The Inimitable Ms. Ashley Grey

Written by: Violet Myers

“All this talk of Gary Kemp and I’ve strangely gone back to my 1980’s self,” says Ashley Grey, the Community Outreach Officer at Arts and Media School Islington, a school that’s rapidly gaining a reputation for its talented students and increasingly excellent GCSE results. This is a school that was once upon a time one of the poorest schools in the country, with only 5% of students achieving 5 GCSEs at grade A*-C. The school then gained notoriety as the subject of a BBC fly-on-wall style documentary, which revealed it to be underfunded and poorly equipped.

But that was 16 years ago and boy have things changed. Due to its genuinely passionate staff, hands-on parents and the steerage of headteacher Diana Osagie, the school has come a long way and it’s not looking back either. With some seriously talented students, Ofsted reports showing that the school is within the top 40% in the country for its core subjects and a real emphasis on aiming high, this school means business… with added jazz hands.

Ashley Grey interview North London Magazine, Arts & Media School Islington, Turle Road, Finsbury Park, London, Barton Theatre, North London, Gary Kemp, Event, Ashley Grey

Ashley is a ball of energy, fiercely determined to help the school she loves and earnest in her endeavours. It’s her mission to get as much of the community involved with the school as possible, to establish partnerships and raise funds – a difficult endeavour for state-supported schools. She understands how to build relationships, a crucial part of creating a successful fundraising and awareness initiative. Ashley is the co-organiser (alongside The Telegraph’s resident Music Critic Neil McCormick) of their upcoming event ‘Up Close and Personal with Gary Kemp’, the proceeds of which will go directly to the school.

We spoke to Ashley about her life as a North Londoner, her fondness for Spandau Ballet and the school that she has dedicated herself to.

I’d just moved to London, I joined a theatre company as an actress, and was running a stall in Camden Market. I had a Mohican and two piercings in my nose and all down my ears, people always look at me like ‘no way’ when I say that!
Ashley Grey interview North London Magazine, Arts & Media School Islington, Turle Road, Finsbury Park, London, Barton Theatre, North London, Gary Kemp, Event, Ashley Grey

She laughs, fondly recalling the days when Gary Kemp and his band Spandau Ballet ruled the airwaves. She’s refreshingly lively, passionate about her job and certainly not the kind of person you would expect to find working in a school, but then again this is no ordinary school.

“I mean the current situation with the curriculum is that we should be sitting kids in classrooms and not doing anything creative. But our young people respond really well to the arts that we do, it seems to make them well rounded and appreciative of culture.”

Their focus on the arts appears to be working, with talents such as Jermaine Jackman, winner of The Voice 2014, and Kaya Scodelario of Skins fame, counting themselves as proud members of their alumni. Other former students, including those who have reached the heady heights of the university world by getting into Cambridge, happily return to the school that helped them so much, in the hopes of inspiring other kids to continue their education.

Up Close and Personal with Gary Kemp is the first in a series of celebrity interviews. With the help of Neil McCormick, renowned music journalist, whose son is in Year Seven at the school, AMSI’s corridors are about to be filled with famous faces.

Ashley Grey interview North London Magazine, Arts & Media School Islington, Turle Road, Finsbury Park, London, Barton Theatre, North London, Gary Kemp, Event, Ashley Grey
It’s a big deal for us, especially to have a local hero like Gary. To have someone who’s willing to give up their time to support a state school, it’s just fantastic.

“…Those opportunities don’t come around very often and we’re very grateful, we want it to be a success!” Adds Ashley, who’s not only an ex-punk with some new romantic tendencies (she still loves The Clash and happily treats us to her own rendition of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ while we chat), but is also tirelessly working to make sure the school is getting the community support it needs and deserves. She recently managed to secure some funding from local estate agents Davies & Davies, which will go directly towards paying for a student to attend a school trip to Barcelona with their classmates. Without this sort of support from the local community, that student wouldn’t have been able to go on the trip. It’s potentially life changing stuff.

“70% of our students are on free school meals, so what’s very important to us is that they not only have a good education but also a good life experience whilst they’re at school. We want them to be able to access London’s opportunities. The money raised from these sorts of events will help us to send them on trips and experience new activities that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience before.”

