Taking a chance on a flyer – CHAMP

Art, Arts, Bristol, Events, Inspirational, Launch, Meditation, Music, Nature

Last night (20th June 2015) I was coaxed into attending an event by a very curious piece of advertising. Picked up at The Island, Bristol, this flyer, with its sparseness and contrast, was too intriguing to ignore.

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What I found, in a small, active industrial yard, was a gathering of people brought together for a performance and a barbecue, on the eve of the solstice.

Sam, the main man of the occasion, put the event together prior to the beginning of what he described to me as an adventurous wander of survival without money, a phone or a map. The idea, to leave of without worrying about how much money you have, who you’re in contact with and where you are, is greatly inspiring as a thing to do, and the fact that there was no pretention in the attitude of the friendly, jovial crowd bolstered the moment.

The event itself is tied to a group of artists in Bristol, CHAMP, whose newly renovated garage studio is as I awkwardly put it at one point, ‘nice’. Which is what it is, a well as more valuable adjectives.

It’s the second time I’ve joined the outskirts of a group shepherded by some leader figure called Sam. The first time being the night of my secondary school prom, in the face of rejection I’d gone off to a gig instead, and while there lied to a group of guys about my age so I could feel less insecure. Sam bought me a drink but I’d had to politely decline.

This time around it was homemade wine that I was avoiding for medical reasons and the barbecue, (from which I had a grilled pepper bun) was a happy addition to the performance. A good move. The details of the performance itself is really only for the performance. That it effectively involved a morning ritual with a much heightened intensity, is enough description to honour intentions I figure.

All of that which Sam took on his sojourn of indefinite length today was lain out on the floor until by the end of the performance it was packed away into his bag. In generosity Sam also provided me and others with a free shirt for our engagement, which was a fine thing to do.

Sam, and the rest of those more of the inner circle, were at the allotment mentioned on the flyer this morning at sunrise, to wave Sam away I guess.

It’s a shame I couldn’t be there, but I was more committed to getting to my bed than hanging around for somewhere to couch/floorsurf with the group. So on this, the longest day of the year, I wish Sam the vey best of luck, and am glad that things like this happen, because, if they didn’t, then just how boring would life be?

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And then we pulled the words and stuff…

Arnolfini, Art, Events, Exhibition, Launch

So, it’s getting on great. Going to have lot’s of lovely stuff for you to enjoy and such for the weekend it’s on… 2nd July – 5th July. Proper nice.

This Exhibition what Young Arnolfini, and also IKON Youth Programme and also Black Kettle Collective is putting on is about Communication

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 Why do a communication exhibition when Emma Smith just did one?

Because it’s such a broad topic, stupid question by the way… But that’s no way to speak to an honourable guest like yourself. I do apologise

 “This now is the time for making.”

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 A day of events on Saturday the 4th July you say? In a month you say? My word, how exciting.

This space will be transformed into a hove of ideas all connected to the ways we, as humans, communicate as humans, communicating, humanly, with each other. A place of learning space. A…


  Also… don’t miss… tomorrow at Arnolfini, (Friday 5th – 7th June, irrelevant if these dates have passed)…

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…and this wonderful piece of graffiti that somebody managed to get into the building and perform… (not an endorsement of illegal activity, speak to our lawyers)20150520_180125045_iOS
Thanks, bye.

The streets of Portugal

Installation, Street Art

On my recent trip to Portugal, I was fascinated by the cities there. The buildings all looked so old and ornate, and I couldn’t help but love them! After doing a bit of research, I found out that the style of them was called “Manueline” or Portuguese Late Gothic. What I love about this style is that it seems so detailed, and you can really see how much work goes into it.

Belém Tower in Portugal

Belém Tower in Portugal

One thing that I found really interesting though, was the floor. Yes, the floor.

No Boundaries #2: For the Love of All Things Without Boundaries

Arts, Bristol, Events, Inspirational, York

“The cultural map is being re-drawn… by new behaviours, new technologies, new models of funding and new local, national and global thinking. On 25 and 26 February 2014, No Boundaries considers the role of culture in 21st century society, bringing together leaders and activists and connecting discussions across two venues and the web.”

