Tag Archives: Heritage

Art in the Cathedral

The Galilee chapel in the cathedral has an exhibition of “Images of God” by school children who are part of the Hexham and Newcastle Catholic Partnership.

The work is of an incredible quality for a bunch of people so young and some of it is really inspiring.

The works that really caught my attention were:
A picture of a young black child on a piece of ripped hesian sacking by Edward Maddison. It was incredibly striking aswell as quite moving.

A young, slightly androgynous male who is in the position of the cross with a loin cloth around him and a glowing flame behind by Jamie Gilling. This was also quite moving, although the figure looked younger than Jesus on the cross would have been.

Nathan Hanby’s print in black and white of an older afro-caribbean male was also quite moving.

“All for one and one for all” was a collage of Jesus’ face by year 8 pupils at St. Robert of Newminster Catholic school. The collage was made up images of Jesus that younger pupils had bought in.

St. John’s Catholic School produced a set of four interesting pictures of the traditional white Jesus, but as a pirate,policeman, farmer and hippy.

Finally Amy Hassard produced an extremely moving picture of the beaten disfigured Jesus.

There were a bunch of other works on display aswell, but these were the ones which really caught my eye. The exhibition is in the cathedral until January 31st.

100 Portraits – Sometimes life is black and white

Yesterday, I had a couple of hours to kill in Newcastle between meetings and so popped into the University Gallery to look at the Jane Brown exhibiton. Jane Brown has taken black and white portrait photos for the Observer for about 60 years and this exhibition contained 100 portraits of famous people. The subjects ranged from The Queen to Iris Murdoch, Philp Larkin, Sinead O’Connor and Quintin Crisp. The beauty of these portraits were they caught the people posing wonderfully through their eyes, quite often. My personal favourite, I think, was the portrait of Iris Murdoc which the blurb said had taken a while to take due to Murdoch’s shyness. There is a beauty in vulnerability I think, which this picture captured. Whilst the blurb said Crisp was a far more willing subject it also had a similar type of vulnerability to it, which some other pictures didn’t. It is, I think, one of the reasons Bjork also stood out.

Also on my way from a to b I caught “crunch” which is an exhibition in a disused shop window, and is Viz meets Globe Gallery in the local community. Can’t explain this one fully….and haven’t gotten the pictures I took of it uploaded, suffice to say this series of cartoons is an excellent critique on the current recession from a range of angles.

Site blurb explains it by saying “Crunch! is the culmination of an exciting shop window participatory arts project that began in June 2009. Over 100 participants worked with Viz co-creator Simon Donald and playwright Lee Mattinson to produce their own responses to the credit crunch. Participants ranged from local school children aged 13 to a retired pensioner aged 67, proving that art can be accessible to everyone. The results are amazingly varied, with cartoons from several of the participants as well as from Simon and Chris Donald, and script produced by the volunteers and edited by Lee Mattinson”

Jane Brown exhibition on until 19th Feb and Crunch is there until 25th Jan. And of course being Newcastle not London I didn’t have to pay a penny to see any of this stuff đŸ˜€

A Spot of Riot, Rebellion and Bloody Insurrection

Today was a day when I engaged in a bit of bonding with Third Party. First off we put together a list of 50 festival type tunes to put together in a playlist for the day. We figured that having a festival day would be a good way to stop getting fed up with the snow. After a chilled morning, (not too chilled – we were in our flat, probably one of the few buildings in England not to have need to put the heating put on this year yet), we headed off with TOH to Gateshead for a spot of live entertainment of the festivating variety.

Riot, Rebellion and Bloody Insurrection is a musical comedy which is a collaboration between Red Ladder theatre company and Chumbawamba. The show was a political history meets panto which was wonderful. It was a delightfully irreverant show based upon a young Luddite woman. Jo Mousley was excellent in the lead role of Elsie Proud, getting a small audience to participate. As with any show like this there was a lot of wonderful modern satire mixed in with historical stuff and it was a real laugh. (Also would like to note how impressed I was with the Sage who were more than happy to swap our seats for the 8pm performace and let us go to the 4pm matinee instead). In short you don’t get much better than this, especially not for £5 a ticket which is what it was for concessions.

