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Cannon Hill Collective ’14/15 Week Two Blog

In a slightly perplexing order of events, following on from out first Collective first session, in which we garbled on about ourself while a room full of (what was at the time) strangers psycho-analysed our body language and deepest passions, we decided to spend week two getting to know each other a bit better.

This love-in took the form of individual presentations about ourselves. Presentations being an incredibly loose term for the genius that unfolded when you give a room full of artists free rein to talk about themselves for five uninterrupted minutes.

I’ll start with myself because history is written by the victors and I am the one with the proverbial pen in my hand.

Omar’s presentation

First of all, call me Murdock.

I’ve never been a fan of talking about myself when there are so many other interesting things in this universe. Why are we here? What is the secret ingredient in the Colonel’s chicken? And so fourth. So I decided instead to represent some of my passions and inspirations physically, using my own personal artefacts. Among them included my limited edition Pokémon GameBoy Colour, a Johnny Cash biographic graphic novel, an original Polaroid camera, a clapper board, a pen, and other objects of intrigue. I shall spare you the details behind each one and what they represent, and move on to the second part of my presentation.

I then got each person to pose with an item of their choice and snapped them. Below you will see the final outcome as I delve further into the evening…

Mercy’s presentation

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Mercy being a woman of the world decided to treat us to a montage of her childhood across (off the top of my head) Yemen, America, Ireland and the UK. We were treated to photos of an intercontinental smile and were warmed by images of happy families, striking on-stage performances and huddles of friends in a presentation that simultaneously held our hand through a persons life, and drummed up 1001 questions about it all in one go.

Jess’s presentation

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Compares to Jess’s presentation, mine can only be described as vacuous and insipid. Jess very movingly spoke to us about her time at university studying fine art, her championing of anxieties and losing someone close to her, and how it all reflected in her own work, which was stunning. Her confidence in herself and her work was inspiring to see.

James’s presentation

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Well. Where do I begin?

Very rarely do you get the chance to see a performer so totally and utterly in their element. I can only compare having the privilege of watching James speak to the time I watched Slash tear apart his guitar at Download ’12. James talked us through his life, what choices he made and why in an engaging and inspiring way using props, stories and humour. A phenomenal public speaker and a motivational person to be around.

 

Callum Bate’s presentation

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Callum treated us to a video of his peers describing him in one word. Callum then took these words and elaborated on them, giving us an insight into his core beliefs and principles.

Catrin’s presentation

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Catrin’s presentation was an emotional roller coaster, consisting of peaks of awe as we marvelled at her handmade puppets, troughs of agony as we learned many of them were damaged and broke in the post, and corkscrews of relief as we learnt the puppets were indeed salvageable. Telling us how and why she got into puppetry, Catrin showed us videos of her work with near-life size puppets, cutouts the size of a fingernail and shadows to remind us how magical the rarely-used medium can be, combining art, engineering and performance into one beautiful piece.

Sarah’s presentation

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Sharing her passion with us, Sarah decided to imbue us all with a new skill: Finger knitting. The principle is (relatively) simple, one replaces the needles involved with knitting with your fingers and weave two strands of wool together, creating beautiful pieces such as the rugs brought in by Sarah. At least, that was the idea. In reality, I just trapped myself in a Chinese finger trap of wool and reminded myself how terrible my hand-eye coordination is. But it further developed my appreciation for the skills people like Sarah have that I can only dream of.

Heidi’s presentation

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Heidi is a woman of my own heart. Not a fan of talking about herself, instead she wears her inspirations and passions on her sleeves, creating a quiz about them for us to decipher. Among the things we learnt in this entertaining and engaging quiz are: What happens at King’s Cross stations stays at King’s Cross Station, Heidi’s favourite album; London Calling was released in 1980 in America.

Sarah H’s presentation

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Another born performer, talk to Sarah for five minutes and her passion for drama dazzles you. Her presentation consisted of ‘an audience with‘ style montage reserved for the likes of washed-up celebrities going though expensive divorces, but Sarah’s five minutes were filled with humour, detail and a maturity well beyond the young woman’s years. I found myself hanging on her every word, encouraging her to continue with my attention, lost in a world she created for me with her words and her performance.

