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A Jamboree at the Newbridge project

February 23, 2012 by Matt Foster   Comments (0)

“Via a process of invitation, A NEWBRIDGE ENQUIRY proposes a 3 day programme designed to cultivate hospitality, reciprocity and social dialogue.

The opening times have been designed to welcome a visitor dialogue outside of the customary gallery opening hours.

All events are free and welcome to all”

It starts with a breakfast: “Come on in, sit down, grab a cuppa and a slice of toast! Chat to your neighbour!” Activities follow through the first afternoon, just some simple, enjoyable things to pass the time pleasantly. The same happens again on day two, but instead of an afternoon of sit-down workshops there is a (mind-opening) daytime disco. One of the Artists – Andrew Wilson is dressed to the nines, which is appropriate for the projection of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ playing on the wall behind him. He walks onto the dance floor just as I come in, and truly begins to strut his stuff. Initially I feel awkward, but as the calls for me to dance come in I give a little wiggle, and begin to move to the beat. Admittedly I didn’t quite fall for the charms of this part of the experience as much as most of the others did, but then I suppose I hadn’t had the magic of Messrs Lloyd and Wilson working on me for long enough. Luckily, others were more receptive and soon everyone was boogie-ing on down on the dancefloor like the best of them.

 The big event was that evening, the big Jamboree. I honestly had no idea what to expect but a bar in the second room. If anything I expected an exhibition, or perhaps a quick performance. I am quite glad that there was neither.

When I walked in it took a moment to realise that actually the people in the middle of the floor are not doing a performance piece, but are visitors to the gallery like me; It was as we tried to behave awkwardly, and give the wierdos a wide berth (making absolutely no eye contact) as they seemingly attempted to break as many musical instruments as they could that we realised how many other instrument were arranged in little, inviting piles all over the floor, and only then does it dawn on you; you are here to play.

                We ended up sitting on the floor for around two hours, occasionally getting up to move to a new stack of music-makers, or to make short trips to the bar. The sensation was extraordinary; we had gone back to a simpler time, remembering why it had been important as a child that ALL of the toys remained on the floor, within sight and therefore available for immediate use in the imagination. If one of the (quite decrepit) instruments were to come apart under the strain, its parts would simply be taken and used as new instruments of mass expression.

 I saw people are whacking away at the drums and cymbals, smashing tambourines together, and using strangely-shaped whistles to pluck at the strings of the electric guitar sat across their lap. I even spotted an old, rusty saw and a quite retro old salad-spinner (just for inventiveness’s sake), perhaps just to aid in the regression of the visitor – after all; who as a child did not just play with a salad spinner just for how it felt in your hands (as well as that noise)?


Everyone suddenly became enough of an expert to play an instrument in a public place, although occasionally someone with an actual skill would pop up, but would be forgotten or ignored in the medley after briefly, but proudly showing off said skill to the person next to them (the only person who would have been able to hear). Someone else, suddenly excited by a new and wonderful  noise would immediately seek the attention of their peers, pride being quite a dominant emotion in the experience that night.

One testing element of the potential absolute musical freedom was the bottle of Lyon’s golden syrup lying on the floor, its lovingly squeezed-in sides, and the fact that it is only half-full almost invites someone caught up in the madness of bashing a tambourine with a duck-shaped kazoo to think of it as a musical addition to any of the instruments, almost guaranteed to introduce heavy and sticky variations into any instrument's musical output. Luckily though I spent more than a moment thinking about it and was able to deduce that one of the Jamboree team, exhausted after the days of preparation and maintenance of the exhibition had simply been celebrating pancake-day earlier on. It was a close one.

People were able that night to leave the modern culture of social fears and peer-driven self-consciousness (which people normally have to resort to drinking to achieve) for a small amount of time, leaving them able to use the instruments for their true purpose – which is to MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

It gave people an excuse or reason to act strangely without the judgement (again usually something reserved for alcohol abuse) of their peers, and allowed them to just throw themselves in and enjoy themselves. A brilliant concept, and an enjoyable night.

More available at www.definitelywriting.com

Donald Trump can ruin anything

February 23, 2012 by Matt Foster   Comments (0)

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I just watched a film.

In this film I noticed something strange.

In this film I noticed how whenever people talked about any of the nearby buildings (AKA skyscrapers) they would refer to them as ‘the glass building’ or ‘the building with the dome’, and other equally vapid descriptions of these great monoliths. This happened every time the protagonists had to explain something about their quickly changing surroundings to the secondary characters, with one exception: one building was exempt, one building’s name was said quite a few times, the big, rich pinstriped baddie even holding the captured leading lady there instead of his big, hollowed out volcano (I can ony assume it was being repainted at the time, and so was unavailable). As you may have guessed from the title (and you all being such a smart lot) the tower in question was Trump tower.

Donald Trump. The man never ceases to annoy me.

