Newsletter ‐ Autumn 2018
From the Chair ‐ Friends please be friendly!
Please save the date for our End of Season Review on 1 November 2018 from 6.30 p.m. for 7 p.m., at St John’s Wood Church Hall, when our key speaker will be Dominic Jermey CVO OBE, the new Director General of ZSL (the Zoo).
Lots of great things have been going on in Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill this summer, as you will read in the newsletter, but I do need to talk again about our membership.
Due to brilliant organisation by our Friend, Mark Elliott, ably assisted by past Treasurer, Richard Portnoy, and supported by Benugo plus other organisations, the Friends and several individuals around the park, it has made it possible to run twelve concerts on the Bandstand on successive Sundays (and Bank Holiday Monday). That has undoubtedly helped attract new members, directly through our very good new website. By the beginning of August, we have had 137 since January and they have all signed up online on our new system, without any difficulty or manual action, making a total membership of over 800 Friends.
The new online membership system is meant to save a lot of work issuing reminders, checking membership renewals and issuing new membership cards. Many people say the cards are so much easier to keep in their wallets than the old green badges and to show when they wish to claim the discounts generously offered by park cafés and others. BUT we have heard the occasional complaint of Friends not being willing to show their card, and indeed one person being very rude to a member of café staff who asked to see it. Frankly, if you want to use the discounts and you don’t want them withdrawn, you must carry your card. It is not reasonable to be rude because you don’t have it!
I know some people have found our new membership system not easy to work with, but everyone who has paid their £20 in full is entitled to a card, and if they cannot access or print the one sent by email, they have only to ask our membership administrator and she will send out a hard copy. The new system is designed to manage our membership subscription process efficiently to make sure that all the members on our list still exist, to provide up‐to‐date membership cards each year, and allow easy access to the newsletter online whilst still sending it out in hard copy format to those who prefer it that way.
One big extra advantage for those who are online, is that when things come up between the quarterly newsletters we can send out emails to alert you to such issues or events. We are slowly getting through the conversion process to the new system, and we know that some Friends cannot access the internet. However, we are willing to continue managing their subscriptions manually, but we do need everyone who can use the automated system, to do so. It is no different from making other bill payments online, which most of us are now required to do.
We have had at least 80 members who this year still paid £10 by their old standing order, apparently ignoring our many notifications that the subscription went up to £20 in January 2018. This takes time and effort, first to identify their payment from our bank statement when it comes in, and then to chase the person for the extra £10 to make up the full subscription.
Our membership secretary and administrator are voluntarily spending far more time than we ever expected into trying to handle the different ways in which Friends are choosing to pay (standing orders, cheques and occasional cash), rather than the new requested choice of on‐line payment either by direct debit or by one‐off card payments. Some Friends seem to take out their frustrations with the system on our volunteers ‐ this is not reasonable or fair on them.
Common complaints caused by payments NOT going through the online route are:
It takes us longer to identify and respond to standing order or cheque payments. This is because we need to wait for bank statements before we know they have arrived, so you may receive automatic reminders from the system asking you to pay when you think you have already done so.
It will also take longer to get your membership card to you, as that is not sent until we know you have paid, so please be patient, or use the online system to make your payments!
One other point of advice:
If you are using the online system there is an option called ‘Pre-authorisation’. This is the option to select if you intend to set up a direct debit which will then run until you choose to stop it, so it saves you having to get involved with payment every year. If you select that option, the system will not let you use the PayPal payment option which is designed for one‐off credit card payments.
As chairman, I am of course ultimately responsible both for the changeover to the new system, and for its on‐going implementation. So, if you are continuing to have a problem, please let me know by email@example.com
Ianthe McWilliams, Chair
Don’t Pick up a Penguin
The English gardens are hosting for a second whole summer the sculpture exhibition curated by Clare Lilley, director of programme at Yorkshire, which will be displayed until the end of Frieze and Frieze Masters in October.
It is a wonderful mix this year of works from 25 artists offering many a talking point to visitors to the park, especially the children and the picnickers who have benefited from such a terrific summer. Many of the works change character and style with the passage of the sun from east to west and the choice of some of the locations clearly affect how they are viewed.
Barry Flanagan's Hare Large Nijinski Anvil Point (2001) is truly leaping into the unknown from his giant launching pad.
Close by, Kimsooja’s A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir (2014) reflects the modern millennium. The 46‐foot high, 4.5‐foot‐diameter needle‐shaped steel structure soars into the heavens but changes its colours with the passing of the day. Children, to my surprise, seem to be put off by the giant penguin by John Baldessari (2018) who is himself 6’ 7” tall. Is the work meant to be a self‐portrait?
Dan Graham’s glass pavilion London Rococco is much more appealing as is my favourite this year ‐ Conrad Shawcross Optic Labyrinth (2018).
