Category Archives: Culture

Reflecting on glass!

We have been sinking deep into the sofa in the evenings to follow the craft, technique and skill offered to viewers in the BBC 2 broadcast The Repair Shop.

Myglassroom, Surinder Warboys course in stained glass
Artistry, craft technique and civility – the perfect workshop course…

As well as offering craft and artistry of the highest calibre, the programme is the perfect antidote and respite  from a stressful day at the office, that meeting you regret or that article idea that will not congeal yet in a tired mind.

In Mellis, Suffolk the workshop at Myglassroom is offering the opportunity to engage with this craft and artistry in stained glass creation.

Myglassroom: a studio committed to achieving excellence in contemporary architectural stained glass, conservation & restoration. Established 1990 by Surinder Warboys, Stained glass artist and conservator’.

Architectural Stained Glass /Painting on Glass Courses

One day taster sessions in painting and staining:

Saturday 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th Sept. 2018    10am – 4pm  IP23 8EE

You can discover more about Surinder Warboys one day courses, contact the workshop for details of fees applicable and to see the work of recent ‘glass’ students…see more at http://www.myglassroom.com/index.html

The essayist Robert Louis Stevenson said that ‘…no man lives in the external truth among salts and acids, but in the warm, phantasmagoric chamber of his brain, with the painted windows and the storied wall‘.

What better than a trip to Mellis in glorious Suffolk, in order to craft your own idea?

(…whatever your gender…Ed.)

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Arts & Business news

Cambridge Open Art Festival 2018 - image and web link
Read our original article here…

Just updated: 17th September 2018

Open Art Exhibition 2018 - catalogue image and web link
Exhibition catalogue available here…

This great exhibition is almost upon us. You can view, print or download the full exhibition catalogue here.

 

We recently ran an article on our pages about the Cambridge Open Art Exhibition 2018. Well the deadline for the submission of artwork for this year’s event is very close.

We have published the key dates, courtesy of the Open Art team, below. Don’t rush, but safely head towards the deadline at a good speed. Good luck too!

 

Key Dates for Artists:
Artwork entry/image deadline Friday 17th August 2018

Delivery of Artwork to Swavesey Village College:
Thursday 11th October 2018 between 4.30pm and 7pm

Collection of Unsold artwork:
Sunday 14th October 2018 between 4.15pm and 5.30pm

Exhibition Dates:
Preview Friday 12th Oct 6.30-9pm
Saturday 13th Oct 10am-5pm
Sunday 14th Oct 10am-4pm
at Swavesey Village College CB24 4RS

Read more about this energising, artistic project here.


SupportingCambs - image and web link
See more here…
Thirdsectorweb, our community web delivery arm, has been having a bit of a tidy up. We have been cleaning up some of our web assets, some of which, although worthy, now need refreshment.
 
 
Seeded and grown by a community interest company called ABMEC, our Partnership has continued to fund and maintain their web site and content.
 
The CIC Registrar dissolved the company in August 2015. We would now like to add two new categories to the list of featured content – which is being updated again as we write.
 
We now want to add two new buttons – The Arts and Enterprise/Business to the pages of Supportingcambridgshire.com
Partly to illustrate hope, activities which cast forward and stimulate creativity – as a break from engagement with crisis. We recognise that not all newly arrived residents fit this category, of course.
 
The Arts can include any welcoming, inclusive creative activity that supports newly arrived or minority community members.
 
Enterprise/Business can be services, free at the point of delivery, which will add to the enterprise creation expertise and knowledge of our communities of interest.
 
If you have a group, or project, that welcomes any new arrivals or BME community members in these categories, drop us a line and we’ll add it to our community gazette.
 
If you write a 100 words or so to tell us what you do, that would be great too. We will support contributors by using our publication skills to develop and promote the work of groups.
 

 

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Once Upon A Festival – Suffolk Libraries

We love libraries!

