Category Archives: buildings

Requiem for the Subways

Requiem for the Subways

Sadly, the campaign to save the subways under the north roundabout in North Kennington is all over bar the singing. The 104 year old subways will be filled with concrete from April 9th.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is your chance to say goodbye. Meet in the centre of the roundabout at 7pm. From sunset, there will be a free choral performance of a specially written composition by Danyal Dhondy, with one section being performed in each of the seven subways.

Positions by Eva Stenram at Siobhan Davies Studios

Siobhan Davies Studios on St George’s Road is one of Kennington’s best buildings. It plays host to modern dance, yoga, pilatestherapies, and visual art, and the current art exhibition – Positions by London-based Swedish artist Eva Stenram – is the best one we’ve seen there.

Siobhan Davies Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is Arrangement (after Irving Klaw), featuring reframings of risqué 1950s photos of Bettie Page and other pin up models:

Eva Stenram - Arrangement (after Irving Klaw) at Siobhan Davies Studios - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is part of her Score for a Sequence of Poses, again using pin-up photos as its inspiration:

Eva Stenram - part of Score for a Sequence of Poses at Siobhan Davies Studios - kenningtonrunoff.com

This print is available to buy, unframed, for £60:

Eva Stenram - Elastic at Siobhan Davies Studios - kenningtonrunoff.com

There are also a series of 1960s pin up photographs where Eva has digitally removed everything except one leg – eerie, and worth seeing in person.

Positions is open till March 22nd and admission is free. Eva will be leading a tour of the exhibition a week today, March 12th, from 2pm to 3pm.

Another current exhibition at the Studios addresses the age old question “is it art, or is it mould?”. It’s both! This is Lichen Colony by ceramicists Alison Proctor and Phoebe Cummings:

Photo by Robyn Caberet

Photo by Robyn Caberet

our North and East Kennington predictions for 2015

North Kennington (formerly known as Elephant & Castle) will be a messy snarl up from some time very soon for at least a year because of two massive Transport For London projects: the reconfiguration of the North roundabout, and the installation of the new cycle superhighway on St George’s Road. The number of cranes is expected to increase too, and associated construction beneath them, as Lend Lease commence work on the portion at the top of Walworth Road, including a 31 storey tower.

Ministry of Sound will get what they want in terms of planning approval, because they love to fight hard and win.

What will become of the shopping centre? Whatever it is, let’s hope it manages to keep the downtown Bogotá/magical realism vibe that makes it so vibrant at present. Likewise the Coronet and the bowling alley – North Kennington needs these!

The good news is the new Castle Leisure Centre will open in the heart of North Kennington with its two lovely pools (one of them 25m long), sports hall, gym, crèche, café, and a wooden ceiling for those doing back stroke to admire.

The Castle Leisure Centre

The Castle Leisure Centre

There will continue to be havens of green space in the area, including a new Mobile Gardeners event and gardening space opening on New Kent Road called Grow Elephant.

The modernist Perronet House (between St George’s Road and London Road on the North roundabout) will join Metro Central Heights in being listed. See this article about one of the top floor flats.

Like The Duchy Arms, North Kennington’s Marcel & Sons will cease to be a best-kept secret and become a destination eatery.

As for East Kennington, Walworth Road could become a foodie haven if some of the establishments would just sort out their Food Standards ratings.

Marcel & Sons Mauritian tearoom and restaurant

Marcel & Sons is one of the freshest, most exciting restaurant/cafe openings in London, but, so far, one of the most low-key.

Andy Ng and Randy Tsang used to work in advertising (Andy was a creative director at M&C Saatchi), but they quit the rat race to start a Mauritian tea room, restaurant and showroom in Artworks, the shipping container park at the junction of Walworth Road and Elephant Road in North Kennington. Theirs is the dark green entrance in the bottom left:

The Artworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

Such is their aversion to their former trade of advertising that all they’ve done to publicise Marcel & Sons is start a Facebook and an Instagram account. When we went, we were the only customers in there, but the food and the welcome were so great that perhaps word of mouth will be enough to fill their tiny restaurant.

Randy, on the left, is a the fully qualified Cordon Bleu chef, and Andy, on the right, is the front of house:

Randy and Andy from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re wondering what the cases and shelves on either side are, that’s the showroom element, but we’ll leave that for another day because right now we want to focus on the wonderful food.

We’d never had Mauritian food before and we were blown away. You’ll recognise elements from Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Korean food, and Marcel & Sons’ take on it has some French Cordon Bleu influence with an emphasis on comfort food (they steer clear of certain Mauritian specialities like sea cucumber and octopus). We could see it catching on in a big way.

There are just three main courses on the menu, but they change every day. We had Bol Renversé which is a sweet yet savoury upside down bowl of rice with homemade Mauritian sausage, sweet wine, onion, garlic, choi sum, fried egg, spring onion and coriander. We liked it so much we even tolerated the shitache mushrooms. The packaging is great too:

Bol Renervse box from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

But the real star dish was Bao Pao – crunchy strips of beef, mazavaroo aioli, pickled cucumber and watercress served in a delicious soft steamed bun:

Bao Pao at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

The menu was quite meat heavy but they can do a veggie version of Nouik Nain (steamed chayote dumplings).

