Summer Photo Fun – 2014 – Memory

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So the summer holidays draws to a close and with it our final theme set by the kids of Memory, a lovely theme on which to close as we look back over the last few weeks and hopefully remember the good times we’ve had, days out, laughs, perhaps foreign climates, adventures, family, fun, good food etc.  This has definitely been my experience of the summer holidays and I hope it has been for you as well.  When the final theme was announced someone said how do you photograph a memory, which is of course a good point but at the same time we use photographs to capture our memories all the time and there are many things that remind us of them, whether that memory is one freshly made or from a lifetime ago.  Smells, colours, clothes, jewellery, places, food, everyday objects, things around the house, stuff stuck on the fridge door etc there are constant reminders all around us of our memories and these have been beautifully captured in the collection of images that came in this week.  Of course whilst many memories are shared they are all personal to us individually and this I think was captured beautifully both by the war memorials and the photographs of children, some who have now grown into adults while others are newly born.  I thought this was a lovely way to end this summers series.

I’ve actually put one of my photos at the top this week, I’ve never done that before so I hope you’ll forgive me indulgence.  For me music is an important part of my life and acts as a trigger to so many memories some momentous and important others mundane.  For example whenever I hear The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys I am transported back to a wet and cold evening standing waiting for a train on London Bridge station !  I’ve been a fervent gig goer for many years even if now it’s only on occasion that I go to see a band as opposed to the several times a week when I was younger.  Ticket stubbs get stuffed in pockets and left on the side somewhere but I ended up sticking lots of them in an envelope, where many still are, but a few years ago I got a picture frame and put a collage of some of them up on my wall.  It might not be to everyone’s taste but each ticket contains a powerful memory.

As always huge thanks to those of you who play along interpreting the kids themes, sending in your photos and making it all so much fun, we really enjoy and appreciate it.  As ever click on the gallery to open it and you can see the photos in full.  Do let us know which ones you liked.  So that’s it for another year, we have done three years of this now and it’s always been great fun.  We will I expect continue to do the other holidays – half term photo fun; christmas photo fun etc and will occasionally just throw in a random weekend photo fun so if you like the idea and want to join in just follow me on twitter (@ianstreet67) which is where the themes get announced.  I’ve also toyed with the idea of doing some sort of exhibition of themes and the whole photofun idea, not sure if I’ll ever get round to that but it could be good fun I think.

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Photos from far and wide- April 14.

Following my photos in January and it’s great success I enlisted the help of 9 others to join up for an April version of the same thing. Now before you think this is a group of people who all live in Leeds, you are mistaken, these photos come far and wide and have winged their way locally from Leeds, Sheffield, Chester, and Llandinum (its in Wales before you ask!).

I have had great fun collating all the pictures and seeing how people have interpretated the project, and one of the things that sticks out to me is my connection that I have to all the people. The mix of people involved include friends from twitter, neighbours, bestest chums, a friends sisters as well as a few of my family members.

The photos show imagination, excitement, fun and great colour and to me illustrate the commonality I have with all the people involved despite some of us being 100s of miles apart. Unsurprisingly there have been similar images of gardening, craft, cooking, food, the outdoors and architecture and all stand out as things that bring you all together through me.

Whilst gathering the images I asked for some feedback from people, the comments overall highlight that its been enjoyable, and has mainly enabled people to consider positive things and fun activities they have been doing. Below are some of their thoughts….

“Its been fun doing this but even more fun looking back over the last month and seeing how different each day is”

“I enjoyed taking the time out to find something special everyday, even in the ordinary like a trip to the gym. It’s so easy to forget and whizz past what’s important so this made me focus on that. The everyday, ordinary, important stuff!”

“It’s a tiny bit of mindfulness that makes you appreciate the good things”

“The days that just involve waking up, working and coming home can be tough, and it has been really rewarding to identify something that has made me smile”

“Had lovely time taking photos. focused the mind on particular point in the day”

“Doing the April ‘photo a day’ was great fun. It was sometimes hard to remember to do as time flies by at the moment and I struggled to not make every picture of my little boy (being an obsessed parent)”

“Surprisingly I never forgot to take a photo. Unsurprisingly they seem to reflect a busy life”.

Hope you enjoy looking at the photos, and thank you to everyone involved.

