July Art Cafe - Lots of Contention

The Cafe was well attended and hosted brilliantly by Stina, below are several comments and suggestions. Please feel free to add your own thoughts as well.

Comments

Helen Moore's follow up to Funeral Project for 10/10/10

Dear All,

Thanks to some of you for your enthusiastic responses to my last email... this is just to confirm that Helen Langford is kindly going to allow us to use the big studio space @ Stony Street Studios to meet to discuss the next steps in creating our artistic funeral from 8pm on Weds 1st Sept.   Hopefully most of us will be back from holidays by then and we can get cracking with developing our ideas! Finally, one or two people have raised concerns about the project not being a positive experience, and so in seeking to address these concerns, I've written this short piece (see below) outlining some of the positive outcomes I'm envisaging for the project... With warmest wishes to you all, Helen Positive Outcomes for the artistic 'Funeral' Writers and visual artists often struggle with working in isolation, and this project aims to bring together the local artistic community.  Having experienced many years working with the Beltane Fire Society, I’ve witnessed the ways in which even quite diverse disciplines can be brought together to work on projects which the group finds meaningful, and have experienced at first hand the enriched community that develops as a result.   In joining Frome’s artistic community, I’ve experienced local artists looking to come together to create meaningful work, which will make a difference to our community.  In sharing my ideas for the ‘funeral’ with a group of around twenty people at the Artists’ Café on 28/7/10, I felt a sense of a group seeking to do something and looking for a positive direction and motivation to make something happen. In our culture, people can be very afraid of death, but actually it is a subject that artists have often explored in different ways – including locally based artist, Sue Conrad.  Also, many people are still struggling to come to terms with climate change and I believe that in order to integrate an awareness of it and its consequences, there is a need for experiences with an emotional appeal.     This belief, I should add, is not one that I hold alone… it is rooted in the work of the great visionary Joanna Macy, an American Buddhist scholar and activist, who has done a lot of work in the US that was originally called ‘Despair and Empowerment’, www.joannamacy.net and is now called ‘The Work that Reconnects’.   Whatever it’s called, the work is based in the experience that by going into our individual and collective pain, we are even more empowered to take action.  The work is also balanced by connecting with our gratitude for what we have, and two other phases, called ‘Seeing with New Eyes’ and ‘Going Forth’.  I didn’t have very much time to explain at the meeting what I was proposing, but Annabelle and I are both involved in a local ‘Work that Reconnects’ group, and I would be looking to make this an integral part of the supportive infrastructure of the process, so that people are empowered as they leave.  And it may be realistic to imagine that this event is only for adults to attend, although I do believe that there would be many children who are hungry to witness and to be involved with adults acknowledging their pain for the planet in a positive and supportive infrastructure.     Finally, I do genuinely believe that this ‘funeral’ event has the capacity not only to empower the artists involved in creating it, but also to touch the wider community with a deeper sense of the gravity of climate change.  I also feel that if we continue to create collaborative projects beyond this one, it is possible that Frome may become a beacon for pioneering 'Art and Empowerment', thus in turn inspiring other local communities of artists to act.  

10/10/10 and Helen Moore's project

As I understood from the short discussion at the Sustainable Frome meeting, while the idea is a good one it could be better if it links more closely to the concrete carbon reducing aims of 10/10/10. Is there room within the project to identify more positively with www.1010global.org/uk/101010

garage door galleries

Hi everyone Yes - well done Stina for getting people together on this. One of the things that came up was a view that we should just start taking artistic guerilla action; we should use sites around the town to create art where we feel it would enhance the place. The idea of "GarageDoorGalleries" emerged...so in the spirt of "let's-just-get-on-and-do-things-and-stop-talking", at the meeting I volunteered my garage door as a site for trying this out. The garage is in a place where lots of Frome youffs wander by to get to the park; it's very public and might (if done well!) enhance a slightly grotty patch. In case you think this is the rambling of a sick mind (it is of course...) have a look at http://www.home-designing.com/2009/07/amazing-garage-door-art. And just to show you what this might look like (with apologies to Sam West, Caroline Walsh-Waring, Mel Sewell and...John Hegley, none of whose permission I asked, and whose wonderful work I have abused...), put your tongue in your cheek and have a look at: http://patrickdunn.squarespace.com/garagedoorgalleries/?SSScrollPosition=0. I'm happy to remove any of these pics in an instant...or put up more if people want. If you're interested, get in contact. Patrick

Garage Doors

I don't have a garage door but I do have a large gate.  So stroll past The Limes, 45 Keyford where I am in the process, weather and housework permitting, of creating some garage or rather gate art.  So far I have had positive reactions from my neighbours - hope you approve.  By the way - it's not finished yet!

