Started on 7th January 2010 [00.46]

This is a scrap book dedicated to the study of London's weeds and the wild places where they grow.

What is a Wildcorner?

A Wildcorner is a term referring to a gap that has been left to grow wild in the city. The term encompasses every wild piece of land no matter the size, from large disused sports grounds to small patches of commercial wasteland, to a crack in the pavement. As long as this gap in the man made landscape harbours some kind of weed, then it is considered a Wildcorner.

Wildcorners and Wildcorridors* are dotted all over the capitol and vary in content, depending on their location and history. One thing most have in common is that they are normally restricted in someway from public access or boarded off and hidden from public view altogether. In this blog we focus particularly on the Wildcorners of south east London.

* Wildcorridor; a word used to describe a channel or pathway made inside the metropolis that also facilities the propagation and growth of weeds. This includes railway sidings, wild rivers and canals.

Urban and Suburban Weeds

By the term 'weeds' we are of course referring to the cities wild plants and flowers. But their are also two other weeds that grow in the city.

'Graff' like its botanical relation, has many families and strains. Both of these weeds can often be found together, sharing many qualities including their adaptive nature and unregulated status. Both in many cases, originally entered and populated the city using the railway network.

London's third 'weed' is invisible and uses the tops of tower blocks to propagate. Pirate radio like its weed relatives, grows away from the public eye and is constantly adapting to exploit these same gaps across the cities FM radio spectrum, fighting and flourishing in-between the commercial stations.

This scrapbook also encompasses the languages, cultures, legends and folk tales that grow in and from the wild places of London.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Summer Solstice Ritual 2011 / Solomon Wild / Secret Filming

I recorded this footage at Sun rise on the Summer Solstice in a piece of commercial wasteland in SE12. It captures, what I believe to be a secret ritual, performed by the mysterious underground character; 'Solomon Wild.' Solomon Wild Folklore

Very little is know about who Solomon is,.. or even if that is really his name or was given to him. All I really know of him is through folklore and myth. He seems to be some kind of herbalist and cryptographer, an explorer and mapper of London's wild corners and cracks. His purpose for and exact line of research is not altogether clear.
I am pretty sure I have received his Short Wave radio transitions a number of times over the years. It has only ever been a one way monologue and he only uses code to communicate by [mainly Morse but sometimes lesser know, older aquatic codes.] The content is usually reels of strange fractured sentences, single words, locations and times.
Despite his anonymity, he has become a kind of distant collaborator to my work. The Summer Solstice Ritual

It is said that every Solstice and Equinox, Solomon performs various rituals, contacting spirits and making magic to both use and aid the seasons. These are said to be held at secret locations around the city. Anticipating this event as ever, I posted messages on various types of forums and contacted others, in order to glean any information I could about the where abouts and/or the nature of this Summer ritual. All my digging proved unsuccessful.
Then, the day before the Solstice, I routinely checked my various threads and to my excitement, found I had one response. This was on the forum pages of the London graffiti website; It simply said '24 Gb 459'. At first I was hugely disappointed, thinking this was just scrambled net coding. But after pondering over it for a while I realised the last three numbers; 459 was in fact a time; 4:59 am. This was the exact time of sun rise, on the day of the solstice. After cracking this, I then worked out that 24 Gb were in fact coordinates for a map. They correlated with my London wall map inside The Lighthouse and pin pointed an area of roughly 2 square miles. It is in the district of Lee in the borough of Lewisham. This is an area familiar to me and knowing Solomon seems to have some kind of relationship to the cracks of the city including its wild wasteland space, I knew it could only be one of two places.
I visited both patches that evening at dusk, as reconnaissance. After circling the walls of each and peering through the gates, I decided on the second place; a piece of commercial wasteland at the corner of Baring Road, SE12 as the spot I was going to return to for the Solstice.
The land used to accommodate a local diary but has been desolate for fifteen years. It is now owned by the Yellow Box storage company but due to on going lobbying by local residence, the companies applications to develop the land have been repeatedly rejected. Over the last fifteen years the land has been cut back roughly 6-8 times. There is a striking variety of weeds in this large patch and is completely closed of to the surrounding main roads by a high grey wooden fence. On it, hangs a large sign which threatened 24 hours guard and dog security by a company called 'StrongGuard'.
The following morning on the Solstice, I set off before dawn. Equipped with my old video camcorder and camouflaged overalls. I used a street bin to climb on top of the bus stop and then lowered myself down the other side. I plotted down in a corner behind the thick bushes of Buddleia on an old mattress and waited for the first signs of day light, hoping it might bring me a glimpse of Solomon. The perfume of the local wild flowers scented the air and it felt like there was magic afoot.
With dilated pupils and a beating heart, I waited in the twilight.
Here is what I saw. ...

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