Drinks wise, the Mauritian speciality is Alouda Vanilla, featuring Madagascar vanilla, sugarcane syrup, basil seeds, agar and milk, and yes, it’s as sweet as it sounds. They don’t serve alcohol but you’re welcome to BYOB, or get a drink from the new Longwave bar which has just opened right outside.

They’re closed on Mondays because the market where they buy their ingredients is closed, but they’re open from 11am to 9pm every other day. Get along there quick before the queue stretches out of the door and they open their twentieth branch in the Westfield food hall.

the new look Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I by closing for refurbishment, briefly reopening, then closing again without much explanation. Anyway, they managed to reopen for good in July, and we finally made it along a couple of weeks ago.

The Imperial War Museum entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

The cafe has relocated to the Kennington Road side of the building and now has outdoor tables in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth park which is a big improvement.

outside tables at the Imperial War Museum, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park - kenningtonrunoff.com

The food was good too – it’s run by Peyton & Byrne (not Ottolenghi but right up there), and we had a deliciously moist marinated herb fed chicken with slaw for £8.50.

Imperial War Museum cafeteria - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also have a good selection of cakes:

The cake table, Imperial War Museum - kenningtonrunoff.com

We were less impressed with the new look atrium, designed by Foster and Partners, which is slightly less spacious and seemed darker.

The Imperial War Museum Atrium - kenningtonrunoff.com

There are fewer vehicles on the ground floor to get up close and personal with although, thanks to Jeremy Deller, there is the arresting presence of a bombed out civilian’s car from Baghdad:

Bombed wreck of car from Baghdad - kenningtonrunoff.com

Admission to the museum is free but at busy times (most of the time), you’ll be a given a ticket with timed entry for the World War I exhibition, which includes a recreation of a WWI trench. That’s the huge queue in the photo of the atrium above – and one thing you can say for the new look museum, so far it seems to be even more popular than before.

The Londonist have a more detailed review of the museum itself.

Open House Kennington

Open House London is this weekend and the following Kennington places are participating:

Arts Lav (more info here)

Beaconsfield (more info here)

Lambeth Palace, but all the tours are booked up there

Mobile Gardeners Planting Station, which is the new incarnation of the Mobile Gardeners Park in the former Shell garage, 137-149 Walworth Road, SE17 1JZ. Help them construct the garden on Saturday from 1pm. More info here.

Morley College (Sunday only)

Perronet House (Saturday only – more info here)

Roots and Shoots (Saturday only)

Siobhan Davies Studios (Saturday only – more info here)

The Cinema Museummore info here

Coming Thursday for 3 days - The Cinema Museum - kenningtonrunoff.com

Kennington architecture features in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition again this year

Apartment tower, West Kennington, London by Keith Williams Architects. Behold those children transfixed by its beauty:

Apartment tower, Vauxhall, London by Keith Williams Architects in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is open for another week, until August 17th.

Here was Kennington’s contribution to last year’s exhibition, which is being built at present.

Greengrassi/Corvi-Mora art gallery

You could live in Kennington for decades and never happen across Kempsford Road. You could live on Kempsford Road and have no idea there’s an art gallery there. But there is – Greengrassi, AKA Corvi-Mora. Even the doorbell is hard to reach – presumably short people aren’t big art buyers.

Greengrassi AKA Corvi-Mora - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you can find the gallery, we recommend visiting between now and April 26th as the main room downstairs is showing Everything is about to happen, “an ongoing archive of artists’ books selected by Gregorio Magnani”.

Everything is about to happen at Corvi-Mora and Greengrassi - kenningtonrunoff.com

All the books and pamphlets are either self-published or from small publishers. So yes, what we’re talking about here is a load of art books by people you’ve never heard of, laid out on a huge wooden table. It’s much better than it sounds because so many of the books are intriguing and/or beautiful, like the room in which they’re displayed. 

books - Greengrassi, Corvi-Mora - Kenningtonrunoff.com

These books celebrate the mundane, cheap jokes, puns, sloganeering, and porn… all the classic themes of modern art are here. If you want to read them in depth you are supposed to take them into the reading station and don white gloves.

Greengrassi reading table - kenningtonrunoff.com

Or rubber gloves if you want to look at the top ones below (n.b. this next image is NSFW, unless you work in a modern art gallery or The Locker Room):

tennis and sex books - Greengrassi, Corvi-Mora - Kenningtonrunoff.com

Opening hours: 11am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday

Address: 1A Kempsford Road (off Wincott Street), London SE11 4NU

Save Our Subways

There are plans afoot to fill in the subways at the north roundabout in North Kennington. With our focus on the finer things in Kennington life, you might think we’d say good riddance to subways. You’d be wrong. Subways provide extra space for pedestrians. Without them, locals will face long waits at pedestrian crossings or, more likely in our case, dangerous dashes across up to six lanes of traffic. Where they’re confusing or aesthetically challenged, let’s have more signs, more lighting, and a fresh lick of paint rather than filling them with tonnes of concrete.

So we’re backing the Save Our Subways campaign.

This is our biggest foray yet into campaigning, but we’re brimming with confidence following the success of our campaigns to bring veggie burgers to Honest Burger, Waitrose to Kennington, and mindfulness to Sally White staff. Only this time we need your help.

Have a look at the “Boris Bodge” proposals here and register your opinions here, paying particular attention to question 4.

Photo courtesy of saveoursubways.org

Photo courtesy of saveoursubways.org