Helen's Project

Dear All, Many thanks for an interesting evening's discussion at the Arts Cafe last night... it was great that there was so much enthusiastic energy for taking up the idea of creating an artistic 'Funeral for Extinct & Endangered Species' in Frome on 10/10/10.   It will be in conjunction with the Climate Change 10:10 campaign, which is organising a day of events internationally... for more details see http://www.1010global.org/uk As I said last night, I want to draw on my experience organising community ritual theatre in Edinburgh - www.beltane.org - to organise this 'Funeral', with a day-long event in a venue (possibly Rook Lane?), where Frome's artists, writers, musicians, dancers etc would come together to prepare a 'funeral installation', along with with supportive break-out spaces for anyone for whom the funeral (or the preparations) were feeling a bit much! The funeral itself would take place after dark... maybe 5/6pm, perhaps with lantern processions from churches and other places around the town arriving at the venue.  People would then come in and experience the 'funeral'... before having a cuppa at the cafe(?), and a chance to reflect etc. As I said I am happy to take leadership on this, although I'll be looking for different kinds of support and input from different people.  I've already contacted Rook Lane and am awaiting a response... and I am going to put in a bid for a small grant towards costs. But what feels most exciting is that there was a palpable sense last night of people really looking to collaborate more on creating meaningful work together, which will not only make a difference to us and to our community, but which will also put Frome on the map, making our town a beacon for pioneering 'Art and Empowerment' in the face of global adversity! To get your creative juices flowing, I've attached some images that I took when I experienced a similar 'funeral', led by Brighton-based Feral Theatre outside Westminster, as part of a Climate Emergency Overnight Vigil.  Also, an image of a public mourning for extinct species I organised with friends as part of the Climate March a few years back.... plus details about the Natural England project to name endangered species, and some info about the effects of overfishing, starving Penguins etc... I'm aware that at this time of year many of us will be off on holidays etc so hoping that we can regroup early September.... maybe Weds 1st Sept to start to flesh out ideas??  Helen Langford has kindly offered us the use of her big studio space on Stony Street, so we can meet in the same venue as last night... Anyway, do come back to me with thoughts etc, though don't be offended if it takes me some days to respond... Warmest, Helen -- Helen Moore - ecopoet, children's author, community artist, Forest Schools practitioner www.natures-words.co.uk www.bathforestschool.com

 

Dear FCN friends. Thank you

Dear FCN friends.

Thank you for a very interesting discussion last night.

I make no apology for my point of view.

You see I spent 20-odd years working in some of the world’s top advertising agencies. It was my dubious pleasure to learn that humans can be easily manipulated. In fact we had manuals that told us how to do it and today those scientific means are available and used by everyone from politicians, the church, industry, the media and criminals to make society do what it wishes.

The world has never had a statement of art that has changed society. Art has always been an onlooker, or used by the powers that be to convey their message.

The world is about power and money. If you have neither you are just cannon fodder.

The world’s population is quite simple manipulated and squeezed at the delight and pleasure of those doing the squeezing.

If you want to change society, you need to change the power brokers (big and small) and that is an impossible task. Can you change The Church, Royalty, Industrial giants, The Bilderbergers, The Masons etc etc and so on?

No.

So perhaps you focus needs to change and instead of saying that you want to change Society, perhaps you could start with a smaller ambition.

As I was party to your various views last night (and being an artist myself) I sincerely believe that art enriches society and without it the world would be a rather dull and meaningless place. And so your ideas to beautify and sensitize Frome is an excellent idea. (Although I’m not too sure I like the idea of using Gaudi and bollards in the same sentence.)

Make Fome one massive canvas and I’ll stand beside you all the way (and even add to it.) If you can encourage other towns to do the same even better. If you can link this effort around the world even more to the better. If the response to an art-centred society can be just to raise a smile that would be worthwhile. A few hundred million smiles WOULD be worth it

May I make a suggestion?

Firstly decide what your objectives are. Most importantly decide who your target audience is and what message you want to convey. Then wrap it all up in a document and each member of the ‘I WANT TO BE LIKE BANKSY, IN FROME SOCIETY’ sign it.

