Steve Martin and Banjo

Happy Birthday Steve Martin!  Even though it was yesterday, I just heard about it today.  In celebration, his latest song/video

A bit of banjo, a sense of fun, some animation and lots of saturated colour.

And what about that name, “Caroline”? It’s got a perfect rhythm to be in a lyric – and this song doesn’t waste a syllable of its charm.

Film tie-in: in one of his films, Steve Martin is the one doing the wooing under the balcony (in hiding) pretending to be the voice of a shy wooer in the film “Roxanne”.  A fun comedy.  If you haven’t already seen it, look it out.  But not before you’ve looked out “All of Me” – an inspired physical comedy movie in which half of his body is possessed by a woman.

Inspiration Takeaways:

Listening to the words/music of this video – does it spark a small project idea to make?  Perhaps a collage?  Or imagining it with a different ending?

Health and Safety at Work – meetings

If you’ve got a meeting at work today, remember to be careful what you drink.  And pay attention to statistics.  Perhaps it’s time for a short health and safety film.

 

The captions at the end of the advert are in French and, translated mean:

“Statistically, 0% of Orangina drinkers have been attacked by a human canonball.  Stay safe: drink Orangina.”

7 actions for beginning writers

I found myself writing this encouragement to a young writer approaching a course in Literature at University – but much of it is useful to any beginning writers:

1.  Believe that you are a writer already.

This is tough.  You think “But I haven’t had my first novel published!”  “But I haven’t sold my first filmscript…..” and the minute you say “I’m a writer” to other people, they will ask “So what have you sold?”  – which doesn’t help.

But being an artist and selling work don’t always flow together.

Van Gogh was a painter to his fingertips, worked hard all his life and only ever sold ONE painting, while alive.

2.  Because you are a writer, you can begin planning a writing career.

Think of what you want to have achieved in 5 years.

Aim for it.

Don’t just meekly do what will get you good marks in School and University.  People who only concentrate on getting a good degree come to the end of it and are still waiting for someone – a lecturer – to tell them what to do, to set them a writing project.  Actually, University works best if you’re already reading and practising the art and the uni course just gives you better skills, and a chance to meet likeminded people and discuss different ideas.

3.  Look at any opportunities you have to attend workshops, lectures, writing groups – and take them.

Any local Book Festivals or writing centre?  Any free workshops on a weekend?  Consider also volunteering to help out at festivals – your face will become known.

4.  Network.  Be pleasant to people, the publishing world is small.

5.  Write often.

If it helps to have a deadline or audience, consider what you could write for a friend/family member’s birthday.  Then give it to them.  (Helps you get practice in getting your work out there).

6.  Avoid writer’s block.

Listen to Audible recording of Anne La Mott’s book “Bird by bird” – it’s a series of interesting, constructive and easy to listen to, talks by her on how to write.  (Also written in her book “Word by Word” if you prefer the written form).  Her big theme is “write shitty drafts” – write down even really poor sentences, because you’re going to refine it later.  But if you wait to write perfect sentences in the first place, you don’t even begin, you freeze up with writer’s block.  The way around writer’s block is to lower your standards and keep writing.

7.  Get the reading list for the course you want to do at University.

Usually a library will have a list of set texts online or if you phone up.  Read those key texts yourself in your holidays now, before you go to Uni.  That way, you’ll have your own thoughts about them by the time you come to study them.  It will give you less reading work to do when at college.  Even if your plans change and you end up in a different college/course – you’ll still have read some great books.  And you will have some references to bring into your commentary on other books.  If you’re an older beginner writer and not planning to go to University – these books are still worth reading, to get a grounding in what is considered great (even if you disagree).

Brighter Monday to Friday

Fancy lightening up the old treadmill of job/work/live?  or want to put some excitement into the gym exercise machines?  Well, if you are a lifetime skilled acrobat, here are some possibilities…..

DRUM ROLL, please, Maestro…..

“L’homme cirque”, David Dimitri shows us how.  Beautifully filmed by his long time friend Michael Flume.

Umbrellas of Edinburgh – podcast

click on me to hear
The Umbrellas of Edinburgh is a book of new poems, covering a wide range of city scapes.  The Scottish Poetry Library has taken some of these, read by their creators, and made them into a podcast which lasts about 43 minutes.

Each brief poem is written specifically about a different place, ranging from well known central landmarks to deprived outer city estates.  The voices in your ears will take you to a variety of places and times – including the resident who remembers catching his first glimpse of Rolls Royces in his street, during Festival time.

A delight to hear, and it will give a flavour (if ears can have tastebuds) of various parts of the city.  A great addendum or introduction to a visit.

 

Pouffe! Household furniture thing of beauty

You can have the world at your feet….. or take the weight of the world off your feet… with this pouffe.