For the last two days I’ve been working with Watershed as one of their young journalists for No Boundaries, an open symposium on the role of culture and the arts in 21st century society. I can’t wait to share all the incredible things that I’ve been able to be a part of! Day 1 done, now…

Day Two

The beauty of Dr Benjamin Barber’s talk was that he sparked and incited a passion within me about defining cities and democracy amid shining a light on how the private versus public space conflict affects both. He seamlessly lays the foundation of the ‘No Boundaries’ theme and how it does and doesn’t correspond with Session 5′s Internationalism theme.

If you were following the #NB2014 Twitter feed you may have read my tweet: “Can’t quote @BenjaminRBarber fast enough. Could I link people to his talk and be done with my opinion? Everything he says is spot on #NB2014″. And to be honest I still stand by that so as soon as the link to his talk goes up I’ll be the first to tweet about it.

No Boundaries, The Guildhall, York. Image: Matt Baker

Having never encountered democracy in the way Barber expressed in my personal life, amid growing up in a society where ‘democracy’ equivalated to politics and voting, not communities and understanding, I couldn’t agree with him more about how ‘democracy is a way of life, a way of living that takes into account our diversity and encourages our collaboration and imagination’. It has taken seventeen years for the identity of our society, ‘democracy’, to be presented to me in a way that makes a lasting connection that makes me proud to be part of it instead of the systematic impersonal association I’ve grown up with. And isn’t it sad that this intimate concept wasn’t instilled with me in the ritualistic system of academia where I could have grown up with a healthier outlook on the ‘intercity intercommunity world without boundaries’. Oh no, it was a ten minute talk in the fifth session of a two day event. The chance of me being present for Dr Benjamin Barber’s talk is so slim and against me it only makes me more grateful for this innovative way of thinking. I use innovative loosely because it’s simply too ironic: I wouldn’t be surprised if the founding fathers of democracy looked upon Barber’s definition of it ‘taking into account our diversity and encourages our collaboration and imagination’ and offered up high fives all around. It’s so obviously the original meaning and intention it’s sad how it’d now be regarded as a creative new age way of thinking.

‘The city is the human habitat and community, it’s what defines us; where we’re born and grow up and get married and are buried.”

But that’s just it, ‘cities oddly, though made up of communities, are all about private space’ and even though ‘communities can’t thrive without public spaces they are defined by private space’. It’s this insidious war on public spaces ‘over the thirty or forty years of market commercialization and privatization of public space’ that needs to be addressed. We need to acknowledge that there’s ‘not enough public space to do the public work culture needs”. After all, guess who’ll be the first ones to complain about a culture deficit? Us.

So for the love of all things without boundaries can we inspire, support, nourish, develop and maintain our public spaces and remember they are for the people by the people, not by ourselves for ourselves.

P.S. had experienced my first and only technical difficulty during Session 5: Internationalism but I love how engaged the standby punk-poet Henry Raby had me from his infectious high energy right from the get-go with his spoken word. Even with hindsight, I’m still pretty sure his slip up was staged – he pulled that one off with amazing craft. I loved his energy and I’m ashamed to say part of me was sad once I found out he was just providing mid-technical-fault entertainment for York.

P.P.S no seriously, he deserves some credit: http://www.facebook.com/HenryRabyPoetry

Emma Blake Morsi | Young Journalist

No Boundaries #1: Where We Ought To Be

Arts, Bristol, Events, Inspirational, York

“The cultural map is being re-drawn… by new behaviours, new technologies, new models of funding and new local, national and global thinking. On 25 and 26 February 2014, No Boundaries considers the role of culture in 21st century society, bringing together leaders and activists and connecting discussions across two venues and the web.”

For the last two days I’ve been working with Watershed as one of their young journalists for No Boundaries, an open symposium on the role of culture and the arts in 21st century society. I can’t wait to share all the incredible things that I’ve been able to be a part of!

Day One

11:47:

Busy, busy, busy, buzzing.

Once I had reached the very top of the stairs it had been reestablished that today wasn’t a regular day at the creative hub that is Watershed. However it was only until I had seen people in full professional attire looking important with their rather large lanyards was I made aware of how immense these two days will be. From working with people in various ways I’m naturally aware of the importance of being open-minded to whatever the day has to offer – THE FIRST TRANSITION TO YORK AND BACK IS SUCCESSFUL, HOOOORAAAY – and with that, here goes Session 1: New Potential.

