Category Archives: Art

Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2016

Discover more here…

It’s that time of year again. We are packing our notebooks, pencils and cameras for a series of editorial visits, as usual, to the Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2016.

22nd October till the 12th November 2016.

”The Chelmsford Ideas Festival aims to stimulate and inspire people through a set of innovative events, talks and workshops”.

With a much improved web site this year, you can find a range of activities and interests to stimulate the intellect across a variety of themes. Each category of event has its own diary section. See below for what might interest you most.

Arts  |  Heritage  | Kids  |  Technology  |  Your City  | Wellbeing  |  Food

You can see last years event article on conversationsEAST here. This year, 2016, the programme is diverse, inclusive and accessible.

To book individual workshops and events simply open the calendar entry on the web page to get full details of the event and how to book.

Highlights from the programme? We liked…

Rooted Art – Public Art Workshops   25th October, 2016   10.00 to 12.00

‘Let’s make history! Join Artist Nick Haydon (known for his large scale printmaking) and Artist Victoria Button in creating a massive historic mural in Chelmsford city centre, depicting stories of the city’s heritage. Funded by Essex County Council’.

See more about artists Victoria Button and Nick Haydon

We also liked…

Chat About the Old Days – 27th October and 27th November, 2016  – 14.00 to 16.30

‘Come along to this free session – enjoy a cup of tea/coffee and a cake for just £1 and join us in reminiscing about the ‘old days’. (Don’t forget: even teenagers have an ‘old days’ – what do you remember about times past?) 

Our idea is to have a jolly good nostalgic chat session over a cup of tea and then for some of the memories and stories that come out to form the basis of a new community artwork to be displayed at the Ideas Hub. Maybe it will be the start of a series of artworks…who knows?’

Organiser: Artist Max Dolding – see more here.

And also…

ESA’S COPERNICUS PROGRAMME: How is E2V protecting Planet earth?    24th October 19:00 – 21:00

‘Paul Jerram is Chief Engineer for Space Imaging at e2v, Chelmsford. Headquartered in Chelmsford, e2v is bringing life to technology and employs 1750 people globally. e2v partners with customers to provide world-class image sensors and detection subsystems that can help solve the mysteries of the Universe, understand climate change on Earth and much, much more…’

Event follows the Festival launch at Anglia Ruskin University.

The Ideas Festival Chelmsford,  22nd October till the 12th November 2016, is certainly now a premier intellectual and cultural landmark in the regional festival landscape. Visit the web site and book to join in the work. You will not be disappointed.

See the Festival full contact details here.

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Open TED
– share your idea!

 Letting the imagination loose…

What a reservoir of intellectual curiosity and intelligent thought the TED Talks web site is. We would all aspire to be on that stage, in any city across the world, to deliver our magnum opus in those eighteen minutes or less.

Well, some of us would, we suspect?

Well now you can. TED have just called for video submissions for OpenTED, a new initiative that offers all, that is everyone, the chance to vent their idea to the world.

You have, in this case, just six minutes or less to give the world your idea. It might be a new social movement, political idea, artistic initiative or just a personal reflection on an aspect of your life.

Below is a contribution from the performer Tanya Davis, with the filming expertise and technology provided by film-maker Andrea Dorfman.

It is a poem and filmic art, about being alone. It is also a collaboration, to express the idea or commentary using a range of skills. Working together with others to express your idea.

You have until October 15th, 2015 to submit your video idea. It must be a video contribution, of course. It might be…

‘…an idea might offer a new, bold, big-picture way of looking at the world: a broad call for tolerance, a flipped view of human behavior, a breakthrough in the lab that will change our lives. Or it could offer a new way of thinking at micro scale — a new take on a small behavior we do every day, or a new way to get through the workday’. Source: OpenTEd

A small, personal idea, or big statement about an aspect of your life or community. The TED idea democratised. Now there’s an idea worth spreading.

interneticon  You can find the OpenTED small print here.

interneticon  Revisit the TED main web pages here for inspiration.

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A Digital Toolkit,
for the Arts?

See your copy here…

Making Digital Work – A digital toolkit for Arts and Culture is one of the latest publications available from The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts.