 

 

 

 

In 1851 J.W.Hudson, speaking at the opening of the Mechanic’ and Apprentices’ Library in Liverpool, opined that a visit to the library would, for the reader, lead to them ‘…receiving cultivation, not in reading the latest accounts of mis-demeanours and local calamities…but in imbibing instruction and high gratification from the perusal of select and valuable works whether they lead him with the traveller, across the pathless tracts of oceans, or cheer and console him, with moral sketches of human nature’.  (Source: Mid-Victorian Britain 1851-75, Geoffrey Best, Fontana Press, 1985, London, p.232)

Once Upn a Festival button, image and web link
See more about the Festival here…

Whilst the publicly accessible library, after nearly a century or more of rising literacy in our country would then clearly stir the intellectual interest of Everyman (and Everywoman and Everychild too – Ed.) the message is still clarion today, stimulating the autodidact to seize the high ground of undiscovered knowledge and learning.

The adult, or child reader, will today find a mesmerising range of interests available at their local library that carries the long echo from that opening event in mid-nineteenth century Liverpool. Experience is still to be garnered for the mind, in the face of closures, funding cuts and, perhaps, even a topical turn away from the intellect towards ‘accounts of mis-demeanours and local calamities‘.

Suffolk Libraries web button - image and web linkSuffolk Libraries, during June 2018, are teaming up with Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds to host five performances as part of the ‘Once Upon A Festival’ children’s arts festival.

The Suffolk Libraries festival programme looks like this:

Once Upon a Festival: Pied Piper

Sat 16 June – 1045 to 11.30
Bury St Edmunds Library

‘When the Pied Piper plays his flute the rats run, the greedy mayor rubs his hands and the children dance… Norwich Puppet Theatre’s humorous and irresistible one-person show combines a skillful mix of puppetry, foot-tapping music and storytelling and will have audiences young and old entranced’.

Once Upon a Festival: The Children in the Moon

Sat 16 June – 1430 to 15.15
Newmarket Library

‘The Children in the Moon is a wonderfully visual and original take on centuries old children’s verse, packed with puppetry and live music this is an ideal show for all the family. Tickets for this show are £1 per child’.

Once Upon a Festival: Graffiti Classics

Wed 20 June – 1530 to 1630
Newmarket Library

‘6 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices with 1 aim: to make classical music wickedly funny and fantastically exhilarating for everyone, young and old. Graffiti Classics burst the elitist boundaries of the traditional string quartet with their hilarious all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy show’.

Use the Suffolk Library links to check out these gems of ‘library performance’ and kick-start the 7 to 13 year old auto-didact in your family today.


Context and Editor Notes:

Libraries and the Arts are deeply embedded in our culture and history. By the 1680’s, in England, libraries were growing more common, from the large installation in the affluent country house, to ‘the more modest bookshelf in the yeoman’s farm‘. Public libraries, as we might understand the term, were extremely rare outside Oxford and Cambridge.

In 1684, the Rector of St. Martin’s in the Fields, working with Christopher Wren, set out to build a library ‘for public use’. The Rector and Wren built a large house in the grounds of the churchyard, using the upper story as an accessible library and the downstairs as a ‘workroom for the poor’.

Thus beginning, arguably, the long tradition of the library as a multi-use space, feeding the individual mind, raising community social capital and road-mapping the way to the intellectual horizon.

Everything we might want today.

(Source: English Social History – Chaucer to Queen Victoria, G.M.Trevelyan, Penguin Books, London, 1978, p. 279)

Once Upon A Festival is now in its fourth year and aims to make performance art more accessible in theatres, schools and communities by taking the performances to children in their school or community. For more information visit www.onceuponafestival.co.uk   

Melissa Matthews, Suffolk Libraries Art Programme Co-ordinator, says: “We’re delighted to host these events. Once Upon A Festival delivers high quality dynamic performances from a variety of companies and libraries are a great place to host exciting events like this in the community. We want to deliver more events like this as part of our Arts programme to open up new and accessible arts experiences for children and young people.”