My only worries whilst watching the show related to the gags about the bishop being into ickle boys and the cheering when the capitalist baddies got murdered and hung. I just can’t seem to find jokes based around abuse funny. In terms of the hanging particularly I figure that it is just a short step from wanting to hang the baddies to being ready to becoming one of the flog ’em and hang ’em brigade, (it’s just the ’em differ). Probably thinking too deeply about what I do and don’t feel comfortable with when I watch that type of thing, but hey…..participation in a crowd without thinking and just giving the expected responses can be one of the most dangerous things known to man.

Amongst the songs there was a v.g. subversion of Time Bomb

Darlington Arts Centre – Not an Oxymoron

Darlington and Arts Centre are not words that easily go together in ones mind, or atleast not in my mind. Darlington, before I got to know the place bought to mind exactly the sort of place The Jams were on about in “It’s Grim Up North”. The words arts centre bought to mind cosmopolitan cities. The two didn’t go together. But I am discovering that Darlington has and is an arts centre.

Physically The Arts Centre is a building about 5 minutes from the city centre which hosts plays, films, comedy and such like aswell as having two galleries within it. Beyond that Darlington has appointed the first “Twitterer in Residence”. As with the Baltic, and I think practically all the galleries and exhibitions up here enterance is free. You just pay to go and see performances, or frequent the coffee shop.

Yesterday I had occassion to be in the town with a few minutes to kill and a desire to avoid the snow which is getting annoying now. So I popped into the Arts Centre for a look around the galleries and happened upon Randy Klein’s Coney Island Angels exhibition in the Myles Meehan Gallery. This is a lively and colourful exhibition which evokes memories of summers when you were young, being based around a fun fair; just what you need in this weather. There is some digital print stuff but most of it is quirky and quite intricate sculpture. My favourite piece was “Roller Coaster 2003-9”; four roller coaster sculptures made mainly from steel and copper.

Oh and incase my reference to The Jams “It’s Grim Up North” has got anybody searching about in their memory banks no need to search anymore. Remember You Tube is as much your friend as Google these days.

Pharmacy; Canteen; CND; Pooh and Dorothy Day

So I have had an interesting few days doing what I don’t normally do….simply relaxing and allowing myself to be looked after. Over the last few days I have chilled out and enjoyed reading non-course related stuff aswell as a bit of quality modern art.

The first book I consumed was Now More Than Ever by Kate Hudson. It’s a history of CND and the peace movement. Now it’s not the best written book I ever read and heavily biased in favour of the Labour Party. However, it is an interesting read which makes an interesting point about the role Christians play(ed) in CND. At one point she says it was estimated that 23% of CND’s members were Christians. Whilst Quakers are primarily praised in the book, with references to their various peace camps it is clear that many different denominational backgrounds were present and active within the peace movement. CND Book

The second and best book I devoured was Dorothy Day by Deborah Kent. It was a facinating biography of a woman I highly regard. For me Dorothy Day gives a model of how one can be a lone parent, with a passion for social justice serving God. I do not presume I will ever get close to her model of servanthood, but I can seek to learn about her to find out about her faith. It is a book which was written, I think, with young people in mind. This means it is an easy to read book, but it equally contains a good story of faith and service. The language is not academic but it is still a stimulating book and one I would recommend.Dorothy Day.

I have also started reading a Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus. I have been greatly suprised by how much I am enjoying it. If you want to escape into a time past when innocence was more than a smoothie I can’t encourage you to read this book enough. Also and best of all, Piglet is the right colour.Pooh

Besides all the reading we made a trip into Newcastle and discovered a delightful cafe called Canteen Cafe and Bar. The review linked to says it’s expensive, but we managed to get a nice ickle deal on two meals for £8.95 which were very filling. I had a full roast within this deal. Can’t recommend the place enough. Most enchanting was the fact the menus are placed within the shells of childrens books. Ours was in a Rupert annual.

