Tag Archives: Remakery

What is Remakery?

24 Oct

According to the Department of the Environment we throw away 290 million tonnes of rubbish every year in the UK. We are getting better at recycling – 40% of household waste and 52% of industrial and commercial waste was recycled last year – but that’s still a huge amount heading straight for landfill. Everyone (even people like Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Littlejohn) agrees that this is both a terrible idea and totally unsustainable. Remakery aims to address this problem on a community level, creating workshops and other useful spaces where materials that would otherwise be thrown away can be collected and reused.

Like the Brixton Pound, Remakery originated with a small group of interested people at Transition Town. They came up with an idea for a ‘reuse centre’ but were still wondering how to find suitable premises when local councillor Steve Bradleycame along to a meeting and suggested a possible location on Paulet  Street, north Brixton.

Now, to call this particular spot an unloved corner of Brixton is being kind. A disused car park, popular only with fly tippers and dead foxes, the council were about to brick it up forever when Remakery got involved. Working with architects, the team came up a plan to make this otherwise useless space into the perfect home for a community of remakers. So the first job of Remakery – fittingly – is to recycle a building.

Project manager Hannah Lewis is one of the original team of three that first set up the project. She’s hoping that Remakery will be up and running by spring next year, but admits there is a lot of work to be done to the space to make it suitable for its new purpose. Some of the space will be workshops used by small commercial enterprises, whose business models involved creating products from scrap – so far over 90 busineses have expressed and interest, including bike repair, computer and IT reuse, furniture refurbishment, textiles upcycling. There will also be space for local people to learn new skills and try out their own ideas. As far as the team is aware, there is no comparable project anywhere in the UK, so they are prepared for the process to be a learning curve.  Before the contractors move in to do the heavy work the two main jobs are cleaning up and sorting through some of the reclaimed materials that have already made their way to the former garage.

To get this work done while involving as many people as possible, every Thursday has been designated a ‘site social’, giving anyone who is interested the chance to go along and contribute to getting the building ready for its reincarnation as a community hub of creative reuse. From six to eight in the evening everyone’s invited to join in the clean up, followed with a reward of pizza and beer afterwards.

So last Thursday I found myself in a hard hat, high-vis vest, boots and gloves listening to the prerequisite health and safety chat. I was introduced to Andy, the site manager, who showed us what our jobs were. (You can tell Andy is the site manager because he seems to be able to complete most tasks while holding a cup of coffee).  Some volunteers got stuck into hosing down the grimy walls at one end of the building; I began by attacking a gym floor.

The long pieces of Canadian maple wood had previously been on the floor of a sports hall at Goldsmiths, but a radiator leak had damaged one corner, and instead of repairing it the whole thing had been ripped up and was on its way to a skip. Remakery was able to rescue part of it, and it’s now earmarked to play a part in the build, possibly as panelling for a wall. So I got to work clipping out the embedded nails and sorting it into sizes so it’s ready for its second life. It was great to do something physically useful after a day sat behind a computer, even if it was possibly the most time I had ever spent with any part of a gym.

It was a fun and rewarding Thursday afternoon activity, and a great way to get involved with a genuinely interesting and inventive project. I’ll definitely be back to help out again, and it’ll be fascinating to see how Remakery shapes up.


Site socials every Thursday – follow them in Twitter @remakery

The Magpie Lands and Brixton’s Bank Holiday Feeling

23 Aug

The French take a day off work to let off fireworks on Bastille Day, on 14 July, to commemorate a key symbolic event in the French Revolution. The Americans get all pyrotechnic on 4 July in celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And the people of the Philippines celebrate their independence from the USA, and Spain, with fireworks and a public holiday on 12 June.

As a nation, Britain is in the rather embarrassing historical position of generally being the ‘oppressor’; looking through the list of national days on Wikipedia, most countries seem to be celebrating their independence from us. So the UK’s designated ‘fireworks day’ on 5 November, rather than a commemoration of the glorious achievement of nationhood, is in honour of some disgruntled Catholics who tried to blow up the government, and were then executed. What exactly we’re celebrating here is a bit of a grey area, but unless the government suddenly grants us a public holiday to do it, I reluctantly mention that this weekend coming is the last Monday off until (shhh) christmas. So let’s use it wisely, eh?

The refurbed Upstairs at the Ritzy is having a free relaunch party  on Friday featuring music from awesome skiffle band The Severed Limb. The Windmill (sticky floored music venue not historic mill) are planning to barbecue on Sunday to the sound of their 1992 ‘Retrospectacular’  – with various bands covering songs from this year. Dressed in global hypercolour, hopefully. Also on Sunday, Radio6Music’s Gilles Peterson has been confirmed for the roof terrace at Brixton Clubhouse. Or head over to Myatt’s Field for a picnic to learn about Remakery and Makerhood, skills swapping and local craftiness from 1pm.

Also taking place this weekend at The Brick Box’s temporary home at the old Angel Pub is Magpie, a mini-festival of music, art and performance, weirdness and wonder, kicking off on Thursday night (£3 entry) and carrying on through Friday and Saturday evenings (£5 entry).

The Angel is destined to become a development of four houses and four flats once planning permission is received by the property company, Lexadon. Until October however, they have been renting the space out to The Brick Box, a grass-roots arts organisation who put on various community-based shows, workshops and interactive arty experiences from their usual locations in Brixton and Tooting markets.

There’s a veritable artistic buffet of performers lined up for this weekend’s festivities. Local artist and curator of Magpie David Nevin will be displaying his work, and Aerial Sparks has made a house out of dolls. Creepy. There’ll be poetry from acclaimed poet Dan Holloway on a roof, as well as in a very small ‘Eritrean Hut’, where, for the brave and, er, probably those whose courage comes by way of Holland, more intimate performances will be taking place. That’s not a euphemism. (Apart from the bit about Holland, that was).

Music tonight comes from the London City Reggae Choir and Brixton DJ Geoff Parker, who I think is behind the Catch a Fire nights Upstairs at the Ritzy. Tomorrow night is Gothic rock from Andi Sex Gang and Chris from United 80 will be DJing on Saturday.

If you’re there at around 10pm definitely look out for weird, absurdist comedy from Annie Bashford and Grumpy Lettuce. Having trained at clown school in Paris (where she met her comedy partner) Annie’s just back from performing right wing cabaret  with Frank Sanazi (say it out loud) at the Edinburgh festival. As you do.

Hungry? There’s veggie curry on offer tonight, and expect fantastic LA-inspired meat sandwiches on offer from London French Dip on Friday and Saturday. Get there quickly because odds are they’ll sell out.

Right then. I’ll start the Weekend Countdown Clock then shall I?


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