(Source: Suffolk Libraries Press Release, June 2018 – https://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/news/once-upon-a-festival/ )

Love your library, whatever age it is – we do!

Enlightenment in the East of England

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Artist in Residence, Culture LAB: Arts in the Community

We publish a continuous arts job feed here:

Ipswich County Library

Week-long, mixed media residency working in partnership with METAL

Sullfolk Libraries web button 4 - image and web linkMonday 30 July – Friday 3 August 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘As part of Year 1 of the Suffolk Libraries Arts Programme, we are inviting Suffolk artists to take over the top floor of Ipswich County Library to explore the role creativity plays as catalyst for nurturing confidence and well-being in young people’.

Source: https://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/about/jobs/ipswich-artist-in-residence/

In April 2018, Suffolk Libraries were awarded NPO status by Arts Council England. Following the residency, artists may be approached by Suffolk Libraries to be commissioned to deliver pilots of their projects from September 2018.

Discover this arts opportunity, and others, on our regularly updated arts job news-feed here.

See the job description, duration, remuneration and audience focus for the work. Check back regularly for updated feeds on arts-centred employment in the East of England. See more here.

Enlightenment in the East of England

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Whither libraries?

Too old, too big…too little used?

Article update: 28.10.2017  – A really sound article on the utility of libraries by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett –  No one needs libraries any more? What rubbish  from The Guardian of Thursday, 26th October, 2017.

In it Cosslet takes to task the political pundit Andre Walker, for his omnipotent vision of the library service in the UK. Namely that no-one visits them anymore and they should all be closed down and the books given to schools.

Is there something Presidential in this decimation of the library service by Twitter?

Rhiannon goes on to thread her story with her use of the public library when young – developing intellectual curiosity, cultural awareness, knowledge of the world and taking up the rich opportunity public libraries offer to graze the landscape of the word, six books at a  time.

We recommend the article to our readers.


Original text: In the Spring of 2015 the Adam Smith Institute published an article entitled ‘The End of Local Authority Libraries‘. As the economic ice age of Osbornian austerity descended upon us, the Press was full of cultural turbulence about the closure and operational rigidity of our national literacy assets.

Although the general  Press attention has diminished, it is telling that the dilution of the library service has continued unabated, albeit with increasingly diminished media currency, as we have been further overwhelmed by matters of political moment in and about Europe, perhaps.

View, print or download the full report here…pdf

Central government, arguably, remains enthusiastic and espouses a positive vison for the library service. The recent report Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021 from the Libraries Taskforce, is almost entirely upbeat about the half decade ahead. They offer a vision of a multiplicity of supported delivery systems for a local library in section 6.3 of the report.

The website Public Libraries News, in July, declared that now ‘there are at least five hundred libraries that are staffed, if not entirely run by volunteers’. On the one hand, this is a sign, we would argue, that there is profound suport for the local library at grassroots level. But it is also a sign, looking at the plethora of continual changes and negative reviews of library services across the country on the website, that there is no clear, effective and equally profound form of new governance emerging for libraries.

One that, at once taps into localism, yet satisfies the need for an eclectic and near universal access to knowledge and leisure, free at the point of delivery for those who need it most.

The trade union Unison are to hold a National SOS Day on the 19th of October, 2017. Save our Services is designed to show that ‘...libraries are a hub and a haven in our communities. They offer a place for people to work, relax, discover and think.They are a source of local knowledge and history and give everyone access to books, DVDs, music and more, for free or at a very low cost.

But libraries also do a lot more than lend books. Many hold events, anything from story time for children to yoga classes for adults. Library workers help people look for work, advise on using IT, organise talks by authors and so much more‘.

Source: https://www.unison.org.uk/blogs/2017/08/sos-day-17/

The debate, then, continues to have currency. The Adam Smith Institute argued, in its article by Eamonn Butler, that the free market was the solution to the ‘library deficit’ issue, as to be expected. That exemplars of library innovation, in the shape of American organisations such as Library Systems and Services, were to be the saviours of a moribund library market.

