Art and Culture Music Palmers Green

Improbably famous in Palmers Green #1: David Bowie

Bowie: Nice wig! (Image:

In November 1968, a 21 year old David Bowie appeared at the Intimate Theatre Palmers Green in a mime improv production called Pierrot in Turquoise.

At the time Bowie had only released one album as a solo artist and was still 8 months away from the breakthrough single Space Oddity. (Laughing Gnome had been released in 1967, but  would not be a hit until 1973).

Devised by dancer and coreographer Lindsay Kemp, who was to radically influence Bowie’s approach to performance, the five songs featured in the production were all written by Bowie. The four nights at Palmers Green appear to have been the last time the production was performed live.  However, the production was filmed in 1970 by Scottish TV as Pierrot in Turquoise/The Looking Glass Murders.

The website gives the plot synopsis of the TV version thus

 “Pierrot is a freaky mime who ventures into a mirror where he falls in love and rolls around with the equally grotesque Columbine. But when Columbine beds black stallion (in half-assless spandex) Harlequin, Pierrot’s jealousy takes over and drives him to murder. Cloud (Bowie) watches over the proceedings from his perch (on a ladder!) and narrates in song.”

Comments IMDB contributor Vinnie Rattolle:

 “Weird” doesn’t begin to describe this one. It begins and ends with a man playing piano, but no sound is emitted. The sparse production doesn’t betray its theatrical roots — there’s a grand total of two sets and they make no attempt to disguise the fact they’re thrown together on stages. While I’ve never found mimes as unsettling as most, the trio in this film are REALLY creepy. And although it has a short running time of 26 minutes, it’s so tediously strange and surreal that it felt like it was three hours long.”

Judge for yourself! You can view a clip here.

Did you see Pierrot in Turquoise in Palmers Green? Tell us more!

For further information about David Bowie’s early performances, visit


Art and Culture History Music Uncategorized

Southgate singer becomes a ‘Listed Londoner’

Brian Kotz in action

Back to Zero front man and local lad Brian Kotz this week joined the ranks of the capital’s listed Londoners.

The feature, on Robert Elms’ popular show on BBC London, invites London’s celebrities and personalities to answer 15 questions about their favourite buildings, open spaces, shops and drinking holes as well as talking about their lives and concocting their ideal London day out.

Osidge born Kotz spoke of his early memories of Southgate, and Southgate Underground station in particular. The station was designed by Charles Holden and opened in  1933. “I can imagine when it was built – Southgate was mostly fields at that point – it must have looked like something had arrived from outer space. And for me, it was a kind of space portal..! I knew that half an hour away was where I wanted to work, be, see bands play….and its a beautiful building.”

Kotz’s first escape into the wider world was in 1975 when the Record Mirror advertised for young people to take part in a new pop quiz, Pop Quest. Run by Yorkshire TV, the show featured  teams from  different regions of Britain in a knock out contest. Kotz’s encylopeadic memory, honed through years of radio listening and access to his older brother’s record collection, helped secure success for the Thames team.  After Pop Quest Kotz went on to win Quiz Kid on Radio 1, which was in its final year of being presented by Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman.

In 1979 with the coming of the mod revival, he became a performer himself. “Your side of heaven” was Back to Zero’s only single release, but is now regarded as a cult classic. Since then, Kotz has continued to make guest appearances and sung with a number of bands, as well as becoming a regular on the London music scene as a performer, DJ, gig goer, collector and enthusiast – not just music but (as the son of a blue badge guide who grew up surrounded by his father’s books about the capital), anything London related.

In June he walked 149 miles from London to Utrecht to raise money for the Oncology Department of the Diakonessenhuis in Utrecht, in memory of his friend Michel Terstegen, who ran Da Capo records in the city. The walk was also in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Ward at UCH.

Kotz responses to the ‘famous 15 questions included

  • Favourite building: Lord Leighton’s house – ‘when you walk in it’s a transplanted Moorish temple in gorgeous vivid turquoise….”
  • Least favourite building:  Archway Tower  ‘protruding like a rotten tooth’.
  • Favourite Open Space:  Waterlow Park
  • Favourite Watering Hole: The Clissold Arms in Fortis Green “Where the Davies brothers played their first gigs…the Landlord has done a terrific job in turning the front of the pub into a Kinks room.”
  • Favourite London book: Angel Pavement by J B Priestley.

The interview can be heard on BBC iplayer until Sunday at

Donations are still open following the London to Utrecht walk


Art and Culture Community History Music

Dont miss tomorrow’s Fancy Fair

There really can have been few festivals that have been put on with such energy, commitment, joy and sense of fun and heritage as Winchmore Hill’s N21 Festival. The tireless organising committee put on a programme of 120 events in the course of a single week, including talks, films, exhibitions, parades and classes.

History boards put up all over Winchmore Hill for the N21 festival

I have attended just a few, but all have been wonderful, warm and fascinating, including Graham Dalling’s talk on Southgate before the first world war, Joe Studman‘s entertaining exploration of the Dark Side of Winchmore Hill (perhaps I will stay down here where its safe in PG)  and a wonderful show of films about the area. Many are being repeated in the coming weeks having sold out. Check for more details.

