Colouring a corner

stories about small splashes of colour in society

33 notes &

The room of stories


Above a certain pub in Islington, London, is a room full of stories. They are all true, delivered without notes and no longer than ten minutes. But as long as it keeps to these rules, any old yarn is welcome in the room.

The pub is the called ‘The Compass' and the session above 'True Stories Told Live’. It’s all the idea of a man named David Hepworth who heard about ‘The Moth’, a New York storytelling club. He decided to take it to London. The first stories in were those of an adopted woman, who found her birth mother, and someone who stole a picture from an art gallery. And so it has continued once every month for two years, the room gradually swelling up with people’s tales.

But it hasn’t heard yours yet. If you enter you’ll find about a hundred friendly faces awaiting four stories from actors, authors and ordinary people. You can be part of the audience or a storyteller, just as long as you submit your story in advance to

Ten minutes isn’t a very long time to invest after all, when you are about to give or receive a verbal snap shot of a life. So go along and spread the word. 

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Filed under community projects initiatives true stories told live david Hepworth the moth the compass islington

31 notes &

The books who live in fridges and phone boxes

It seems that last week’s post about a fridge full of books juddered the memories of some of Colouring a corner’s readers. And put them in mind of other places where books like to live. In this case… phone boxes.

Thanks to Jonny for letting me know about this phone box library:


                 Photo copyright of the BBC. All rights reserved

It was bought by villagers in the county of Gloucestershire, England, for a grand total of £1. This was the price they had to pay to keep a traditional kiosk that was in danger of being decommissioned and was also part of the character and landscape of the area. 

Following its aquisition, one local had the idea to transform it into a little library after being inspired by a fictional phone box mentioned on the radio, of all things. 

The second phone box-library sent in is this: 

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Filed under community projects initiatives libraries phone boxes fridges book exchanges

31 notes &

Think differently

I visited Christchurch, New Zealand, recently; a city still shattered in the aftermath of the earthquakes of September 4th, 2010 and February 22, 2011. I hadn’t imagined the damage to be so widespread. As my host steered her car around the bones of buildings, the hills of rubble and the cordoned off red, green, orange and white zones (each colour indicating a different level of damage), I saw this fridge standing conspicuously on the corner of Barbadoes and Kilmore Streets. 

Leaning shakily in the midst of so much carnage, I at first assumed it was another piece of household paraphernalia, once homed in one of the shells on this street. However, on closer inspection, I found nearby a little bench, some brightly coloured prayer flags waving between two trees, and this sign.

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Filed under community projects initiatives gap filler christchurch new zealand earthquake

6 notes &

A story of 800 bras

The last time I visited The Cross Bones Graveyard, I found the photo above tacked to the railings and fluttering merrily in the breeze.

Intrigued, I investigated and found that between 1999 and 2006 on an ordinary rural road in Central Otago, New Zealand, up to 800 bras had been fluttering just as gaily, to the delight of passing motorists and resident livestock.

Its origins are a bit of a mystery. The story goes that some time around New Year’s Day 1999, four bras turned up on the fence without their owners. News spread of the orphan bras and within weeks more and more people had flocked to the site armed with the contents of their underwear drawers. Before long it was a veritable bra colony.

There were at least two anonymous attempts to remove the bras. However, each time the press reported it and suddenly, the railings would be full of gray cotton, pink silk and leopard print again.

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Filed under cardrona bra fence new zealand central otago wanaka

3 notes &

Look up at the sky, London

Those of you who enjoyed last week’s post may be interested to know that when Gemma Seltzer isn’t peering around London’s corners in search of strangers, she can often be found looking up at the sky.

Look up at the Sky, London is Seltzer’s second blog, charting her meanderings along London’s River Thames. However, instead of the blurry strangers that emerge from London’s street life, Speak to Strangers records her encounters with the river, the bridges and the sky. You’ll find maps, charts, and photographs of her journeys. And there’s also a place for your favourite peaceful places in London- you can add your tuppence worth here.

Those of you in London, and all the other corners of the world, can send me your quiet spots by using the comment section below this post or by emailing

Happy cloud-gazing, all.

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Filed under community projects speak to strangers gemma seltser look up at the sky london internet space

35 notes &

This is one of my favourite movie quotes. A few lines from Before Sunrise; the story of two strangers who decide to close the space between them. 

