SVG says Thank You Lottery!

We are delighted to announce that Spectacle CIC has received funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to restart the Silwood Video Group with an archive-based film project. 

Map of the Silwood Estate, from the archive

Since 2001 Spectacle has worked with the Silwood Community in Lewisham and Southwark setting up the Silwood Video Group. Spectacle has run over the years hundreds of video workshops documenting daily life and changes created by regeneration. The collaboration has resulted in many short films published in DVDs, added to a few web episodes in the Channel 4 series Unteachables, an ICA exhibition, as well as further exhibitions at the Musee du Beaux Arts in Brussels.

The National Lottery grant allows members of the Silwood community to gather together around the video documentation that has been produced during the regeneration of the estate, aiming to revitalize the Silwood Video Group and equip the community to make use of video archive and video tools to reflect on their own history and future. Spectacle is running a series of online workshops, watching back and commenting together on what were the issues documented by the Silwood Video Group in the early 2000s. The project culminates in a workshop on the Silwood estate to collect oral histories and reflect on how to use the video archive to support the local community. 

Community Video Work shop from the archive

The Project

The Lottery funding has allowed us to re-start the Silwood Video Group, initially in an online setting through an archive-based film project.

Workshops for SVG begin online

Putting the Silwood Archive online has been an aim for many years. Spectacle has been uploading archive selections for the community to watch and discuss online. If you want to watch the available archive, sign up HERE

Meeting every Thursday at 7, the SVG group watches selections from the archive and discusses the material, drawing out themes and topics of interest. If you would like to join this meeting, please sign up and we will send you the Zoom link. This is leading up to meeting in person with up to 12 participants to record oral histories in the community and add new perspectives on the archive. 

Our Archive-based video project aims to bring together a variety of different groups and generations of the Silwood Community to review and add new oral histories to the Silwood Video Archive. We hope participants will build community bridges, connect to the past, engage in creative practice, and learn filmmaking skills. 

From the Silwood Archive

We are very excited to be providing a space where isolated members of the Silwood Community can come together in a fun and educational environment to talk about history and film. 

Archive-based Participatory Film Projects 

Spectacle CIC is very excited about the tool of archive-based film projects. We see that they have the power to reduce loneliness by bringing people together, creating connection through shared creativity and learning, and anchoring residents within their own history. 


Silwood Community video workshops, from the archive

These workshops foreground the wisdom of an older generation that is too often sidelined and isolated, while also sparking the joy in technology of younger generations. They offer an outlet for art and creativity in connection with others, as well as skills for future employment.  It enable older community members to pass on knowledge to younger members or newcomers, and offer practical tech literacy and filming skills to participants. 

Silwood Video Group and the Future 

For 20 years, the Silwood Video group has built relationships across generations, ethnicities, and cultures through filmmaking. This extraordinary and unique group has been open to anyone in the community and in that time has benefitted approximately 200 people aged 6-70 constituting an unusually diverse range of people in terms of race and religious background. 

Silwood Community planning meeting, from the archive

Spectacle’s relationship with the Silwood community stretches back 20 years. Spectacle created the Silwood Video Group because the community wanted to have a voice in the proposed regeneration plans for their community. Placing the tools of filmmaking in the hands of the community empowered people to actively shape the future of their community through media activism.  

The idea for this archive project is based on the community’s desire to reconnect with the places that existed before the regeneration. Many are getting older, and they want to share their stories with their grandchildren. They also see it as a good opportunity to build connections with newcomers to the community who don’t know about it’s history. 

Walk through of Silwood construction site during regeneration process, from the archive

The Silwood Archive project is supported by The Audience Agency’s Digitally Democratising Archives project thanks to funding from DCMS and the National Lottery, as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s, Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.

Vivienne Westwood speaks out about destruction of Rectory Gardens housing co-op

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood speaks to Spectacle from her south London studio

Vivienne Westwood is known for her outspoken attitude, both in her fashion and activism. Sticking to trend, today she spoke out about the destruction of long-standing housing co-ops in her home borough of Lambeth, lending her support to the documentary Spectacle are making about the fate of Rectory Gardens and its residents who currently face eviction by the council.
 
