Sign of The Times Hothouse Blog


By Hothouse Artist Bernadette Russell

Hello. Since I last posted it feels as though our world has changed. So much has been said and shouted and written about the EU referendum result, so many petitions and marches and resignations and face palming and raging and crying and smashed windows and racism…..it has been an intense and challenging few weeks.

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It feels stupid writing that, and dishonest. Actually,  it felt for a few days  like the worst thing that had ever happened ever. I cried on and off for four days afterwards. Everyone I knew was crying or ranting. Everyone was marching with hand made placards

Then tragedy after tragedy from Nice, and Turkey and Syria etc, till we all feel bruised and exhausted. Most people I know tell me they’re not watching the news anymore, or they can’t stop watching it, they can’t sleep or they sleep all the time, and how it is hard in the midst of all this to think any good of us, us human beings. In this I have been considering the future and projects thinking about the future, as part of my work with Hothouse at Deptford Lounge. Thinking about the future. Considering a positive future, and how we might make it there. In the Waiting Room in Deptford this appeared

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and on the buses for a few days everyone wore safety pins so we could reassure people we weren’t racists. Pinning our hopes on that. Everyone saying “What’s going to happen now?”. Everyone talking about politics, everyone.

My friend Horatio and I talked a while ago about his relationship to Deptford and we meandered (as all the best chats do)- briefly discussing English nationalism. I will be posting Horatio’s interview soon, but just wanted to post a few pictures of what I and a few friends put up in response to the EU ref and the aftermath.

Five years ago, in the wake of the U.K riots of that summer, overwhelmed and disheartened by that and just about everything else, I responded by attempting to do a very small kind thing every day for a stranger, some you know this story, the results of which can be found here

I had exactly the same feeling after the E.U, in that I felt absolutely powerless to do anything of any use to counter the despair, rage, hopelessness etc. But then I remembered a couple useful lessons from that time: 1. doing something, however small,is better than doing nothing and 2. doing that small something is much, much better than complaining about stuff on social media/down the shop/pub.

So I made these posters and put then around Deptford (maybe you’ve seen one?). I made and posted others to friends in other parts of London and eventually further afield:  the posters and their messages travelled to Brighton, York, Stroud, Stockton, Margate, and elsewhere. it’s not much true, but it is not nothing.

 It seems very important to consider the future right now, to be optimistic and hopeful but also to try and map out a journey of how we might get to this positive future and what we need to do that. It seems to me that the most valuable thing we can do is listen. Back in 2011 when people were trying to make sense of the riots it was  said that a riot is the roar of the unheard. Now there are conversations about those who voted to leave Europe because they feel unheard also. It’s not pleasant to witness and be part of such a  dis-United kingdom and it is overwhelming sometimes, but an important lesson, I think, is we need to listen to each other more carefully. We need to stop calling each other names, be cautious when apportioning blame, and we need to nuture, encourage and tend to hope. We can do this by seeking out hope and hopeful stories and sharing those. We can do this by taking action, even in the smallest of ways, rather than uploading another doom laden Facebook update to add to the already toxic timelines we all scroll through, we can choose to express something else.

There’s a little orange shed in Deptford Lounge and from Saturday 23rd there will be a map and some postcards inside, and if you’d like you can tell us what you love about Deptford past, present or future.  So we can hopefully keep the best of the past and the present and create what we all need in the future.

Previous visitors have told us
“I miss The Anchor, I wish it could come back. But bigger and gold!” Anita

“I would like a slide to be made which goes from the roof of Deptford
Lounge and shoots you into the future” Nafeesa

“I love Well Beloved Butchers and I hope it is around 100 years from now,
and so does my dog” Mo

Take a look in our shed and help us imagine the future. Things are definitely going to improve. We have to imagine first…..

PS I have a robot dog. Found on Deptford Market. Not as good as my real dog, Lola, but you know, very future-y…..

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