 

There’s still more to follow as unfortunately we couldn’t squeeze all the genius into the two hour slot we had to work with, but one thing is for sure, this second session got me incredibly excited the prospect of collaborating with such a varied and talented pool of artists.


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Film Review: Magic in the Moonlight at mac birmingham

Magic in the Moonlight is a charming, whimsical tale that is entertaining without ever being enthralling. Set in the 1920s French Riviera, it is shot beautifully and invokes the trademark feeling that I get when sat in front of the latest Woody Allen cinematic slice. Colin Firth is his usual debonaire self, this time as a world famous illusionist with an enormous ego hellbent on exposing fraudulent mystics, and Emma Stone is generally captivating barring a few uncomfortably modern line readings as the fraudster in his sights. It was witty, classy and clichéd. I watched with content which then turned to pride after I correctly guessed the major plot twist 20 minutes before it happened. It has nowhere near the amount of bite as Allen’s last film, Blue Jasmine, but it was a worthwhile 100 minutes spent, even if the predictable love story between the 54 year old Firth and 25 year old Stone is quite gross.


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Film Review: The Riot Club at mac birmingham

I went into this film having read the play on which it is based, Posh, only a few days ago. It was therefore an interesting experience to see how the film made the leap from stage to screen. It’s certainly been Hollywoodified in order to appeal to a broader audience and a new love interest has been woven in who accentuates the class divisions explored in the film. This new take means the portrayal of class division is more blunt and subtlety is certainly not one of its strengths, but the very strong cast featuring some of the leading lights of the new generation of British acting talent charm, dazzle and repulse. As a young fresh faced actor it feels like I’m receiving a constant Chinese burn when watching a 28 year old play an 18 year old but personal gripes aside, Max Irons and Sam Claflin in particular offer superb performances.

Written by Laura Wade and directed by Lone Scherfig, the film offers a hypothetical example of what the high-class youngsters of the Riot Club (based on Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club) could be capable of and what their ideology might be and it is an entertaining ride. It is easy to be seduced by the allure and mystique of the club and its members in the first half before it all turns sour as their behaviour descends into repugnance.

The film also suggests that the club holds enormous influence in who holds high political and financial positions. It is hard to know what to believe about the real elite dining clubs of Oxford but there is something about the concept of out of control over-privileged toffs running amok that is richly intriguing.


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How to fail…

The first in the new series of the ‘Creative How To’ sessions starts on Tuesday 14th October and is entitled ‘How to Fail’. These free sessions for 16-24yr olds offer professional development for emerging artists and offer ideas that may support you to navigate your creative career. They are produced by mac birmingham in partnership with Amy Martin & Bearheart.

How to fail 

Steve Jobs was a loser, well he lost a company and countless opportunities before gaining big time as the boss of Apple. In this session we’ll look at the positives behind failure and how to pick yourself up after a bump in the road.

Starting Tue 14 Oct 2014 | Hexagon Theatre | Free | 6pm-8pm

Each session will feature a keynote by creative producer Amy Martin and a guest lecturer from the creative sector. Our guest for the first session is Matt Nation from PROVIDE.

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Image taken from PROVIDE blog.

Matt Nation has been fighting a fear of failure for as long as he can remember, but in recent years has been trying to embrace failure as an integral part of life, and something that’s essential to success. Opening himself up to the possibility of failing has led him to create PROVIDE, an independent clothing brand and lifestyle store based in Birmingham.


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‘You were remembering buildings demolished in your mind’ – Misplaced Memoirs at Hotel du Vin

I blame Warwick Castle for the fact that every time I see a site specific piece of theatre, I expect the ghost of Henry VII to jump out from behind a corner, but Qasim Riza Shaheen’s Misplaced Memoirs was a strictly no thrill, no scares, no gimmicks piece of theatre. It was, instead, a beautiful piece of well thought through theatre that told one man’s story as the story of many.

