Thursday, 21 April 2011


I  finally made the trip to Blackpool happen! (Thanks to the financial support and the driving capabilities of Nick)
The reason why i felt i needed to go to Blackpool before i started work on my end of year show started to become blurred a couple of weeks ago, mainly because my lack of memory- however the crooked house concept has really stuck in my mind for a year now, and as the ideas for what i am planning to do take shape in my mind, the crooked house is still a reference that i can't ignore- as well as some of the influencial DVDs i have been watching in the past months. One of them of course being 'Blackpool'. I know that this is or was the main reason for going and i think it has only just occurred to me now how everything links.

'Blackpool' is a series that somewhat puts Blackpool in quite a magical light- the fun of singing and dancing in brightly coloured spaces, but the darkness slowly seeps into the fun and characters that you think are 'what you see is what you get' become the most interesting and complex. The interest and link to my work in this context being the complexity of stereotypes. The second link to connect the crooked house is the 'real estate' angle that is a big theme throughout the series. Wanting to extend an empire at all costs to reputation and family to build a reputation and provide for a family. It is all a big crooked game based on gambling. I think this is why i wanted to go to Blackpool- just to break the myth that i have built in my own mind from this series that Blackpool is actually a fun and colourful place to be.

I did break that myth. On entering Blackpool by road you are led to the promenade from the motorway by a tree lined road- you're not allowed to see the residential space behind the trees, this is something that the council have obviously decided to leave to rot while they 'do up' the tower again. Between the gaps in the blossoming trees there are a lines of 20's terraced houses, cracked pavements and rusty cars. Led into the main town, you can see that this should be and was a place packed with people, but this time of year it is very empty, most shops are boarded up and the ones that are open, have only just brushed the cobwebs away for tourist season. As i mentioned, the Blackpool tower is being renovated, as with much of the golden mile. The trams aren't running and the north pier is pretty much closed, which is unfortunate because this is the one i was most interested in, as it is the most charming and has the least amusements. The closure of the trams means that you have to walk the stretch of the mile to get to each entertainment centre and in turn you get to see the joy of what is the middle of the 'Golden Mile'. We passed about 10-15 hotels plonked in the middle of the mile either closed or 'vacant', again this could be because we are not in high season, but it didn't look like healthy business.
I'm not suggesting at all that The Blackpool Tower should be forgotten either- the Tourist trade seems to be the only trade of Blackpool, and from images i have seen of the Blackpool Ballroom and other places like the Winter Gardens, yes, this should all be renovated because it is beautiful. However, there is definitely an un-even distribution in the town of where money is spent and maybe giving the town a little more trade than gambling and Ferris wheels would be a help.

We took Charlotte with us, and she really led the trip- spending a whole day at the pleasure park so she could go on 'The big one'- namely one of the highest and fastest roller coasters in Europe. You wouldn't have thought it though, because Que times were very short. Maybe 10mins max to get on any of the big roller coasters. It probably made it the most relaxing trip to a theme park I've ever been to, not having to stand in a line for 3 hours just so you can witness the fear of falling over the edge- but on the other hand you still didn't escape the amusements being in the park- Although going on the rides was fun it was always in the back of Charlotte's mind that she wanted to go on those Teddy grabbers.

Back to the note about Crooked houses, there were quite a few in the park, one called 'impossible which was a 'project' by a guy called something Mercer- interesting to think that a theme park ride could be  a project- but anyway, this had the classic ride inside where you feel like the room is turning upside down- in a way it is, but you are also being revolved half way. There were also a lot of Op-art on the wall in large tacky frames- like Escher and the Bridget Riley. This was more of a bizarre house than a crooked one, however there was an 'Alice in Wonderland' ride that full-filled my expectations of a crooked house. A ride completed in 1962- this ride consists of Cheshire cat cars and an odd journey into a massive concrete castle full of elements of the book- however everything is painted in neon paint, although Alice in Wonderland is a bizarre book anyway, this is something else- too much for you to take in at once- visually it was mind blowing and i think i would have preferred to have just walked round at my own pace.

    The crooked house is fun and intriguing but always sinister. It plays on ugliness and the grotesque to make children laugh and for all extent purposes is wrong but still amusing- In the same way that arcades are immoral with their advertising. The soft toy machines that are purposely built for children to loose their money, yet children still love them. Blackpool is a crooked place, and although everything is wrong, i still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now i just want to go back to see more.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dancing in their Footsteps Success!