This is a stunning piece of work, encapsulating business modelling, ideas curation and potentiality for delivery , route mapping and success measurement – all through the meta-filter of the arts and culture agenda.

The toolkit is not a complex piece, nor is it exhaustive, but it does contain processes which any arts focused project can use to identify new opportunities, to plan the business case for the digital work, focus on audience and user value, collaborate, design, build and engage, then evaluate and share.

Simple and effective solutions to arts project planning and delivery in the digital domain.

interneticon You can view the full document or download sections here…

‘The arts sector is fizzing with ideas and creative ambition. Large and small organisations are using digital technologies to deliver dazzling online experiences linked to live events, useful services for learners, interactive displays in physical spaces and so much more’. Source: The Concept – Digital Toolkit

Whether developing the concept in mind with the Six Hats methodology or taking a more mainstream approach to idea development by using the Business Model Canvas, then the toolkit from The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts offers plenty of opportunity to use the techniques best suited to your management team, volunteers or funders.

We like the Business Model Canvas. Using it with our Third Sector clients is a good way to encapsulate the business argument and key considerations for the community enterprise. You can see an example on here.

Using it here, in the arts and culture context, the main headings have been adjusted to include clarity of thought in the project overview, sales and marketing, operations and resources, staff and management…and finance too.

Contemplating a digital arts or cultural project then the web lends itself to testing, data collection, evaluation and storytelling derived from a completed project. The digital toolkit contains much that is useful in using and shaping output from new media and new technology, within the context of arts delivery.

We recently wrote, on our Communications EAST Toolkit page about The Growthverse, a very useful web service that can help you decide upon and plan deployment of your new media, user relationships and feedback methodologies. We commend it to arts professionals too. Although it is intended for tech start-ups, there is insight to be gained from exploring it, we would argue.

In summation, this is the toolkit for arts and culture in the digital age, bar none. The closing pages contain useful links, not only to the Digtal R&D Fund, but also to the Nesta Creative Enterprise toolkit, a variety of digital capacity resources from the Arts Council and the Design Council Guide to Design.

If you are a practitioner…connect to the internet and diary some laptop time, you will need it.

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Visiting the Sainsbury Centre at UEA

(Image: Alberto Giacometti, with his work)

A visit to Sainsbury Centre on Friday 20th February, 2015

We had a group of seventeen fellows and friends who met up for the visit. We congregated at 10.30 for complimentary tea and coffee at the Modern Life café and then we were taken off by three guides to explore the Centre. We began with the Permanent exhibition on the ground floor and then after a short break proceeded to the basement exhibition areas to view the Reality exhibition, which was outstanding.

Curated by artist Chris Stevens, REALITY brings together over 50 works celebrating the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last sixty years.

The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most prominent university art galleries in Britain, and a major national Centre for the study and presentation of art.

It houses the extraordinary art collection of Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, as well as the Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau and the University’s Abstract and Constructivist Collection. Alongside these permanent collections, there is a range of temporary exhibitions, with new galleries providing the largest climate-controlled exhibition space in Eastern England. Also on offer is an award-winning learning programme of gallery talks, lectures and art workshops. (See the programme of lectures, symposia and training here).

The Collections at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts represent some of the most remarkable works of art assembled in the UK. The Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection features work spanning 5,000 years of human creativity. The presentation of art from across time and place continues to inspire and surprise and uniquely presents art as a universal global phenomenon.

Picasso, 1901-2 Femme au Cafe

The Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection
Permanently displayed in the Living Area Gallery, the collection includes major holdings of art from Oceania, Africa, the Americas, Asia, the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, and including a significant number of works acknowledged as seminal examples of European modern art. Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Francis Bacon, Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti and Amedeo Modigliani are all represented in the collection.

The Lisa Sainsbury Ceramics Collection
Although not formally part of the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, the Lisa Sainsbury Ceramics Collection represents a major collection of 20th century studio ceramics, including a significant body of work by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper.

The Sainsbury Abstract Collection
The Sainsbury Abstract Collection includes paintings from the post second world war Ecole de Paris with a strong preference for lyrical abstraction and Tachisme, art movements that flourished in France from 1945 to 1960. Notable artists included in the collection are Jean Fautrier, Charles Maussion and Mubin Orhon.

