Summer Photo Fun 2015 – Week 2 – Colour

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We had a right splash of colour for week 2 of this year’s summer photo fun.  I’m not sure whether we had more people contributing because they found this theme easier to interpret that the first week of start, or whether for most people this was actually the first week of the holidays.  Either way there were some great interpretations and it was fantastic to see my timeline pop up with these lovely photos, including some from kids which is always great.

If you click on the gallery then you can scroll through them in the right size, do have a look and let us know which ones you liked.   I really liked the pink umbrella in St Mark’s Square but I couldn’t take my eyes of the piece of art work dripping in colour so I had to put that one at the top this week.

As always huge thanks for playing along with us, the kids will set a new theme each week over the summer holidays so hope you will continue to play along with us.  Just follow #summerphotofun and / or me – @ianstreet67 on twitter and you will see the themes, then just tweet your interpretation and they will all go into the blog gallery for that theme at the end of the week.  You don’t need to be a ‘photographer’ just open your eyes, snap on your phone and have fun with it.  If you happen to be in a part of the world where it’s not summer, no worries you are still welcome to interpret and join in.

Summer Photo Fun 2015 – Week 1 – Start

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Summer Photo Fun 2015 got off to a bit of a slow start, with the kids picking Start as the first theme.  I was not sure whether people were finding it hard to interpret the theme, or whether we had simply got off to too early a start for people.  The summer holidays in Leeds this year are a bit strange and have caught quite a few people out as we count through our diaries and realise that it lasts for 7 weeks this year.  Now summer holidays have been 6 weeks for as long as I can remember but for reasons I don’t understand this year they are 7 weeks and next summer 5 apparently.  The result of this meant that we leapt into Summer Photo Fun a bit earlier than normal.

Still a few people saw it and got snapping and as always there were some lovely interpretations, the start of journeys, adventure, races and perhaps my favourite the photo at the top feature the start of new life.  Although it was a quiet start to summer photo fun, as always many thanks for those who contributed.  Let’s see what the rest of the summer throws up.

Anyone is welcome to contribute, just watch the hastag on twitter #summerphotofun and / or follow me on twitter @ianstreet67 for the weekly themes that my kids set.

Madrid Street Signs

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Whenever I’m in a city, wandering around there tends to be something that sticks out at me and makes that city special.  This for me is not the usual landmarks, but something else that you would perhaps not give a huge amount of time to, but which I think reveals something about the soul of a place.  Last year for example when I was in Malaga I became interested in both the graffiti and perhaps more oddly the paving stones.  In Madrid recently there were two things that really stood out, the amazing markets in each area and the street signs in the centre of the city which I became quite mesmerised by as I wandered around.

Every street, square, alleyway or courtyard had one of these beautifully crafted individually tiled street signs.  There didn’t appear to be any particular style or uniformity to them as they were made up of either 9, 12, 15 or 16 tiles and the artistic designs were also quite different, they were also often quite high up on the walls, often with wires running across them or CCTV cameras next to them.  In other words they were just everyday signs but for me they added a real sense of beauty and style to the city.  Anywhere that takes this much care in designing a street sign for an alleyway has got to be good.  It also really added to my enjoyment of walking around the city as I was constantly looking out for the signs as I meandered along and they made great reference points.

I didn’t do much thinking about them as I walked around, apart from trying to translate the odd one, my knowledge of Spanish and Spanish history is not good enough to understand the meaning or resonance behind many of the pictures but I found myself wanting to know more.  What is the Calle del Codo with the arm in armour all about for example ?

I think about cities and sense of place quite a bit particularly what makes a good city or place?  I don’t necessarily have the answers but as with the paving stones in Malaga, any city that puts this much craft into it’s street signs must have soul.

Postcard from Madrid

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Madrid, one of Europe’s grand old cities, and what better place to spend a few days exploring and feeling the first real bit of warmth of the year.  Like many Spanish cities I found Madrid great for walking and exploring, there was no grand plan just some vague ideas and this approach works for me as you tend to come across things as you mooch, you have the time to take the temperature of the city and get a feel for it with the hassle of thinking I need to get someone by a certain time or to see a particular thing.  Much as great cities have fantastic places to see, it’s people that make places so getting a feel for them and the beat of the city is equally important as far as I am concerned.

Also, like when I was in Barcelona last year, it seems to be very easy to get away from the cram of tourists who follow a very predictable trail.  Walk a couple of streets away in any direction and you are in a different Madrid, one that’s much more to my liking.  I stayed right bang in the centre, in a great little flat that was my first experience of using air B & B and I couldn’t have wished for better.  If meant that I could step out of the door and be right in the heart of things but could stroll half an hour in any direction to explore some of the different areas.