Daisy xx

 

 

Flyposting 3 – The Art of the Gig Poster

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When I think back through time and consider how and when I became aware of art I think that it was initially first through music and specifically album covers.  A long time before I’d come across Rothko’s signature use of colour I had been impressed by the stark minimalism of AC/DC’s Back in Black album cover.  There have been a string of great artists and photographers who have designed album covers including Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Saville, Robert Mapplethorpe, Raymond Pettibon, Banksy, Damien Hirst, Sir Peter Blake and Jean-Michel Basquiat to name just a few.  Many of the iconic images are burned into my consciousness and I can remember flicking through racks of records sometimes simply buying a record based solely on the cover design.  This was not always the best policy of course but did sometimes turn up some gems.  As we have moved across to the digital age the art design associated with a record has reduced and I don’t remember covers in the same way I used to which I find a bit sad.

Alongside the album cover artists were also involved in designing flyposters for gigs, often a gig poster didn’t display much other than name of band and venue and this is still often the case today but sometimes beautiful images were produced and at the moment in Gallery Munro House there is an exhibition of lovely original screen printed gig posters (all of which are available to buy at very reasonable prices).  I loved the vibrancy of many of the designs, particularly those of the Manic Street Preachers, Queens of the Stone Age and Public Service Broadcasting.  I liked the way, wondering round the exhibition, that in the same way album covers remind me instantly of the sound of the band these posters transported me to the live venues where I’d seen many of the bands on display.  The exhibition finishes on Saturday I believe so you’ll need to be quick to catch it now but if you are in Leeds over the next couple of days, like your art and music then it’s well worth popping in.

Click through the gallery and let me know which ones you liked and also which album covers made an impression on you.

Let’s Dance – Phoenix Dance @ WY Playhouse

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It’s not often that you step out of your comfort zone and experience new things but last night I went to see some contemporary dance, an art form that I know absolutely nothing about and have never experienced previously.  I went to see Phoenix Dance performing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

It turned out that there would be three distinct pieces / performances – See Blue Through, Document and Mapping, each performance lasted around 30 minutes with Document and Mapping being new works.  For me I’m glad that the pieces were performed in this order as See Blue Through didn’t create as much of an impression on me as the other two pieces which were spellbinding.

The Dancers were simply astonishing and I’ve never seen anything like it, the movements throughout the night were mesmerising, a combination of athleticism, gymnastics, ballet, grace, fluidity, angles, robotics, flight, martial arts and puppetry all combining in a dizzying array of combinations with dancers moving around, over, under and sometimes almost through each other.  To an untrained eye such as mine it was sometimes difficult to know who to watch or what to follow and I actually found my eyes hurting as I tried to take in so many intricate movements.

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After the strange, stretchy undersea world of See Through Blue the atmosphere and style changed dramatically as we moved into Document which was stark, dark, visceral and intense.  The stage had been reduced to a relatively thin grey strip from which the 5 dancers didn’t stray as they battled and grappled back and forwards within the confines of this area (quite how they didn’t crash into each other was a mystery to me).  This piece was really intense and seemed to be at times (perhaps because of the grey strip on which they were performing) almost a visual dance interpretation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road mixed in with a depiction of war or even the Holocaust.  Despite the fact that I was just sitting watching I felt quite breathless when it had finished such was the tension that had been created.

I was glad that Document was sandwiched between the other two pieces and Mapping was a fantastic playful performance that was both serious and humorous.  The dance depicted the journey from East to West taken by many immigrants and the difficulty of finding yourself in a new country not understanding the language or culture.  One of the dancers within this piece had a tiny hand held video camera that he used to film parts of the performance as he danced. These video clips were then looped up on a slight delay onto a screen behind the dancers.  This creating a real visual contrast as you watched the dancers while at the same time the video glimpsed being actually in the dance.  At one point in the performance the dancers placed some tape onto the stage, signifying I think both the journey across from East to West but also the lines on maps that outline borders.  Then came a truly amazing section, the dancers laid down and the tape became a new ‘floor’ and when watching from the seats the dancers began to wriggle and roll around.  However as they did this there was a camera in the roof looking down and filming them which again was played up onto the big screen, translating these wriggles and rolls into beautifully inventive dancing, movement and somersaults.  It’s a hard thing to describe but it was clever, witty and brilliant to watch.