The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau
Alongside the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection sits another principle collection; The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau, donated in 1978 by Sir Colin Anderson, a close friend of Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury. The collection represents artists working across a range of disciplines and materials such as glassware and furniture, metalware and jewelry. The collection includes pieces by leading exponents of Art Nouveau such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, Emile Gallé and René Lalique.

Vorticist David Bomberg's The Mud Bath, 1914
Vorticist David Bomberg’s The Mud Bath, 1914

The University Collection of Abstract and Constructivist Art, Design and Architecture was established by the University in 1968. This Collection concentrates on the non-objective, constructive and concrete art movements of the 20th century and the related fields of architecture and design, such as the English Vorticists, the Russian Suprematists and Constructivists, the Dutch De Stijl Group and the German Bauhaus School.

All who attended enjoyed getting to know each other and spoke of possibly another visit soon. It was very much enjoyed by all and many used their ticket to linger longer in the afternoon. Also, a new Francis Bacon exhibition is coming soon. The Francis Bacon paintings are currently at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and will return for the Francis Bacon and the Masters exhibition in April.

Possibly another day out!

Christine O’Hanlon FRSA

(Public domain images are for illustrative purposes only – they do not seek to represent the collections in the narrative about this visit).


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Sainsbury Centre – a diary date

Visit The Sainsbury Centre on-line here…

RSA East of England Visit to the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia

Friday 20 February 10.30 am to 2pm

eventbriteButton    You can book on-line here…

Fellows are invited to a guided tour of the outstanding collection at the Sainsbury Centre, UEA including the major REALITY exhibition of Modern British painting, Matisse sculptures (‘The Backs’), as well as the permanent collection (

REALITY brings together over 50 works celebrating the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last sixty years, testifying to the survival of painting as a medium and the impact of British painting today. Major 20th Century artists are represented such as Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney, alongside contemporary painters including Ken Currie, George Shaw and Caroline Walker.

The tour will be followed by lunch in the restaurant. Lunch is self service but we have reserved a table, so Fellows can eat together and review the morning.

interneticon  See more details on our events page here…

Sainsbury Centre image credit: lucyrfisher via photopin cc


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Thinking about the Fellowship, 2014

Looking ahead to 2015
Looking ahead to 2015

During the summer of 2014 the Society sent out a survey to the Fellowship, seeking their responses on a number of issues and asking for their views and comments.

Below is a copy that analysis, garnered from the 29% of Fellows who responded, along with some thoughts from the conversationsEAST team as to how our contribution to the work of the Fellowship might be flexed, in response to the findings.

The summary findings from The House indicated the following…

“Overall responses to the survey were positive. Over two-thirds of Fellows join–at least partially–to support our mission, the quality of almost all of our outputs is seen as very high and by far the majority of Fellows are intending to renew their Fellowship. The Survey also generated a large amount of information that can be used to guide ongoing Fellowship development”.

Key findings included…

  • There is less satisfaction with local events compared to other areas of our work.
  • There are a large number of Fellows wanting to self- organise but are frustrated at being unable to do so.
  • There are a large number of Fellows wanting to self- organise but are frustrated at being unable to do so.
  • Some Fellows want to be more involved in the work we do.
  • There is a lack of knowledge about what we do. Across the seven RSA Projects included in the survey, `have not heard of it at all’ accounted for between a quarter and a half of all responses.
  • Younger people and females are less likely to recommend the Fellowship to suitable people than others
  • There are strong regional variations in how Fellows perceive the RSA.

(Key findings drawn from the RSA Fellowship summary report – Ed.)

Looking forward into 2015 we have recently published our ‘road-map’ as a journal, where we have been working with Tim, our new Fellowship Councillor in the East, to develop a series of gatherings to explore how Fellows can become more engaged with the Society.

pdfIcon4You can view, print or download a copy of the 2014 RSA Survey here

See the Survey here…

We will, as stated, pivot these, supporting Tim directly in the delivery of a series of Fellowship Councillor Surgeries across the region. This might help inform and engage the interested Fellowship directly. Offering an informal setting, with refreshments, for the survey itself to be discussed and for Tim to explain and heighten awareness of the work and input of the Fellowship Council itself. One of the findings in the survey was that many Fellows were unaware of the function of the Fellowship Council, for example.

