The Magic of Culture – tank tops and summer parades

The Magic of Culture – tank tops and summer parades

Culture is magical. It can take us by surprise in ways that nothing else can. It’s the magic that creates special experiences and friendships.

It’s often visible in our institutions but more often invisible in our communities where people live and work; yet, it is all around us and exists in all the corners of our capital.

The London Borough of Culture is an exciting opportunity to illuminate the cultural gems that exist in these corners, and to demonstrate the many ways in which long-established cultural experiences blend with new.

This is a unique moment in our capitals history to focus on what we have, not just the visible but the invisible.

Growing up in a corner of the capital that was never quite sure whether it was in the country or the city was special. The marshes of Erith and Belvedere contained all the romanticism of Derek’s Jarman’s relationship with Dungeness – the bleakness, the working river and the railway which employed generations of my family. Despite the challenges, my parents and grandparents came up with an ingenious idea – to live next door to each other and to buy the shops either side. And so, a community began to emerge with a convenience store at its heart.

My earliest cultural memory stems from this corner of the capital where I grew up. With working parents, every summer, my sister and I would attend a play-scheme. During the heat wave of 1976 I insisted on wearing a stripy tank top, stripy shirt and Rupert Bear trousers! Unbeknownst to me, I made the front page of the local newspaper as the ‘Boy in fancy dress’ in the annual summer parade. And so, my love affair with the alternative arts began..

What we take for granted today, our glorious parks and open spaces, in the 1970’s and 1980’s were to be avoided, so I co-founded Nutkhut and we set out to change this. A generation later the London Mela appears across the capital and injects culture and creativity into these spaces, for everyone.

I’m delighted to be a Cultural Ambassador for the Mayor of London and to advocate the amazing cultural riches our city has to offer. I know this award is going to help create a little magic in the corners of our city that have remained invisible for too long.

Best of luck to the boroughs and to all those involved with bids!