THANKS to the hundreds of participants who made Tales From A Park Bench a massive success.

THANKS too to all the publications who helped us spread the word: Time Out, Evening Standard, Tired Of London, Urban Junkies, Camden New Journal, The Londonist, Ham & High, and the US website Treehugger, to name a few.

Read Stephen’s last blog entry on Time Out here: http://www.timeout.com/london/big-smoke/blog/8379/tales_from_a_park_bench-the_story_so_far.html 

We’re chuffed that, after occupying the C22 Gallery for just one week, we have built up such a warm community – we couldn’t have imagined such an enthusiastic response to our simple idea of installing a park bench in a disused shop in Camden Town. 

We’re also delighted that Russell’s debut solo exhibition, Tails On A Park Bench (see the piece ‘Belong’, below) sold out in the first hour of the private view. His work is now available through Sharon Elphick on Columbia Road (www.elphicksshop.com ). His personal website for all queries and commissions is www.russellloughlan.co.uk


So, have a good rummage across the blog, as there are stories and pictures that scroll down for miles, do leave a comment below and don’t forget at least a dozen performances are already up on youtube with more to follow. Last night’s closing performance, ‘The Struggle Goes On,’ by poet Gabriel & didge-player Apolonia, is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfRoLmF8VJM

Finally, thanks to Kent-based photographer Julia Riddiough for her atmospheric work in the second room, ‘Do You Remember Me?’

Tales From A Park Bench will be back in a new location early 2010. If you can help us in anyway (ideas, funding, cupcakes) email me at stephenemms[at]hotmail.co.uk. Or join us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (see blogroll).


Stephen Emms, Russell Loughlan, Charlotte Haigh



August 9, 2009


Gabriel & Apolonia performed a moving impromptu collaboration just before we shut up shop forever. Watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfRoLmF8VJM


Ben: ‘My 15 seconds of fame (on a bench in Chalk Farm Road).’


Ben & Scott: ‘To be sat here on this bench after a week in Ibiza makes everything feel better again.’


Fozia & baby: ‘Bringing the outdoors inside was a wonderful idea: bench as a platform for expression; a thing for social history.’


Jonathan: ‘An unusual unexpected diversion amid the bustle of the Lock – a few moments’ tranquility to get some thoughts.’


Mami: ‘Hi!’


Barbara: ‘Drinking a refreshing coconut milk – first experienced in London some 3 years ago. Can’t get it at home in Derbyshire.’


David: ‘This reminds me of Edward Albee’s play ‘Zoo Story’ about a man sitting on a bench alone in Central Park. He is joined by a stranger and the play follows the story of what happened next. I acted and directed this extraordinary piece in 1971. Benches forever!’


Suzanne & Tomos: ‘We’re moving to London in 2012.’


‘No, mum!’


Tomos (age 9): ‘I feel like a star!’


Borsa: ‘So cool.’


Fritha: ‘Nice didgeridoo!’

Marta: ‘Not enough time to read!’


Vicky: ‘Always nice to sit down on a hungover sunday.’

Ewan: ‘What a very interactive day.’


Anna: ‘Your dog is so cute.’


Christine: ‘Too much rubbish. Not enough time given for good quality life.’


Apolonia, who played the didgeridoo all afternoon: ‘I came back today to just try and get away from the confines of my bedroom.  I learnt the didge after falling in love with it at Glastonbury, but it took 9 months to teach myself.’


Ben: ‘Keeping the benchmark high!’ Karen, NYC: ‘Glad I ‘popped’ in.’


A ‘collectif’ from France: ‘First time sitting on a bench in London.’


Vicki & Craig, Torbay: ‘Relaxation at its finest. Just what you don’t expect in Camden.’


Neil: ‘Feeling bemused. Pause for thought. Feeling nostalgic.’


Amelie:  ‘It’s difficult to imagine how you would feel sitting on a bench inside a shop and watching people outside.’

stephen shop

 ‘Watch out, the world’s behind you.’


August 8, 2009




Debs & Martin, before Debs sung ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ (see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYr_oYGn0rs&feature=channel): ‘You can’t beat a park bench for a bit of fun!’


