Tuesday, 15 September 2020

London Visits pre lockdown, Frestonia, Ladbroke Estate memories and an art exhibition … part 6 …

 

In this country you go from the sublime to the ridiculous … so much change, so much hidden … while Anna’s art exhibition has titles including ‘Watching’, ‘Staging’, ‘Casting’, ‘Establishing’ 'Propping', and more …

 

Three canvases on display at gallery

In the 1970s I was living a little to the east – yet during my time … there was an attempt by the residents of Freston Road to establish the Free and Independent Republic of Frestonia … 

who knew, not me …

  


… the squatting residents failed in this attempt but did go on to set up a housing co-operative with the Notting Hill Housing Trust …

 

The People's Hall,
Frestonia

At that stage in my life I wasn’t that curious, or that brave – I wasn’t a rebel … nor am I now – but I tend not to follow the crowd – so this part of ‘town’ in the late 1970s was beyond my brain’s remit!

 


Entrance to 
Frestonian Gallery

As I look and read up about the area: it’s fascinating … as I can appreciate how talent comes in all forms that leads to change and thought – that I, of the 3rd age, understand a little more today – and that’s come from blogging and the internet – where my eyes have been opened to much else in the world.

 


So this tiny motley site in the 1980s became a creative hub for writers, artists and musicians, as well as cultural activists.

 

Casting - from Anna's exhibitoin

It also as you can imagine became a fervent nest of human vipers … upsetting the establishment of greater London …

 

… the residents held a referendum on declaring independence  (94% approved) – and – even more interestingly today perhaps for us Brits – were in favour (73%) of joining the European Economic Community – now the European Union.

 


First edition - 1904
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Geoffrey Howe at the time expressed his support – saying “As one who had childhood enthusiasm for Napoleon of Notting Hill (– by GK Chesterton), I can hardly fail to be moved by your aspirations”.

 



Let’s go back to simpler times … Frestonia had its own flag, postage stamps (honoured by the Post Office); passport stamps for visitors; a national newspaper ‘The Tribal Messenger’, as well as an art gallery ‘The Car Breaker Gallery’ – within the confines of the Republic’s area of influence.

 


The Frestonia National Film Institute was also formed; its first screening being – appropriately – Passport to Pimlico* and a film of the Sex Pistols.   (*about Pimlico suburb being declared a legal part of the House of Burgundy – released as a British comedy film from Ealing studios).

 



The Clash (an early English rock band) recorded their album Combat Rock in Ear Studios (also known as the People’s Hall); while they and Motorhead practised in Frestonia’s rehearsal studios.

 


The Clash’s music was often charged with left-wing ideological sentiments … and were dubbed by the New Musical Express as “The Thinking Man’s Yobs”.

 



I have put some links at the bottom … as I’ve been so interested looking into Frestonia … but let’s move on to the art exhibition I went to see: my reason for being in Frestonia – albeit forty years too late!

  

Lower third of Anna's work
'Jacob's Ladder in Chichester Cathedral

I’ve shown you Jacob’s Ladder – Anna Bentley Freeman’s exhibit under the title ‘Descent’ being set in Chichester Cathedral in 2016 … and here was another exhibition that I could visit and offer Anna some family support. 

 

 


This exhibition entitled ‘Order and Chaos’ … deliberation and spontaneity – where she has depopulated her canvases …

 


Establishing

… the flea market scenes have been purposefully emptied out of human figures … as too the carefully staged museum ‘interiors’ of cities around the world … bringing order to the often ramshackleness of the flea market scenes.

 




She loves the baroque – as seen here in the qualities of vibrance, grandeur and a certain sensuality present in all things … giving the exhibited works that splendour of colour so often found in ‘museums’ and flea-markets …

 

Propping

I was entranced … so will let you peruse … if you would like to look at the Gallery’s exhibit site.

 

 

Next – we’re off to Tate Britain … where Steve McQueen – the British film maker – had an exhibition on … and I’ll elaborate on his works at Tate Modern that I skated over.

 

Thanks for joining me on these various parts of my one day in London town earlier this year – I’m glad I’ve extrapolated on the whole.

Anna Bentley Freeman at the Frestonian Gallery - overview of her exhibition ...  

Anna's Jacob's Ladder artwork in Chichester Cathedral ...

Frestonia ... 

The Clash ... 

Passport to Pimlico - an Ealing Sudios comedy film

G K Chesterton's 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill' published 1904


This is still not quite right ... but better than it was on publishing - this is the new way!!  (new blogger)


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


30 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The painted stairway is really cool.
They wanted independence? Imagine if they'd gotten it?