However, research shows that the accession of LSSI to the pinnacle of library stewardship has not been entirely successful in the USA. An earlier article in the New York Times shows how both library staff and users, even in the more affluent cities where LSSI has obtained contracts, have been happy to lead protests. Dissenting voices to the ending of  unionised services, diminution of book stocks and antagonism towards the ethics of ‘libraries for profit’.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/business/27libraries.html

The City Library, Birmingham

The Butler argument, from the Adam Smith Institute, saw the then new Birmingham City Library building as an example of ossification of service. The £188 million building began to operate on a ‘self-funded’ basis for events, for example, in the context of author events or arts activity. Both previously seen as draws to footfall for the library service. Indeed key activities in a wider cultural obligation for libraries, we would argue.

However, debate about the capital cost of a building in austere times is one thing, but the Institute author’s position somewhat fails to recognise that it is free market policies which have led to the very fiscal landscape that has so diminished the library service.

If a library is battered by exogenous fiscal policy upheaval, it is somewhat unfair to blame the librarian for lack of service, or diversity in activity, surely?

Is there hope for change? We think so.

We were pleased to see that there is widening acceptance by Councils that the community should have control of libraries as a community resource. At the beginning of August, for example, Derby City Council declared for the cessation of control of ten libraries, which will see ‘…the loss of at least 39 library assistants’ jobs and two library managers, of almost 100 staff who work for the authority. Community groups will get £17,500 a year each to fund their own managed libraries until 2022…’

Source: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/attempt-stop-biggest-ever-shake-265614

What is concerning, in this case, is the timetable and the level of grant in aid ceded to the community organisations in the City, to effectively manage the transfer and creation of a new community organisation to deliver the service.

More positively again, Bury Council this month have approved a new community asset transfer plan. ‘The new policy means applications from groups to buy community assets from the council will be considered against ‘key tests’ designed to ensure a deal which is best for the council and residents‘. The landscape of community opportunity grows!

Source: http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/15439093.New_policy_hopes_to_make_it_easier_for_groups_to_take_ownership_of_council_buildings/

However, it is entirely possible, we would argue, to imagine the creation of community libraries as Social Enterprises, where the not for profit governance model delivers a mix of volunteer and employee led services, bolstered by an admixture of social business services to support and maintain the core library provision.

A community cafe, a learning centre, a gardening or horticultural project…the list could easily be imaginatively extended by a dynamic, active community. The whole focused upon the creation of ‘…a place for people to work, relax, discover and think‘, to remind us of the Unison observation.

If the trade union are having an SOS Day, why do we not start a new think-tank movement, LASER – Libraries as Social Enterprise Renewal.

Write to conversationsEAST if you are interested in social enterprise, passionate about libraries and learning and keen to develop governance-sound, community led, not for profit library buildings.

We’ll publish a web site, host a meeting and give the idea traction?


Additional narrative – 20.08.2017

Read more here…

We have just come across a recent article in Wired by Susan Crawford, where she argues for a resurgence in phiilanthropy to revitalise the library service.

In the text, in response to a recent tweet by Jeff Bezos asking for suggestions about a new shape for his giving, she argues for an Amazon/Bezos programme of giving to libraries.

Developing Jeff Bezos’s current long term view of his ‘social investments’ towards, arguably, a philanthropic delivery that would cater for the short and the long term. Mr. Bezos describes his search for a new intitiative ‘…to help people in the here and now’. Our new library programme, as described, would do that, but also cater for the long term too.

Namely a series of Amazon Memorial Libraries, or Bezos Community Cultural Centres, would benefit the communities they were placed in, but they would also create new readers and enhance human capital in the hinterland of their sites, as well as delivering a major philosophical boost to the image of Amazon as a socially beneficial company.

You can read Susan Crawford’s piece on the pages of Wired here.

We understand Jeff Bezos reads every email sent directly to him. We’ll write to Mr. Bezos and make a suggestion supporting a new philanthropic venture into the British library landscape, and explore the models that might be created.

