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‘I was on the train earlier dreaming that I was in a better place. My place of happiness was the bench. Not the bloody sweaty underground.’

See Walthamstow-based MC Chocolate Blonde, cult indie band How To Cure Dyslexia, poet Gabriel, the yoga lady, and many others:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu_vh3VuBX8&feature=channel

Read what US website Treehugger have to say about the project here: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/08/tales-from-park-bench.php

All week people are drifting into the gallery, offering us snapshots of their lives. Yesterday afternoon, four teen emo kids from Worthing posed:

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‘Now I’m finally a piece of art.’

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Film-maker Sarah Warman: ‘Sitting on the bench, wondering what to write and watching life go by in this unique scenario. ‘

Then there was the lady from the Camden New Journal trying to persuade us to buy advertising space (er, right) as well as a steady stream of art students and American bloggers curious about what they’ve read online.

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But most poignantly, and a reminder of what is at the very heart of this project, was a visit from Alison Ritchie, the mother of 26 year old Peter who sadly died in 2007 (see www.benchpoetry.blogspot.com Jan 2009 for his story) and whose bench inscription commemorated ‘a musician and dreamer whose favourite place was Primrose Hill’ (the bench lies at its summit). 

Carefully sticking a colour photocopy of his story on the wall, alongside some information about the Hackney-based youth music charity started in his memory (The Peter Stevens Music Project) we were humbled that, at the heart of the Tales From A Park Bench installation, are the real, sometimes painful lives that we are both honouring and celebrating.

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OVER 200 people crammed the pop-up gallery last night to witness a range of bizarre, touching, energetic, warm, funny but always compelling tales from the park bench. 

YOU CAN LOOK AT WHAT THE LONDONIST SAID HERE : http://londonist.com/2009/08/in_pictures_tales_from_a_park_bench.php

By 6pm the room was buzzing and the first performer (rather than sitter), Walthamstow MC Chocolate Blonde, took to the bench to deliver her very funny (and catchy) instant classics ‘Dick On My Forehead’ and ‘You Get Me’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu_vh3VuBX8&feature=channel)

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Things took a surreal turn when a slender passer-by, Ellie, stripped down to practise some yoga moves. “I chose the tree pose as it seemed to connect to the wood of the bench and the paper,” she said afterwards (clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nvYv9ulheI&feature=channel)

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Other participants showed off their diverse talents to an always warm-hearted crowd: a civil servant named Jenny hung upside down like a bat whilst fully rotating her tongue:

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Aa 50 year old persuaded everyone to sing Happy Birthday to her (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZTufQj-8EE&feature=channel)

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Softly-spoken Diana delivered a Russian ballad, glass of wine in hand:

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French tourist Claudine (left) sat on the bench ‘suffering constipation’:

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Yohai Fellah lay flat, covering himself in his jacket, as performed the haunting Israeli song, ‘The Flower In My Garden’ (clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i9vxv5QNIM&feature=channel)

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 One of the most popular performers was the poet Gabriel Alozie, with ‘Black History Month’:

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 Dave Miller, frontman of cult indie band How To Cure Dyslexia, aided by his violinist, got us all singing along (clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X67oNwit3QY&feature=channel)

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But it was the evening’s juxtaposition that  made it work. Local Debbie left everyone spellbound with her show tunes –

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– and was followed by the artist Primavera Boman, whose mother’s bench I had written about, and who previewed a short documentary about her incredible family history, aided by a portable DVD player.

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Victoria covered ‘Better Man’ by James Morrison:

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Jenni, an advertising exec, belted out the classics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ww3HBhPdb8&feature=channel)

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…whilst Jim Morrison wannabe Chris warmed the bench for an hour with some vintage Babyshambles…

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The whole affair was being filmed for Community Eye TV

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‘Can I get down now?’

AND SOME OTHER PICS

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THE INSTALLATIONS: DETAIL

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Tails On A Park Bench, by Russell Loughlan

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 Do You Remember Me, by Julia Riddiough

MORE PRESS OUT TODAY

TALES has been featured in Evening Standard, Time Out, Urban Junkies, Camden New Journal, Ham & High and loads of London arts blogs, and now the LONDONIST have chosen yesterday’s debut bench-dweller, 2 month old baby Archie, as their post of the day
http://londonist.com/2009/08/tales_from_a_park_bench_gets_unusua.php

And we’re Urban Junkies Pick Of The Day (www.urbanjunkies.com), oh and Tired Of London’s – www.tiredoflondontiredoflife.com (thanks again to Archie)

TALES FROM A PARK BENCH IS OPPOSITE THE ENTRANCE TO THE STABLES MARKET. OPENING HOURS 11-7pm. TUES, THURS & FRI TILL 9pm.

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Read what the Standard said here:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/events/article-23727465-details/Camden+bench+follows+in+fourth+plinth+footsteps/article.do

and that wasn’t all…

August 3, 2009

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