Finally it was off to the Baltic. Have to say at the moment they have the best collection of exhibitions I’ve seen there. Whilst the Pharmacy installation by Damian Hirst is facinating, it is lacking in a vital ingredient which both TOH and I were searching for….proper Calpol. The 6+ is included, but there is no box of proper wonder-drug there. You can find a box for your second generation anti-depressent of choice though. This and the Malcolm McLaren exhibition Shallow make the visit worthwhile. Note to the Tate Modern people here…Shallow actually shows how porn can be taken, subverted and made proper art. This was in stark contrast to the exhibition at the Modern we saw a few weeks ago.

The best exhibition at the Baltic at the moment is Parrworld by Martin Parr. Through photography and general tat he makes a wonderful exhibition relating to social and political history which is amusing, challenging and provoking aswell as nostalgic. Well worth a visit.

New Moon rising over Folk on the Tyne

Yesterday afternoon I started part 1 of the Third Party alternative Christmas thing before heading off to enjoy a v. special bit of “me time”.

For those who aren’t aware Third Party and I normally do Christmas Day a couple of days before she heads south for Chrimbo with her dad. Normally it is a veg out time, this year it’s being done in two parts involving heading off to Newcastle to watch a film. So anyway that’s why I went to see New Moon yesterday. For those not aware I hated Twilight, the first film in this series, with a vengance. So it was I was suprised to find myself really enjoying New Moon. Unlike the first film, this is not a crap vampire movie – yes it has those moments within it but there is a much deeper storyline and far fewer vampire moments. This one includes a complex look at the themes of teenage depression, the way and reasons young women choose to stay with a partner who has been or they know to be potentially violent and the treatment of and giving of yourself for those who society despises. The sociologist and theologian within me was glued to this one. If and when I have time I now want to read the books to see how these themes are unpicked within them.

Anyway after a mad dash around Newcastle to purchase something which looked like an unwanted present for a gift exchange Third Party was taking part in that evening, (yes you read that right….work it out for yourself), I headed over to the Sage. The Sage incidentally is celebrating its 5th b’day this weekend.

Months ago when I first got my career development loan through, and I first started thinking about some of the potential stresses of this year, I worked out that occassional visits to the Sage might be the way forward in keeping my mental health healthy and giving me things to look forward to. Also helps that for some of the stuff you can get half price tickets if you’re a student. So if you are good, as I was yesterday evening, and don’t buy merchandise or drink it can be a very cheap, quality night out.

Anyway I digress, last night was my Christmas treat to myself. I went to see Steeleye Span on their 40th anniversary tour, getting a ticket in the middle 3 rows from the front in the awesome Hall One concert hall. For those not familiar with the band, like if you aren’t my dads age probably, they play folk rock and are phenomenal. Think the Levellers, Flogging Molly or the Pogues before the discovery of punk or Fairport Convention with heavier guitar and some drums added. Anyway aside from Maddy Prior being dressed during the first half like an advert for what Per Una looks like on real women and like she was wearing some kind of fairy skirt in the second half she was amazing. A woman who must be eligable for her free bus pass dancing on stage like that is something else. Her voice is also something special. Only thing with 40 years worth of material, even allowing for the fact they all go off and do solo stuff lots of the time, is that inevitably some stuff is going to be left out. So it was that I didn’t get to hear Black Leg Miner live.

Anyway enough warbling on about the delights of Steeleye Span. I leave with you a retro version of what has become their anthem and the encore sing-a-long, All Around My Hat. Despite the earlier comments this video shows how far their dress sense has come since then. With the exception of the drummer, who seems to have gained it, they have all lost the hippy look and now look as non-descript and middle class as most other people in their early 60’s.