The night will be an excellent opportunity for fans to throw on a ruffled shirt, re-live those magical hair-sprayed days of the 80’s and learn more about their favourite new romantic hunk. All of this whilst raising funds for a fantastic school, who may very well have the next musical superstar within their walls. Watch out Gary, there’s a new generation coming and they’ve got synthesisers!

Up Close And Personal With Gary Kemp
Thursday May 26th, 7.30pm
Taking place in the intimate Barton Theatre
(Arts & Media School Islington, Turle Road, Finsbury Park, London)

Tickets available here

North Four are chuffed to be the media partners of Up Close and Personal and are proud supporters of the Arts and Media School Islington. Now go buy some tickets!

Close up of brisket burger being held in two hands at Brave Sir Robin for North Four Magazine
Eat & Drink

Eat/Drink: A Love Letter to Cue Point and Brave Sir Robin

When danger reared its ugly head, Brave Sir Robin turned and fled… to his namesake pub on Crouch Hill for a craft beer and a top-notch meal from kitchen residency Cue Point. Warm globes of light hang above intimate booths, specially commissioned wall design offers a rich backdrop, and cosy sofas, deep armchairs and plentiful cushioned stools ensure no one is without a seat.

Read More...
Bahn Mi Baguette at Pho Hot Vietnamese restaurant in Holloway North London shot for North Four Magazine.
Eat & Drink

Banh Mi and Friends at Pho Hot Holloway

Flocking to Holloway Road on one of the many Sundays that we’ve spent at the Nag’s Head Car Boot Sale, we spotted a new Vietnamese place called Pho Hot getting ready to open up their doors. Being the nosy folks we are, we peeked inside and spotted a menu. Banh Mi was on it. It's a baguette, but not as you know it. Glory of all glories! It’s been far too long since I last consumed this distinctive sarnie and I'm happy as Larry that there's a new Banh Mi joint on my doorstep.

Read More...
Lee Garrett standing on stairs with window in background for North Four Magazine
Lifestyle

Top 4 Tips to Protect Your Skin From London Winter!

Baby, it’s getting cold outside, and what better way to aide our frostbitten noses than a chat to a professional skin person? We’re talking to Lee Garrett, founder of The Garrett Clinic, accomplished skincare specialist and heralded by many as the UK’s leading Skin Guru. Read on to find out his insider tips for surviving this winter season with your skin looking as radiant as the moon that breaks a stormy night.

Read More...
Illustration of tank with duck in it reading 'peace is coming' at Atom Gallery for North Four Magazine
Culture

Tomorrow's World at Atom Gallery

Joined by over 50 other artists incorporating printmaking, painting, digital art, photography and small-scale sculpture, Tomorrow’s World presents us with utopias, dystopias, predictions, prophecies and visions of the future. We hit up the private view last Friday and it was pretty damn bleak, in the best sense of the word.

Read More...
Brave Sir Robin Opening 14th December 2017
Eat & Drink

Local Thinking, Craft Beer Drinking: Brave Sir Robin Launches in Crouch Hill

Carouse founders Chris, Theo and Ben – the charming folk behind Kentish Town’s Rose and Crown – have a new venture afoot and we couldn’t be more bloody excited to see it. We’ve been creeping in their windows, peering through the paint and sneaking glimpses at builders’ bums for a few months now (okay, maybe not the last one), watching these guys transform this cosy corner of Crouch Hill into a rather cool little boozer. Now they’re opening and everyone is invited. Come one, come all, and try all 20 of their beers on tap with us.

Read More...
Back of persons head with cigarette tucked over ear
Events

Body Hammer: Clubbing, but not how you know it

Last month I decided to try clubbing again. I don’t quite know what came over me, but I actually (brace yourselves) enjoyed it. I went to Body Hammer’s monthly party in Manor House and I’m here to tell you to go too, whether you love clubbing, hate clubbing, or really couldn’t care either way. #notspon

Read More...
Close up of person shoving a stuffed potato skin into her mount at Skins in The Magic Roundabout for North Four Magazine
Eat & Drink Events

Go Your Own Way at Skins' Fleetwood Mac & Cheese Night

Rich, fried, buttery, potato-y vessels loaded with flavor combinations that go down rather well with craft beer, late nights and good times. Ha, who am I kidding, EVERYTHING goes down well with beer. You heard that right buddy, loaded potato skins are back with a bang (and a generous portion of bacon) and are currently being served at Old Street's The Magic Roundabout by street food pop-up Skins and we could not be any happier. Well, unless they were to stuff it with, say, Mac and Cheese or risotto. Oh, that's exactly what they do? Well paint me green and call me a cucumber.