We would argue that history has been kind to the Carnegie model of library establishment, why should not future generations look as kindly upon Jeff Bezos?

Watch this space for an update, even if we don’t get a reply!


Useful links to accompany this article:

Library over-watch!

http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/

Use it or lose it! – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/16/library-use-in-england-fell-dramatically-over-last-decade-figures-show

City Library Birmingham: Image by Gareth Williams - Creative Commons

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The Ferengi still use gold-pressed Latinum…

To the RSA yesterday, in John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6EZ. Between meetings in London we managed to fit in a visit to the lecture by Professor Kenneth Rogoff, deliberating about the existence of cash, illustrated by examples from his new book – The Curse of Cash.

Rogoff: curse of cash cover image
Review or purchase this book from Amazon.co.uk here…

Despite misconceptions in the popular press, Professor Rogoff, he is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, argues for the deletion of high value notes from a national currency, not, as is often quoted, the dramatic end of cash all together.

Drawing on his international experiences, Rogoff served as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, he argued for the removal of high value notes from circulation as a methodology to reduce criminality and tax evasion.

Rogoff recognised, in passing, the recent currency changes in India, remarking that his advice to Prime Minister Modi would have been to move at a much slower pace, although India’s fiscal motives are not totally clear at present. Cessation of high value notes is now, he argued, a recognisably legitimate lever in the economic tool box, although ideally pursued over a period of perhaps two years, with currency withdrawn in batches of maximum value over that time.

Using the U.S. as an example, evidence was offered regarding the size of bank note holdings in a population – nearly always much, much higher than any official Treasury forecast, he argued.

In theory, in the U.S., every person should be holding about $4,200 dollars in $100 bills for example. However, we were told, current research indicated that only 5% of U.S. citizens ever saw bills of this denomination, and only once a year at that.

A simple show of hands in The Great Room at John Adam Street, saw only four members of the audience having used a £50 note in the last month. This exposition led on to an assessment of the underground economy in Europe. Undeclared transactions making up 16% of the German economy annually, with up to 25% in Italy and Greece. In the U.S., we were informed, this currently runs at about 8%. But in all cases these hidden  economic transactions represent vast sums in the tax ‘neutral’ take of businesses, whatever their ethical make-up.

Cash and culture:

Rogoff referenced the U.S. economist, Neil Wallace, whom he argued failed to see the rise of electronic currency during his seminal economic work in the 1970’s. Now, Rogoff argued, there has been a step change, in young people particularly, for whom electronic banking and cash movements may have become the norm.

This could have resonating consequences for world economies. Governments make large cash transfers and could, he argued use free, subsidised debit cards for members of society  and deliver benefits, refunds and payments to individuals without the repetitious ‘cost of cash’.

In his lecture Professor Rogoff appeared to be a strong proponent of the use of negative interest rates, to stimulate cash investment in business infrastructure, citing Sweden as an example where this policy had energised the real economy.

In rounding off his talk Professor Rogoff, cited the work of U.S. economist Robert Eisner, arguing that Central Banks could also have a role to play in the ‘new attitude’ to cash. The use of technical devices, such as deploying currency held in banking systems using a distinct and different exchange rate.

This was a quietly and elegantly delivered short lecture, drawn from a very telling book, The Curse of Cash, which provoked and underscored an interesting number of new ways of thinking about cash, banking and the cultural and fiscal exchanges between us all.

We recommend it.

The final exortation, light heartedly, was for us to remember that the Rogoff thesis is not about the abandonment of cash, rather its perpetuation in ‘smaller ‘ form.

The Ferengi, we were told, had after all never lost their interest, as free traders of integalactic renown, in gold-pressed Latinum.


You can hire the resources and spaces of 8, John Adam Street for both corporate and social events. A stunning venue in the heart of London, just off The Strand.

Explore the facilities available here

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British Art at Yale – a discovery…

Following on from our recent article on book binding in Barcelona, we seem unable to escape our thematic journey on-line towards the bound artefact.