Elephant's Child said...

I always learn something new from your posts. New and intriguing.
This is an exhibition I would LOVE to see and thank you for alerting me to it, and as always, for the links to entice further studies.
New Blogger is a beast isn't it?
Stay well, stay safe.

Anabel Marsh said...

Frestonia, that’s interesting! I hadn’t heard of that.

Liz A. said...

Does that mean Frestonia is responsible for punk rock?

Joanne said...

London Calling...oh yeah - The Clash were so punk and trouble. I love Anna's works - very glad you featured so many.
Rebel,Rebel....oh you Brits a la David Bowie - so bohemian, so looking to escape the norm. Loved this venture - you just make it all so fun!

Botanist said...

I had not heard of Frestonia. Interesting that they approved of the EU.

dolorah said...

I liked you called this the "new way" instead of the "new normal". Simpler times don't seem to have ever existed.

I enjoyed the tour, thanks :)

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I like what I see of Anna's work. The Frestonia tale reminds me of the little known King Len of Reach. Len Warren was a cleaner at one of the Cambridge colleges when he claimed that the village of Reach, where he lived, had been given independence from the rest of the country back in the 17th century. What's more he was the rightful ruler. He even went as far as to offer pirate radio stations, operating from the North Sea at the time, free moorings in Reach Lode, the tiny drainage channel in his "kingdom". Needless to say, nothing came of his plans but it gave everyone a good laugh at the time.

Hels said...

We had already returned to Australia by 1977 so I don't remember firsthand the fuss when the Bramleys Housing Co-operative first appeared. Nonetheless I remember yelling Go Frestonia at my tv screen :)

But I do remember Jack Mundey and his movement who saved Sydney from destruction. Mundey’s Builders Labourers laid green bans throughout the city, refusing to work on housing projects they believed were socially or environmentally undesirable.

In both movements, the residents were given a voice in development plans for the area. They both fought hard and won.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
...what gets me is how much you covered in your outing, Hilary! Such fabulous stuff, but even just one thing nowadays exhausts me... Thank you again for your efforts on our behalf!!! YAM xx

Mason Canyon said...

Hilary, another informative and fun post. The Casting photo is interesting but "Jacob's Ladder' is my favorite. It looks so intriguing. Thanks for taking us along on your journeys.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

The Republic of Frestonia has a certain ring to it doesn't it? I can only imagine the insurgents back in the day hurling cries of "Independence"as they waved their brollies. Liberté, Egalité,Fraternité and all that stuff. I doubt they would have resorted to the guillotine, however. It almost makes you wish they had achieved their goal, although I suspect that their limited tax base might have plunged them into third world status in an instant. But maybe they could have become a giant tax free shopping mall, like Andorra, and prospered. Who can say what might have happened? I can just imagine the tourist brochures touting the glories of London along with a side trip to Frestonia. I think the Frestonians would have wanted an elaborate stamp for the tourists' passports, which would be flaunted to envious friends as evidence of their visit. Maybe you might have even moved there, Hilary, and perhaps titles would have been sold. Lady Hilary of Frestonia has a certain cachet doesn't it? I could get dizzy imagining your coat of arms, but there is little doubt it would have featured a book!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – yes going to Chichester and seeing Jacob’s Ladder in situ was extraordinary … she’s a very talented artist.

It’s amazing how many micronations there have been – successful or attempted … but that was a sign of the times – ‘revolution’ of the populace.

@ EC – yes there’s lots here and I found out so much too … I’m glad I don’t rush to put posts up – there’s always more to come across. I know you’ll love Anna’s art work at the Frestonian – I appreciate more as I blog and visit.

New blogger isn’t too bad – just I’d forgotten about it … and couldn’t quite get it to do everything I wanted … I’ll give myself more time for my next post.

@ Anabel – nor had I heard of Frestonia – til I looked into the history of the area … and Hels below mentions ‘the Bramley Trust’ – linked to Frestonia … that I didn’t include – extraordinary what one comes across!

@ Liz – Frestonia’s residents were stirring the pot in many ways in the 1970s … so they definitely pushed forward and pushed against the establishment …

@ Joanne – glad you remember ‘London Calling’ … and I guessed you’d note The Clash (punk and trouble). Bowie I’ve only recently come to terms with … I’m really not a rebel! But now of course I see and hear Bowie everywhere and totally appreciate his avant garde style – where the boundaries were kicked and buckled.

