The Friends group is made up of people with varied interests in the two Cemeteries, including grave plots, war graves and memorials, history, flora, fauna and bio-diversity, and a general interest in one of the “green lungs” of Lewisham Borough and London as a whole.
At the end of March 2008, the mailing list stood at 49 names, 13 of which were paid up members of the Friends.
The group launched itself into a flurry of activity, initially meeting every month in order to establish the constitution, and the work that the group would be doing.
For Healthy Brockley in September, the Dissenters’ Chapel was opened for a display of photographs taken within the Cemeteries, with a guided walk exploring the flora and fauna. Cemeteries’ Manager, Colin Burgess, was on hand to assist visitors with the location of graves and memorials.
Two “walkabouts” have been carried out to gain an overview of the different aspects of the Cemeteries, to assess the work that needed to be done, and to start to work out a management plan. This is to assist the cemeteries’ management in its cutting and management regime. This work will be ongoing, based on the 1995 survey by Nick Bertrand, and is expected to lead to a professional evaluation for which funds will have to be raised.
Two “work days” have taken place. The first was a litter-pick on Remembrance Sunday. The second in February, to remove invasive saplings, provoked negative public comments as the Cemeteries are in the recently-extended Brockley Conservation Area. Some people felt that the removal of any flora was detrimental to the Cemeteries and its wildlife. A Conservation Area Planning Application relating to the removal of invasive species of tree and other plants was submitted by the Council Officer responsible for Crematoria and Cemeteries, Shirley Bishop, to the Council’s Planning Office. A committee of councillors approved that application, so that future work can now take place without further planning permission. Of course, any future work planned by the Friends will take place only in close liaison with the Cemeteries’ management.
The Council’s Bio-diversity and Ecology Officer, Nick Pond, gave an informative talk to the group, both about his work and the challenges which lie ahead in the management of a working cemetery and a recognised Grade One Nature Conservation site.
The Friends successfully applied to the Council Localities’ Fund for a grant for noticeboards. These are to advertise the existence and work of the Group, and will be placed at the two main entrances to the Cemeteries. Initial research showed that perhaps the most suitable type of boards were outside the budget of £1000. Research is continuing, with any installation being dependant on a granting of Conservation Area planning permission.
A website and lively blogspot has been quickly established, managed by Patrick Napier, giving the public and members ready access to photographs and news. Several contacts have already been made by this means.
I would like to thank members for their enthusiasm in the still early days of this Friends group; also to Jeff Hart, the Co-ordinator of Friends Of Nunhead Cemetery for his help and guidance, and to Nick Pond for his advice; also to Colin Burgess and Shirley Bishop, the Council Officers responsible for the Cemeteries for their co-operation both in the past year, and looking to the future; and to Cllrs. Sue Luxton and Mike Keogh for being the catalysts for the establishment of the Friends group, and for their continuing support.
The meeting will be held at 7.30pm at the Brockley Grove Depot, Brockley Grove,
To see the Agenda click here
Throughout the week of Brockley Max, Jam Circus will play host to Six degrees of decadence a new digital-based art project based on the life and works of the Poet Ernest Dowson which playfully explores ideas of connection, truth, history and technology.
Dowson was an English poet, novelist and writer of short stories associated with the Decadent movement and is buried in Brockley Cemetery just a few hundred yards from there. As a contributor to the 'Yellow Book' and 'Savoy' magazines of the 1890s and a member of the Rhymers' Club, he worked and socialised with better-known contemporaries such as Oscar Wilde and WB Yeats, and the artist Aubrey Beardsley, who illustrated several of Dowson's works. Despite such renowned acquaintances Dowson's own life mirrored Yeats' idea of 'the tragic generation' - destined for failure and in many cases early death - with Dowson dying penniless in 1900, aged 32.
The larger part of Dowson's life and works remain unknown to most people, however both he and his writing inspired many other people, words and works. This is the starting point of Six degrees of decadence.
Throughout the week they will trace some of the associations and influences of Dowson using the password for Jam Circus' wireless network. Each day the password will be changed to reveal a another Dowson connection. By logging onto the wireless network there you will be taking part in a collaboration that ultimately produces a new visual artwork; specific to Jam Circus, the week and the amount of time that you spend connected to the network. As with Dowson, what you choose to use the network for remains invisible to people, but the time you spend connected will impact upon the final work.
This is the first off-site art project of Tea Leaf Arts and the start of a series of commissions and public artworks that aims to engage broader audiences in the making, understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art using everyday technologies and places.