I’d been to Madrid before a few years ago and I wondered how it would feel in light of the serious impact that the recession has had on Spain.  For me the city remains as warm and welcoming and as clean and safe as you could possibly hope for.  This time in the city I seemed to spend a lot of time in the markets, each area that I visited had one and they really were astonishing places and could really teach my home city a thing or two as it ponders how to ‘regenerate’ the city market.  For me the most astonishing was Sunday afternoon in San Fernando market in the Lavapies area.  I stumbled across this by poking my head through an entrance and the first signs were not promising, stalls with the shutters down, the odd one or two with a couple of people sat at.  However music could be heard so we ventured in and lo and behold the world changed.  In the middle of this covered market a hundred or so people were in full swing dancing away to latin music pumping out as DJ’s played the tunes, surround the central area, a labyrinth of packed stalls selling tapas, beer and wine kept the crowd fed and watered.  It was mesmerising and the atmosphere was so good it just made you feel alive.  We found a fantastic little wine place, drank what was recommended and just soaked it up.  I want to spend every Sunday doing that, it was perfect.

I was chatting to someone from Lavapies about the market and he said that a few years ago it was dying, just a couple of stalls remained but slowly the community has brought it back to life with events and activities and placing it back into the heart of the community which has brought new stall holders and businesses in.  A fantastic success story.  Round the corner I also stumbled across a great little bike shop and bought the local cap, I found out that they have only made 100 and the money is going to help run the community cycling club.  They seemed amazed that some guy from Leeds wanted to buy one of their caps.

Little adventures and experiences like this happened across the few days we were there as we wandered about.  Yes we saw the main squares, Guernica, the parks, Churches, Palaces etc but it was the neighbourhood bars, markets and vibe of the city that I enjoyed the most.  Can’t wait to go back.

 

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice- Review

West Yorkshire Playhouse/Birmingham Rep production of LITTLE VOICE by Jim Cartwright directed by James Brining

West Yorkshire Playhouse/Birmingham Rep production of
LITTLE VOICE
by Jim Cartwright
directed by James Brining

Hi I’m Cari, I’ve written a review of Little Voice for my Bronze Arts Award Project where I was required to view a performance, write a review, give and share my opinion.  This is my first time writing on a blog and I thought it would be a good way of sharing my review.  I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.  Thanks.

The Review

Witty, intelligent and insightful, Little Voice has it all.

Set in a gritty working class family, where poverty and desperation appear round every turn.  The Rise and Fall of Little Voice lit up an unseen spark which remained untouched throughout the play.  Little Voice (LV) spends her time in her room, relentlessly playing her dead father’s cherished record collection, in a house which she shares with her mother, Mari. Mari is loud, crude and frequently drinks.  This automatically sets an interesting starting point, as LV is the opposite to her mother, and drowns out the emptiness she feels with the sound of her music.

The play commences with Mari getting a new phone fitted into her house.  I feel this was an excellent starting point, as it immediately sets the time concept and shows the awkward relationship between Mari and LV.  LV’s soon to be friend Billy is also introduced in this scene.  There tentative yet intimate relationship slowly blossoms throughout the play, and captivates the audience because of their unlikely friendship.

Nancy Sullivan (LV) was perfectly cast in this role, as she captures the shyness and timidness of LV, as well as the spark and desire to be heard.  Later in the show, we realise that not only does LV listen to music, she can also flawlessly impersonate the famous artists.  This is revealed when she sings to herself and her mother’s latest fling Ray Say.  Astonished and bewildered, Ray Say acts upon this and attempts to persuade LV to sing in the local cabaret.  The entirety of the play is then based upon LV mastering the courage to perform and make her father proud.

Nancy Sullivan’s beautiful singing bewitches the audience and transports you to Hollywood: a thought, I presume, that’s also on Mari’s and Ray Say’s mind.  Vicky Entwhistle complements Mari to a T.  She is a Yorkshire lass who’s larger than life and feels misplaced in the life she is living.  Her constant boozy barrier, protects her from the looming fears of poverty and isolation which is perfectly shown by her acting.

The transition from scene to scene is snippets of radio broadcast from the time; such as, Margaret Thatcher and the Miners Strike.  I feel this highlighted the struggles in that time period and related well to LV and Mari’s struggle in a working class life.  It was also well chosen, as it has an effect on audience members who lived through that time period, as well as the Tories unmistakeable effect on the social and economic structure then and now.

The set reflected a Yorkshire terrace house, it has a damaged structure and is falling apart in various places.  It contains two bedrooms, a bathroom and adjoined living and kitchen space.  Around the outside of the house were various objects, such as dart boards and broken junk.  I feel this may represent past memories of LV’s father and Mari’s old life as a constant reminder of what they don’t have.  The fractured house structure may also reflect LV and her mother’s fractured relationship.

