Friday, 25 December 2015

Day 25

This one is from Adam. With added suggestions from Clapton Park United Reformed as to what Christmas means to them. He says...

"I suppose that, when I decided to make a star, I didn't really have any idea of what I was going to do. So I went home, and I thought 'Wouldn't it be nice to do something to represent not just my perception of Christmas, but many peoples'?'. That was how the idea of having different people write onto I t their word that Christmas meant to them came into being, but I still wasn't sure how to do it. That idea only came later, when I remembered an Art project from Year 5 in which we'd drawn bright colours onto a piece of paper, painted over it in black and then scraped lines out to create colourful silhouettes. Not being much of an artist myself, I had no idea how to accomplish that on canvas! But my friend Sorcha, a very talented artist, helped me loads, and eventually we had it finished and took it around school and my Church to find different people's words for what Christmas meant to them. With a final polishing - or rather, hairspraying - by Rachel, it was there!'

We hope you've enjoyed another year of Advent stars. If you want to get involved next year email us on 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Day 24

Today's is from Denise:

This year’s stars are for the past, present and future, and for integrity, hope and action.

And/or if you want ti tead more about it please see my blog post about it:

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Day 23

Lost and Found:

So, here’s an advent star for when the sky clears and it’s an inky blackness.

Lost in space, without a prayer, courage fades; the campaign fails, the cause has gone. When hope is lost and you’re uncertain where to go.

Christmas recalls an improbable story of astrologers guided to a Palestinian baby in a country under military occupation. For those of faith, the story finds God in solidarity with humanity, in a stable, sharing the view with farmyard animals, and a teenage mum. It’s a great tale. Amongst many things, the legacy is a movement of all kinds of people living for justice, mercy and peace.

Another story last week, this time of east Londoners travelling to Calais. Taking food and clothing to refugees and asylum seekers searching for sanctuary on European soil, many from countries battered and bombed. And those bearing gifts return speaking of extraordinary welcome, and astonishing hospitality. Sitting with lives that un-expectantly burn bright, under a makeshift tarpaulin in the rain.

So, here’s to moments shared, that challenge and illuminate in wilderness days. To flickers of grace and mercy extended to each other when we least expect it. To flames of solidarity with the refugee and those on the margins, a commitment to justice and right living that take us beyond charity. Here’s to some modest visions and great adventures this week. You never know where it might lead.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Day 22

This one comes from Paula. Looking rather lovely in Belli Fuori. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Day 21

This one is from Millie.

Day 20

Today's is from Eleanor.

Day 19

A lonely star in an inky sky. 

A sign post parked in space.

Old light on a spectral journey 

starting before the comfort of our calendar 

Glistening and ornamental?

Eastern even oriental.



pointing to the East 

to Easter?

Thank you Neil for this one!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Day 18

 Todays comes from Anne.

Day 17

Todays comes from Lesley.

Day 16

Today's star comes from Joe,
suitably in the newsagents!

Day 15

Our only triptych this year
is from Milo and Kaspar.

Milo says:
I was thinking about the universe when I made this star (the left hand one). That there are other planets as well as stars. And that God is everywhere. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Day 14

Thank you to Anne for today's star.

It’s that time of year again. The time when I have so many lists swimming around in my head that it feels like there’s no room for anything else. But I’ve had more than 40 years to hone my procrastination skills, so on Sunday morning, I spent half an hour lying in bed thinking about stars when I should have been leaping up to get started on the frankly impossible list of tasks that I had convinced myself would be easily attainable.

Living in London is very much a choice for me. It would have been a much more prudent decision to stay in the US, and life would probably have been a lot easier if I hadn’t loved this grimy city so much. Hackney was much more of an accident, the result of trawling through Loot looking for a flat that we could bear to be in for more than 6 months. That flat led to the next and then a house, and more than 20 years later we are still here.

Hackney has changed a lot in the time we’ve been here, and when I look at Chatsworth Road I scarcely recognise the street as I first saw it. Walking down Chatsworth Road, I see layers of my history here, shops and people that have come and gone, places I’ve spent time and then moved on. There’s so much that’s new and interesting and exciting here, but not all changes are welcome, and it’s not easy for the new and the old to coexist. There may be new cafes but there are also new economic pressures and the huge quantity and variety of people trying to get along don’t always succeed. But I loved Hackney then and I still love it now - all the different sorts of people I’ve met here, all the different places I’ve explored and opportunities I’ve been lucky to have - and even the challenges that have made me a different person than I was when I first moved here. Not something I would have encountered in the small town I spent most of the first half of my life in - even if living there might well have been easier.