As booksellers and literacy project specialists we are especially interested in the concept of the book as a seasonal highlight, as to be expected at this time of year. The conversationsEast team were very pleased to see book-binding as part of the programme of the recent Chelmsford Ideas Festival for instance.

This month we were pleased to discover the web pages of the refreshed and rebuilt Yale Center for British Art. Remarkable in that such a concentration of artefacts, academic depth and insight into our native art history should exist in Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut.

The opening lecture for the Centre, post-renovation, was Artistic Bookbinding in the Twenty-First Century, delivered by the American book historian and conservator James Reid-Cunningham. See more below…

The lecture, The Poet of Them All, concentrates on a remarkable collection of Shakespeare editions in miniature from the holdings of the Yale Centre and in concert with collectors Neale and Margaret Albert.

The richness, skill and indeed, even fun, of such collections is beautifully captured in the Reid-Cunningham lecture. The expressive art and craft skill of the binder in the twenty first century is also visually well expressed in the discourse. In an age of electronics it is sometimes easy to forget the power, even magic, generated by the carefully crafted, masterfully bound book. Whatever its size.

There is much to enjoy across the whole of the Yale Center for British Art. Research at the Yale Center benefits from concurrent funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, encouraging a wide programme of lectures, study and talks to disseminate the findings of the Center. As you would expect from such a world centre of excellence.

We particularly liked the Center’s new education programme Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of the Arts in Education. Using the great visual resources the Center holds to create interest in and higher utility in reading. Art becomes the book, becomes the writer!

See the trailer for the work below…

Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of Arts in Education from cyra levenson on Vimeo.

Giving  books is a great idea over the festive holidays, getting the family into an art gallery or museum is even better. We visited Seven Stories in Newcastle earlier in 2016, so we know you can achieve the same ‘Yale’ effect without a visit to Connecticut.

Unless you travel on-line that is? Happy Christmas to our readers.

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Chelmsford Ideas – opening the Festival

 Visiting Chelmsford Ideas Festival on a Monday evening…

To Chelmsford on Monday evening, 24th October, for the formal launch of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival at the Anglia Ruskin University campus in the city, in the presence of Councillor Patricia Hughes – Mayor of Chelmsford.

ideasfest2016buttonThe assembled audience were warmly welcomed by Professor David Humber, Provost of Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford Campus, who went on to give a brief history of the University’s association with the Festival over the last five years.

Professor Humber also gave us news of the development of new Life Science courses and infrastructure as well as the imminent plans to open a new Medical School on the campus in 2018.

We learned from Prof. Humber that the city was host to some 93 events this Festival season, of which 20 events will take place on the University campus.

Image of Malcolm Noble
Malcolm Noble, FRSA

In response the Festival Chair, Malcolm Noble FRSA, spoke in thanks for the contribution the city makes to the Ideas Festival and how the city’s support, made manifest by the presence of Her Worship the Mayor, was most gratefully and vitally received each year.

Malcolm spoke also of a change of inflection for the Festival programme this year, involving children and families directly and threading practical arts and community focused events through the programme.

You can discover the Ideas Festival on-line here, and see how the original socio-cultural research, which triggered the creation of the Changing Chelmsford Festival team, has attempted to fill gaps in artistic provision and increase community engagement across the city and its hinterland.

They have been successful without doubt.

The launch gathering was followed by a lecture on ESA’S COPERNICUS PROGRAMME: How is E2V protecting Planet earth? – featuring the work of Chelmsford company e2v – ‘…providing world-class image sensors and detection subsystems that can help solve the mysteries of the Universe, understand climate change on Earth and much more…

Source: Festival Programme.


