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.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

UK Graff Videos Doc's of the Past

'Tags' Graffiti vid doc, featuring 1980s/90s London Graff

'Graffiti Wars' [Sheffield Graff Doc]

'Bombing' 1987 Documentary about Graff and Hip Hop culture in Briton.

'Writers' London Graffiti 1990s

A few awkward moments there, in the meeting about the commission..
"Play it cool Rodders, .. play it cool son!"

'Colourful Barz' - Train writers Skam, Skream and Nois of FDC and JKS crews. Josh Piehl talks about his sentencing and prison experience.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Lewisham's very own White Stag Spotted in Deptford.

The stag spectre can be glimpsed over the wall from Deptford Church St. The area is located in the north of the borough, just within the boundary line.  

He appears to be sharpening his antlers on the grounds of an abandoned building. The building was originally a slaughter house and then in later years, a factory and mechanics. While lying empty it got used to house local squat parties. 
 Tags cover the walls, both younger and older strains here together. 
'Ask' 'Dowt' 'Plank' 'Jets' 'Esko' 'Mood' 'Drape' 'Oie'. 
The ground has been dug out and wooden structures are built against trees to form bike and board ramps.

Monday, 16 June 2014

New distant sighting of the Wild Walker

The deer shaped spirit was spotted from Fordmill Road in Catford. [Thanks go to Timbo for his eagle eye.] It is the last road bridge over the Ravensbourne before it is joined by the River Pool and flows into and partially under central Catford, running by the train line. He is virtually hidden at the end of the straight, walking out of sight. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Road Patterns

This animated map of London elegantly traces the mazes of roads forming patterns like nerve fibres of a human brain or the arteries veins and capillaries of some great beast. Layers of networks build up and adjust through out the capitols history, from the ancient roads left by the Romans through to the urban sprawl of the city today.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Robert Macfarland on Wild Landscapes

 Robert Macfarland - Unexpected Wilderness - The Other Side of Essex

Macfarland's lecture on landscape and the human heart

 Robert Macfarland - Unexpected Wilderness - Night Time

and ..
'Writing Wild Places - Wastelands To Wonderlands' Exhibition at the British Library, May - Sept 2012

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Rubezahl - The Mountain Spirit

Josef Madlener; Der Berggeist (The Mountain Spirit)

 Rubezahl is a figure in German folklore, the tutelary spirit or genius of the mountains that derive their name from him. He is responsible for the weather of his peaks, and the thunder and lightning, rain, snow, and fog there reflect his capricious moods. He is Prince of the Gnomes in the Riesengebirge, and all lesser spirits are under his sway. The respectful way to address him is as "Lord of the Mountains" or "Lord John." "Rubezahl" is a name of derision and means "Turnip Counter," and it still angers him. According to the old tale he once captured a princess and swore he would do anything to win her love. She set him to counting the turnip seedlings in a vast field, and while he was busy doing so she made her escape.

 Rubezahl is a shape changer, and appears in many forms, and can be anything from a gnome to a giant, and can be astonishingly ugly or "as fair as Apollo." He appears most often as an old man with a staff that appears to be an uprooted tree. He is something of a trickster, and his nature changeable. It was written of him in 1783 "...Rubezahl, you should know, has the nature of a powerful genius: capricious, impetuous, peculiar, rascally, crude, immodest, haughty, vain, fickle, today your warmest friend, tomorrow alien and cold;...roguish and respectable, stubborn and flexible..."
 Between the historical lands of Bohemia and Silesia lie theRiesengebirge (Giant Mountains). There is a very old map of the area, and striding among the mountains may be seen a strange gigantic figure, horned and with a tail, walking upright with a tall staff. This is the earliest known picture of Rubezahl*, the Lord of the Mountains.
 Rubezahl stories have been collected in many German books over the years, and many artists have painted him. Josef Madlener painted a picture of him as Der Berggeist (The Mountain Spirit); J. R. R. Tolkien had a postcard reproduction of this picture and labelled it "The Origin of Gandalf."  - [Source]
[Seen below.]

