Perambulator
Clare Qualmann
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Part of 'Chain' 24th May 2012 at Lewisham Art House

'Chain' was a seven-hour series of multi-disciplinary performances by artists, musicians and poets at Lewisham Art House, brought together by artist Candida Powell-Williams to investigate collective consciousness. Each participant, prior to the event, provided the following with a word/object/sound or image stimulus to be integrated into their performance - thus creating the Chain.

My stimulus, from artist Charles Hayward was the word 'bell'. Ernest, my (then) 6 month old baby has a jingly toy bell which is one of his favourite toys, and thus always on the pram. Realising that 'pram' is short for perambulator (literally a walker) and reflecting on my relatively new experience of the city through the wheels of a pram I decided to lead a walk with prams entitled simply 'perambulator'.

As I had hoped walking with prams around Lewisham Art House was rather awkward - kerbs were too high, cars were parked on pavements without leaving enough space to pass, steps were steep, gates designed to block mopeds from driving into parks were difficult to manoeuvre around.
The walkers with prams chatted about their everyday issues (as well as their sleep deprivation levels) and those without prams helpfully lifted, shifted, jiggled and had a go at pushing.

Before setting out we agreed (as it was a boiling hot day) to navigate to local parks, beginning with one just behind the Art House – identified by two participants with studios in the building. Quiet and tucked away from the traffic on Lewisham Way we entered Luxmore Gardens down some shallow steps from Rokeby Rd, walking through to exit at the other end, up more steps and around some awkward barriers back out onto the street. Crossing the road to try and get out of the sun a little we then headed towards Friendly Gardens – walking in single file as the pavement was partially blocked by parked cars. We had to drop down onto the road in a couple of places.

Crossing Lewisham Way (safely at the lights) we turned into Lucas Street and took shelter under trees in Friendly Gardens. Much busier than Luxmore, the park was full of kids just out of school. Thinking we might have time for one more local park we asked a group of mums if there was another one nearby. They weren’t sure, so checking (very slow) maps on smart phones, and then asking again we decided we would try for Brookmill Park, apparently just down the hill.

Continuing down Lucas Street, Oscar Street and Friendly Street we encountered a frustrating lack of dropped kerbs, bumping up and down for every turning. Brookmill Park was lovely, and we paused again in the shade to gather energies for the walk back up the hill.