Turner: Old and New

Yesterday popped down to London for the day to have lunch with some GCN friends. Before meeting up with them and going for a time of silent prayer before we actually ate, (All Saints, Margaret Street is a beautiful church), we headed off to the Tate Britain.

The main purpose of the detour to Milbank was to see the Turner Prize exhibition before it closed, and for me to show TOH why I think she looks like a model from a classical painting, (alas The Lady of Shallot was on tour, as was all the Waterhouse stuff). Anyway whilst we were there we also had fun wandering around Turner and the Masters, laughing and joking as we expressed our satisfaction in the stuff we liked and took the piss out of what we didn’t, aswell as pretentious types trying to show off to their friends.

All in all a good day where the best bit was getting to catch up with some good friends again and the chance to make some new acquaintences.

Creative Pioneers and Living the Dream

I have recently read through my my fathers biography on his web site. Ok, it’s a marketing tool….a kind of abbreviated CV but it is also a summary of who he is in many ways. Reading through I realised not only how incredibly proud I am of my father but exactly how much of a creative pioneer he is / has been.

If we were putting labels on it he would be seen as a boomer who has the spirit of an X’er. He is part of what Richard Florida classes as the creative class, in his book “The Rise of the Creative Class“. All of this is a bit different to the view of him I have had of him until recently. Throughout my youth he was just the radical hippy with an embarrassing choice of clothers in my world.

There is a story the biography doesn’t tell and that, I guess, is why I just saw him as embarrassing and grew up wondering why I couldn’t have a “normal” dad with a regular salary. I was embarrassed sometimes by some of the manual and “low class” jobs he had to finance living the dream during the lean times. As a youngster I didn’t understand in doing them and financing the dream he was helping cut a path that both benefitted others in the community and built solid careers for those who were to follow. I didn’t understand the flak that he seemed to be taking from an establishment that now seems to be largely welcoming him.

In many ways my dad is a visionary, one who is working in an ancient tradition – that of the poet and storyteller to help create a better present and build a foundation for a more positive future. He has helped people turn their lives around, and contributed to his community through having the courage to live the dream.

This same spirit is, I am beginning to see, what the emerging church is about. It’s something that Michael Volland picked up in his post on one of the John Drane lectures I attended the other week and has also been taken up by others. In some ways these guys (and it is mainly guys) are doing nothing new, but in other ways they are. Whether you call it Fresh Expressions, Emerging Church or whatever they are creating recognition of something by “the establishment” by taking the risk of living out their dreams for a job.

Think it is also, to some extent, what the Christian piracy (and to a lesser extent heritic) debate going on around blogland is about at the moment. See Kester Brewin for the post which started the Christain Piracy thing (and maybe download his Greenbelt talk). Backburner makes some interesting Wibsite observations on it. The most solid critique appears to be coming from Richard Sudworth on Distinctly Welcoming. What I would add to the debate is a reference back to a book I reviewed a while ago, The Pirate’s Dilemma by Matt Mason. In this book Mason explores the creative tension exists within “Punk Capitalism”. I think to truly get to grips with what the debate is about and how it intersects with creative pioneers another good read is DIY: The rise of lo-fi culture by Amy Spencer, which I also blogged about, is worth reading aswell. Reflecting on these two texts theologically together with a good quality book outlining the development of the emerging church such as Emerging Churches by Gibbs and Bolger might help put the debates in context by placing them within a particular broader set of literature.

What I think is clear though is that creative pioneers have to make sacrifices and take tough decisions to live the dream. Those who we admire are those who take creative risks and resist through refusing to conform to the expectations others may have of them, but equally refuse to dehumanise the other in their pursuit of “the dream”. They are those who understand the power of the system and so work with it whilst resisting it through their compassion and refusual to give up on concepts of community. Thus, their resistance may make them pirates, but their resistance to dehumanising the other equally means they are not pirates in any sense of the word. Equally they cannot be freedom fighters, because their ways of doing things use art rather than violence.