I shudder imagining the contract written up between his and Hollywood’s lawyers, him explaining what he wants: “first of all, it’s not so much that I want my building to be named and used in the film, but I also want the other buildings of consequence to be unremarkable, unrecognised in their drabness by the characters in the film. It’s fine though… I’ll pay for a big, bronze, claw-footed director’s chair for you to have on set”. Well, it was probably something like that.

The part of it that really got to me though is that it was actually subtle, I mean it had enough of Trump in it for me to notice (actually it stank like hangover piss on a gilded toilet seat), but someone less cynical wouldn’t have noticed, and definitely not a child; the actual target market for the film.

Also, don’t forget what he is actually paying for here: not just product placement, but Donald placement: “look how cool the building I named after me is” says this particular piece of plugging. He is essentially making sure that the legend that is his ego – and not the one that is the big, gingery mop of (something that looks like) hair that sits on top of his head – is to be remembered by the great unwashed, the millions of folk who end up watching the movie, but so they don’t realise how big a pair of rolled up socks this actually stuffs down his incredibly expensive underpants.

 more at www.definitelywriting.com

What is the Opposite of Philanthropy?

February 23, 2012 by Matt Foster   Comments (0)

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In my refined and beautiful life it is not often that I am forced to come across adverts on TV or the radio, but inevitably they serve only to make me irritated, and after further (‘rational’) thought about them I usually decide to become angry. A couple that have passed my field of vision in recent times have been one made by Cadbury’s, and the other by a generic air-freshener or ‘compensation’/ambulance chasing legal service (I forget which one, as the advert was completely interchangeable).


The Cadbury’s one was for a ‘new’ chocolate bar (which was actually originally released in around 2006), the advert featuring a number of ‘wacky’ purple vehicles suddenly transforming as they drove along and literally ballooning (I mean that too; they actually literally turn into balloons) until they are flying above the country in one massive, tacky armada with strange little people inside pulling levers, this triggers the release of thousands of chocolate bars attached to parachutes, which are now going to float out over the nation so that everyone can have some free, (although strictly hypothetical) chocolate.

One problem that I have with this is that they have paid a big advertising firm to take the image of these people giving chocolate – in the most loving, and fun way that they can think of – to (hypothetical) beneficiaries, and then put it on television.


Surely a much easier way to spread the news of such a revolutionary (not to mention tasty) ‘new’ product is to actually hand it out (to real people) on the streets. Not only would this be cheaper than buying up prime-time advertising space, but also spare the expense of filming the whole ridiculous charade. They could actually give out free chocolate, instead of paying another company to show potential paying customers a hypothetical simulation of generous, showy philanthropy by Kraft (neé Carbury’s). Surely this is not the way to go about the Wonka-style attitude that they have been trying to trick people into believing that they have? Even down to wearing silly purple coats…


No, Mr Wonka would have trusted in the quality and tastiness of his new product to sell itself to the people upon tasting it, and that is why he had faith in his ‘free-chocolate-that-you-can-eat-straight-from-the-telly’ marketing ploy to relauch his name. Unfortunately, due to this not being the case with the Cadbury’s newly released (or old and repackaged) product, it is illogical for them to do so, instead dodging the fact that they are selling low-range confectionery at mid-range prices and instead paying for the sense of good feeling and improved reputation that comes with the public associating you with the (hypothetical) act of generosity in the advert.


what we have here is a group of controlling executives paying professional propaganda companies for the hearts and minds of the public (which I personally question the morality of, despite the fact that is only a figure of speech, rather than a reference to organ-harvesting).

More available at www.definitelywriting.com

Book Making Workshops

February 23, 2012 by Yvette Hawkins   Comments (0)

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Yesterday I met up again with the two students who had approached me about running a mini residency/project with Book Apothecary.  Their project will form part of a new programme of work for 2012 and is one of 7 projects launching this year.  Strangely about half of the people involved are Northumbria Uni students, not all from this residency, so a nice coincidence there.

The meeting was fantastic, lots to talk about as we started to flesh out how it will work.  There are about 7 or 8 students involved in this particular project all working in different disciplines, all responding to the book format in some form and presenting their work in a modified vintage suitcase. Other projects in the programme include a travelling radio installation, a tour of train stations of work responding to the theme of journey, an animation book, a drawing project involving a group from Dyslexia North East, an altered books project and a Primary school tour.  A group of photography students will also be involved in documenting all of the projects to go into a suitcase too.

The next stage is devising some workshops so that all the students are equipped to develop their ideas.  So I'm planning some book making workshops at the uni.  I scoped out the room I was reccommended yesterday, just need to find some tables, order lots of tools and we're go!  The great thing about this workshop is that some of the books made will also be taken to a residency we're doing with ISIS Arts, so students will have the chance to make work for a live project.  Hopefully many students will be interested in coming along.  Once I have a date, i'll post it on here.

In the meantime, I'm still neck deep in making work for two shows opening next month.  Last week I ran a modular sculpture workshop at globe gallery (www.globegallery.org) which will form part of the exhibition.  

I also had the first meeting of a network I had set up called BAN (Book Artist Network) which brings together artists across the north east working with book art or artist books in some form.  It went brilliantly, with 15 people turning up and another meeting scheduled next month to discuss what we want to do and make together.  Contact me if you want to join?