Hot air balloons, butterflies and rivers are just some of the intricate patterns on this pouffe designed by Kristjana Williams.

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Picture from maker’s website: https://www.kristjanaswilliams.com

One of her largest scale commissions was a theatrical light projection for the Rio Olympics – for the beach fronted hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace.  Inspired by mapmaking and butterflies, it raised a spontaneous “wow” of delight and applause.  Before it appeared, there were butterfly balloons and kites given out on the beach.  (see a glimpse of it in this brief and beautiful one minute video).

Inside the hotel also contained more of her work, behind the reception desk and concierge desk:

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If you’d like to see more of Kritjana’s work – or even, buy some – her website is:

https://www.kristjanaswilliams.com/

 

 

 

Poems about Photographer Lee Miller

Jacqueline Saphra has written a series of sonnets about the colourful (even in black and white) life of Lee Miller: “A bargain with the Light, poems after Lee Miller”.  This book has 17 days left to sell a few more copies to raise the sum to publish it.  It will be in a limited edition of 300, each signed by the poet, and containing photographs by and about Lee herself.

Jacqueline Saphra explains what inspired her to write the book – unfortunately the still frame chosen does not reflect the interest of what she says!

Who is Lee Miller?

Lee was a pioneer – a New York model who went to Paris to learn how to photograph with Surrealist pioneer Man Ray (whose muse she became), a Surrealist artist in her own right, together with her husband Roland Penrose they were friends of Picasso, indeed hosting him on rare visits to Britain (where their young son famously bit the artist).  Lee also knew dark times as a survivor of childhood abuse, the obssessive love of an artist and her own work as war photographer including the liberation of Dachau concentration camp whose horror marked her.  An extraordinary woman in extraordinary times.  She both observed and recorded it in her camera but lived through it in a way only she could.

War Photographer

This video (below) takes you round the very exhibition which inspired Jacqueline Saphra to write the book of poems.  Our guide for this is none other than Katie Adie, BBC war correspondent, a TV broadcast journalist with a lifetime of reporting war and its atrocities.  She was a byword for covering the most difficult and dangerous overseas assignments – “They’re sending Kate Adie in” was a jokey expression in common use –  meaning that things in an area must now have become incredibly violent and dangerous if Kate was being despatched.  Because of her own career, it’s very appropriate that Kate Adie shows us around the War Museum’s exhibition.

Lee Miller’s house and Photographic partnership with Man Ray

Anthony Penrose, son of Lee Miller, takes us around parts of the family home and explains the photographic and personal partnership of Lee and Man Ray (he is recording this specifically for a forthcoming exhibition of Man Ray’s works).

 

Further Creativities:

Read:

I hope that by this point you are seriously considering purchasing a copy of the book “Bargain with the Light”.  If the poems and photos intrigue you to find out more, there are a few biographies of Lee Miller

See:

Visit Farley Farm House in Sussex, where Lee Miller lived with her husband Roland Penrose – it has a wonderful address: Farleys House & Gallery, Farley Farm, Muddles Green, Chiddingly, East Sussex, BN8 6HW

Their house had many famous artist visitors who were also friends:Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Man Ray, Leonora Carrington, Antoni Tapies, Eileen Agar, Kenneth Armitage, William Turnbull, John Craxton and Richard Hamilton  – and the house is full of paintings and photographs by not only Lee and Roland but by their visitors.  There is also a sculpture garden.

“For the most part the house is just as it was when it was occupied by the Penrose family. Lee Miller’s kitchen looks as though she has just popped out to gather vegetables from the garden and Roland Penrose’s study only lacks the aroma of his cigar smoke.” – House website   http://bit.ly/2llmO00

 

Taste:

There will be a surrealist picnic at Farley House on Sunday 27th August 2017, 4-7 pm  – limited availability so you must book (£10 each) and you are encouraged to dress in a Surrealist way and bring surreal food:

Bring your own picnic, bubbly, blankets & chairs for a late summer’s evening in our beautiful sculpture garden with stunning views of the South Downs. Advance booking is necessary as tickets are limited.

Picnic Suggestions: Pink cauliflower breasts, blue pasta salad & Muddles Green green chicken.

Or what dish could you invent which would be suitably Surrealist?

http://bit.ly/2fjIok2

 

Create:

You may want to feast your eyes on the house, to get inspiration for your own interior decor, colours and art.  Certainly the house is a great example of living with vast quantities of visual art and books in an interesting yet informal and at-home way.

Even if you live too far away to visit the house, Anthony Penrose has written a book The Home of the Surrealists: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and Their Circle at Farley Farm House” (published last year, 2016)

Try writing a sonnet about someone whose life you greatly admire?

Make a Surrealist photo of a friend or a family get-together