I’m not sure I’ve done any of this justice but I was so glad that I took the plunge and went to see something that I have no experience of, opened my mind and let it be dazzled by what I saw.  Before I went in I’d joked that this was not exactly going to be like a Shellac gig but actually I ended up thinking there were in fact quite a lot of similarities: originality, intense, challenging, angular, muscular, humorous and above all memorable.

Shellac – A sound so angular you can see the corners

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I’ve no idea how many bands I’ve seen and gigs I’ve been to over the years but it will run well into the hundreds and while it’s a long time now since I pretty much lived in gig venues seeing several bands a week, I still enjoy getting along to the odd gig and feel the fissure of excitement at seeing a live band as when a live band is good they produce pure alchemy.  Much as I enjoy the whole experience of a live gig it’s not often that I feel real excitement and anticipation before a gig in the way that perhaps I did when I was younger, after all I’ve seen most of the bands I want to see or can see and as ‘new’ musical styles come around I often find myself remembering the bands who did it first and invariably did it better.  A couple of Sundays ago however saw me very excited as I was going to see Shellac, a band for who the word seminal is rightly used, but who I’d never seen before.  They were also playing at the Brudenell, arguably the best small venue in Leeds. For those not aware Shellac contain Steve Albini who’s sound engineering fingerprints are all over some of the great bands and sounds over the last thirty years including Nirvana, Pixies, The Breeders, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Helmet, Robert Plan, The Stooges, Mogwai, The Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey, Manic Street Preachers, Jarvis Cocker, The Cribs, The Fleshtones, The Wedding Present, Joanna Newsom, Superchunk, Low, Dirty Three, Veruca Salt, The Auteurs and along with fellow sonic engineer Bob Weston on base and Todd Trainer on drums create a fearfully sharp and angular sound, a sound so powerful it made me question why any band would need more than three people in it.  There was no slack and no hiding place, every chord, note, noise, crack and beat could be heard and differentiated.  I couldn’t help but compare it to bands where there are sometimes numerous bodies on stage that it has me wondering what they are all doing and what they bring to the sound.  In Shellac’s case it was clear that each member was bringing something unique to the party.

I liked that way the band was set up, democratically with no one ‘fronting the band’, guitar on one side, drums in the middle, bass on the other side.  Todd Trainer on the drums I found mesmerising to watch, he seemed to have arms that went on for ever and I can’t recall any other drummer producing a crack on the skins quiet like it and he would often go completely limp and slump over the drums as if asleep before rousing himself and ploughing his energy into the next furious beat.  With Shellac you don’t get a traditional song with a clear verse chorus arrangement or even one steady rhythm, instead songs will ebb and flow around numerous different rhythms within the same song which creates a jarring intensity and tension as you are never quite sure which corner the track is going take next or which band member is going to grab it by the scruff of the neck but whoever does they are going to do it powerfully.

Within this fantastically chunky sound Albini barks out biting lyrics of humour and sarcasm and then the band stop for a Q&A session with the crowd.  Yep you read that right, questions are shouted out and answers pinged back “did you bring your own drum mikes with you?” “No Nerd”.  What’s the best thing to see in Chicago? “The Bean, a piece of public art in one of the parks” etc.  Few questions later then then launch into the next crunching track.  Another thing that I found unusual was the way Albini played his guitar, low slung a la Hooky, but with the strap strapped around his waist and not over his shoulder.  Try it it’s not easy.

I left feeling really privileged and it was the best gig of the year for me and unlike many times over the years when you build up a band only to be disappointed when you see them I could go and watch Shellac every night and never be bored.  My ears might not thank me though.

Racing Snail – Morvelo City Cross @ Piece Hall

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It’s not often you get a chance to take part in something genuinely historic but that’s what happened when I made my racing début at the Morvelo City Cross event at Piece Hall in Halifax on Saturday.  I’d been along to watch the first event of this kind which was in a slightly less salubrious venue – an old rubbish dump.  Somehow however, Morvelo and Emma Osenton had managed to stage a coup in getting permission for the second event to be staged in the Grade 1 Listed Georgian architectural wonder, Piece Hall which is shortly due to be closed for renovation work thus allowing a window for it to be overrun for one day only by a load of cyclists.   The 18th century building surrounds a huge sloping cobbled and grassed courtyard, the slope meaning that the building is two storeys at the top end but three storeys at the bottom.  The slope, cobbles and grass meant that those with a warped / clever mind could turn this space into an urban cyclocross event aka City Cross. which as I approached it on Saturday in the rain I realised with a growing feeling of terror I was about to race; my first ever race on a bike of any kind.  I did enter – and complete – the Cliff Cross event earlier in the year but this was more of an event than a race and it was a very different beast to what awaited me at Piece Hall.