Oh and at the end of this discussion, just incase I didn’t make it clear enough at the beginning. I am proud of my father. Proud of the man who, and this isn’t in the biography, was among the first CSV volunteers. Proud of the man who apparently was “one of the first fifty writers on the then, Eastern Arts Association’s, ‘Writers in Schools’ and ‘Writers in the Community’ schemes.” Proud of the man who was “was the first ‘Storyteller in Residence’ in a British prison “, (note on that one “in residence” means he was paid to go in regularly and help the prisoners turn their lives around by using the literacy and arts skills that he could bring as a storyteller – he def didn’t live there). Proud of the strange hippy who wears wierd clothes and has a lifestyle which involes working with asylum seekers, prisoners, disengaged youth, old people, posh people, black people, white people, urban people, rural people, suits and travellers in schools, libraries, village greens, prisons, shopping centres, festivals and all sorts of other places. Proud of the man who has done / does all this but is still had time to teach me to read as a child, taught me to ride a bike, drove me over to Northamptonshire to take me to Greenbelt the first time I wanted to go, took me on CND and anti-aparthied rallies as a teenager, listened to me and wiped my tears when my marriage fell apart and when I fell apart, supported me through my various educational adventures and supported me in my faith even though he has reservations about some of it. Proud of the man who as a grandad takes time to chill with my daughter and take her and her friends to theme parks and stuff. Proud of the man, who doesn’t profess faith, who taught me a little bit more than “the church”, (in the widest sense), about how to actually live out the gospel.

(Mis)adventures in Scotland – Part 2

Am now back where I should be but as promised my reflections on the Burrell Collection. This, I am gathering, is somewhere with the marmite effect; you love it or not. Personally I did love most of it, wandering through the ecclectic mix of articles agog. For those not aware this is a collection housed in a building especially designed by Barry Gasson Architects for it. Each area has a theme, reflecting the contents.
You begin with a room housing ancient Egyptian articles including a beautiful vase dating back to the Egyptian Archaic Period, 3100-2780 BC, which strangely looks like it could have come from Habitat.
There were also an interesting collection of pocket size idols including an interesting one of Nefertem, god of the Lotus and Unguents. (See this Wiki definition for a bit more).
Moving on Burrell had collected a facinating amount of Roman massonary amongst other bits of stone. The Roman stuff tended to be depicting Greek gods and were copies of Hellenistic originals.
Then I moved on to the first of the Hutton Rooms to begin discovering the collections beautiful tapestries.
After this it was up a few stairs to look at some pictures. The ones which most caught my attention were Bellini’s “Madonna and Child”, Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “The Stag Hunt” and Edward Manet’s “The Beer Drinkers”. Each had something different to catch your eye. With the “Madonna and Child” it was the mournful look in Mary’s eyes. The vivid colours and exquisite detail were what amazed me about “The Stag Hunt” – my favourite. With “The Beer Drinkers” it was the way the gentile, fashionable young ladies drinking beer reminded me of the rahs on The Bailey out on the lash.
Whilst the oriental pottery stuff leaves me cold, as do suits of armour, I was impressed by the 15th century large Ming dynasty figure of a Luohan.
Amongst this bizarre collection of peculiarities were some religious artifacts including a Eucharist Dove – French, from around 1225-50. Apparently the metal dove, (think Clangers meets Shooting Stars here), was originally suspended over the alter and contained consecrated bread used during mass. The ecclesiastical part of the collection seemed to contain alot of 15th and early 16th century stuff, which one guesses was hidden away from the Puritans destruction of such beauty in the 17th century.
Some interesting Gothic and Islamic art, mainly carpets and masonary, but I was entranced by the moody art of Matthijs Maris work. I can see why Burrell and his wice collected these pictures, mainly in charcol. Within the darkness is intense beauty.
Finally I wandered back to my friends, locals who had sat chatting whilst I explored this place they regularly bring visitors to. Then we became, for a day, ladies who lunch in the very good value and extremely clean cafe.
So much said about the collection Burrell handed to the city in 1944, becoming a freeman in the process. I think my reflections on the Gallery of Modern Art and the infamous sh(out) exhibition will have to wait until tomorrow.

