PROJECTS : deptford is forever 2013–2018


Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor
Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor
Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor
Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor
1060488-elizabeth taylor
2013-09-28 14.28.39
2013-09-28 14.29.19
2013-09-28 14.35.22
1060444-Just 4 U
1060463-Terry for Nets
2013-09-28 14.59.50
1060435-Peter & Joan's
1060436-Roots Fruit & Veg
1060449-Ketts Luggage
1060453-My (£) Shop
1060457-Aamir at AK Continental
1060483-Mahesh at Deptford Cobbler
1060466-Number 27
1060468-Deeplex (21)
1060484-Right Price Superstore
1060504-Nhumg at Lai Loi
1060476-Danny's Poundland

Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor 

Intervention in Deptford High Street, 2013

Printed paper bag, 245mmx245mm

Part of Deptford X 2013 Fringe

Free Anchor tattoo
Free Anchor Tattoos
Free Anchor Tattoos
1060529-where to put it
1060501-anchor tat
Free anchor tattoo
Free anchor tattoo
Free anchor tattoo

Free Anchor Tattoos

Intervention at Kids Love Ink, Deptford High Street, 2013

Tattoos applied by Kids Love Ink, approx 25mmx30mm

Part of Deptford X 2013 Fringe

Photo: Laura X Carle
Photo: Laura X Carle
Photo: Laura X Carle
Photo: Laura X Carle
Photo: Laura X Carle
Photo: Angelique Van Tuinen
Photo: Angelique Van Tuinen
Photo: Laura X Carle

Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor Procession

Street performance, Deptford High Street, 2013

Part of Deptford X 2013 Fringe

Photos: Laura X Carle, Angelique Van Tuinen, Sue Lawes

In 2013, Deptford Is Forever emerged as a collaborative work with performance artist and musician David Aylward, when the Deptford Anchor – a public landmark and the only visible sign of Deptford’s rich maritime heritage – was removed from Deptford High Street as part of Council regeneration works.

To harness the resulting public outcry and mobilise for the anchor’s reinstatement, I created two images which appropriated the visual language of the sailor’s tattoo and used them to ‘brand’ the curation of various interventions in the high street. We aimed to 'spread the word'.

5,000 white paper bags were printed with the “Give Us Back Our Bloomin’ Anchor” design; the bags combined the mariner’s means of self expression (the markings of his life experience) with a ‘call to action’ (as opposed to mere advertisement or decoration). Employing the Situationists’ counter-technique of détournement, we distributed them free to all the independent shop keepers and market traders to use for their customer’s purchases, planting the message firmly within the realm of ordinary consumption and commodity.

Further ‘branding’ took place when I offered free ‘anchor tattoos’ (for one day only) at the local tattoo studio Kids Love Ink. The event was over-subscribed with people wanting to be permanently marked with one of three anchor motifs.

I also commissioned an anchor-shaped white floral wreath which was displayed in the makers’ shop window and used in a street procession organised by David Aylward in which Laura X Carlé’s giant cardboard anchor was carried from the riverside through the high street on a market day to stand temporarily on the site of the original anchor.

Ghost Anchor

Installation, Deptford High Street, 2013

Floral wreath, white synthetic paper, 52cmx76cmx10cm

Part of Deptford X 2013 Fringe (and beyond)

Anchor Procession 2013

Video, 1:59mins, 2013

Filmed by David Rafique, edited by Sue Lawes 


I designed a website to document the work, further raise consciousness and connect the anchor with Deptford's rich naval heritage. Deptford Is Forever were also involved in the local community’s fight to save the historic Deptford Royal Dockyard (aka Convoys Wharf) from a 3,500 luxury flat development by a Hong Kong conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa.

Deptford Is Forever were founding members of The Lenox Project CIC, which in 2014, as part of planning conditions when the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson granted planning permission to the developer, was given the go ahead to build a replica 17th century naval ship on the massive dockyard site.

In 2020, the landowners have built nothing and The Lenox Project, now a registered charity, still has no access to the redevelopment site.

