Brent Biennial Walks

At the end of 2020 I was commissioned to create three walks linking together artworks in the Brent Biennial. The maps and my notes to accompany the walks are downloadable at the bottom of this post (*the links to the Brent Biennial website no longer work).

The first (map above) started at Kingsbury by Dawn Mellor’s George Michael mural then passed over Barn Hill (Uxendon Hill) with its majestic view over Wembley Stadium with all the echoes of the area’s past wafting across that storied hill. The walk pays homage to the Wealdstone Brook on the way to visiting Carl Gabriel’s sculptures outside Preston Road Community Library. We wander through old Wembley, its farm and park and the ghosts of the Empire Exhibition and Watkins’ Folly before ending the walk at Dan Mitchell’s artwork at Wembley Library.

The second walk starts at the GPO Research Station on Dollis Hill, then takes in For Now’s artwork at Willesden Jewish Cemetery and ends at my own sound piece in the streets of Kensal Rise produced in collaboration with the brilliant Kensal Rise Community Library.

And the final walk links together the artworks along Kilburn High Road.

Download the Maps and Notes below

Kensal Rise Has A Story – psychogeographic sound trail

Kensal Rise map

My project for Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture in collaboration with the wonderful Kensal Rise Library went live in September. Kensal Rise Has A Story tells the story the streets around Kensal Rise Library through the voices of local people and is part of the inaugral Brent Biennal.


I explained the project in an interview with Art Review

“It’s a geographic sound map or trail of Kensal Rise. The form the project takes has partly been informed by the COVID-19 restrictions. I had planned this beautiful archive inside the library and some of the sound works were going to be burnt onto vinyl which could be listened to within a listening booth. We’ve not got those, but its ok, those were outcomes, they weren’t really the work itself which is a portrait of the community in their own words. By ‘community’ I mean the community of the library. Where it becomes geographic is that the emphasis is on the subjective responses to the environment and the changes within that environment rather than looking for some objective, dry, historical overview of the area, or even contemporary commentary on the area.

The ethos of the Kensal Rise Library is at the heart of the project. About 60 percent of the contributors are connected to the library, as users or in some other way. You can’t listen to any of the clips without feeling the presence of the library.”

You can read the rest of the interview here

Kensal Rise sound trail

photo by Thierry Bal

You can explore the trail by following the map found outside Kensal Rise Library and scanning the QR Codes with the camera on a smart phone (or listening to the playlist above).


Kensal Rise map

photo by Thierry Bal


Kensal Rise

photo by Thierry Bal

YouTuber, Sean James Cameron made this great video of a walk around the trail

Longer form versions of the interviews and additional research materials will be added to the project blog here.

John Rogers Brent Biennial

John Rogers Brent Biennial


John Rogers Brent Biennial

Map at Kensal Rise Library

John Rogers Brent Biennial

John Rogers Brent Biennial

You can watch a Zoom talk I gave about the project for Kensal Rise Library here

Old maps of London

There’s an exhibition of a great collection of rare old maps of London at the Oxo Tower this weekend as part of the Thames Festival. Here are a few of the highlights


George Cruchley’s Plan of Early Victorian London (1843) – covering Highgate to Dulwich and Hammersmith to Greenwich.


Titled “The First Accurate and Detailed Map of London” by John Ogilby and William Morgan, “all the Streets, Lanes, Alleys, Courts, Yards, Churches, Halls, Houses” at a scale of 100 foot/inch from 1676.


Christopher and John Greenwood spent three years carrying out the survey for this six sheet map published in 1827


Sixteen sheet map by Rocque published in 1768.

More information about the maps from Daniel Crouch Rare books with prices for any visiting Oligarchs and deposed dictators

‘Patch Map’ of Wanstead Flats

Love this fantastic ‘patch map’ of Wanstead Flats from Wanstead Birder marked with ‘boggy bit’, ‘motorbike wood’, a red cross warning (or notifying) of cruising in Long Wood, ‘Police Scrape’ (I was showing this to someone this morning), ‘Pub Scrub’ etc. Have a look at the comments as well for a list of birds spotted on the Flats.

Common Ground


Sat in the armchair in my shed the other day enjoying the first spring sunshine pitching through the open door, I lazily picked up a copy of The Countryman from Winter 1986 sat on the old school desk and randomly flicked through the pages stopping on this passage:

“… tree preservation orders may well miss trees with important local associations – perhaps where village courting traditions took place, or the first chestnut burst into leaf in spring. Sites of special scientific interest can overlook the bluebell wood or primrose bank remembered since childhood. And what legislation would protect the brackenfield so important to a community within living memory as a source for bedding animals, reed-bed cut for thatching, or the quarry waste-tip symbolic of labour that gave character to the place we now enjoy?”Tom Greeves, The Countryman, 1986

Tom Greeves’ article goes on to describe the launch of The Common Ground Parish Maps Project – an initiative to get each parish to create maps representing the values, interests and heritage from the point of view of the people who live there.

In the cities, the primrose banks and bluebell woods can just as easily be bus-shelters where local ‘courting traditions’ took place, and nissen huts now used as garden sheds – we need to make sure they too are mapped and save them from being cruelly swept away like the brackenfields bricked over with Wimpy Homes.

Common Ground seem to still be going strong nearly 30 years later, mapping out the corners of communities often overlooked and neglected. Have a listen to this recent programme on Radio 4




Leyton under the waters of the River Lea

This is a sobering image, in light of the current floods, from W.H. Weston’s The Story of Leyton and Leytonstone (1921) showing the ‘probable’ scale of the east bank of the River Lea around the time of the Late Stone Age.
I keep looking at it as it appears to show my home under a watery finger that laps over Francis Road up to Fairlop Road.

This map on Wanstead Meteo shows the extent of the flooding in the area when the Lea broke its banks in 1809 – although I find this vision more encouraging as it would submerge Westfield.

The nearby Philly Brook which was famously prone to flooding until it was culverted seems to still be gurgling soundly beneath the streets although I’m going to pop round to check on Dennis’ corner shop in a minute as it sits right in a gulley beside the brook in Norlington Road which was so sodden that it was dubbed ‘the valley of Doom’.
You can’t hold mother nature back forever.

London development watch

london dev

I just found this interactive map created by the GLA that allows you to keep track of planning applications in your area (and beyond if you wish).

Clicking on the icons reveals details of everything from loft conversations to the building of mosques and temples, schools and office blocks. Within it are the contentious developments blighting the city – galleries evicted from Cork Street to make way for flats, residential tower blocks in Soho, huge schemes at Smithfield and Mount Pleasant … on and on it goes all over the city.