Our featured Festival event for this week:

The tools of war image
A previous Chelmsford Remembers history event…

27th October 2016
Somme 100 Film
Chelmsford Cathedral, 53 New St, Chelmsford CM1 1TY
20.00 to 22.00

Live Cinema performance with Cambridge Concert Orchestra to mark the centenary of the First World War Battle of the Somme: lasting from 1st July to 18th November 1916. We will use the acclaimed score by composer Laura Rossi as commissioned by the Imperial War Museum. Laura Rossi and the Imperial War Museum Senior Curator Dr. Tony Haggath will introduce the film‘.

Book here whilst places are still availableinterneticon.

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Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2016

ideasfest2016button
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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Michael Morpurgo at Seven Stories

Newcastle - Shining City image of the Tyne
Newcastle, shining city in the North…

Continuing our theme of ‘Northern Energy’, we were in Newcastle upon Tyne this week and, on Friday afternoon, took time to visit Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. They have an important exhibition and research project into the donated archive of the writer Michael Morpurgo. Below is what we thought.


”Michael Morpurgo Exhibition 2 July 2016 – Sunday 2 July 2017, Newcastle UK. A Lifetime in Stories.

Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books introduces an exclusive exhibition drawn directly from Michael Morpurgo’s extensive archive donated to Seven Stories in 2015”.  


Seven Stories summer 2016 events Pic-m
View, print or download the Summer 2016 events guide for Seven Stories here…pdf

Through one of our our sister projects, Books go Walkabout, an international delivery system to get authors, illustrators and poets, and their books,  to corners of the world previously unreached, we have an abiding interest in children’s literature as you would expect.

The Seven Stories Morpurgo exhibition is certainly about a fantastic canon of work dedicated to the young imagination. However, the research team have extracted illustrative and delightful insights into, and evidence of, the writing process, using the archive generously donated to the Centre by Michael Morpurgo in 2015.

What the display and featured narrative does offer, in the broadest terms, is an insight into the creative process, the research and writing of a book, much of which in this Seven Stories gallery has taken place before the arrival and dominance of the word processor.

Not only an exhibition in praise of the work of Michael Morpurgo, but an illustration in itself of what can be achieved with a simple notebook and a pen or pencil. The imagination does not need an elecrical socket and plug to thrive apparently!

Some key exhibition elements:

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943, and his early life was beset by sadness and conflicting tensions. It was interesting to see the detail of Michael’s school, home life and reaction to his early experiences in the British Army. This thematic thread of war and militarism can be traced through the exhibition, as in Michael’s life. His mother’s grief at the loss of her brother in the Second World War was an equally powerful emotional driver for the writing.

In 1962 Michael met his future wife Clare, and it was the summons home by his mother, with the pretence of an imaginary illness, that offered the opportunity for them to get married, against the prevailing condition that cadets of the Royal Military College Sandhurst must be single. A signal turning point in a creative life which solidified his pacifism, well evidenced and illustrated by this exhibition.

Wombat Goes Walkabout Pic-m
Comment on or buy this book from Amazon.co.uk here…

His first short book, published in 1974, was It Never Rained, an interconnected narrative about five children.  By 1999 Mopurgo was ready to publish Wombat Goes Walkabout, with wonderful illustrations by Christian Birmingham. A great story about digging holes and how a wombat can save the day.

1982 saw the release of War Horse, perhaps Mopurgo’s most famous creation. The exhibition offers the visitor a display of many of the notebooks, first drafts, corrections and re-typed double spaced manuscripts that drove the creation of this seminal work.

This series of displays offers, we thought, a powerful illustration of how writing is both a physical and an intellectually layered process, but which requires a gritty determination to see the story through to the final end – publication. It is this revisiting and deterministic approach to his craft of writing that makes a Mopurgo novel so dramatic and engaging we suspect.

War Horse cover image
Before the stage play, before the film…there was the novel.

In the exhibition narrative Michael Morpurgo states that his engagement with a story ‘…can be measured by the size of his handwriting in his notebooks‘. The smaller the hand written text the more intensely the creative muse has gripped him that day.

To an archivist this is vital in determining the writers emotional condition on any particular creative day. As his pen moves rapidly across the notebook page, Michael has left a marker, a measure of intensity, for later researchers seeking to determine his emotional or creative state. Something a plastic keyboard, no matter how powerful the micro-processor it is connected to, could ever offer the interested reader in years to come.