Deptford Is Forever campaign merchandise 

Printed T-shirts, tote bags, takeaway coffee cup cuffs, 2013 

T-shirts & prints still available at


Red Tape

Intervention & performance, Deptford High Street, 2015

Red and silver gaffer tape, variable sizes

Deptford X Fringe 2015 

In 2015, we worked with high street conservation group The Deptford Society to launch a petition, both online and as hard copy. Addressed to the Mayor of Lewisham it demanded the return of the anchor and attracted local press interest.

Meanwhile, frustrated by the bureaucracy and sea of ‘red tape’ encountered when we tried to obtain meantime use of an empty council-owned shop to exhibit during Deptford X 2015 (the theme of which was 'Deptford Conversations'), we used red tape to draw our message on empty shop fronts, street furniture, the road and pavements.

These actions provoked conversations with the public which were filmed and edited.

Red Tape : Deptford Conversations

Interventions in Deptford High Street, 2015

Video, 5:16mins. Filmed & edited by Sue Lawes

Red Tape : Deptford Conversations : TalkTalk

Intervention in Deptford High Street, 2015

Video, 1:17mins. FIlmed & edited by Sue Lawes

David Aylward chalking an anchor
Chalk Anchor
Chalked anchors
Chalking the anchor
Chalk Anchor + Ghost Anchor
Chalk Anchor
Book launch for Ben Graville's 'I Luv U Anka'
Chalk Anchor + Ghost Anchor

Chalking the anchor 

Performance in Deptford High Street, 2016

Chalk on tarmac & paving, variable sizes

As the petition grew, it provoked some heart-felt comments from the signatories. In 2016, I used these comments to publicise the petition still further in posters which we plastered all over the high street. David took to chalking the anchor on the pavements on busy market days which I filmed and documented.

By the end of 2016, the petition had 4,000 signatures which meant it could no longer be ignored by the Council. Much of 2017 was spent chalking more anchors and arguing with them, as they had commissioned a feasibility study to find the best place to re-install the anchor, details of which are documented on the Deptford Is Forever website.

The study found many reasons not to return the artefact to its rightful place, but eventually we were promised that it would be returned in early 2018 to our preferred position – more or less where it had previously stood.

Give us back our bloomin' anchor poster campaign

Deptford High Street, 2016

A4 posters with petitioners' online comments


Visual to accompany anchor petition

Photoshopped image by Sue Lawes



Though still working with a familiar object as I did with the The Willow Pattern Project, my collaboration with performance artist David Aylward involved different methodologies with motives aimed at a resolute rather than open-ended outcome.

Deptford Is Forever went on to creatively contribute to the Tidemill campaign – a far more serious battle that was fated to be lost before it began, so powerful were the actors and financial interests involved, along with the lies and propaganda they continue to propagate. 

The anchor has universal, mythical and symbolic properties with all sorts of meanings for everyone, and by repurposing it and raising awareness of its significance in the town’s forgotten heritage, private and collective emotion, memories and feelings of love and loss, as well as a strong sense of civic pride, were evoked. The anchor is now unequivocally the de facto emblem for Deptford.

Deptford Is Forever could be situated in ‘relational aesthetics’ since we facilitated the exchange of information to give people the power to change something. Partly it resided in critiquing and addressing the consumer’s relationship to commercial branding – in this case transposed to the public realm.

But the work might also be placed in a discourse on regeneration that many are now more familiar with – namely, artists’ unwitting role as compradors in gentrification, placemaking and developers’ ‘destination strategies’.

Colourful displays of independence and rebellion are all fodder for the developer and local authority alike, parasitical on the 'spirit' of a community that in reality they continue to ignore. 


In February 2018, the anchor was returned (see Deptford Is Forever website) and the project and its supporters celebrated with an exhibition, more pavement chalking and another high street procession.

Chalking The Chain

Performance by David Aylward in Deptford High Street, 2018

Video, 3.48mins. Filmed & edited by Sue Lawes

Chalking The Chain (tom tom)

Performance by David Aylward in Deptford High Street, 2018

Video: 4:44mins. Filmed & edited by Sue Lawes 

Welcome back Deptford Anchor!

Performance: procession, drumming, singing, drinking in Deptford High Street, 2018

Video, 9:00mins.Filmed & edited by Sue Lawes, additional footage by 'Bit'o'Spud and London Weekend Television