Author Archives: Julia Fry

Wandering in Wandsworth (and Fulham and Victoria)

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Sign outside The Paradise Cooperative in Wandsworth

I rarely give myself time to wander; often my time is planned and filled with tasks from my ToDo list. I’d forgotten how magical life can be when I give myself a time boundary with no plans.

I was in London at the weekend, staying with a friend in Wandsworth and she was busy all morning. After trawling the internet for an hour (a whole hour of time wasting in a not good way!) I decided to go for a walk and see what it’s like in Wandsworth.

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I’d barely walked five minutes when I came across The Paradise Co-operative – a community garden. The gate was open so I wandered in and was greeted by a friendly couple who told me the history of the garden.

They invited me to stay so I did; I harvested some beans and tomatoes, some of which they insisted I take with me. All the veggies and fruit are organic and tasted amazing. I had the biggest smile on my face as I picked tomatoes.

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I left the garden and made my way to Fulham, this time in search of a vegan cafe – The Sanctuary on Fulham Road. It wasn’t where the Happy Cow map said it would be. Instead, there was a new cafe – Simply Vegan, which opened its doors a couple of days ago. I was after a savoury lunch, despite the tempting array of beautiful cakes and the owner directed me to a vegan pizza restaurant, Pickywops.

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Andrea and Cristiano, founders of Pickywops, and me

Oh my! It was amazing! I had the award-winning Vegan Temptations pizza, which had Violife mozzarella, kale, broccolini, almond ricotta and blueberries on it. I savoured every bite of each slice, especially the last because of saving the blueberry til the end, for the exquisite burst of sweetness. Yum.

If I hadn’t given myself time without plans, I would not have found either of these places, both of which promoted a healthier lifestyle and made me think about food, where it comes from, and my own buying habits.

Later, when I bought veggies from Sainsburys, I wondered about buying organic veg from farmers at local markets in Brighton, and about volunteering at a local community garden. Research turned up both options: the Upper Gardner Street Market and the Phoenix Community Centre Garden. I’m going to visit both at the earliest opportunity.

As I arrived at Victoria Train Station to catch a train to Brighton, I saw I had an hour’s wait so I looked on Google maps for a coffee shop and headed off to find the one I chose. It was closed, so I wandered in the general direction of the station and stumbled across Places for NOVA, an art installation by Saad Qureshi. I slowly made my way around all six pieces, photographing them from angles that I hoped would make nice photos. Then I sat on a bench and ate the vegan doughnut and drank the Earl Grey with soya milk that I gleefully bought from a cafe in the centre of the exhibition.

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I left London full of wonder. It’s quite a child-like feeling and it’s stayed with me almost all the time. I think it’s my favourite feeling.

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Man in a Van?

I went out looking for a toy van and came home with an old vanity case. I’d toyed with the idea of replicating my journey from settler to traveller in miniature, by making a stop motion animation film to document it; it had occurred to me that people might be interested in crowdfunding a film like that. I could somehow use my puppet man as my alter ego, who buys and kits out a van as his home.

So, off I set, open to possibilities yet determined. I browsed all the charity shops in London Road and, as I handled some of the toys, ideas bubbled up then popped. In the last charity shop I gave up; as I made for the exit, out of the corner of my eye I spied a red vanity case sitting on the floor amongst vintage gloves, a wooden address book and some old postcards. “Vanity Case As Seen £4.99”, said the tag and I looked over the case; it wasn’t broken and the clasp worked. Why not?

Instead of my puppet man living in a van (or the cage I bought before the course began) he could live in this vanity case. The initials printed on the case, P.D., felt suggestive; suddenly and unexpectedly, my puppet has a home and a name*. Isn’t life sometimes wonderful?

What sort of character lives in a stained, old vanity case? I’m suddenly very excited to find out and I’m feeling much more connected to my puppet man.

*If you can guess his name, I’ll do a puppet show for you…

I Can Make You A Man

I’ve been making a man. In May I enrolled on Isobel Smith’s Puppets in a Suitcase 10 week course at The Phoenix Gallery, Brighton. Each week I’ve trotted along to the two and a half hour session to play with objects, make up and share stories, and create my man. Who is he? What’s he like? I don’t feel a strong connection to him yet…

Walking In The New Year 2016/2017

A couple of weeks before Christmas 2016 I decided that on New Year’s Eve I would catch the bus to Eastbourne and walk to Brighton, arriving in time for sunrise. During the walk I would think about what I liked about 2016 and what I’d like for 2017. I invited others to join me but everyone had plans so I walked alone. Here’s my story:

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Finally, the sky is beginning to lighten. For the last hour I’ve told myself, ‘I just have to make it to the next bus stop; if a bus doesn’t come I’ll sit for a few minutes, then walk to the next one.’ Brighton’s street lamps and pier are visible. Eastbourne is far behind me. My legs, feet, shoulders and back ache, and my head is throbbing from where the head torch was strapped to it nearly all night – I’m holding it in my hand now. The pavement is jarring, not like the muddy grass of the cliff top, but I must stay close to the road. Continue reading

Meet Molly – she’s no angel

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I found Molly laying on the pavement near a 24 hour corner shop; she was dirty, and had lost one eye (the other was barely hanging on). A friend thought Molly would be missed by whomever dropped her; perhaps she’s right.

Molly has wings and so does the angel symbol on her dress. After bathing in the washing machine and reclining on the radiator to dry, Molly hung out on my lounge wall for some months before it occurred to me that perhaps Molly is no angel.

Singularity put forward for Platform 2015 prize

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Ezra Miles, Aya Toraiwa and I have both been nominated for the Platform 2015 prize! The prize, offered by CVAN South East, would enable the winner to receive mentoring support for a year and a bursary of £2,500. Nice!

Ezra and I are graduating from the BA (Hons) Moving Image course at University of Brighton this year. My film, Singularity, is being showing in Room 204 and in the gallery on the ground floor of the Graduate show at Grand Parade at University of Brighton from 6 to 14 June 2015.