The festival ends tomorrow, with the Winchmore Hill Fancy Fair. The day will start at 10 O’clock with a grand opening, with the Mayor of Enfield, David Burrowes MP and some of Winchmore Hill’s 98 and 100-year-old residents. There will be stalls, performances, a chill out zone and children’s area, and much more. See the Fancy Fair section of the N21 site for more details.

And see you there.


Art and Culture Uncategorized

Meet Palmers Green’s artists

25 local artists will be opening up their homes and studios on 7-8 July as part of the Open Studios initiative.

This is the first time Palmers Green and Southgate has taken part, says organiser Dan Maier of Extraordinary Design. “It’s a rare opportunity to meet the people behind the paintings, the designers behind the products and the hands that make the crafts  – and visitors will be able to buy direct from many of the artists.”

The event is different from some others in that local artists will also be bringing art and design to the high street as well as showing work where its made. Local businesses, including Baskerville’s Tea shop, will be hosting artists’ and designers’ work in their windows – look out for the keyhole logo.

Among the artists taking part are

  • Richard Crutchley, a photographer who has been exploring London architecture to discover a hidden alphabet in the city’s streets and buildings (at Baskervilles)
  • leatherworker Melissa Simpson, who makes functional and stylish bags, briefcases, belts and accessories in eye catching colours (exhibiting at Extraordinary Design 311 Chase Road Southgate)
  • stained glass artist Cheryl Powling (no website, but email, who will be giving demonstrations on cutting glass and making up panels (73 The Mall)
  • ceramicist and lino printer Anne Hutchings and traditional cabinet maker Ralph Hutchings (23 Broomfield Avenue) (no website, email
  • award winning portrait painter Helen Masacz (38 St Georges Road)
  • and Dan Maier herself. Dan’s company Extraordinary Design specialises in bespoke decorative pieces for window displays, advertising, theatre and interiors and has undertaken major commissions for St Pancras Hotel, the Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare company, among others.

Though the opening times are 11-6pm, some venues may vary, so please check details before setting  out. To download the Open Studios & Art Trail Southgate & Palmers Green Brochure, visit

Art and Culture Uncategorized

Poets read at the festival

Poetry in Palmers Green are hosting a special evening of poetry on 23 June as part of the N21  and Palmers Green Festival weekend. The evening will be introduced by Jayne Buckland, Enfield’s poetry loving former mayor, and compared by Joanna Cameron. Four poets are featured.

  • Kevin Crossley-Holland is a renowned poet and historical novelist for children who lives in Norfolk. His New and Selected Poems Mountains of Norfolk was published in 2011.
  • Penelope Shuttle lives in Cornwall. Sandgrain and Hourglass (Bloodaxe 2010), the most recent collection by this acclaimed poet, was a Poetry Book Society recommendation. Unsent: New and Selected Poems 1980-2012 is due this autumn. She is the widow of famous poet, Peter Redgrove.
  • Katherine Gallagher, born in Australia, has lived in North London since 1979. The fifth collection of this well known poet is Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems (Arc 2010). She was co-organiser of the 2002 Palmers Green Stevie Smith Centenary Festival, and is running another event on Stevie Smith in Palmers Green on 30 June – see elsewhere on this site for details.
  • Myra Schneider lives in Arnos Grove. Her most recent full collection is Circling The Core (Enitharmon 2008). Second Light Publications has just brought out her pamphlet What Women Want. Other publications include books about personal writing.

The event is being held at St John’s Church Hall and starts at 7 for 7.30.Further info: Katherine Gallagher: 020-8881-1418  Myra Schneider: 020-8886-1329 For further news visit Poetry in Palmers Green’s Facebook page

Art and Culture Uncategorized

Celebrating Stevie Smith, Palmers Green’s poet


1 Avondale, the home of poet Stevie Smith until 1971

The suburbs are not traditionally full of poets and artists.   Perhaps Palmers Green, though, is an exception, as home to at least two great writers: Paul Scott and Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith lived in the same house in Palmers Green, 1 Avondale, from the age of four until her death in 1971 at the age of 69 – sixty five years. Her suburban surroundings and the experience of living in Palmers Green connected profoundly with her writing.

In 2002 Palmers Green hosted a poetry festival, under the title 10 days with Stevie Smith, complete with its own ‘fringe’ (a gent by the name of Peter Brown playing a song inspired by the poem Avondale on the harmonium who met festival goers at the station). An English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled in her memory by poet laureate Andrew Motion in 2005.

Since then, though, and particularly with the demise of the Palmers Green Bookshop, all seems to have gone quiet in remembering and celebrating Stevie. Until now. On Saturday 30 June, poets Anne Bryan and Katherine Gallagher will be holding a day’s workshop at St John’s Parish Centre, Palmers Green, under the title Not waving by drowing: not drowning but waving – the enigma of Stevie Smith.

The day will be in two parts – a writing workshop from 10.30 am- 1 pm, followed by, from 2 – 4.30,  a talk ‘Who was Stevie?’ plus questions and readings of poems.

Writing workshop £16, ( £13 conc.) Afternoon: £12 (£10 concs.) Full day – £28 (£23 concs.). Booking essential.

For further information, please telephone 020 8881 1418  web site