Utrophia: horse power, smoothies and marching bands

Utrophia in action: Steve Molyneux, left and Ben Cummins

Marching bands, a local currency and smoothies sold at markets – all run on a mixture of horse power and personal passion.

Such is the credo of Deptford’s Utrophia Project; which has hosted art exhibitions, gigs and community projects, including everything from folk nights to mobile clubbing parties over the last decade. This weekend, it is celebrating its tenth birthday.

The project began at a warehouse space in Deptford creek and then moved to an old ice cream factory at Tanners Hill. Today Utrophia is based on Deptford High Street and is also home to the Extra Bones shop, selling handmade art, comics, prints and music.

Steve Molyneux, the creator of the project, describes Utrophia as “a network of individuals striving for something quite utopian”. Steve was inspired to create Utrophia after writing his dissertation on utopian literature.

Steve said: “We have never had much to fund the project, so we have to do things without money which makes it much more interactive. Instead (of money) we have run on the power of people having passion for what they’re doing. Getting people involved and working together is the best thing about the project”.

Highlights over the years include the Utrophia twelve piece marching band ensemble, who delighted passers by on marches through locations including Oxford Street, Soho and Elephant and Castle, before ending at bandstands for instrumental solos.

Then there is “Horse Powered”, which makes smoothies using solar powered blenders at Deptford and Brockley markets, producing drinks with nutritious flavours including vanilla and macca, and berry and bee pollen all from a cycle pulled cart.

This ambitious collection of projects shows no signs of slowing down with plans for a Deptford community garden for local food growing and wine making and even proposals to create a local Deptford currency! Stephen Molyneux has already designed the bank notes which were revealed at a previous Utrophia in an attempt to make people question their own “routines and disciplines of money”.

Deptford pound notes designed by Stephen Molyneux

Utrophia is open for celebrations this weekend with live music and DJs at a party on Saturday night and a “Birthday Cool Down” on Sunday with more music and art as well as screenings of videos from events over the last ten years.

For more information visit: http://utrophia.net/events/tencooldown

By Oliver Shaw

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