I did manage to send off a big order of book sculptures for a Hotel too last week, so i'm quite pleased things are starting to free up and I can focus on Book Apothecary and this residency a bit more.

23rd Feb 2012

February 23, 2012 by Fiona Harvey   Comments (0)

Beginning to feel I'm getting my feet under the table.  Spent 4 days making prints in the darkroom, and produced about 10 prints, which is a nice surprise as it can take a whole day to get one right.

I'm printing work from a project I carried out in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in 2010 which has not so far been shown.  The plan is to make enough prints to allow a considered edit, and then show the work.

I've had the darkroom pretty much to myself so far, but that will change now that students have had their induction.  It will be good to see what they are doing and talk to them about their work.

Still trying to elicit a response from those running the Showcase Gallery about a show for the 3 AA2A artists sometime this year.

AA2A blogs for Jan and Feb

February 22, 2012 by Louise Waller   Comments (0)

1st February

At Today’s drop in I wanted to show the Creative Collaborators the options we have for working with Clay. I have started to recycle (Reclaim) some old dry clay, there is Black-Chunky, Crank, Earthstone Hand-building and some Earthstone Hand-building that has previously been stained a bit blue and some that has some Black Chunky grog (little stones) added to it.

We need to soak the clay in water. To create paper clay we add a pulp mixture made from us soaking Toilet Paper in water. I explained the properties and benefits of experimenting in this way and everyone had a feel of the wet clay which dried on plaster slabs during our meeting. One Collaborator took home some clay to have an experiment with over half term. I am excited to start making with the Creative Collaborators and am going to order some green stain that we can use on the Blue clay as this ties into a specific paper clay origami idea.

We need to make some plaster Slabs (bats) that we can try out our unconventional clay on. I explained that I tend to cast the plaster in large shoe boxes and that we can line them with texture (funky foam or wall paper) to give us a textured side for future use.

25th January

I spent today completing my image for the Companion Book. The lunchtime drop in was an opportunity for Students to pop in with their completed pages a couple of students did bring their pages in, I have scanned them and put them on this website and The Sketchbook Project Website. I have stuck all the images into the Sketchbook Project and will post it on Monday.

Today’s opportunity was to submit work for a Secret Art Show being organized by PCS Union Reps who work at Tate Liverpool, Modern, Britain and other London venues. The Art Show is to raise funds but it is an opportunity to exhibit a piece of your Artwork in a London Gallery that will be well attended and also inclusion in an online catalogue. I think it is a valuable habit for young Creative People to get into, taking part in Exhibitions proves you are a practicing Artist.

18th January

Only one student attended the Lunchtime Drop in today, we had a really interesting conversation about working on collaborative projects. The student plans to submit a piece of their collaborative project to my Sketchbook Project Entry, thus taking her project International. The way of working, disseminating Origami pieces with instructions to add a message and return to be collated and exhibited links really well in that I am able to help spread the pieces through my colleagues, friends, Apprentices, Students (all Creative people who will be interested and keen to take part). The origami paper folding element that is the construction of the individual pieces could tie in nicely to the Collaborative Practical Project if we were to experiment making paper clay as this is a technique I had wanted to demo.

18th January Intro to Lucy and Maria’s Class

I brought in my Portfolio (from Ba Design Degree and Masters of Arts Degree today as well as a small selection of my Ceramic pieces from different projects. I gave a 45 minute talk to the class, just explaining my background, achievements, struggles and future hopes. I asked for the student’s feedback and explained about my intention to use feedback to adapt my work to make more commercial designs whilst still retaining my integrity. I don’t want to make pieces to sell but I am keen to adapt my style to make pieces that have a wider appeal.

I told the students about my Creative Collaboration and invited them to join the Wednesday lunchtime Drop in sessions at any point as well as informing them about the Companion Book. I gave a few Companion Book pages out and do hope some of the students enjoy participating in this.


Phase II of my residency

February 20, 2012 by Liz Linell   Comments (0)

I'm moving into 3D, evolving off the board.

Chipboard begs for a jigsaw to sculpt it. Who am I to refuse?


February 19, 2012 by Lowri Evans   Comments (0)

Things in Salford are starting to get going for me. Tomorrow I will give a talk called 'What is Performance' for students and perform a short piece called Vigil. I have been playing in spaces and the studo one or two days a week and had interesting conversations with students, staff and other AA2A artists. I am reminded of the value of a studio, as a gesture to shutting everything else out and committing to creativity.



February 17, 2012 by Claire Weetman   Comments (0)

The past 2 fridays I've been attending a workshop at Salfor Uni on Stop Frame media.  Led by the most helpful technicians Craig and Steve, I've been picking up tips on setting up, lighting, image sizes and this week have had my first foray into editing with Final Cut Pro and DVD studio pro.

I spent a couple of hours last week with limited materials and equipment producing and photographing the work, and here's a rough edit of what I've produced http://youtu.be/3Oo_NZfFW60