12:12:

It’s common for people to initially relate ‘diversity’ to ethnicity but Nii Sackey evolves this into the importance of creative diversity with the mindset that there’s a collapse of it. He talks about how as an arts community we gravitate to what we know because of this idea of the uncomfortable yet what’s key to success is dialogue with different people and addressing the uncomfortable. Diversity means we have to find creative ways to make things possible and reinforces that our focus should be on using what we’ve got and engage with people from that and funds will gravitate to you.

12:28:

From Nii Sackey setting the scene on his talk about the importance of a shifting focus onto diversity to then being appropriately followed up by Brian Gambles’s discussion on the immense model that is the Birmingham library and how this kind of initial diverse development should be an inspiration to further projects – whoever planned the schedule should be patting their back. With 1.5million visitors in less than six months, it seems the Library of Birmingham’s initial aim to create a visitor attraction, an ‘event space with a difference’ that ‘hands over power to the users of the library’, was a success. By ‘inviting young people to say what they want from their library’ they’ve enabled long-term partnerships and encourage the involvement of many in order to develop the community in their city. I’m also personally inspired by Gamble’s anecdote of how even the construction of it had such substantial social impact it gave someone not only employment, but a home – I am hooked, lined and sinking. To me this reinstalls how as an arts community, although trying to expand from our social position, we should never fail to remember the more minor aspects of our influence.

P.s. Brian Gambles’s sassy relationship with the PowerPoint is endearing, if you missed that I feel for you.

12:44:

Sophie Setter Jerrome rightly addresses the substantial importance of technology in our society to the point it’s now an extension of who we are. And why is this? ‘In the real world people dislike it when you monologue for ten minutes without pause’, thus a platform to ‘talk about what you’re passionate about with very few restraints’ to a ‘community of like-minded people’ has now become part of our everyday fundamentals. This doesn’t then take away from the internet being a fun hobby or a helpful tool. She discusses how it’s about utilizing the feedback you get as it’s just as important as the content itself. In this digital day and age it’s about bringing about a platform and ‘visibility to often silence groups’. Although, she states ‘we don’t see the power of online communities’, I feel, as a young person, that I do acknowledge this power, which makes me wonder: is it the older generation in our communities who currently hold the position of influence that don’t? At what point will they realize if they make their potential customers ‘so spoilt for choice they won’t have a loyalty to your brand’?

12:53:

Sorry, let’s first address how badass Lynsey Merrick’s introduction, “her weapon of choice is culture” is: Badass. Right, onwards and upwards.

Merrick discusses this idea of a Creative Revolution and how this comes from ‘understanding where we’re coming from to understand where we’re going’. Instead of inappropriately forcing ourselves into the mainstream (defined today as ‘the current common thought of the majority’) I agree with her sentimentality that we need to create substantial opportunities to enable a lifelong journey in Creativity and Culture with people from a young age, with emphasis on a ‘lifelong journey’. ‘History tells us society will respond to need’ and it’s up to us to establish a need for the arts within our communities. As soon as we address the need to branch out we also need to maintain the creative diversity that Nii Sackey discussed in order to deepen and strengthen relationships to become present at the local grassroots level – it’s our social responsibility as an arts community.

‘Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life’.

13:06:

What struck me the most is how simply Jude Kerry put everything I’ve always been thinking but unable to articulate: the patriarchal hierarchy in culture with children at the bottom. This notion of ‘social provisions for children is at our beckon call’, where we give children specific moments, for instance school holidays, as their opportunities to explore creatively. Kerry underlines our utmost importance should be offering a form of formal education to implement into academia. Now to me that should involve taking students out from this classroom feel to developing an opinion of the arts being just as significant as anything math’s or English has to offer. This shouldn’t mean a learning curve for people with an interests in the arts to thrive and those who are more logical in their learning style to be pushed aside, as after all we’d only be creating a backward system of what we currently have, but offering a platform where even those who find creatively interacting with learning a challenge are also encouraged to develop their potential further by regarding the uncomfortable.