You may remember another one of his extraordinary creations in 2015 in the park, The Dappled Light of the Sun, which appeared to change shape with the change in light throughout the day. This happens even more so in Labyrinth, a complex series of steel mesh panels placed together to inspire you to explore the different parts, and when you have made your way out, to watch the light playing on the steel creating shapes and also colours.
Another ‘sunny’ work is Rana Begum’s No 814 (2018) whose four panes of coloured glass when caught by the sun create a stunning rippling effect. By contrast, Virginia Overton's Untitled is a series of pipes of different metals which literally ‘ripples’ with the wind and sun.
I highly recommend a visit to the City near the Cheesegrater to see the sculptures chosen for this year’s Sculpture in the city. You will see a work by Sean Scully whose work in Regent’s Park is Shadow Stack (2018) and is made from Corten steel in contrast to the Blue Stack in the City. Tracey Emin also has a work here in the park A Moment without you (2017) which contrasts with her neon work in the City.
Richard Woods Holiday Home Regent's Park (2018) is too tempting for the visitor and sadly is not a work to be explored both inside and out.
With all the other artists exhibited this year I hope everyone will agree that the display is fun, fascinating and thought-provoking. AMCBack to top
In the Gardens
Gloucester Gate Playground
Fundraising is going well but there is still the opportunity to contribute to this exciting development. For more information see:www.royalparks.org.uk. We hope to carry out the transformation this winter.
The Old Nursery Site
The opportunity to propose a new use for the old nursery site in Regent’s Park referred to in the last newsletter is expected to be advertised in October. As with all planning developments in Regent’s Park the committee will be key consultees.
New Access to the Canal
Following a positive response to public consultation the Canal and River Trust has submitted a planning application for an improvement in the ramp and stepped access to the towpath at North Gate, Regent’s Park. For more information see:www.royalparks.org.uk
The Bandstand Programme
It has been an absolute delight to see the flourishing programme of music on the Bandstand every Sunday this summer. This could not have happened without a great deal of effort and commitment from The Friends. The quality of each event has been terrific, and they have been really well received. Thank you!
Frieze Sculpture Park
FSP has been open to the public free of charge in The English Gardens since 4 July and will be there until 8 October. It has brought the exceptional level of quality and eclectic range of work that we have come to expect since curatorial duties have been managed by Clare Lilley.
The visit by the President of the United States in mid‐July involved a brief stay with the US Ambassador at Winfield House. There was a significant security operation and a small demonstration which, while passionate and noisy, was good natured and included some witty and creative placards. The demonstrators were respectful of the park and civil enough to leave the park at closing time at the request of our regular gate locking contractor, Mr Yusuf.
We’re often asked why we have no recycling bins or why we don’t recycle. Contrary to appearances in fact we do. We take all the park’s general waste to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF, pronounced ‘murf’) and have done for some years. We’ve been resistant to segregating at source (separate bins for separate types of waste) due to:
- The increase in infrastructure required (investment, maintenance, visual clutter).
- The increased number of vehicle movements within the park.
- The increased number of vehicle movements between the park and the recycling centre.
- The high rate of contamination/poor rate of compliance when attempting to segregate at source.
Previously we knew that the MRF achieved a recycling rate of 98% for the facility overall but we knew that would not apply to our waste stream. We’ve recently followed a representative sample of our waste through the system and now have an indicative figure of 50% recycling for our general waste stream. I’ve visited the facility myself and have seen the level of detail to which they sort the waste, so this is a credible figure.
Anything which can’t be recycled goes for ‘waste to energy’ (incineration to power a turbine), zero goes to landfill. We have recently started to separate out dry paper and cardboard from our offices and this is recycled separately. All of our green waste is processed on site and reused in the park as you might expect. We have to thank our landscape maintenance partners at idverde for driving the research with McGrath’s who run the MRF.
Nick Biddle, Park Manager
The Allotment Garden
Julie Riehl invited members of the committee of the FRP&PH to a meeting with the volunteers in the allotments in Regent’s Park and Kensington Gardens along with Chris Speirs, who has recently taken over the allotments at Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
They discussed their work with Sustain and Capital Growth as well as the allotments and this was followed by Julie guiding us through the different beds explaining the rationale behind the planting. Much of it is planned to sustain the quality of the soil to avoid the use of fertilisers other than ‘worm tea’ and ‘comfrey tea’, the latter being extremely pungent.
We then enjoyed some delicious tomatoes from both of the allotments together with an equally delicious savoury tart cooked by Julie and accompanied by tasty stuffed peppers from Angela, a volunteer from Kensington Gardens.Back to top
The First Regent’s Park Summer Music Festival
Having been largely deserted for many years, the Bandstand in Regent’s Park has been brought back to life. A group of music enthusiasts from the Friends of Regents Park & Primrose Hill, working with the Royal Parks and the Royal Academy of Music, have arranged concerts on twelve Sundays and on Bank Holiday Monday between late June and early September.
