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24 September 2014
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   Coming Up : Inside Out - London: Monday October 16, 2006

Toast Art

Toast art gallery
Lennie Payne
Bread and butter - Lennie Payne creates his toast art

When you think of toast you tend to picture it with jam, maybe some marmalade or perhaps an egg on top.

You certainly don't expect the sale of it to fetch thousands of pounds - unless you're artist Lennie Payne.

A blowtorch, a loaf of bread and a knife is all Lennie needs to create his toast art.

In the past three years he's sold six pieces to different collectors at £2,000 a piece.

"I love it, it just gives me a buzz. It's creative, a new medium," says Payne.

Bread and butter work

Inside Out meets art critic of 30 years, David Lee, who oversees Payne's creative process and critiques his final creations when he presents them at his first viewing at a West End gallery.

The event was all about raising Lennie's profile as an artist, showing a variety of his early to present pieces.

Toast art is still catching on and so Lennie works as a painter and decorator for a living.

"You've got to earn your bread and butter somehow," says Lennie.

Lennie hopes, however, that eventually he'll be able to work as an artist full time.

There have however, been problems in using an edible canvas.

When Lennie sent a portrait of Ian Dury away to be framed for an exhibition, he received a panicky phone call from the framer saying mice had nibbled three pieces of the toast.

Tasty cuts

Mice aren't the only ones that find Lennie's work tasty!

Art collector Nick Green dished out £1,800 for one of Payne's creations.

He liked the piece as soon as he saw it and it now hangs proudly in his living room above the family couch.

Lennie Payne's original use of bread shows how art can come in many different shapes and sizes.


All art work copyright of Lennie Payne.

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Homeless and Helpless - Polish immigrants

Polish immigrant Zibi
Zibi - high hopes but homeless in London

Since Poland joined the European Union back in 2004, thousands of its people have caught the coach to Victoria Station with the hope of finding work.

Many of them end up on London's streets.

Zibi is Polish and came to London with the hope of finding work and earning a living.

But he arrived unprepared, with little money and no English language skills.

He spent his first night on the street, has slept in doorways and now in a squat with another four people.

The only work he can find is occasional jobs.

Sleeping on the streets

Unfortunately this is not an uncommon story.

A third of homeless people in London are from Eastern Europe and many have arrived unprepared and end up homeless.

Despite this, a number of Polish immigrants would prefer to sleep on the streets of London in the hope of finding work than go back to Poland which has a 17 per cent unemployment rate and a minimum of £180 a month.

Those who are homeless cannot go to London shelters because they must have worked in London for a year to claim benefits.

The problem has become so bad that the Barka Foundation, a polish charity has come to London to set up a shelter.

Ewa Sodowska from the Barka Foundation is urging Polish people looking for work to only come to London if they have necessary qualifications, money and can speak English.

"I just want a normal life to have work and earn money. And that's all," says Zibi.

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Ascension Eagles

Ascension Eagles
Ascension Eagles - aiming high and working together

The crowd is roaring, the colours are bright - Ascension Eagles are about to perform.

Sadie Nine reports from the National Cheerleading Championships where Ascension Eagles Cheerleaders have won for eight consecutive years.

They are now defending their title.

But this is not just an after school activity for these inspired kids. It is a lifestyle and lesson.

Building team skills

Shara Brice is the Director of Ascension Eagles Cheerleading - she started it 10 years ago to give the children of Newham something to aim for:

"We had the highest concentration of 10 year olds in the nation with the lowest level of provision... keeping people busy keeps them out of trouble."

But Ascension Eagles Cheerleading is about more than keeping kids out of trouble.

Eagle member balancing
Top level - learning life skills through cheerleading

It helps build leadership skills, team work and self esteem through champion level cheerleading with the hope that one day these things they learn from cheerleading will transfer into other aspects of their lives.

For Tovonya Raybe cheerleading has made her who she is:

"Cheerleading is very important to me. It gives me everything, my communication skills, life skills, leadership skills.

"Without it I don't think I'd be the person I am and the character I am right now is a very strong person."

Learn about how cheerleading has changed the lives of these teens on Inside Out London - October 16.

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