Bristol’s finest

The Emerging show in Bristol was at The Station in Silver Street, featuring work by Rediat Abayneh, who I was visiting and two other interesting artists on the Creative Futures programme, Polly Garnett and Sam Grainger.

Rediat’s work is this fabulous merging of new technologies and representations of ancient civilisations. The exhibition also had a great VR component, one of the only times I’ve seen it used to such great effect. The images depict aspects of her culture and her upbringing that she remembers, such as this one, the grocer checking the eggs before selling them to you, and a fascinating graphic novel series of moments in the process of a betrothal and a wedding.

Later this year, she will be going to Ethiopia to make a film, so watch this space.

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‘Lightboxes and Lettering’ – Rendezvous Projects’ new HLF-funded project

Our Community Interest Company, Rendezvous Projects, has been granted £58,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project exploring the history of the print industry in east London.

‘Lightboxes and Lettering’ will explore the importance of the industry in the 20th century, including radical and community presses as well as larger commercial businesses, over a year-long project until early 2019. With a group of volunteers working with us, we will  explore the pre-digital era of lithography, silkscreen, letterpress and other processes in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, gathering archive material and interviewing current and former print workers. Members of the public will have the opportunity to work with artists responding to the processes and the material we uncover, and the project will culminate with an exhibition, publication and website mapping the changing industry.

This is a clip fromLondon Live, with Lucy Harrison introducing the project.

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Lost and Found at the People’s Palace

I’m delighted to be writing a piece, titled as this post, for the Writingplace journal, which launched following the conference of the same name at TUDelft, back in 2013. This was my presentation title: ‘Ghosts Buildings, Public Places: Re/writing the User Narrative’. At that point my PhD title was about ‘ghost buildings’ but still using Alexandra Palace as the case study.

This is an outline:
‘The people’s palace, Alexandra Palace in north London ((1873; rebuilt 1875, 1988), is alive with voices – redolent with the history of popular entertainment, from music hall to the first HD television transmission in 1936 courtesy of the BBC, a tenant of the Palace. In order to evoke fully its narrative, the writing must be too. Using imaginative and critical writing, historiography and creative non-fiction, this piece demonstrates a method of re/producing place, exploring and exemplifying the use of writing in and as architecture, as a tool in possible regeneration through inscription of its existence in writing inspired by observation, plans and images, first-person accounts, interviews and archive work.’

It’s great to be back in the Palace and thinking about that work after all this time (enough time, by now so that it’s a pleasure rather than a torment to go there again!).

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Roman reflections in Hertfordshire

Or should that be Hertford-chester, given the extent of Roman remains in the area? These are some of the reflections (literal):
This is from the section of mirrored ceiling in the hypocaust at St Albans, close by the Verulamium Museum that houses objects from the city of that name. It’s also the site of recently uncovered Roman remains.
The hypocaust is a pavilion in the park surrounding the museum that houses a mosaic, some of which is visible in the photograph.  It was designed by muf architecture/art in 2004.

Finely crushed oyster shells were used as aggregate, a common practice in ancient Rome and more shells were rolled into the surface. The shells give the exterior a shine and create a textured surface.  The rosette windows were formed by placing rosette-shaped rubber forms in the concrete moulds.

The roof is  planted with sedum, and the roof lifts at either end to form a glazed strip. Mirrored acrylic is fixed to the soffit on the approach side to give glimpses of the mosaic to approaching visitors and allow people inside an inverted reflection of the town.

The Roman remains are themselves astonishing; the hypocaust is itself a wonderful surrounding for it, given a focus inwards and outwards too. Walking across the park towards it is a short but rather wonderful journey in itself.

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Lightboxes and Lettering; Printing Industry Heritage in East London

Rendezvous Projects CIC, of which I am one of the five directors, has been awarded £58,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a new project.We are delighted to have been granted this awarded to uncover and preserve this important aspect of London’s industrial heritage, one that is still a major part of the creative industries in the area. The project will begin in April and run until early 2019, with an exhibition and publication. A website will document the progress of the project throughout.

The project explores how the printing industry changed with the arrival of digital technologies, and how newer processes have transformed the everyday lives of print workers. It involves working with volunteers who will be engaged in oral history interviews with current and former employees, and in digitising archive material collected from existing and private collections. We will be setting up artist-led workshops for members of the public, using some of the processes and exploring the archive material we have uncovered.

Printing – including lithography, silkscreen and letter press – has been an important industry in east London for many years. Access to small presses allowed political and community groups to easily print their books, pamphlets and leaflets, and many of these smaller firms were in this area. With the advent of digital and its prominence, the industry has changed a great deal, and those still in operation working in very different ways to how they would have done just a few decades ago.


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What does it tell me?

These are my eyes, retinal photography Healthy (apart from not being able to see very well) but what does it mean?

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Future in the past

I discovered that my book The Alphabet Tax has previous:

It’s a school English project, drawing (heavily!) on 1984 (which I reread recently for Alphabet Tax), the Gormenghast trilogy, Curtis Mayfield’s Roots album, particularly the song Underground. I can’t be sure when I wrote this but I can date it to around 1972/3. A vague memory of the teacher – who gave me an A+ for it and surprisingly given some of the content, didn’t have me hauled in front of the authorities – and the home circumstances that gave me some of the background and I left the school in 1975.

I also discovered that the name for the type of writing I’m doing is dystopian realism. (Possibly two, although ‘apoca-lit’ may be too, well, apocalyptic.) Dystopian realism depicts the world as it is, using metaphor as a refractive prism. Some well-known examples would be Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. So nothing much to aim for then!

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