Monday, 9 November 2009

Temporary Autonomous Arts

The time I spent my reading week I shall never forget. I did not hide my face in a book all week or timidly shy away from Manchester and tiptoe home but took part in an arts protest for reclaiming disused space, named Temporary Autonomous Arts. This is a scheme that reclaims and reuses abondoned and disused spaces to express artistic freedom creatively. TAA utilises space that has previousely not been in use and allows artists to express themselves outside of the established art world. emporary Autonomous Art Events and Exhibitions started in London in 2001 to the Random Artists collective. Taking influence from Temporary Autonomous Zones that believe in expressing a rogue, rebellious artitic utopia. After several years of building successful and growing networks of artists and audience in London, the Random Artists collective began to tour TAA exhibitions to Eastern Europe. Over the years they have been to Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Berlin, Italy, France and Spain.

In 2004 Random Artists helped the Insurgent Arts collective to create a TAA in Bristol, it was such a sucess that they have since held their own events. Manchester (Forbidden Arts), Edinburgh (Free & Reactive Edinburgh Arts Kollective - FREAK) and Brighton (Subterranean Art) have held their own arts collectives and have held successful TAA events.

My experience of Manchester TAA event was certainly an eye opener. My first experience of it was on the Wednesday's opening night. I went to read poetry at the Scratch poets events (usually held in Chorlton) I entered through the side of an old disused school through a padlocked gate. I almost felt as if a secret password was needed to be allowed entry. At first I felt a bit cautious of entering a squat and the legalites suurounding it. But any fears I held were coloured away by the friendly people and cosy surroundings of the school/squat. People were freely decorating walls with beautiful often political paintings. The upstairs had been converted into a vegan cafe and kitchen, where once hungry children would have enjoyed or endured school dinners and which was now inhibited by fellow artists and free thinkers enjoying a free creative art space. The location of the squat was held secret till the Wednesday opening day to casue less disruption or interest and awareness to the police. The police did visit on the Thursday but no trouble or arrests were made. Before reading my poetry I attempted to make a sock monkey in the "crafty corner" This was where any textile workshops would be held and contained 2 comfy sofas ( later used for beds), sewing machines, a abundance of material and a ambient atmosphere. The audience was very warm to my poetry and I enjoyed reading to them, although I didn't have the usual darkness to hide behind or microphone. I felt comfortable with the audience and didn't stutter any of my words for once.
I next went on the Thursday to take part in the fashion show run by the Manchester based shop, Junk . Which specialises in selling Manchester based clothing and accessories.
I made a dress with a heart pocket from a pair of curtains. Although I liked my dress it had to glammed up with a floral head dress and patchwork cape my friends made to be extravagant enough for the fashion show! The fashion show was quite a spectacle. An array of bin bag dresses, cardboard head dresses and recycled couture! This was all taken part in the school's gym, which had been converted into a hippy catwalk. The final day a friend and I went to take part in "yarn bombing" I sank into a comfy beanbag and knitted an orange square to later be joined to other fellow knitter's woven delights. I found it curiousely humourous in that we would have to shield our faces as we "graffitied" the lamposts outside with our political knitting!
I found the TAA a throughly enjoyable and thought provoking experience, a lot of hard work went into preparing this and I applaud the members of the TAA for putting on such a successful and rebelious artistic event!

A review of my poetry :)

CELTIC FLURRIES: Charlie with Jack

FOR Folk’s Sake is a monthly folk night based at Cup in the Northern Quarter, a cosy café venue with such comforting maxims as “Pies Are Nice” and “Tea Revives You” framed on the walls.

Ben Playford and The Spooky Boots are the first band to take the stage before the small boho crowd of band affiliates and musicians.

The first song stops unexpectedly with an expletive from Ben – some undetected error must have shaken the band off course, though the halt is greeted with good-natured laughter and onstage bonhomie.

After this the band soon find their stride, with Ben singing his bittersweet narratives with conviction atop the lilting, violin-led backdrop. The gentle, gossamer waltz of ‘Symmetry’ offers a musical departure from the jauntier numbers, with female backing vocals reminiscent of Ennio Morricone.

Next we have Freckles, a young girl from Lancaster who provides us with a spoken word performance of her poetry. Partially rooted in childhood mainstays like teddy bears and dolls, the performance edges towards tweeness at times but there are darker depths to Freckles’ surface sweetness.

Her evocative, elegant lines regarding doomed relationships and dead-end jobs belie her tender age – one to watch for the future perhaps.

Ottersgear are a duo comprising vocals and guitar aided by mandolin. With lyrics indebted to pastoral themes of forests and hills, their performance is a welcome combination of timeless authenticity and youthful energy.

The singer’s vocal acrobatics evoke Tim Buckley – precise, pure and leaping to graceful falsetto and back with ease, holding notes for aeons amid elegant bursts of mandolin. The crowd are gently rapt with this engaging display of proficiency, laying the foundations nicely for the final act.

At soundcheck Charlie Heys was giggling sweetly with embarrassment when testing her microphone before the assembled crowd, but playing with musical partner Jack McNeill her violin conjures an expansive orchestral sound of grace and beauty. There is a fantastic sense of dynamics as she flits between aching, lingering notes and visceral Celtic flurries.

Jack’s guitar and voice begin gently, providing subtle counterpoints to Charlie’s violin before his singing loosens to a throaty growl several songs in. His six-string virtuosity also creeps to the fore, covering considerable ground from devastatingly intricate picking to plangent chord strokes.

Quite the raconteur, Jack displays an easy humour as he explains the artful origins of his songs whilst canvassing for CD sales, so the hard-up duo can “sleep tonight in the cardboard box the CDs came in.”

This was an evening of great folk music that deserved a larger audience, though it felt a privilege to be part of this small and intimate crowd. Some of the musicianship was stunning, with varied acts of high quality and depth.

On this evidence For Folk’s Sake could easily become a bigger phenomenon, though whether that’s the intention isn’t clear – either way, get yourself to the next monthly showcase of folky talent.

Reviewed: Sat, 05 September, 2009

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Little quaint poems

These are poems that are short and sweet that just float into my head.

Today I bought a bright red balloon
From a man with a yellow kagool
I bought it so that I could float away
So that I would not have to go to work today