Growing the Printworks Paper Garden

Over the last two months our space in the Canada Water Printworks has started to feel like home. Thanks to the many hands who have joined us, the feeling of what Global Generation is about has come to life in what is essentially a large concrete space with a roller shutter door to the outside. We have been growing a space, growing a team and growing possibilities for volunteers.

Most Fridays you will find me there, along with Siw Thomas, who has been an art and design teacher in secondary schools for over thirty years and Dave Eland and Nompsy Chigaru. The rest of the time, Dave and Nompsy are architects in Dave’s private practice Sometimes Glen McDonald joins us. Glen is not only a carpenter and wood-burning oven maker but also has local roots. Glen’s grandfather Fred Sparrow worked on the Docks for many years, ending his working life as Lighterman on the Canada Water Dock.

The first local volunteer was Emma Frayne who came with her small son Max. Emma works in King’s Cross and has been a Skip Garden Twilight gardener for several years. Coincidently she lives about five minutes walk from the Printworks.

I wanted to get involved with the Paper Garden as I'm keen to help the local community and connect with other local volunteers. I love what Global Generation has done in King’s Cross with the Skip Garden and involving locals and look forward to doing this where I live” Emma Frayne.

Our first big volunteer day was with twelve people from the Environment Agency. A popular activity proved to be weaving large baskets out of old engineering plans for the machines that inked and dried the many newspapers produced in the Printworks. In our efforts to bring nature into an industrial context, it seemed appropriate that weaving was one of the first things we did. A weaving of the old and the new. A weaving of The Three Baskets of Knowledge, a traditional Maori legend which embodies the theme of integration and wisdom . Or otherwise said, ‘I, We and The Planet’, that has been so important in Global Generation’s approach.

Developing a second home in Canada Water has brought both excitement and uncertainty for the Global Generation team. How might this affect our organisation and our work together, which to this point has been a hyper-local King’s Cross story. It felt important for us to hold our bi-annual whole organisation away day in Canada Water. Fifteen of us began the day with our new friends at Time and Talents and spent the afternoon in the Printworks. As we so often do, we sat in a circle and used free fall writing to capture the essence of our experience.

"The Mystery of Canada Water and the Printworks has taken shape. Until now it’s been a snippet here and a mention there, a note of excitement, a gleam in an eye. Now I feel involved and excited to see what we will make of this new step” Nick Wilkinson, GG Head Chef

“This is us HERE as well as THERE” – Emma Truman, GG Gardener

“Today was my third visit to the Printworks and I am feeling more and more at home with the idea of growing new connections and new community in a new part of London for Global Generation. It reminds me of when you turn over a rock and you find a whole universe of life, bugs, worms, larvae and movement. I am excited to be on a journey of relationships with new team members and new neighbours.” Nicole van den Eijnde, Global Generation Director.

The nearest secondary school to the Printworks is Bacons college. Hosting a CPD (Continuous Professional Development) session for the Bacons art department was an opportunity to welcome our neighbours into the space. They brought with them an explosion of creativity and positivity.

Today has meant for me …

“An open doorway back to the basics of creativity and enjoyment of craft applied to any and every available material. I learnt how to return to being a student again.” – Bacons Teacher

“Stepping into a largely blank space full of possibilities, I felt a longing to stay connected to this space and group of friends. I made an actual doorway as an intention to help people choose to create in this space.” – Bacons Teacher

Finally, a big Thank you to British Land and the Printworks team, whose trust and support have allowed us to move slowly and mindfully, feeling and following the winds of enthusiasm with our new neighbours. Special thanks also to Alice Botham of the Printworks who has enthralled many of our visitors and volunteers with her tours and compelling tales of life in the enormous Printworks Press halls.