Thanks re the post – I guess I adjust what I write to what I know today and how I’ve changed and appreciate 40+ years later all the changes occurring then. Oh yes – ‘Changes’ by Bowie too …

I’m glad you enjoyed Anna’s exhibited art pieces … she’s a talented lady.

@ Ian – Frestonia came as a surprise to me too … and I’m glad you picked up on the EU connection … fascinating stuff.

@ Donna – Simpler times did exist – except we’re all caught up in this mess … just glad you enjoyed the history here …

@ John – thanks re Anna’s work … she’s doing so well for herself.

Love the story of King Len – and I spotted the Newmarket Journal entry of his exploits … just extraordinary what tales are hidden away for us to find. I see he decided to give his village back to the Queen … wonderful! Definitely warrants a good giggle and laugh …

Thanks for adding to the story line here – we are always good for a few extra exploits throughout our lives …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Hels – I spotted the Bramley Trust – but thought I was stretching the post a tad too far … and am amazed to see Frestonia featured on the tv – guess I was working or out playing squash.

Jack Mundey sounds quite a character … and yes you’re right about both sets of residents in Sydney and in Frestonia having a say in changes to the area and life as it moved to the 1980s.

@ Yam – yes it was a tough day and done quickly with trains each end and I knew I’d be on my knees by the time I got the train home – but I forced myself on. I can understand your exhaustion … and feel for you …

I’m glad I’ve not rushed to put these posts up – at least I’ve learnt a lot more about London than I knew … and appreciate those early rebels …

@ Mason – thank you … I’m glad I’ve spent time adding to my information on the area. I was delighted to get down to Chichester to see Anna’s work in situ … and so was pleased I could get to the Frestonia Gallery – otherwise I’d have never have learnt so much about that area. I’m just glad you enjoyed the post …

@ David – I see from Hels’ comment that they made the tv – something I didn’t see – or ignored (more likely!) … but creative types always need to push the boundaries to get through and then let us adapt to them. I would think the squats weren’t that thrilling – but the ‘tax base’ would definitely have taken them even further down the path of no return. Oddly in the 21st century a huge shopping mall has been developed a stone’s throw away (and it’s definitely not tax free!) … but now what will happen to it – more changes …

I might have moved there – but I was of the very non-rebelling sort and squalor wasn’t my thing – nor punk rock, or 1970s/80s art … sad really: I woke up late in life: but I did wake up …

I appreciate the book idea on my coat of arms … at that stage in life – I wasn’t considered to have writing material in me … again I woke up late … Lady Hilary – I don’t think really sits well – but appreciate the thought.

Thanks so much to you all for engaging with this post – I learnt lots putting it together and now you’ve added to the mix – with the Bramley Housing Trust, Jack Mundey of Sydney and John’s Ken Len of Reach (village) … and all the mentions of Bowie, rebelling and changing … wonderful reminiscences … take care and stay safe – all the best - Hilary

Mike Goad said...

Interesting.

A couple of observation

... 3rd age. I had never heard of that. Had to look it up.

... Steve McQueen. I knew him. Oh, not the famous one. My Steve McQueen was a shipmate on the submarine I was on. He had previously served on the elite crew of the nuclear-powered ocean engineering and research submarine (NR-1), the smallest nuclear submarine ever put into operation. Unfortunately, in the mid-1970s, Steve, along with several others, was busted for having illegal drugs on the sub by what is now known as NCIS. I don't know what happened after that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_submarine_NR-1

Jacqui Murray said...

Trying to establish a separate country within a country--what our radicals tried to do in Seattle (or was it Portland). But they didn't do it with existing residents. They just moved in! Sigh. I'm like you--I'm not a radical but I'm also not a sheep.

Excellent post, lots of history.

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Hilary - I love how your posts take us travelling through time, history, ideas and cultures. The photos and links are also brilliant. Thank you!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

THE Steve McQueen? Wow.

Glad I was never a Clash fan though

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

A really interesting post that I found I really liked, London was a place I would have loved to visit. Have to say many countries go from the sublime to the ridiculous.

D.G. Kaye said...

This was a fun and interesting assortment of photos and tidbits. The Clash, lol, I wasn't fond of most of their music, but their Rock the Cazbar was a great part of my good times in my twenties! :) x

bazza said...

Passport to Pimlico is one of my favourite films and it was what I thought of as soon as you mentioned Frestonia. I was pleased to see that you mentioned it!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s joyously judicious Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Sandra Cox said...

