thing could be described, at least in part, how could it arise? And once established, how would it survive and, indeed, thrive? Chris Shurety, founding member of the East London Late Starters Orchestra, will describe how this ‘open door’ initiative came about and the vision and practice that has maintained its course and served as a beacon for others who have themselves established community-based music making projects based on similar principles. And he asks, is there anything such organisations can share with those tackling wider cultural, social and political issues? ELLSO has meant an enormous amount to many hundreds of East Enders. Chris, an east London resident, is now Director of CoMA, Contemporary Music for All.

Saturday 9th May 2020

J B Priestley: A Good Companion?

Speaker: Kevin Davey

Priestley, distinguished novelist, playwright (some fascinating ‘time’ plays), screenwriter, essayist, influential broadcaster in 1940 and founding member of CND, deserves huge celebration. ‘He flipped and flopped over the question of European unity in a way very familiar to us all today. He was also a libertarian socialist, with little time for top down state intervention, and a populist who would recoil from those claiming that title in our time’. Kevin is the author of Radio Joan (2020), an encounter with an elderly former Blackshirt and lover of William Joyce, and Playing Possum (2017) in which T S Eliot is tracked through Kent in the 1920s and today. He was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize in 2017. Tonight includes a reading from They Walk in the City, a utopian play by JB, by members of the Leytonstone Library Playreading Group.

Saturday 13th June 2020

Refugee Camps in Lebanon: The Forgotten Palestinians

Speaker: Andy Simons

Lebanon, a fractured country, perhaps the axis on which the whole Middle East turns, has a form of government going beyond political parties as we know them in the UK.  It has become a tolerant, liberal Arab country, embracing a wide variety of cultures.   But Palestinians don’t fit in.  Their 12 refugee camps have grown since those families were exiled when Israel was founded and then expanded. Lebanon’s factions fought a long civil war (1975-1990); the Palestinians, whether in refugee camps since 1948 or not, got the worst of it.  It’s still the case. Andy, retired British Library curator, is the DJ of Palestinian history. While not a historian, he helps researchers get the materials they seek.   He has worked in African-American archives and presented jazz on FM radio in Chicago and New Orleans.

Saturday18thJuly 2020 (Please note 3rd Saturday, not 2nd)

Vi Gostling Memorial Lecture (part of Leytonstone Festival)

My Life in Politics Speaker: Lyn Brown MP

Lyn, Labour MP for West Ham since 2005 is a riveting speaker about her personal and professional life. Not to be missed. ‘I was born and raised in Silvertown, in a Council flat on the fifth floor of a block of flats. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, our family was not very well off. My mum and dad both worked in local factories, mum packing icing sugar in Tate & Lyle.  My mum was determined that my sister and I would not follow in her footsteps, she craved a different life for us both and did all she could to make it happen. With all of mum’s hopes for my sister and I, she could not have possibly foreseen the journey we have both had. I have experiences in & out of Government which I’ll share with you in July.’

Saturday 8th August 2020

Quirky Songs with Humour & Mischief / Punchy Poetry: Life in Anglo-Saxon England

Speakers/Performers:Kath Tait & Andrew Rea

Tonight features two very talented, original performers. Kath, a singer songwriter from New Zealand, lives in London and writes about her life as a carer, hippy, itinerant bard and wholefood freak. Described as  ‘wonky and eccentric’, she’s an empathetic, intelligent lyricist who has performed at folk music and poetry venues from Dunedin to Edinburgh with her outrageous fib telling, wacky introductions and songs that combine charm and insight with melodic guitar/vocals. Andrew is a retired architect and pagan poet well known for impassioned performances. He investigates the lives and beliefs of the common people in Anglo-Saxon England and will reveal what we know of elves in those times and how they changed in later Saxon times, together with reference to towns named after them, spells and charms referenced to them, as well as words and names based on them. His talk will be enlivened with his delightful poems.

Saturday 12th September 2020

Food is … More Than What You Eat! Speaker: Leslie Barson

Most of us don’t know where our food comes from. This suits ‘Big Food’, the corporate industrial producers and retailers, well.  We need to reclaim our food systems by taking back control in our own communities: eating seasonally, collecting seed, producing more locally, building fair economic relationships with farmers and food producers locally and abroad. It requires us to embrace agroecology and rethink our relationship with food whilst challenging land use and corporate power. We have to change what we eat, where, how & who we get it from & organise ourselves to create new food systems.

Saturday 10th October 2020

‘POND-ering Life’: The Lakehouse Lake Project at Jubilee Pond

Speakers: Committee members (Ellen, Keith et al)

‘We’re a local group of volunteers who help look after the pond & immediate area & wish to encourage careful use and maximum enjoyment of this lovely open space for everyone. Originally shown on an ordnance survey map in 1893, the pond was used as a model yacht pond. It has needed relining twice and is part of the rich history of the Wanstead Park area of Epping Forest. Bounded by Dames, Sidney & Lake House roads, bordering Newham, Waltham Forest & Redbridge, it’s home to vast numbers of flower and fauna species. Administered & cared for by the City of London Corporation, it’s very much a public space, used daily by many to enhance their lives’. Lakehouse Lake Project, begun 20 years ago, is an independent group committed to the care of Jubilee Pond and its environs, undertaking litter-picks, pond dips, encouraging folk to enjoy the area responsibly, & liaising with schools & the Forest Keepers to help maintain its upkeep. There will be posters tonight to show some of the Project’s sterling work.

Saturday 14th November 2020

More Famous than Morris: Why No Museum?

Speakers: Alfred Hitchcock of Leytonstone Society 

The Alfred Hitchcock of Leytonstone Society and the Here’s to Hitchcock group are local projects run by volunteers which aim to ‘preserve, promote and progress’ his legacy. Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980), one of the world’s finest and most instantly recognisable directors, made over 50 films. Yet remarkably, the story of his local roots remains largely unexplored despite much work undertaken recently by local historians.  Members will speak on Hitch’s local origins, early London upbringing and these influences on his films. Over time these, in turn, would also inform the thinking of other famous filmmakers. We learn tonight by this slide show and high quality artwork how local activists are putting Hitch back on the map at long last.

Saturday 12th December 2020

Hackney Downs: The School that Dared to Fight and Didn’t Deserve to Die

Speakers: Betty Hales & Jeff Davies, the last Head & Deputy Head of Hackney Downs

In July 1995 Hackney Downs School won a prolonged battle to stay open, against a corrupt, incompetent Local Education Authority, convincing the full council to vote against the recommendation of its own Chief Education Officer: an amazing victory, yet just ten days later it was taken over by the East London Education Association, a quango set up by the then failing Tory government, desperate to put the blame for all social ills on anyone but itself. The school was closed with unseemly haste and callous cruelty to pupils, parents and staff. This is a story of loyalty and passion against injustice which set the scene for the negative blame culture of bureaucracy, target setting and over-testing that has plagued education for the past 25 years. The book by Betty and others described what happened: Hackney Downs: The School that Dared to Fight.

The club is a real beacon of light.’

Peter Cormack, former Keeper, William Morris Gallery

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