A Day Trip to Leeds

Leeds, it appears, is an interesting place to visit. To be honest Third Party and I weren’t too hopeful yesterday when we set out. The trip had been dogged by hiccups, (largely of my own making), from the beginning. To start with I purchased non-refundable train tickets to Sheffield for some reason. I knew I was going to Leeds, but somehow my brain had clicked onto an earlier part of a relevant discussion and got Sheffield lodged in there. Then when I did get the right tickets the whole getting the cheapest ones meant we had to get a train which was, in Third Party’s mind, at stupid o’clock and got us to Leeds hours earlier than we needed. When we got to the station, to find the train delayed, I had a grumpy teenager complaining about her wierd mum whose idea of a good day out involved meeting “freaks off the internet” and that she had only said she’d come “to get out of the dump I’d made her move to”.

Thankfully after a bit of refreshment and an hour or so on the train to undergo transformation Third Party began to become a little more human and the day started to look a bit more hopeful. The first sign we had that things might not be so awful in Leeds was when we walked out of the station and almost immeadiately spotted the Tourist Information store. This contained a free guide which indicated to my daughter that Leeds contains a number of rather good shops and to me that there were some rather good cultural possibilities I might try and get her to agree to.

So it was that we headed off towards the retail centre. Initially we went window shopping in the Victoria Quarter, an area of designer shops that are lovely to look at but impossible, on our budget, to buy from. Then it was off for me to do a bit of “culture”. Now, this was easier said than done. Third Party had made it more than clear when I spotted the art gallery that I might have dragged her around one too many. However, we did manage to find a compromise. The Parkinson Centre, part of the university, currently has a free exhibition Marks in Time which is celebrating the 125th anniversary of Marks and Spencer. Thus I was able to get Third Party to agree to do some history because it was still technically retail. Have to say whilst the exhibition is quite small it is absolutely facinating and a real nostalgia trip. There is a good mix of information and exhibits and you can spend a good hour in there learning and remembering. I absolutely loved it.

Then it was off to Tropical World to meet a bunch of very normal people who had met via the internet, as the human Third Party later admitted. Infact Third Party commented that this was the most normal Ship of Fools meet she had ever been on. I suspect that this is for the very reasons that Auntie Doris identifies in her post, which also has some excellent photographs.

Tropical World was excellent value for money at only £2 for children and £3.25 for adults to get in. It is a really pleasant environment to wander around, although somewhat sauna like if you go on a hot day. One word of warning, though, if you have children who get extremely freaked by flying things this is probably not the place to take them. There are lots of really cute cuddly things to look at aswell though. The only bit I was personally not keen on was the nocturnal area which contained some animal which looked like it had escaped from the set of the Exorcist.

Just outside Tropical World is a gorgeous cafe which I must also recommend because it was such wonderful value for money, and had glorious food. There are not many places these days where you can get two drinks and the most delicious cake and still have some change from £5. Yet here you could.

So in the end I have to say that despite the omens we had the most wonderful day out in Leeds. It is a city which you really can enjoy on the cheap, (they even have a free bus to take you around the city centre – which we used to get up to the university). Also, as A.D. pointed out in her post it is more proof that being part of internet communities adds something to peoples lives rather than being their whole lives. Whilst as a parent I would be wary of my teenage daughter going off and meeting complete strangers of the internet doing it in the safe way she does with me helps develop her social skills and widen her vision of life. To quoteA.D., who put is so well in her post, “It’s a fun way to meet friends, both old and new, and I recommend it.” I’d also add it is an excellent way to go and explore places you might otherwise not decide to visit.