There's so much I don't know about London. Thanks for sharing.
Stay safe. Be healthy.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

The artwork is incredible, Hilary! Absolutely beautiful. I was not and am not a rebel either. I'm not sure I was or am a follower either. Always enjoy your posts. Have a beautiful weekend!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mike – oh another Steve McQueen … the famous one died of Mesothelioma (asbestos poisoning) … possibly from his work in the US Marines, or from the racing suits the drivers wore – awful disease. I suspect your McQueen had a rather unfortunate life in prison. Thanks for the link to your sub …

Third age seems to be fairly common now – and easy to convey an idea of the era we’re mentioning or thinking about. Good to see you.

@ Jacqui – yes I expect there were lots of ‘free countries’ – but as you say perhaps riding roughshod over the locals. Some of the Frestonians went on to greater things – and as with most rebels became part of the establishment later on. Interesting to know about Seattle/Portland …

Yes – lots of history here …

@ Donna – thanks … delighted you enjoy the posts with their various ‘cross-nettings’ … and I’m just glad the links hold up other thoughts …

@ Diane – no … not that Steve McQueen – this one was the director of 12 Years A Slave … and is known as a British filmmaker and video artist … see my next post.

Clash too passed me by in the youth -…

@ Jo-Anne – pity you haven’t been able to get over here to visit … but now it can be done vicariously. At the moment – the world seems to be going from the sublime to the ridiculous (very sadly).

@ Debby – yes lots of ‘life’ here – the Clash certainly didn’t make my airwaves – yet now of course they’re part of our historical culture. I see that Rock the Cazbah had a slightly different take to it than their other songs … so perhaps that’s why this song resonates with you …

@ Bazza – those Ealing comedies were wonderful films … I just loved them – galores of laughter regaling one and all whenever they were watched. Glad I got the tie in for you … and good to know you knew about Frestonia …

@ Sandra – oh there’s so much I don’t know about London either … but live and learn is my motto …

@ Victoria – Anna is a highly respected artist and ‘has been found’. Another of us … that falls into the ‘was not and am not a rebel’ set of peoples! I suspect many of us here ‘don’t follow’ either … and thank you re enjoying the read.

Many thanks to you all for commenting – I enjoy finding out about different areas, or different aspects – and then realising my posts connect with many of you, in some way or another – have good weekends - Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Thanks for this interesting post, Hilary. I didn't realize it... but I've missed your posts!

Ahhhh, to live in a place named Frestonia. (Or better yet... FREEstonia.) It sounds like a place of great possibilities... maybe a neat name for a town in a children's story. Natch, I never heard about it before, so it was intriguing to read about it.

My daughter and her hubby have been visiting every week, and one of the things we do when they're here is shoot pool. Usually, we play the same music Mike and I used to listen to when we were playing, but I recently suggested that if there was something else THEY would like to play, they should go for it. Turns out... they both love Clash. Listening to it has maybe expanded my horizons a bit, but I don't think I'll ever be a huge fan.

Take care, sweet lady, and have a super weekend. Cheers!

Fil said...

Hi Hilary
I love Anna's paintings - the colours are fabulous and full of life, even without the people.
What a hoot to hear about the Free Republic of Frestonia - like you I'd never have been brave enough to be involved but would have stood on the sidelines wishing I could have been lol
Have a lovely weekend
Fil

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Susan - the posts dribble on - I enjoy writing them up: slow but sure. Delighted to know you miss my eclectic tastes - thank you. 40+ years ago life was changing for us all - but it certainly could make a good basis for a children's story ... imagination bells ringing out loud. Glad you enjoyed the roll back ...

So pleased to know your daughter and her hubby have been with you - also that things are slowly changing to reflect you or your childrens' take on life. How amazing that 'the Clash' featured ... I'm sure I'm not a fan - yet knew some commenters would appreciate their music and thus mention ... but that it came up now when you were en famille ... life is strange sometimes, but I'm glad our worlds gently collide across the writing waves ...

@ Fil - I too love Anna's art works ... and I've just bought her book to read more about her thoughts on life and her art.

Well back in the 1970s I definitely avoided those sort of places ... you'd probably appreciate their abilities with their musical instruments ... so I'm even more lost. Equally I'd have been on the sidelines wishing I understood more ...

Thanks to you two ladies - all the best as Autumn settles in ... stay sane and take care - Hilary

Inger said...

So much to read here and to think about There. I would have loved to see Anna's art. I'm glad you write about her. The rest was news to me and made me think once again of the quirkiness of you all over there. Which is meant as a compliment.

Jz said...

This is my first exposure to Anna's work and I am quite taken with it!
(It is not my first exposure to The Clash, who I am also taken with!) ;-p

A Cuban In London said...

Great post. I love The Clash. :-)

Greetings from London.