Crochet postbox phoenix ‘sends message' to community

Craft club set out to brighten up Belsize Park

Thursday, 28th July — By Harry Taylor

camden28 Image 2022-07-28 at 9.17.23 PM (28)

The England’s Lane crochet team: Liz Finegold, Catty Hannam, Caroline Chan, Lucy Telfer and Mey Jansen

NEIGHBOURS in England’s Lane have clubbed together to weave their latest arrival into the fabric of the community – a phoenix called Joaquin.

Crafty crocheters have helped knit the resplendent red bird which sits on top of a postbox near the junction with Primrose Gardens, on top of a knitted base of sunflowers.

The group get together during a weekly craft session at Belsize Library, in Antrim Grove, on Wednesdays. The current installation is their third, after creating one in March with sunflowers and the word “peace” around the edges after the invasion of Ukraine.

Caroline Chan, who is part of the group, said they had hoped to brighten up the neighbourhood, and that Joaquin represented a rebirth of previous attempts that had been sabotaged by vandals.

She added: “It feels really good to do something that brings people together. It’s like you’re connecting with the local neighbourhood. We hope it provokes some thoughts or a conversation. You will never please everyone, but at least 90 per cent of people say how nice it looks and it’s lovely when they say that.

Joaquin Phoenix, named after the Parenthood and Joker actor

“I’m always up to something, making something. I’m involved in different things, and we started off when Ukraine was invaded. I just thought, if it can send a message, makes people think and gets them talking, then it’s worth it.”

Ms Chan has been running music classes for children and babies for 25 years, and her son Oliver has recently helped install “talking benches” in Chalcot Square. A group of 15-20 people on the Wednesday lunchtime sessions helps put them together, although the weekly club is paused until the end of the summer.

The bird was named after the Hollywood actor of the same name, to help people deduce that he was a phoenix.

Ms Chan, 64, said: “I just couldn’t let it go, and I just couldn’t let people destroy things and not respond. It’s heartbreaking when you find out someone has destroyed it. Most people asked why I would do it again but it’s important to replace it and make sure people won’t get away with it.

“The sessions are brilliant because it’s like playtime for adults. You get a project, like making something like Joaquin, but you also have the social aspect of people talking while they are crocheting and that helps people massively.”

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