Emma Jean: ‘I wonder how many secrets this bench knows, how many stories it carries.’

Christina: ‘My bench, your bench, everyone’s fucking bench. Love it!’


Milo: ‘To sit and listen/ tinny boombox and tides of traffic notes/ artists in the backroom chatting and laughing/ Pepper licks her chops and makes a run for the door/ tik tik tik of claws on floorboard/ giggle from outside/ today the sun is smiling and it feels like a Camden summer.’


Apolonia: ‘I was on the 4th Plinth on Monday night (Aug 3) playing the didge, reading poems and plugging a charity called investinme.orf as I too have ME. I’ve come here to try the bench out after 4 days recovering in bed following  my stint on the plinth.’


Martina and husband Film-maker Dani: ‘It’s better than the 4th plinth.’


Ave: ‘I’ve just left hospital. It’s great to be out.’


Sammy & Liz: ‘We came back again in the daytime and are still entranced.’


Rob & Susie: ‘On holiday in Camden Town! (from Highgate….)’


Anton, Linda, Christian and Janice, Karlsruhe, Germany. ‘Enjoy your stay on the bench.’


Anton: ‘Not just a park bench, a really cool idea.’


Elen and Paul: ‘We liked the Jack Russell.’


‘What hairbrush?’

See the vid here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWMy8hjxYuw&feature=channel

North vs South London

August 8, 2009


Following publicity this week in Time Out, Evening Standard, Tired Of London, Urban Junkies, The Londonist and the US website Treehugger, we had an all-star turnout last night – seminal music writer Charles Shaar Murray, playwright/poet Anna Chen, comic Darren Hoskins, award-winning performance poet (and young Orange judge) 18 yr old Clarissa Pabi, broadsheet writers Emma Warren and Kate Burt, and Shakespearean actor Anthony Shuster.

No point prolonging the results any further though – the literary behemoth that is North London was evidently snoozing (or supping quietly in the corner on a beer) whilst the saplings of the south stormed the bench. So, well done South London.


First contender was 6 year old Amelie from Surbiton who displayed a rather lovely cat mask:


Next up, West Hampstead-based poet and playwright Anna Chen and the music writer Charles Shaar Murray shared a tender moment, before Anna thrilled the crowd with extracts from new show, Anna May Wong Must Die (see her here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Xd-FGb34AM&feature=channel)


Andrea & Marta, Malaga:


South Londoner Darren Hoskins demonstrated the art of “chapeaulogy” with extracts from his ‘Soft Cabaret’ show on at the Camden Fringe (watch a clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6DDjJn9heY&feature=channel)


…before Brixton based writer Kate Burt and playwright Abi Zakarian performed a howlingly funny sketch satirising the world of women’s mags (see a clip on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B96ibRI7WW4&feature=channel)


(South Londoners) Max & Renato shared a smile…


…whilst 18 year old Raphael Blake wasted no time offering up some impressive rhymes (clip on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSihMnrwOtI&feature=channel)


Anthony Shuster unleashed his loving paean to Camden Town…


…whilst award-winning young Orange judge and writer 18 year old Clarissa Pabi captivated the crowd with her New York story :



And so what was the best the North Londoners could come up with? 

a) 0908070052

b) 0908070054

Thankfully South-east London author Emma Warren was on hand to round things off with extracts from her forthcoming book,  “Scenius: The Genius of a Scene”:


The winners?



READ an exclusive report in Time Out on all the happenings at the installation this week: http://www.timeout.com/london/big-smoke/blog/8379/Tales_from_a_park_bench-the_story_so_far.html


Mickey: ‘Wonderful.’

People sit on the bench and show us short films, or pull out column after column from the bin, or take pictures of me taking pictures of them. One man, after casting his eye around the ‘rubbish’ that littered the floor, made a suggestion: ‘Do you need a cleaner?’


Time Out’s Big Smoke editor Peter Watts has spotted a typo.


You can sit for hours if you like.


John: ‘The perfect finale.’

The Rain

August 6, 2009


Flip flops slip and slide . Shorts cling.  Buses spray water. Umbrellas chase each other. But it’s dry here on the park bench.