The play went really well today so a big congratulations to the entire cast. There were moments where I felt like it wasn’t going to go well (for example, when I was asked to find a very specific type of coat for one of the scenes yesterday) but luckily all of the problems seemed to dissolve. My Nan stayed at my house last night so she could get to the play today without so much trouble; however i think I underestimated how difficult it would be to get my Nan to mine. There were a lot of steps that I didn’t realise were there. We had a fun evening though, and luckily it was sunny so my Nan didn’t have to see how dismal our flat looks when it’s not sunny.

On arrival to the theatre in the morning I was apprehensive about the stage, it had a capacity of 290 i think and we were told it would be full up. We had also been told that we would be on a very large dance stage; in my worst imagination i had thoughts of having to run back and forth across the stage to place chairs and falling over. Chairs’ obviously not being the most important issue- but it was in my Job description, so I had the right to be cautious. Also, this stage meant that it would be impossible for me and Olivia to sit off stage- A professional theatre as opposed to a little studio downstairs. My Nan enjoyed the thought of performing on an international dance stage though; we had stories all Saturday and Sunday when she met up with the other older people about how in the old days they had been all over the world to perform in big theatres. Once John Major came to see them! I think there was a little disappointment last year that they wouldn’t be acting in the main theatre.

The Laban building was incredible- apparently designed by the same person that designed the Tate Modern- the closer you walked towards the building the more it started to blend into the skyline and the foreground was covered in strangely shaped hills that dance students were running up and down gracefully, the surface of the building seems to be covered in a strangely coloured blue/green plastic that is almost lenticula when you look at it. Malcolm said that it was nicknamed Teletubby land, but this was something else, definitely worth a look if you are around Deptford.

But yes, the play went really well, all of the que’s were followed correctly and despite not being able to view it from the front there was defiantly a lot more energy in the performance than had been in any rehearsals. I think the audience really enjoyed it too- there was an astounding amount of laughter coming from the audience- even at points where we didn’t anticipate it. The was also a lot of applause after our bad manners scene; mainly because Jean- one of our older actresses had to pogo with a lot of teens for about 5 minutes straight!

we have been told that the performance will be repeated in the near future at our regular place in Blackheath (The Bakehouse Theatre) I can't wait to see everyone again. I am definately going to miss rehursals on a saturday morning now it's all over.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dancing in their footsteps tomorrow!

The intergenerational production of ‘Dancing in Their Footsteps’  will be taking place tomorrow at the Leban Theatre at Creekside in Deptford. Please come along, the play is part of the ‘Age to Age’, Lewisham’s first intergenerational festival and it is free. It is a very light hearted play about the reminiscences of the cast; from young to old- it also has an eclectic soundtrack!

Friday, 8 April 2011

'Age to Age' Seminar on Reminissance Theatre

An interesting part of today's seminar i felt was the highlight upon the ethical jurisdiction  that the programme managers put upon themselves when working with different age groups. throughout today's workshops there was a strong emphasis on the ethical boundaries that should always be apparent in this type of work. David (Savill) even made a clear point that in 1998 the company (Age Exchange) refused to work anymore with venerable elders without having their carers present and working with the programme.  He said that it was irresponsible to raise the hopes of theses people, only to then leave them where they first left off when the funding runs out.  I am in total agreement with this and from an artistic perspective i have a great respect for an artistic director to admit responsibility and keep it as a work ethic. At college i feel that this is something that is constantly challenged and questioned- why i have such a strong ethical boundary to keep 'the people who i work with' away from 'my work' - As it was described today in the context of recording and making a play out of memories (which i believe to be a very apt description) is - I come to listen to you and your memories and i make work. But the work is an outcome. You always come first.

I must say, without getting to soppy, it was a really enlightening experience today to be surrounded by people who really believe in and want to do 'good' for venerable people- but not in a patronising way, a way in which every participant is treated as an individual. There was a lady helping to run the seminar today called Susan Langford who spoke today about her processes into creating 'Magicme'- which has been running now for 20 years creating intergenerational projects across the country, she was actually awarded an MBE for all of her work- a lady to look up to.

One new programme that Magicme is running at the moment is called 'cocktails in carehomes'- which is exactly what it says on the tin. What a fabulous idea, who wouldn't enjoy that concept? I would really like to go along to one- its not just entertainment for old people which you would appropriate with an ordinary carehome project, it is a fun atmosphere where older people can reminisce and communicate with volunteers of all ages who also enjoy themselves.

I think today's emphasis of having fun in intergenerational work has totally won me over. There is no way i could fault any  of the company's that were running the seminar.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Last Rehersal & Art

It was our las rehersal today for Dancing in thier footsteps- and to be honest it went swimmingly well- we ran through twice with no problems at all- which is either really good (which it would seem) or really bad (in my negativity i imagine that because it went so well, people are not going to rehearse) also, i found out that it is bad luck to read the last line of a play in a performance. To be honest, that is quite rediculas, otherwise how would anyone ever be able to practise thier lines? I think Malcolm was relieved about the rehurseal today as Saturdays had gone a little belly up- one of the main characters couldn't make it and i had to stand in whilst doing the chairs at the same time. Its fine when Olivia is there- as a trained actress, she has the ability to read a script and not laugh after every line. Its a shambles when i do it.