To conclude, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a witty unmissable play currently showing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  It touches on life as a working class family in the time of the Tories reign in the 1980’s.  James Brining and Jim Cartwright have created a touching performance that makes us think about how our starting point in life affects us and how success is finding who you really are.

4 Stars.

Liberate Tate #TimePiece

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I like it when you stumble across things.  I’m one of life’s bumblers with no grand plan, this can of course be infuriating for me and others at times but on balance it really works.  It’s a particularly good way to enjoy cities so instead of a must see list and charging round at the speed of light so you can cross things off said list, I find it much better to have a vague idea, somewhere to sort of aim at but it doesn’t matter whether you get there or not.  This way, while you have a sense of direction, the journey is somewhat more haphazard and as a result you see more things along the way.

I hadn’t planned to go into Tate Modern the other day but as I was ambling up the south bank having spent a very enjoyable few hours in it’s older sibling Tate Britain and in particular at the Fighting History exhibition I thought it would be good to pop in and see what was in the Turbine Hall, also I needed the loo.  I really wasn’t sure what was going on at first as hunched, veiled figures were holding books, scribbling on the floor.  On closer inspection I’d stumbled across an artistic protest which was kind of spookily ace seeing as I’d just come from an exhibition featuring radical protest art and artists trying to interpret key moments in history.  Climate change and dependence on fossil fuels will surely be a key moment in our history and here unfolding in front of me was conflict, protest, an artistic act that seeks to make sense of this moment and affect change.

The group doing the scrawling were Liberate Tate who are a group of artists protesting about BP’s sponsorship of the gallery.  They have done a number of other artistic protests but in this one they were occupying the turbine hall for 24 hours (to coincide with the tidal movements of the Thames) and were using charcoal to inscribe passages and slogans from dystopian novels, climate change reports, non fiction books that provided a thought provoking narrative.

Should public institutions be tied to companies driving climate change? At the very least it should be very clear what investment is being made and it seems very odd that it took a three year legal battle to get the amount that BP invests in the Tate made public, and the amount ?  £224,000 a year apparently which, while being a not inconsiderable sum of money, makes up only 0.3% of the Tate’s operating budget.  Food for thought I think.

I don’t know what happened when the gallery was due to close, would the security guards move in or would the group be allowed to stay and continue their silent protest, quietly scribbling away?

I’m glad that I stumbled across Liberate Tate.

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Fighting History

The History of the World 1997-2004 Jeremy Deller 

The timeline on the wall outside the Fighting History exhibition at Tate Britain tracks from 60000BC through to 1990. Over this vast span of history are random points of struggle that have been depicted spanning 250 years of British historical art and that form the focus of the exhibition.  What I found striking throughout the artworks across the six rooms was how it made me consider history and how it is portrayed together with the title of the exhibition ‘Fighting History’ and how this was reflected in the art.  Who is fighting who and why? what was the story behind the images captured by artists across the years and indeed what is the fight?  It also made me think about how can you take individual significant moments from history (whatever period that is) and distil that moment or event and in doing so what story are you telling of the event?

My preconceptions perhaps before going in were that I would be confronted with images of Nelson and other heroic figures of British history bathed in patriotic fervour.  However the first image that I was confronted with was related to the poll tax riots as the first room dealt with radical history and how British artists have sought to show the resistance to authority.  Also in this room was the Jeremy Deller picture above, a seemingly simply mind map linking Brass Bands and Acid House within which is the Conservative governments’ attempts to outlaw a particular type of music via the Criminal Justice Bill and how, perhaps as a result of that threat, dance music is now simply another corporate money making enterprise far removed from invention and radicalism.  It’s safe to say that this was not exactly what I was expecting in an exhibition on Fighting History and I found it brilliant thought provoking stuff.

Other rooms continued to educate, inform and enthral me through looking at ancient history, mythology, large scale moments of history, individual moments of fighting history (and there were some fascinating interpretations of what this might be) as well as the humankind’s constant battle against nature.  What I particularly liked in the way the rooms were curated were the different artistic interpretations, so for example there were modernist takes on both the Battle of Hastings and the Biblical Flood which I thought really showcased how different artists interpreted events.

History is written by the winners and this exhibition made me reflect on that and our place within it and it made me consider how we remember things, how do we keep events alive and relevant? who tells the story and what story is it that they are telling?

All of these things came together in a room that looked at the 1984/85 miners strike and in particular a documentary on a re-enactment of the Battle of Orgreave, again done by Jeremy Deller, which interspersed interviews with those affected by the strike amongst the preparations for the re-enactment of the battle, which was meticulously done by ex miners who where there at the time and volunteers from various re-enactment societies.  It left a very powerful impression on a key moment of recent British history that many would like to see forgotten and asks some uncomfortable questions around the truth and whether we will ever really know it.

A truly interesting and thought provoking exhibition.