The music chosen was light, tuneful and varied. Between the vivacious Rock Choir and the exciting Klezmer band, we heard jazz and brass quintets from the Royal Academy of Music, wind band music from Help for Heroes, Barnes Concert Band and South London Symphonic Winds, big band jazz from the South London and Kix jazz orchestras and, of course, the traditional British Brass bands represented by NLB (North London Brass) City of London and Regent Community Brass.
But what was not traditional was the British weather! Most concerts were blessed with glorious sunshine and entertained audiences varying between 300 and 600 people. At the time of writing only two concerts have taken place under cloudy skies and a little drizzle, but even then, 100 or so people enjoyed the performances.
These concerts were made possible by kind sponsors, and the organisers would like to thank the main sponsor Benugo Restaurants. Generous gifts were also received from the Crown Estate, the London Business School, the CEPC, FRP&PH, Regent’s University, International Student House, Westminster Business School and some individuals. idverde, the park contractor, kindly provided the all‐important logistics backup, and FRP&PH volunteers acted as site supervisors ensuring that the events ran smoothly. Once the 2018 season concludes organisers will start planning for the 2019 season. Ideas, sponsors and offers to help are always welcome.
A Haunted Tragedy
Opera in the park was a courageous but immensely successful innovation at the Open‐Air Theatre for a short season this June. Musicals there have been a plenty, but opera, no ‐ at least not since performances in the 1930s on the Nanny’s Lawn.
Benjamin Britten may not be everyone’s first choice, but this Turn of the Screw by the English National Opera was enchanting and spellbinding with its strangely haunting, even haunted, glasshouse structure set against the park’s dark forest trees. Treacherous marshes believably fronted the stage, all of which bespoke the tragedy which was to unfold to the two children against magical orchestral music and voices. Evil was patently abroad and convincingly displayed and played by the so‐called guardians.
Ignorant of the story line, I looked, watched, heard and sat on the edge of my seat until the final awfulness came to pass. The audience, that night at least, was entranced and hugely appreciative.
And the experiment generally proved a success, with very few seats unsold during the short run of little more than a week. To provide consecutive performances, there had to be two casts.
Will it happen again? Will opera become a regular feature in the park? Who knows. It happened this time at the suggestion of the ENO and next year’s open‐air theatre schedule has yet to be brought together.
Certainly, opera has widened its audience beyond the up‐market cachet of the West End and Glyndebourne. So, I for one, keep my fingers crossed for another short season.
Judy Hillman, Patron
Christmas at London Zoo
This November, ZSL is launching a brand‐new family event ‐ Christmas at London Zoo, a magical animal‐themed light trail where visitors can enjoy an array of illuminating experiences. An enchanting new way to get excited about Christmas, the light sculptures will circle the 36‐acre site, making sure not to disturb the sleeping animals ‐ though you may catch a glimpse of some of the nocturnal residents on your way!
ZSL has organised an exclusive ballot for local residents to win one of 20 family tickets to this brand‐new event. All you need to do is email your name to:firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date is Monday 1 October, with winners being notified that week. Showcasing a magnificent after‐dark landscape, Christmas at the Zoo is set to be an unforgettable family evening.
You can keep up to date about this and other new events at ZSL London Zoo by joining the new biannual residents’ meetings. Sign up to ourcommunity e‐news to find out more.
Monkeys on The Move
With £671,000 left to raise for the renovation of the iconic Grade II* listed Snowdon Aviary, ZSL still needs your support to make this incredible new home a reality for its new residents ‐ the Zoo’s family of colobus monkeys.
With an incredible £7million already raised, the ambitious project’s target is drawing ever closer, but with the primates set to move into their new pad in spring 2020, ZSL still needs your help. To donate now and keep up to date with the exciting project, visitSnowden Aviary Appeal.
Welcome to ZSL!
ZSL London Zoo has been overjoyed with 2018’s new arrivals.
These have included a baby two‐toed sloth named Lento, a tiny tamandua called Poco and a very regal okapi, named Meghan after the new Duchess of Sussex. Meghan was the first animal to be born at ZSL London Zoo after the announcement of the royal engagement: the royal moniker has made her a popular addition to the Zoo family and raised much-needed awareness of the little-known species, which is the only living relative of the giraffe.
Save a Tusk with a Tea Towel
ZSL and Sophie Allport are asking house‐proud animal lovers to help stop the illegal wildlife trade from the comfort of their own home. The international conservation charity and British designer teamed up this July to bring a new homeware collection with a conscience to the high street that was developed to raise funds to support ZSL’s conservation of animals.
Animals of the Savannah includes tea towels, mugs and candles, and is a celebration of the wildlife ZSL has been working with for over 180 years. The collection includes cheetah and elephant print aprons, cushions, roller towels and wash bags which are perfect for your home. Plus, shoppers can purchase this beautiful new array of homeware products with the knowledge that their purchase is helping wildlife around the world. Prices start at £8.00, so shop now at theSophie Allport Collection.
James Wren Fundraising Director, ZSL