Another way forward, we would argue, would be to foster the engagement of female Fellows, either as new Fellows, or to develop some way to engage with the Fellowship on a gender basis. We have written before in this journal and in our regional annual reports about the gender imbalances, including in the Fellowship, in our region.

(We could start an Otrera Group in every region to foster the engagement and promotion of Fellowship skills by gender, for example? -Ed.)

If this imbalance in Fellowship is ‘normalised’ across all regions, we would look to develop a campaign/project to engage by gender across adjacent regions for example. Sharing both the information in the recent survey, but garnering explicit local knowledge on gender bias as part of the project initiation work.

(Having talked so long about the matter, it seems that a short burst of positive discrimination, in terms of engagement and resources, might go a long way? -Ed.)

In our publishing activities we will develop a ‘Fellows have their say!’ web journal page. Where the Fellowship can directly contribute to the regional debate in the East. This might be particularly useful in bolstering the regional events catalogue in terms of feedback or activity recommendation. All this information will be passed directly and securely to the Eastern Region Fellowship team, of course.

We will foster and web publish a set of ‘View from the Fellowship Council’ reports. Getting Tim to write a regular review of Council activity and debate, in a generalised way, which can feed into regional meetings and, more importantly, be immediately available to the wider regional Fellowship. Helping to support and deliver a clearer understanding of its work and role.

We think the new RSA web site, arriving this month, which will enable Fellows to contact each other directly if they wish, offers an important and effective mechanism for pan regional co-operation, as well as improving inter-region project and activity development. We look forward to reviewing it on our web pages.

Also useful, we believe, will be the launch of artSUFFUSION, our sister arts focused web journal. We are refining the publication manifesto this month.

We hope that by combining the arts, crafts and making into one energy stream in the region, whilst connecting new conversationsEAST social enterprise start-up projects, we can also help convert our Society’s brilliant research papers and mission into real world examples of sustainable community business and social outcome funded projects.

We look forward to 2015, hoping that our readers will come along with us?

The conversationsEAST team.

Article image credit: David J. Thomas via photopin cc



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Shakespeare TV?

The Globe Theatre in London has just launched a new electronic service. The Globe Player.

It is part subscription service, partly an encyclopedia of reflection about Shakespeare and his work, but mainly it is a delight to discover the Bard whilst seated at your own screen and keyboard.

The service enables you, after registration, to rent or buy over 50 films of Shakespeare productions at The Globe Theatre.

You can also explore the Muse of Fire resource. This is a film in itself, but is made up of extracts from a wide variety of interviews with major Shakesperean actors of our day.

The interviews are available on the web site and offer fascinating insights into both the deep knowledge of the actors, but also their subtle and insightful take on the works they interpret.

One interesting part of the site content is access to performances of The Sonnets, but set in contemporary New York settings…

The project piece above is an interpretation of Sonnet 3, set in Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, Brooklyn. A great way to listen to the language of Shakespeare, but framed by immediately recognisable modern contexts.

This service is truly ‘…a window of thine age…’.

Whether you are a long time resident in the world of Shakespeare, or just beginning to explore the universe of love, loss, drama and comedy that The Globe creates, then we think this is a wonderful resource.

William and the Web. Perfect partners in the 21st Century?

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A new Arts Centre emerges in Ipswich


Ipswich Arts Centre in association with Ipswich Historic Churches Trust and Re-Create are to establish a new Ipswich Arts Centre at St Clement Church.


In early November there will be an evening of talks, discussion, music and refreshment to celebrate  the rebirth of St Clement as a new contemporary arts venue forming a bridge between the waterfront development and the town centre.


“The aim is to create a contemporary arts centre which will host national and international acclaimed acts in a diverse range of media including music, visual arts, performance, film and theatre. It will complement and support Ipswich’s existing cultural offer, placing Ipswich firmly on the regional and national cultural map.


The rebirth of St Clement as a contemporary arts centre aims to restore this beautiful 14th Century building, which provides a natural space for creative expression, where people can congregate and share in this experience”.


