London’s “first free art exchange”

The venue where the exchange will take place

The venue where the exchange will take place

London’s “first free, monthly art exchange”, according to volunteers, bARTer, will be taking place this month in Tufnell Park.

Artists from around the area will be able to trade in their unwanted masterpieces for art-work in the first of these monthly events. HealthyPlanet, who currently run a free book scheme throughout the country, attempted to hold the first event on the 28th of March at their Tufnell Park shop however the event was cancelled by the poor weather.

Gabrielle Sonabend, an artist from Slade School of Fine art and volunteer at Books for Free NW5 came up with the event concept “after talking to my artist friends and hearing about how much great art they’d all been making but not selling.”

The plans were to start small with around 10 artists as the Books for Free shop cannot hold many more. Already, Jacqueline Guderley, lead volunteer at Books for Free NW5 said, “we are talking to local art galleries and groups as the interest grows.” The group are also holding Open Art Nights, which Jacqueline described as an open-minded open-mic night.

At the moment, DeviantArt, the artist’s social network, has the world’s biggest art trade-in, however artists must be commissioned before they trade. At bARTer, artists “swap old art works and objects that they no longer want for someone else’s “unwanted” things”, says Jacqueline.

Some of Sophie's trade-able art

Some of Sophie’s trade-able art

Alix Janta-Polczynski, one of the pair of curators of ArtBarter, an annual international art exchange event, said that the concept of exchanging art for art or goods and services is particularly relevant in the current economic climate; “Projects such as ‘the free shop’ and ‘freecycle’ are prevalent in London and the exchange of skills between friends and businesses are on the rise.”

Artist Sophie Ward said, “At first I thought the idea was horrific as I’m very possessive over my art but if their stuff was uber-cool then I’d be up for the exchange.”

Follow @BooksforfreeNW5

Find them on Facebook

Islington’s City University named greenest in UK

City's environmental measures include solar energy use, on campus recycling and water fountains

City University has been named the UK’s ‘greenest’ university

City University has been named the UK’s ‘greenest’ University and placed 64th out of 2000 businesses overall by the Environment Agency.

The university, as well as being given a platinum Eco-Campus award in 2012, is also involved with local environmental development, such as helping Islington to reach its 40% reduction in carbon emission by 2020 target.

Jason Clarke, the University’s Energy and Environment Manager said: “The improvement is due to high levels of awareness about the sustainability agenda among staff and students, as well as City’s swift action when presented with carbon reduction recommendations.”

The university puts energy efficiency first with measures such as TapWater water fountains to reduce bottled water, highly efficient recycling bins around the campus and using solar power energy.

Dawn White, Environmental Officer from City, said that the university is “always meeting to share initiatives and ideas” with local groups as well as “working with the local community to increase fair-trade such as encouraging shops to stock fair-trade produce”.

Last year, the university worked with local primary schools to teach young children about the importance of fair trade as well as remaining a member of the Islington Climate Change Partnership.

Islington has been named as one of London’s worst boroughs for air pollution, something that White believes can be helped by City’s promotion of green travel but is ultimately “down to residents to do what they can and the council to help”. Islington council has cut spending on environmental policy by £850,000.

Safer cycling for Islington schools

Tufnell Park Cycles to School is petitioning for clearer signposting and better access between schools

Tufnell Park Cycles to School is petitioning for clearer signposting and better access between schools

Tufnell Park Cycles to School is hosting a ‘Tour de Tufnell’ Election Special this weekend. Tufnell Park is at the centre of a new campaign to get children cycling by encouraging local councillors to take action.

The campaign wants Islington council to create signposted routes and safer cycling in general between schools and homes.

The cycle ride on Saturday will link six local primary schools and starts at 2pm from Tufnell Park Tavern.

David Lincoln, a father of two and campaign leader, said:  “I’m a bit disillusioned with soft measures such as advertising and role-models to promote cycling.”

He doesn’t believe that cycling in Islington is as dangerous as it is assumed, however, and this is one problem his campaign addresses.

“Cycling in Islington is statistically very safe. Pedestrians are more at risk, as are young men who drive but that may be because cycling remains something of a niche activity that only the fast and the brave are willing to participate in.”

According to David,  “Cycling is suppressed because the roads look and feel unsafe. There is evidence that not cycling is likely to cause far more harm due to the consequences of inactivity.”

Instead of promoting safer cycling methods such as high visibility vests and helmets, David wants see a “more subjective safety where cyclists get protection and or prioritisation at moments of vulnerability for example at junctions.” He’s also asking that “cycling journeys are made faster and more convenient than the car.”

Find out more about the cycle ride here.

Keep up to date with the campaign on facebook and twitter.

Kings Cross shop owners ‘set to lose out’ in new development

Local businesses to lose out in Kings Cross development | Image:

Local businesses around Kings Cross say they fear losing out to a ‘mega-Waitrose’ by 2015 according to business owners around the area . The superstore with a cookery school and café is the first business to be announced for the development, which will be on the site of the Midlands Goods Shed near St Pancras station.

In a statement, developers argue that the community will benefit as the cookery school will be “teaching basic cooking skills and inspiring a passion for good food” to Camden’s young people.

Local business owners such as Satish Patel, owner of Squires News in the Kings Cross area, however argue that the cookery school is simply a way of “getting in” and supermarket openings “always have an effect on local businesses; it’s not just small shops like ours that suffer, it’s coffee shops and restaurants as well. Everyone loses out.” With the café that is being planned in the development, Satish suggests that the effect could be even worse.

An era of superstores opening around the country is taking its toll according to the NIRTA’s report on the impact of supermarkets on local communities. The report suggests that “each superstore opening in the UK results in an average net loss in employment of 276 full-time jobs” and “42% of small English towns and villages no longer have a shop of any kind.”

Campaigns such as #Local4Lent, a movement designed to get people shopping locally and boycotting large supermarkets, are gathering pace.  StayLocal commends the local movement as it believes by shopping in the community, you “build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors and by contributing more to local causes.”

Local businesses to “lose out” in new #KingsCross development: #local #london


London environmental activists criticize world’s first ‘ultra-low emissions zone

Climate change groups have criticised Boris Johnson’s plans to turn Central London into an ‘ultra-low emission zone’ by 2020, following a series of environmentally damaging moves.
According to the mayor, the area will be open only to low or zero emission cars instead of the current system of taxing vehicles with high carbon emissions, meaning that commuters driving into the centre will be forced to buy ‘greener’ cars. The area would be the first of its kind in the world and could dramatically reduce air pollution, which causes up to 9% of all deaths in London.

Continue reading