Friday, 11 April 2014

Following the Middle Kid Brook

 Running Past blog trace the small stream as it winds its way from Shooters Hill through Kidbrooke. It joins the Quaggy in Lee Green from a pipe in the brick work.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Wonder of Weeds on BBC4

Gardener Chris Collins travels around the country and talks to experts including Richard Maybe of course about the countries most prevalent species.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Revisit to Wildcorner Beacon, Isle of Dogs

I first discovered this special corner back in 2007. Since then i have asked around and searched on the net for information about the beacon but to with no joy.
The tower stands tall above the thick weeds arounds it. Ivy crawls up its sides and it rules the corner with a silent majesty. From the street the sealed off corner looks like a fortified other world and the beacon, a relic from this other place and time. Perhaps it is a lighthouse of the wild, signalling at night to the underground, to the spirits that can read its code. Or perhaps it holds some kind of mysterious unknown function or posses an ancient magic.
 After a recent failed attempt at finding the corner again, I went back home and put my thinking cap on. Thanks to some detective work, I got a rough idea of where it was. Then I searched the area on good ol' 'street view' and to my delight I found it. I was excited to see the land was still wild and the beacon still standing. Was this still the case though? The google camera car could of passed there years ago for all I knew.
 So i was equally amazed to find the corner on a field trip over the river a few days later, still fenced off and untouched. 
Well .. apart from one thing.

Sadly the lantern at the top was not insight. I found the remains of it underneath thick Brambles and Knot Weed as I searched around the base. 
It could of been the Buddleia gradually prised it up and then the strong winds finally dislodged it.
Or was it the work of human hands?

 Once i got home that evening I searched on the net again for the beacon. Now I knew what to look for I soon came across a blog by a local guy who was asking for information about it. 
He had consulted old maps of the area and pointed out the beacon is 100 mtrs away from the water edge. He found the corner would of been at the edge of an area known as 'Popular Dry Dock' which was used approx up until the 1950's and then in the 1970's renamed Empire Wharf. His theory was that the beacon would of been used to guide ships into dock. 
 This though a well thought out theory, looks like it was just a theory as comments under his post suggest. It looks as though the area was once part of the Christ Church garden. When the police station was built sometime in the 80's the land was going to be turned into their car park, but a local man protested against this. This man was the legendary Ted John's the Island campaigner who was at the forefront of its unilateral declaration of independence in 1970. They say he campaigned with local residence for a community garden and won. The beacon apparently was a kind of folly in the garden in reference to the areas maritime history. 
 If this true, it is kind of disappointing that the little lighthouse isn't Victorian and was never used as an actual beacon.
 The tower still has its place in the history of the the area though and could be looked at in another way as a reminder from the past, standing as a beacon for people power and community spirit.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Lewisham's epic Shopping Centre Mural - 1996 [B. Williams]

The incredible mural at the back of Lewisham Shopping Centre was unveiled back in 1996 but still certainly deserves a mention in Wildcornerz. Bruce Williams and Gary Phillips's stunning piece of work is vibrant education resource to passers by. 
 Among many historic scenes there are the three arms of the metropolitan boroughs of Lewisham and Deptford and the amalgamated London borough of Lewisham [featuring the white stag.]

96 - The green dragon on a post, at Sydenham Wells Park was the sign of one of Sydenham’s medicinal springs. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Deer sprit spotted Northbrook Park SE12

Iv have been sent these photos by 'Pete from SE4' which were apparently taken at the end of the summer. I visited the park myself just before Christmas and it took a while to find him.
.. but there he was, hidden away, grazing by an old disused gate.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Old Wildcorner Beacon - Millwall

I was going through my phone photo archive and found these pictures from 2006. I took these on a field trip around the Isle of Dogs. On the south of the island known as Cubitt Town, I found an old fenced off wildcorner.
 In the middle of the corner I found this old structure shrouded in weeds. 
It appears to be an old beacon for the river [which is now obscured by a new housing estate.]
 A rare relic from a by-gone era of the thames and the east end.
 I cannot find any record of it online. I am going to try the Island History Archive in Millwall.
I assume it has been demolished and the land, long since built on. I will revisit and post a report back soon.