Looking at the Morpurgo ‘war’ material, we pondered on what must be a pivotal issue for the contemporary archivist or researcher. With ready access to technology, publishing processes and cloud storage – how will future archivists and seekers of process engage with material that is electronic and resting, potentially, in a thousand different formats, storage facilities and locations around the globe.

Interestingly, MIT Technology Review has just published an article on the use of computing and data mining techniques to show that there are, it contests, only six basic ’emotional arcs’ in storytelling. These are…

…a steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601848/data-mining-reveals-the-six-basic-emotional-arcs-of-storytelling/  Article – Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling  Accessed: 09.07.2016

We are intense users of the notebook and pen ourselves, in our ordinary workaday lives, but have to recognise that research and analysis would now be immeasurably diminished without technology. We wondered, travelling through the Michael Morpurgo exhibition, an historical audit trail of the creative mind, what other contemporary children’s and young adult writers take on ‘techno’ is today?

Perhaps this is a Seven Stories seminar series in the making? Pen or Processor, the creative methodology in contemporary children’s literature. We would buy a ticket! (Ed.)

A visual treat:

Towards the end of the exhibition content is a section dedicated to Michael Morpurgo’s artistic collaborators, the artists who have contributed to the written work.

It offers the visitor a fascinating insight into how the imagination is populated by the story, how the psyche is suggested a character and landscape by Michael Morpurgo’s writing. It is also, within the context of this article, a soaring endorsement of the power and durability of putting a hand to paper. Surely no machine can replace the creative evocation of story by the artists below?

The work on display includes artwork from Quentin Blake, Gary Blythe, Peter Bailey, Christian Brimingham and Tony Kerins amongst others. We particularly warmed to the diversity of images in the exhibition that depicted the sea. Whether Kensuke’s Kingdom or When the Wales Came, the original cover art to be seen provokes an imaginative dream of action, wind, water and a tale to be told.

We loved it.

(A list of artists on show…Gary Blythe, Quentin Blake, Loretta Schauer, Gemma O’Callaghan, Michael Foreman, Sarah Young, Sam Usher, Peter Bailey, Faye Hanson, Francois Place,   Emma Chichester-Clark, Christian  Birmingham and Tony Kerins.)

It was wonderful to see this collection of individual artistic work within the context of the Seven Stories Michael Morpurgo exhibition. But each artist has a separate body of work which is lively, imagination capturing and enchanting in equal measure. We hope  you can use the links above to explore this on-line collection ‘gallery of galleries’ too.

Getting to Seven Stories NE! 2PQ :

If you leave the impressive Newcastle Central Station and turn right down towards Quayside, you can turn left along Quayside and walk, past the Pitcher and Piano until you come to St. Ann’s Steps on the left. Ascend them. At the top, look back down the river to the bridges receding into the distance. Turn and  cross the road and right down to Cut Bank on the left, following the river left along for a couple of hundred yards and Seven Stories will apppear on your right.

The journey there, if the sun is shining, can be as uplifting as your visit to The National Centre for Children’s Books. This is a fascinating insight into the work of our national story teller. Seven Stories offers a whole rainbow of experience around ‘the children’s book’, whether a holidaying family looking to stimulate young imaginations, a visit to the cafe and bookshop, or a serious academic look at the sweep of children’s literature.

Editor Notes:

‘Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from Michael Morpurgo through support from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature’.

Source: Seven Stories web site. Accessed 09.07.2016 See http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection/collection-highlights/michael-morpurgo

The exhibition is delivered and developed through a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Seven Stories and Newcastle University’s School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics.

The KTP is possibly the first of its kind between a university English department and an external organisation, and is being funded by InnovateUK and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

You can read Dr. Jessica Sage’s blog for more insights into her exploration of the archive here.


Image: The Shining Tyne 2016: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

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