It’s a sentiment that offers a thousand possibilities, a thousand meetings and a thousand new experiences. Think about how many people swarm past you every day. What would happen if you pulled one of them from the stream? Who would they be? What would be their story? What would they have to say to you? And how would this affect you? Sure, the chances are they’d avert their eyes or turn up their ipod. But what might happen if they just felt like talking too?

I’m pretty sure that this sentiment motivated Kamil Krolak to make this short film. And I’m certain it’s what drove the blog Speak to Strangers; a record of Gemma Seltzer’s encounters with strangers in London over a hundred days and in a hundred words. Each of Seltser’s meetings is real but the details are sometimes blurred and fictionalised. And while the location of the encounter is pinpointed on an interactive map, and the age and gender of the stranger is given, the rest is left up to your imagination.

Filed under before sunrise community projects initiatives speak to strangers gemma seltser internet blogs

35 notes &

Those who have made this the most read post on Colouring a corner may be interested in a further addition to the mementos at the Cross Bones Graveyard in Southwark, London. This latest message to the outcast dead has not been twisted or threaded along the railings that surround their graveyard, but written sketchily on card by an unknown sympathiser and tacked to their door. 
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Those who have made this the most read post on Colouring a corner may be interested in a further addition to the mementos at the Cross Bones Graveyard in Southwark, London. This latest message to the outcast dead has not been twisted or threaded along the railings that surround their graveyard, but written sketchily on card by an unknown sympathiser and tacked to their door. 

Subscribe to Colouring a corner by Email

Filed under Cross Bones Graveyard Redcross Way community projects initiatives initiatives

2 notes &

Time Out feature

A few weeks ago, Time Out London contacted Colouring a corner to ask for a contribution to its massive ‘101 Things to do in London’ online feature.

Well… ta da!

Just click the ‘Time Out feature’ hyperlink in the title above to find my guide to ten unmissable things to do in London city.

I’d love to find out your favourite things to in London or in your own town or city, so just hit the comment section above or email me at to let me know.

Happy reading folks!

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Filed under 101 things to do in London Bloomsbury bowling Cross Bones Graveyard coach and horses cringe jamboree london primrose hill queen of hoxton sir john soane museum the robuck time out victor wynd's little shop of horrors winchester geese

6 notes &

Spots of time

There are some who claim that life is all about timing. As the theory goes, you don’t make your own luck. However, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, and the planets align neatly overhead, then fate (cunningly disguised as the love of your live, your dream employer, your new best friend) just might come stumbling into your life. 

It’s an alluring theory, conjuring up images of chance meetings in coffee shops and life-changing encounters with passers-by. Still, as an easily distracted type, I can’t quite bring myself to stake all my happiness on the hope that star-crossed good fortune will come wafting into my life; I’d most likely be tying my shoelaces or eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation at the time, missing out on the opportunity entirely.

That said, I do believe in the importance of time and of timing. Not just in terms of how time can affect your life, but how your time can affect other people at crucial moments in their lives.  

The creators of Spots of time are also aware of the difference your time can make. Conscious that hours you might devote to others can be hijacked by the distractions of life, they’ve come up with a clever version of volunteering. With their guidance, instead of devoting long stretches to volunteer work, you can embark upon “miniature activities” instead. 

This is how they phrase the idea.

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Filed under community guerrilla gardening my best thing today spots of time volunteering projects initiatives

19 notes &

Bombing the streets with colour

Last week I wrote about the people who’ve blown the dust from their knitting boxes, polished their needles and pitched into a very touchable form of street art.

Urban crocheters, knit graffiti artists or “yarn bombers” as they’re becoming known, have been making their presence felt in cities across the world; stitching up railings, dressing statues and hugging lamp posts with layers of lovingly-handled wool.


         Photo by streetcolor. All rights reserved

Gradually, their (usually nocturnal) activities have become a movement. Guerrilla knitting - the practise of covering or decorating outdoor objects with woollen covers and creations - is so named because, once their work is done, the yarn bomber will disappear into the night and landscape, leaving their urban target to wait patiently for morning and the first bemused passer-by. 

Although I admire the creativity of the concept, championed in the UK by Shauna Richardson’s Lionheart Project, in Australia by Twilight Taggers, in the USA by Magda Sayeg and Yarn Core and internationally by Yarn Bombing, I’ve observed it only on the internet, never on the street.

Which is why I was thrilled when these dropped into my inbox. 

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Filed under Guerrilla Knitting art community craft initiative internat international knit graffiti lionheart project magda sayeg project shauna richardson street twilight taggers yarn bombing yarn core

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