Lying in bed musing on stars, I thought of how you feel when you get a chance to see a clear, dark (not in London, alas) night sky and how that vast beautiful eternity of lights can make you feel tiny and inconsequential. But it can also make you feel a part of something amazing - we are all miracles, in our way and we all have a part to play in this universe we share. It’s the time of year for lists, yes - but it’s also the time of year to think about how we can make our small contribution a positive one, how we can add some beauty, love and peace to the world. Not an easy task, for sure - but surely one worth reaching for.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Day 13

While thinking about hope, I imagined how dark things can be oftentimes. Hope can come like a sharp, sudden force, tearing through our nights like a blazing star. After thinking about the theme for this year, the idea of star formation came to me. On researching, I read the following information which really speaks to what I had been thinking about:

"... the whole process [of star formation] takes place deep inside dense clouds of dusty gas, so the small amounts of visible light that are given out by the protostar are immediately swallowed up. Looking at the clouds from the outside, all we see from Earth is the dark exterior, with no view of the dramatic action taking place in the center. The visible light from a very young star can only escape the cloud once the cavity created by the star grows large enough to poke a hole through the cloud. Then, like a chick breaking out of an egg, the star’s light pours into the galaxy. It can take millions of years for this process to happen, by which time the stars are no longer fledglings, but are fully formed and shining brightly." (from

We may not see what's happening that's hopeful, but it's working underneath that darkness to become something blazing and marvelous, like a beacon.

Day 12

A broken star. A broken world. Can we knit it back together again?

It wasn't long before we'd decided to make stars for a 5th year in the row, for an Advent celebration in Chatsworth Road that France, Lebanon, Nigeria and Mali were reeling from terrifying attacks which left hundreds dead. These things were not far from my mind as I made my star.

I like mirror shards. Enough to keep them if a mirror breaks. I have even been known to pick them off the street too. There's something about their shininess. The way they catch your reflection in unpredictable ways. Is it you peeking out from that weird shape, or has it caught the image of something behind you?

So when I started to think about what to make my star out of, it wasn't long before I'd rescued the bits of mirror which had been languishing in our gardener many months, and cleaned them up for the purpose (cutting myself a couple of times along the way). They speak to me of a shattered world. Many shattered lives. Complicated reflections on what it is to be human. The Quakers say there is 'that of God in everyone'. I want to believe it. But sometimes it's hard.

As I cut and stitched and glued I thought of more things: a dear friend who died too soon, who once used shards of mirror to adorn a 5 foot banner made for a festival under the theme of 'signs and wonders'; another friend, who's also facing cancer, in whose garden I first saw shards of mirror used as decoration. Both of these women have been inspirations to me through their own art and their making of stuff.

I am really enjoying the range of stars made for this Advent Adventure and recognising that many have been crafted with newly acquired (or recently enhanced) skills gained through our small but lovely 'Craftee Ladeeez' group. For several years now we've been meeting monthly and trying out all sorts of stuff. machine sewing, embroidery, copper embossing, Fimo modelling. I love the fact this window of creative support and experimentation in our lives has spilled out into the windows on the street.

Oh and You Are Beautiful.

(Have a look to see what happens to your face when you hear someone tell you this!)


Day 11

Here is a beautiful starry composition from the Village Green - a weekly toddler group.

A quick panic to see it gone this morning. Only to find the window cleaner had laid it on the washing machine to clean the window and not replaced it!

So voila!

Many thanks to the little and big people who made this one happen.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Day 10

Number 10 is in the second tech shop.

It's a second from Lisa. 

The white piece, sat snuggly in the busy window.

It has waited patiently to be unveiled.

Day 9

This is the only star that sits.

Weighted by jewels and odd bits 'n' pieces,
it perched on the windowsill until last week.

On enquiring today, the undertaker
- slightly bemused by the whole thing -
hunted and found the lost star in the office,
opened it with great pride and place it again on
it's perch.

To ensure the tag says 9 and not 6, it was left upside-down, which I think works rather well!

Thank you, Beatrice, Ollie and Eve.

Day 8

This clever one is from Esta and Natasha.

If you look carefully at night,

you might notice it glows

Monday, 7 December 2015

Day 7

Have you ever tried to emboss copper?

Using wooden tools so as not to scratch, you squeeze the metal into the shape you are after - or for me I discovered the pattern as I went on!

I was recently introduced to the craft by a lovely tutor whose passion for it is infectious.

This piece is full of contrasts.

The light and dark.

The ups and downs.

The curve and the point.

The smooth and the sharp.

Like life really. Except that life often feels harder to squeeze into shape.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Day 6

This is a second one from Rhona.