As I wheeled my borrowed bike (thanks Hannah) into the venue to register there was a real assault on the senses, a veritable blizzard of tape marking out the course; cowbells and cheering; riders whizzing, grimacing and sliding around; the smell of beer, great street food and wet mud all to the accompaniment of an indie rock soundtrack that filled the courtyard being spun by resident DJ and bike designer Brant Richards.  It was some scene.

Quite how I’d manage to find myself getting a race number pinned onto by back I wasn’t really sure.  For those who’ve visited this blog before I’ve been on a bit of journey this year, my project snail journey, where I’ve been trying to tackle/face my lack of confidence and skills through some training with Ed Oxley, riding with different people and seeing what happens.  I’d got it in my mind that maybe having a go at a race would be an interesting and challenging experience and this City Cross event seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.  I wasn’t thinking that though as I watched the skilled riders in the event before me compete, I was very very apprehensive.  I was glad that I knew a few other people riding and there were plenty of the GarageBikes crew in attendance.  Shop owner and all round good guy Al Shaw who was racing with me provided wise words of encouragement along the lines of “you’re just riding round in circles with a number on your back, go at your own pace and enjoy yourself”.  One question going round in my head looking at the course was how the heck do you know where you are supposed to go, I’d not had a chance to ride round it or really look at it in any detail so I knew in a few minutes I’d just have to hit it and hope.  I was reassured by those who know that you just follow the tape !  So I wheeled my bike onto the start line which was down a cobbled side street outside of the venue.

As I glanced around me the word novice (I was racing in the second novice heat) did not spring to mind as I knew a few of the riders and novice is not what they are, they may not do much cyclocross but there were some kick ass MTBers alongside me.  My kids had kindly stencilled The Snail From Wales on my back which had seemed like a good idea the night before but I now realised I was identifiable and opening myself up to public ridicule and humiliation.  My mind was a whir of questions, am I in the right gear, am I going to crash straight away and if not how many times, would I be able to get round the course, will I be able to calm down, how am I going to ride over wet, muddy off camber cobbles, how much beer should I drink while riding etc etc.  Beep the whistle blew and we were off……

I got away cleanly, clipped in pedalled and surged (well moved vaguely steadily forward) up the slope, cameras flashing before sweeping right through the gates and into the arena which felt like going into the lions den.  I hadn’t really considered people watching before but there I was riding into an area with spectators watching, I could here cheering and cowbells clanking and music blaring as we turned left and headed uphill on cobbles before hitting the sandpit, which proved much harder to ride through than I’d have thought.  Once through it was onto the vortex, a large spiral that you made your way into the middle of through ever decreasing circles before a tight turn and then working your way back out.  Each circle you were traversing the slope up and down, primarily off camber.  I didn’t actually mind the uphill bits but the downhill bits put the fear of god into me I just thought there is no way I’m going to get off these cobbles without crashing but somehow I got out of the vortex.  Uphill again briefly before a sharp right hand turn, downhill under a scaffolding bridge then onto the mud, a couple of 180 degree turns and I’m still upright and then I’m faced with 6 or 7 steps.  I unclip, grab bike and haul myself up to find myself on the stage behind the DJ with a smoke machine billowing in my face.  I was totally unclear about what to do so I pushed the bike across the stage then saw the way off, a steep ramp (made a note in my head that next lap get back on the bike as soon as I get on the stage to make riding down the ramp easier) which I looked at and gulped.  I have a fear of pointing downhill steepily but I thought I’ve just got to go for it, stay of the brakes and see what happens.  Down the slope, still on the bike and a sharp muddy turn, off a kerb onto the cobbles again for a short sharp sprint toward the bridge which I was determined to get over up up up and over gasping for breath now down the other side, no mishaps phew and back onto the cobbles, turn right downhill to be assaulted by a crafty marksman with a water pistol, overshooting a bit turn right again and then BEER.  The novice race has a beer stop where, should you wish to accept, the lovely people of Dark Star Brewery Company hand you a cheeky beverage.  Feeling cocky at this stage I grab one and try to drink it while riding, decided after spilling a bit that that approach was a waste of good beer and that I would stop next lap (which I then did each lap generally shouting beer please as I came round the corner to which the reply was “Your wish is our command”).  Back onto the mud for a few more tight turns before off onto the cobbles for a short sharp climb up toward the sandpit.  One lap completed! 4 and half minutes of mind bending pain and exhilaration.