(Last night there were comments made about the state of the planet. Well is this also going to be in your manifesto? After all how many of you practice what you intend to preach? How many of you: recycle all your household waste; reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your use of household and transport fossil fuels; become vegetarians to reduce the volume of methane issued by cattle; reduce volumes of water and electricity used in household chores; refuse to waste money on useless junk items on the internet; fight the education system which restricts what and how students learn; protest against politicians that get us into wars and so on.)

Then make sure you get lots of media coverage.

Then make sure you have your manifesto printed and distributed in all public places in Frome and even have posters.

Then produce a well worded petition and get zillions of signatures

Then get it debated at a Frome Council meeting. (Even more media coverage.)

NOW you have a chance.

Now YOU have power.

Now you have power beyond beautification.

 

Welcome to help in any way.

Mel Sewell

Old world...new world...

Interesting stuff Mel - one thing I'm finding interesting at the mo' working with marketing/ad/new media folks is the division between "old world" and "new world" marketing. Old World says you need money/power etc. - it's the top down approach that very successfully ran our pre-internet societies. New world says you need wit, cunning, determination...and creativity but not necessarily money or power. To use new media buzz words, we live in a bottom up, "long tail" world in which the tail can sometimes wag the dog very hard indeed. There are countless examples. How about this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo. A low budget video made by an obscure musician that led to a 10% drop in a major world airline's stock price (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Breaks_Guitars). So...my point is we change the world just by taking creative action. If we're lured into a corporatised, structured, debate-led, town-council-driven-snoozfest we lose everything that makes us different (no offence to Frome Town council of course). I'll do a separate posting on GarageDoorGalleries...

I guess I thought that...

I guess I thought that I might just type my thoughts that came from the discussion last night. I do not live in Frome - so I suppose it could be suggested what do I know?! However these are my gut instinct ideas ................ I think Frome has to be attacked on two fronts. Internally at the core to realise what you have and to let it grow. People instinctively will join 'a pack' if they can see that it is strong and positive. Secondly Frome needs to be out in the U.K. Local press is good but easily forgotten as local people will read it and say 'yer, I know Frome 'does' art'. In order for it to be known you have to sell it wide. The first idea is the 'plague cross' in reverse idea. It sounds crazy - but so .............. To print each (and every) artist's creative image which is then enclosed in a waterproof film and hung from the front of the house where each (and every) artist lives, permanently. Then you will already be seeing the strength of Frome made clearly visible. Children will usually love displaying their work and could get in on the act, possibly through school visits. People who have never thought about it would maybe consider it a community thing to do and if they were given the right mind set would wish to become part of the energised art world of Frome. Even if they maybe are not artists to start with, just to show that they have life in them as well! (In this day and age, people want to appear alive and 'up for anything' and I guess that is why there are tribal tattoos appearing on the older generation, botox and really cool clothes for the middle aged!!) Art is also pretty cool! This has the ability to cross over different cultures in Frome that exist and which were discussed last night. This would then be proof of where Frome stands as an art community. What you as artists have and what you can hope to gain from and work with at this point in time. Also it will highlight the weaknesses. Then by the very nature of self awareness, Frome could become at its very core strong in its beliefs for what it stands for. A strength borne internally through proof. This could potentially be a new and powerful concept and any publicity would be targeted on Frome as a whole and as a powerful art community. The second idea to work with the first is to create a road show. Local press is good, but it stays local. To tell the U.K. that Frome is a fast evolving art force, you need to take work out of the nucleus. A road show based on one of the subjects talked about last night, created by carefully chosen Frome artists that is then carried to various galleries, town spaces, starting in maybe the south and working up could work. This exhibition would be based on Frome awareness, not a vehicle for individual artists PR (but obviously by the very nature that would occur) Galleries I feel could be more accepting of an exhibition based on the World in Crisis as it would do their PR some good. I guess these two ideas are maybe totally off their trolley. But it was suggested that we think creatively and outside the box and so I have. These ideas may feed something else which would be good. I am an outsider and one of the advantages is that I see Frome from a slightly different angle. Frome to me is a strong nucleus, whereas Bath is sprawling and massive, Frome has the ability to appear contained and strong. I have come to Frome for that very reason, that I thought I could find something here that I could not find in other places. I guess if an outsider can see this then the artists of Frome are already in a strong position. L