A small star born out of her large one at number two.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Day 5

Chrystals and Pearls

This one's from Rachel. She says...
So, recently I did this display at school. Quotes from different faith systems about how to treat others.
From Jainism to Taoism, they all basically say the same thing: that we must treat other people in the way that we would want to be treated.
I called the display - 'Pearls of Wisdom', using printable pearlised paper to give an extra special touch and cutting the quotes out in circles. I collected the scraps like treasures - glistening in the light. Some of the scraps are used here to create a mosaic - esque star.

The boss at Crystal Cafe used the string from the blind to secure it. It's a good job - it's a precious piece!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Day 4

Star of wonder. This was a collaboration between myself and my little one Hattie (aged 3). As we begin to prepare for Christmas I wonder what Hattie really thinks Christmas is all about.  "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are." I am hoping for a Christmas full of wonder.


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Day 3

A tiny blue Advent offering. 

It sits in the furthest southern corner of our Advent spread. 

Thanks Lisa!

She says:
Simple red glitter star on Klein blue Acrylic paint. Star of hope against blue sky ... 

(Apologies that the photo does not do justice to the blue!)

Day 2

Can Chatsworth Rd handle the bling? 

Where will this beauty sit? 

Will the shop who promised to take it have talked to their HQ by tomorrow so that they do, actually, take it? 

R and I met tonight for a late night walk on Chatsworth Road, her all buzzing with the excitement of a girl who's left brown paper parcels in the windows of various shops. 

I can only see problems that need fixing: whether we have enough/too many people working on the last canvases; whether we have enough shops predisposed towards a mad Advent Adventure to take canvases. But we make a happy pair and when we get down to one of the last shops near the school and I see the small brown paper parcel sitting at kiddie eye level in the funeral parlour window, even I feel a little thrill of the season's excitement. 

This one's a Rhona classic. And classically she hasn't said much about it. Yet. I seem to have wittered on as usual though...

Monday, 30 November 2015

Day 1

Thanks to Rob for kicking Advent off this year. Can you find it on Chatsworth Road?

Here's what he says about it..

This piece finds its inspiration from the biblical story of three very wise men who went on a journey by reading the stars to find baby Jesus who was born in uncertain times. The Jewish population at the time found themselves living under occupation by the Roman Empire where the occupiers called the shots while those who were occupied had little or no say. With this reality the wise men found themselves in, there would be social, economical, political and religious implications as a result. The wise men searched for the baby Jesus with their hopes and dreams that another world is possible.

Reflecting on this story, I started to think about what if Jesus was born in Hackney as we find ourselves living in a rapidly changing borough. While the changes has brought some improvements where we live, not everyone is benefiting from it. Issues such as poverty is still a huge problem as over 40% of school children live in poverty even though we are no longer considered to be one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Many folks are finding that they can no longer afford to eat, live and socialise in our area and they are feeling squeezed out in our own neighbourhood. As a result there are social, economical and political implications that comes with a rapidly changing neighbourhood. This sets the scene for this piece of art.

The piece shows three individuals of varying age and backgrounds journeying through Hackney by following a map with their hopes and dreams looking for the answer(s) to their questions that might trouble them. 

The sky is a map painted blue with an area shaped as a star unpainted (alluding to how often times maps have stars on them to signify a place). Painted green, the scenes are from Hackney, representing ordinary people and every day life (as opposed to institutional buildings such as the Hackney Town Hall) such as the Pembury Estate, Ridley Road Market and the Hackney Peace Mural in Dalston. The three people at the bottom were left untreated to bring them into focus, especially their body language. Looking at these three figures, we are invited to reflect on what their hopes and dreams might be and what the answer to their question(s) might be.

2015 - an Advent Calendar for Chatsworth Road

We like bringing stars to Chatsworth Road during Advent. We've done it for 5 years running now. 

And we have a new Advent Adventure for Chatsworth Road for 2015.

Inline images 1

With the generosity and help of a number of shops (erm, 25 actually) we will be bringing you one chocolate-free neighbourhood Advent Calendar. You can't get sneak previews. You have to wait for one to be opened each day. The 'pictures' in the calendar will be unwrapped one at a time. And here, in due course, you can see them all, and read about what the maker was reflecting on during the planning and making phase.

For some of us the star speaks of hope, of light, of love. We like the fact that this symbol can be embraced by those of all faiths, and those who don't profess faith. This year we were also wondering whether we could imagine stars of peace... stars which say 'no more violence'. We hate to see our people, our neighbours, our streets bleed. Peace needs much more than pretty pictures in an Advent Calendar. But maybe it's somewhere to start.