After rehursal i went off to meet Joe for our second gallery trip of the week. We laughed about finally turning into real art students that actually enjoy going to gallerys in our spare time. We headed up to The White Cube in Masons Yard for a nice private view 'New order'- with promises of free Peroni. the exhibition was ok. I found a couple of pieces of work a little too overdone for the sensitive issues that they were talking about. For example, one artist had constructed sculptures out of furniature- to symbolise the 'silent witness' it is to what happens in war ridden or chaotic places. I liked the idea and the cupboards were aesthetically nice, but it did seem like they had only been constructed horizontally so they would fit in a space. I could be wrong, but the craftmanship, i feel, over-shadowed the point that the artist was trying to make. One piece i found interesting was Miroslaw Balka's 'Kategorie',  a large cold concerete tunnel, subtley lit, and as you trvelled through you had to avoid delicate threads hanging from the ceiling of the tunnel, slowley revolving. as you walked through you felt concerned that you would break the thread and as it reached the floor it gradually dissapeared to the floor. Each thread was a different colour- each one symbolising the different uniforms prisoners in the Polish concentration camps. It reminded me a lot of the cold schitzophrenic structure of the Berlin Jewish Museum which makes you feel physically sick through navigation of space, but in a way  this piece removed  you from the sickening realities of the holocaust and made you think more specifically about the individuals that would have been victimised. Most definately the highlight of the show.

The second trip we made this evening was up to Bethnal Green to the Vyner street galleries. Being 'First Thursday' night, it was absolutely packed in every space down Vyner Street- and the specific exhibition which we came to see (Structure) was bursting by the seams. Structure is an exhibition that is being held at the moment by a couple of 2nd year BA students from Havering college. It is quite impressive  of the students from the course to get a venue like this, just for an ordinary show(Not to sound patronising, but it is a lot easier for 2nd year students based in London to find a space in london, than those based in a college outside), and they managed to get a big following down as well.  I like to keep up to date with what the college are getting up to- the foundation i was on at Havering was great and the Tutors there are very keen for the BA to come up to the same standard, and baring in mind that it is only in its fourth year, i think it is certainly making its way in the art world.

The show itself was what i was expecting, to be honest, a lot of print and paintings and a couple of videos. The space itself was broken up quite nicely but as there were so many people i found it difficult to look at work in any detail. I think the best work in this show was a painting of a building, it was a high rise concerete block but the centre image was surrounded by gold leaf which gace the painting a really uplifting feel. Unfortunately i couldn't get close enough to see who had painted it or a title even- but this is the one that i found most interesting. There was also a video that was rather creepy with a child whispering on it. Sadley i think my attention was drawn to it because it reminded me of an episode of Dr Who where a child keeps whispering 'are you my mummy' whilst its head has been merged to a gas mask- but anyway, yes, this did keep my attention for a while.

Outside there was some performance art going on, not really my cup of tea. A friend described it as a performance that was supposed to be amusing, the performers covered in sheets and/or newspapers chanting and ringing bells. I personally thought it was more embaressing than funny and a bit boreing to watch, and as they walked towards a car that was trying to drive down the road the performers seemed to become very confrontational, inching the car back as they walked towards it. The driver obviously didn't know what was going on and was worried about running into them. The performers on the other hand i think wanted to make a statement for statements sake. The crowds were a little too much for me, maybe i'm getting old, but people are just becoming ruder and ruder, and no one has any spacial awareness. I think i'm starting to get more and more claustraphobic around people. I may need to sort myself out before i stop leaving the house!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Painting With Rob

After 3 years of being at Chelsea, Rob and I managed to do that double still life- thing we used to talk about. The problem was for me that i havn't painted in a whihle- and actually i don't think i have ever painted from life. It was very relaxing through. I remember now why i used to paint and enjoy it, and now coming to the degree show it probably would have been a lot less stressful (Although i'm sure about 10 painters are going to come and beat me up for saying that- especially Rob who said i should swap paractices and be a painter while i still have a chance). Still Rob did a fantastic job, and mine did resemble Rob to a degree- It was commented that i had got the eyes right, but through my new enjoyment of painting odd coloured backgrounds i think it looked more like a cartoon of Rob. Thinking back, the first drawing i ever did of Rob did resemble a warewolf- perhaps i should give up now.