Read More...
Christmas Gift Guide by Pretty Shiny Shop in Stroud Green North London
Lifestyle List

A Very Pretty Shiny Christmas Gift Guide

Magical gifts, wonderful gifts, marvellous gifts, beautiful gifts, gifts, glorious gifts glo-ri-ous giiiiiifts. Please Sir, I want some more. It’s that time of year again and whether you love it or loathe it gifts will be purchased and presented into expectant hands. Stroud Green's very own Pretty Shiny Shop have compiled a gift guide to help ease the shopping shock. Imagine only having to trot to your local gift shop and tick off your entire shopping list in one fell swoop. Done, finito, terminado! To make it that little sweeter, it's also all very affordable... so you won't even have to pick a pocket or two.

Read More...
Three people clinking plastic glasses in the air in a tent with people in the background at Thor's Tipi Bar in Regent's Place
Eat & Drink Events

Drink, Feast, Conquer, Repeat. Thor's Tipi Bar Has Arrived.

Alright guys, it’s happening. The frosty charm of December is, once again, being beaten to a pulp by the capitalists’ wet dream: Christmas. The hideous twinkling of artificial outdoor lighting is starting to appear, with tourists flocking from far and wide to watch D-list celebrities press a button. Invitations to Christmas parties flood in from your multiple part-time jobs, ensuring you make bad decisions bi-weekly til next year. Supermarkets are selling 12-day advent calendars containing confetti, cookie cutters and candles for a flawless £50. And oh, how the mulled wine flows.

Read More...
Girl peeking through gold and pink balloons at Top Balloon in Shop Stroud Green for North Four Magazine
Eat & Drink Events

Shop Stroud Green Christmas Trail 2017

Who doesn’t love a cheeky statistic, correctly sourced? You know we do. Well, did you know that for every £1 spent with a small business, 63p is re-spent in the local area, as opposed to a measly 40p in every £1 re-spent locally with larger businesses? An absolute travesty, am I right? That 23p has to mean something, right, guys?! Guys? Guys, where are you going? Wait, there’s freebies involved too!

Read More...
Eat & Drink Events Lifestyle List

Top 4 'Christmas is just a bad excuse for a' Winter Markets

By gum there are a lot of winter markets this year. Fueled by sickly sweet mulled wine and overpriced pulled pork sliders, we’ve managed to wade our way through the murky waters of winter markets and find some decent looking ones round this here part of town. Don’t let our Grinch-esq vibes put you off (I’m more of a Pancake Day person myself) because, if you’re into markets, you’ll probably like these. Read on, if you’re merrier than us.

Read More...
The Vinteriors team and Mary le Comte at Moseyhome in Finsbury Park, North London for 'Style My Shop'.
Lifestyle

Style My Shop: Vinterior x Moseyhome

Take a short walk along Finsbury Park’s own sunset strip and you’ll find MoseyHome, an interiors retailer and styling consultancy who have invited us to collaborate with them on an exciting new series titled 'Style My Shop', in which they invite some of London's most talented interiors experts to quite literally style their shop. Interiors porn at it's finest.

Read More...
Eat & Drink Events List

Top Five "It's That Time Of Year Again" Things To Do This Winter

Why was the snowman sad? Because he had a meltdown. Much like us, every year, when winter comes. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we know Christmas is on its way. But hey, it’s not all bad – the events round this time of year can be pretty swell. So don your scarf-shawl-blanket and get your frolic on, it’s time for fairy lights, scarfing mulled wine and stuffing your face!

Read More...
Hand feeling colourful splashes of artwork at Smith and Sinclair Flavour Gallery
Culture Eat & Drink Events

Suck it at The Flavour Gallery

Touch, taste, smell, hear and create art. Smith & Sinclair, purveyors of the Edible Cocktail, presents The Flavour Gallery: a multi-sensory adventure that’ll seduce your senses and tickle your taste buds beyond all imagination. Ooh matron!

Read More...
Hodgepodge on Crouch Hill, North London. New restaurant opening November 2017
Eat & Drink

New Opening: Hodgepodge Crouch Hill

Offering modern British cuisine with a smokey twist, Crouch Hill's newest contender to its foodie scene, Hodge Podge, is all minimal styling and hearty yet inventive dishes.

Read More...