I knew I was well at the back by this point but really didn’t care, I had started to relax as much as I could and I just gave it my best shot.  What was great was the encouragement from the crowd, where I had been fearing ridicule all I got was support.  People who knew me shouted my name at different points of the course, others who didn’t shouted out “go on Snail”, “keep riding fella”, “good effort” “keep going” etc and I was genuinely touched by this so a huge thank you to all who watched and supported, this, the music and the beer fuelled me round.  I had no idea how long or how many laps or to be honest what on earth was going on I just kept pedalling, tried to stay upright and finish.  Eventually a marshal waved his hands as I crossed the line indicating the race was over, I simply slumped onto the bars feeling quite emotional, buried my head and gulped and gulped oxygen into my lungs.  I’d been a long long way out of my comfort zone but felt hugely proud of what I’d done and once I’d come down to earth realised I had hugely enjoyed myself.  After shovelling food from No Fishy Business down my neck I went to check the results and to my utter astonishment found I’d not finished last but came 17th out of 20.

I was then informed that as I’d not qualified for the final I could race again in an hours time with all the other people who’d not made it in a last ditch knockout.  In for a penny in for a pound.  This race was a bit different as those of us from the novices who decided to have a go found ourselves in with those from the seniors and vets who had not made it.  Lining up on that start line as darkness fell and the rain poured and looking round I just though blimey not sure I belong here.  Credit though to all the riders, they all seemed great people.  Off we went again for another dose of pain and beer.  This time I did crash but picked myself up, kept going, finished and I did pick up the lantern rouge.

I felt hugely privileged to have taken part in this event.  Slow I may be but I was bloody proud of myself and I don’t often say that.

Picture Credits

Most of the photos of me are taken on my phone by @oldstuntmonkey as I shoved my phone into his hand before the off saying see if you can get some shots.  Others have kindly been donated by Chris Crabtree (@meadowedge), Craig Walmsley (@P9ADV), Tim Royle (@whitenosugartv), Eleanor Clark (@eleanorsioux), Jon Moore (@_Jon_Moore_), Survey Partners (@surveypartners), Morvelo (@Morvelo) and of course Emma Osenton (waterrat77) without who none of this madness would have happened.

Summer Photo Fun 2013 – Week 3 – Machine

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The third week of our Summer Photo Fun saw the kids choose the theme of Machine which, as the photos came in over the week, really made me think about what a huge impact machines have on our day to day lives, be that in our mode of transportation, how we communicate, eat, have fun there will often be a machine at the heart of it.  As the photo at the top also shows technology changes fast and the cutting edge machines are quickly superceded and become obsolete, how we choose to despose of what has gone before poses a huge challenge.  In general I suspect that we take for granted the machines that we use on a daily basis, from the computer that I’m typing this on now with it’s hidden world of micro processors through to the tractors and diggers that prepare the ground for the food we eat all of these have been captured in this weeks theme.  Each machine is the result of invention, testing, striving to be better, to fill a need and to hopefully make our lives easier and more fun.  Some machines of course have a profound affect and help to protect us or keep us alive this was brought home to me in the stark reminder of one of the photos from a regular contributor who has to have regular visits to hospital and his photo simply said keeping me going.  You can read more about his journey and experiences at his excellent blog. So all in all a really interesting theme, from the simple to the life saving machines, as always thanks so much for all your contributions which are making this so much fun.  As always to see the gallery in full size, click on it below and you can scroll through each photo.  Let us know what you liked.  The A-Z part of this that is running alongside the themes is also going well and you can see where we are up to at the bottom of the original blog X could be tricky.