The opening of a new Arts centre in any community is a red letter day. The impending work at St. Clement is set in a long tradition of utilising redundant church property as theatres, community centres and libraries.


The creation of a new, full mix Arts Centre to add to the cultural context of Ipswich and East Anglia as a whole is very exciting indeed.


The project has already attracted media attention and has been featured on BBC news, The Stage and East Anglian Daily Times.
To discover more information about this new Centre and the role that UCS in Ipswich will play see…



Image of St.Clements: Geoff Pick [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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Arts and craft, history and genius

Here at conversationsEAST, this was a story that had everything. High art, craft skills, invention, controversy and ladles of genius. Entwining a Texas entrepreneur, a seventeenth century Dutch painter and an obsessive journey into the ‘how it was done’.

Tim Jenison is a Texas based inventor and technologist with a deep interest in the painting of Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675). Put simply, Jenison is of the view that Vermeer could not have painted his interior scenes from life alone, the application of technology, Jenison insists, is how the stunning art works were created so long ago.

The short film below encapsulates the long journey of exploration that Jenison has undertaken to make his point. He has deployed art history skills, the talents of a craftsmen and the inquisitiveness of an inventor to make an argument, which whilst contentious is, none the less, powerful.

His five year journey involved making exact replicas of the furniture and musical instruments in a Vermeer painting, and through utilising the concept of a camera obscura and a mirror on a stick, Tim sought to recreate Vermeer’s picture, The Music Lesson.

The interiors of the room, it’s content and effects were built by Tim, even hand building the lens to seventeenth century specifications that he used to deliver his painting technique.

The results? Well you can see the full depiction of his work over time in this original article from an issue of

Is it a good argument? We have looked at another old master to see if his thesis is watertight. We have used images stored on the pages of the Google Cultural Institute. (If you have a love of the visual arts this is a storehouse and toolkit of very impressive proportions – Ed.)

Canaletto image
Section of Il Canal Grande de Ca’Balbi verso Rialto 1721-1723
Antonio Canal detto Canalletto | Ca’ Rezzonico – Museum of the 18th Century Venice











Within the broad sweep of this large Canaletto, the texture of the oil paint, the slightly impressionistic depiction of the figures and the matte ‘depth’ of the boat clearly show Canaletto’s brush work and his hand.

Below is a similar size section of the painting, The Music Lesson by Vermeer, that was the object of Tim Jenison’s attention. In it the light falling from the window, the tone and smoothness of the wall surface by the window and increasing colour change away from the light source into the room are, to echo Jenison’s argument, extremely photo-like.

Vermeer image
Section of Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, The Music Lesson c. 1162 – 1665
Johannes Vermeer | Royal Collection Trust, UK











This might disturb quite a lot of people

…David Hockney

The work of Jenison and his collaborators is a wonderful example to anyone who has an idea or a need to find out, whether an RSA Fellow or not. Obsessive perhaps, but stunning in the execution of so many skills and techniques.

Was Vermeer really a tech geek?

Read the article, watch the film and tell us what you think….


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Regional finalist – Art Museum of the Year 2014

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts has been selected as a finalist in interneticon the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2014 competition.

Designed by interneticon Foster + Partners, this iconic building rests in the University of East Anglia campus landscape and is perhaps the pre-eminent collection of modern art in our region. The permanent collection housed at the Centre was relaunched with a complete re-display in September of 2013.

At the same time the Centre’s largest exhibition to date was opened – interneticonMasterpieces: Art and East Anglia. The exhibition was assembled from some 250 works, donated by over 60 institutions. The  ranged from neolithic flint hand axes, tomb effigies from East Anglian churches to paintings from the Norwich School artist John Cotman.

The space, with its endless variety of ways to approach the works, still attracts a sense of wonder and deep engagement. The short video below, featuring the Centre Director and art historian Philip Mould, conveys this sense of connection well.

If you have never visited the interneticon Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, you should. Not least to see how the curatorial energy of the Centre team has won them a deserved place in this competition.

interneticon  See the Art Fund pages and details of the other finalists here. cropped-conversationsEASTbanner2.jpg

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