Interviewing delegates. Photo: Lauren Phillips

My first post-session conversation with Shawn Sobers, a Senior Lecturer of Photography & Media, Dr. Edson Burton and a speaker in the first session, Jude Kelly, was extremely refreshing and insightful. Our discussion was inclusive, diverging from a range of ideologies that took us onto different topics, thus following the “No Boundaries” theme of the day. As a whole the feedback was positive with a particular appreciation for the different approaches taken towards the topic of creativity. However, Burton brought up a critical point about the absence of addressing the notion of taste, where the ‘need to feel like you have to agree with common tastes and like-mindedness’ is engraved into society. With this in mind we further discussed the complex generational change of how the loss of cultural heritage and identities over time through evolving generations has resulted in society and younger generations becoming defocused and disinterested in what were cultural stimulations that sparked creativity. From this Kelly put forward the necessity that ‘if it’s a taboo in the cultural sector we should get straight into it’ and be conscious that ‘history is ran by people who have the power’. But to that I say, instead of focusing on shifting this ideology, why don’t we, the arts community, strive to be a weapon of influence? A positive force to be reckoned with in society, from diverse partnerships between organizations to academic influence, is what we need to become.

Interviewing Susanna Eastburn, the Chief Executive of Sound and Music. Photo: Lauren Phillips

I continued my search for reflection across the room before Session 2: Adaptive Resilience. The Chief Executive of Sound and Music, Susanna Eastburn discusses the ‘really important tone for the first session’ that Nii Sackey sets in his opening speech by being ‘honest and not afraid of addressing critical issues’. From being involved in the arts already she finds the No Boundaries conference to be a great occasion to develop, reconnect and create new relations to continue to be innovative in her practice as well as a particular interest in hearing from the ‘voices outside of the arts’ because of this natural concept of being ‘open in her communications’. Also, from a technology stance it was intriguing to see the initial attraction where people were ‘curious about the interconnection of technology’ and the ‘multi-connection of two different art spaces’. I’ve found this innovative way of experimenting and exploring technology further just in the format of the overall conference to be a wonderful ironic campaign of how much there is to offer and from our shear excitement of it how little we’re utilizing it. Ali Robertson, the Director of the Tobacco Factory, mentioned how beneficial the first session had been for him yet also put forward this extremely valid point of wondering and considering how much of it will actually be implemented into our art practices and organizations.

Truth be told, I’m not sure either but the fact we’ve begun dialogue like this with this flare of open-mindedness is essential stepping-stones to getting to where we ought to be.

Arnolfini gallery exterior

What Does Culture Mean to You?

Bristol, Workshop

My personal initial response was complete utter blankness.

Culture? Wait, what?

In hindsight it’s so utterly diverse, yet such a similar versatile store of a value, after a while I couldn’t stop thinking deeply as if ‘culture’ had always been such a profound element in my everyday life. And funnily enough, after the first Teenage Kicks research project workshop looking into what culture means to young people, I discovered that of course culture does have such intense and deep emotions attached to it because it’s part of what forms an identity.

The culture – the people, activities, places – you surround yourself with are all influential in forming your identity.

So yes, initially I was slightly apprehensive going to today’s afternoon workshop at Arnolfini because I didn’t consider myself to be well astute on the topic of ‘culture’. From academia alone the only form of ‘culture’ I had come across to accept as plausible was that in Religious Education or PSHE lessons about ethics, ethnicity, and religion, but this idea of culture being a form I could associate myself with never really crossed my mind.

‘Culture’ wasn’t something I did, it was something I knew about that happened somewhere else.

But soon enough I discovered I had all sorts to say.

The workshop was built around firstly formulating the idea of culture through word and object association activities that, for me, really helped broaden my concept of ‘culture’ to being able to simply include things dear to me. And most importantly, there was a real emphasis on there being no right or wrong answer to anything because every point was valid for the reason of it simply existing.

Afterwards we were then asked to answer different questions dotted around the room, like ‘which cultural forms or activities do you engage with the most?’, with post-it notes and it was quite intriguing to notice the room verbally quieten as the mental bolts went off on one like clockwork.

It was after this that we were given the chance to discuss the different ideologies and feelings of the intimate group of seven. It was incredible to be given the opportunity to consider and develop differing and similar viewpoints, with this idea of ‘open-mindedness’ being key to everything. Thus, keeping this in mind we discussed everything from academia to the arts to music to fashion to celebrities to social media to communities and cities, and a lot more! And best of all it was fabulous to have different insights to varying and complementary views as it not only helped to broaden my knowledge but was a great way to ascertain my own opinions.

So, I’m pretty stoked for the next session and would like to thank the ever-so-wonderful Kamina Walton for once again providing us Young Arnolfini members with continuous opportunities and Emma Pett and Dr. Helen Manchester from the University of Bristol for arranging such a brilliant interactive project to really voice young people’s opinions.