This sort of short-termist policy is “incredibly stupid, shocking and horrible. It’s terrible to put people through that distress” and will simply add to the “growing list of people waiting for housing”, said Vivienne. In 2011, Lambeth recalled the properties it previously handed over to the self-forming housing co-op back in the 1970s as a response to cuts, spurred on by the now-booming London market. Vivienne spoke with warmth and enthusiasm about Rectory Gardens: “There is no traffic, so children can actually play together and knock on each others’ doors. People are all working together, it’s absolutely great.” The enforced break-up of such a community is “disgusting”, she added.
 
Vivienne moved to Clapham in the 1960s, when she recalls that London was a “dilapidated” yet “creative” and “living” city. Echoing the words of artist Maggi Hambling, who Spectacle interviewed two weeks ago, “There was always something to discover. It was full of craftspeople and artists”. Now, she says, London has been “cleaned up” and priced out through short-sighted government policy that is “killing the actual reason why people want to live here in the first place.”
 
With a deep love of London’s theatres and cultural centres, such as the National Gallery, Barbican, and particularly the Battersea Arts Centre, Vivienne argued that these sorts of enterprises tend to emerge from the ground up, through artistic communities that are allowed to grow organically, like Rectory Gardens itself. “These sorts of communities are so important to what makes London such a buzzing, active, cultural place”. But in a world dominated by concern for “profit” alone, in which “people are just treated as commodities”, she fears that all such creativity is “being obliterated and swamped”.
 

Vivienne highlighted the fact that the government is currently planning to build over 200 high-rise luxury flats in the City; an action she deemed “an absolute scandal”, since, at the same time, “the housing list is growing while council houses are being pulled down and housing co-ops are being evicted. Where are people going to live?” Arriving in London almost 50 years ago as a school teacher, Vivienne said that even at that time it was very difficult to find a flat. With her then boyfriend, Malcolm McLaren, they found a place that had been squatted by “hippies” and painted entirely red on the inside – “it looked like the inside of a phonebox! It was great!”. This was the only way they were able to secure a home. “I don’t know how people manage today. It’s dreadful.”

Referring to the soaring prices of London property, Vivienne spoke of the case of Maritza Tschepp who is being threatened by eviction from her ‘short-life’ house in Stockwell to the potential tune of around £700,000 for the Council at auction. Not a penny of that would go the former resident, despite the fact that it is her invested energy and money alone that has maintained and increased the property’s market value over the 33 years she has lived in it. At those prices, suggested Vivienne, who earlier this year attended a demonstration outside another boarded-up co-op house on Lillieshall Rd to protest its sale, it’s likely only to be speculators or those after second homes that can afford to move in.
 
“The government is doing only what’s good for business and profit – they’re not thinking about people. This is bad economics and is storing up trouble for the future”, argued Vivienne fervently. A long-standing Lambeth resident, she understood that the council was facing enormous pressure from its budget being slashed in half by government austerity measures. But argued that they should be resisting and raising the alarm about the scale of cuts, rather than backing the Government in “trying to work a system that is a short-term disaster for people and a longer-term, unimaginable disaster for the planet”. She urged that people should “stick together” to protest against the “false economy” of austerity.
 
Reflecting her broad activist perspective, Vivienne was keen to stress that the story of Rectory Gardens should be seen as part of a bigger systemic problem of greedy capitalist profiteering resulting in the destruction of communities and the environment, “happening everywhere”. “We need a green economy based on collaboration, respect for people, fair distribution of money, community. A green economy is a people’s economy – it is urgent and necessary. If you protest against the acquisition of these co-op houses, you are protesting against everything that is ruining the planet.” In her own true-to-form, outspoken words, that is: “a world in which politicians’ only care is to syphon off all profit for the super rich”.