If you went to see his exhibition at the mac and were in the majority of enjoying it, but not quite understanding it, then this won’t make the exhibition make any more sense, but it’s still enjoyable. It is a personal story told through a series of strangers, jumping continents from Chicago ‘where you waited from 8:33 to 8:42, but I never came’ to Pakistan where ‘you dreamed of your ex’s ex’.

A tale is told to each of audience members through various parts of the hotel, for me winter in Chicago was depicted on the balcony and the wedding night perched on the side of the bath tub in a hotel room, and included slow dancing around the bathroom floor. The whole piece ends with a photo shoot for audience and characters, which I wish they told you before hand, otherwise I would have washed my hair and made an effort.

All in all, did it make me reassess my emotions like someone told me it would? No, but it was interesting how the hand of a stranger became more intimate and familiar as the performance went on. Was it an interesting experience in story telling that made me question what is theatre and what isn’t? Yes, I’m still not sure if the waiter who asked what floor I wanted in the lift was in the performance or not.

(One final note Qasim, if you ever read this – I’m really sorry that I trod on your beads on the bathroom floor when we danced)


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Cannon Hill Collective ’14/15 Week One Blog

Tuesday 7th October

This years incarnation of the Cannon Hill Collective began in terrific style at 6pm today. At least I hope it did, having missed the first 7 minutes due to painstaking traffic on the Bristol Road I have had to fill in the blank (So sorry – I vow to do my utmost to never miss a moment more).

However, upon arrival I was immediately in the grasp of our first challenge, which was centred on ACTIVE LISTENING. Hearing that I was developing this skill left my mum VERY pleased.

After being split into groups, one person was asked to sit in a chair with everybody else sat on the floor around them. Whoever was in the chair then spoke for a minute about anything; themselves, what they do, what they like or maybe how their day had been. Each floor dweller was given a different category, so that when the speaker mentioned something that fit within their category, they would note it down. In my group the categories were:

a) facts

b) passions

c) emotions

d) intuition (meaning what could be inferred either verbally, maybe through the subtext of what they were saying or non-verbally by reading their body language)

Once everybody had a go at being speaker and master of each category, the unlucky Louisa was left as the odd one out having not had a chance to speak. She then did so with every hawk-like member of the collective studying her every word and move.

Active Listening Exercise

(Please excuse my embarrassing scribble)

Some things that came out of the exercise was that we can all be very intent listeners, that whilst some of us feel at ease performing to crowds, to talk openly and honestly about ourselves is out of our comfort zone, and that many of us aren’t aware of our physical ticks and idiosyncrasies.

Next – FOOD BREAK

Another fascinating exercise untaken was silent speed networking/dating. We were handed paper and pens and had one minute to communicate solely by drawing or writing. Amy Martin, our phenomenal facilitator, noted that this exercise is a great leveller that numbs the potency of the loudest voice in the room to dominate networking. My proudest discovery during this task was to find out that Jordanne was best friends at school with my best friend’s sister, who I have known for her entire life. Cool.

The two-hour introductory blast of interdisciplinary and collaborative development ended with parish notices and admin, making sure everybody was on the same page and knew about how the programme will run and what our first bit of homework is going to be!

And that was week one. Hasta Luego.


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Creative How To’s

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Creative Career Navigation for young people aged 16-24

For those of you craving some more nuggets of creative advice after the Cannon Hill Lectures, or for fresh faces seeking career navigation within the arts, look no further than a fresh series of brand spanking new Creative How To sessions, presented by mac birmingham in partnership with Amy Martin & Bearheart.

Starting Tue 14 Oct 2014 | 6-8pm fortnightly | Hexagon Theatre | Free

The Creative How To sessions aim to demystify the creative and cultural sector helping to find a route in, whether as an employee, freelancer or as an entrepreneur.

Tue 14 Oct – How to fail
Steve Jobs was a loser, well he lost a company and countless opportunities before gaining big time as the boss of Apple. In this session we’ll look at the positives behind failure and how to pick yourself up after a bump in the road.

Tue 28 
Oct – How to make a decision
Toast or cereal toast or cereal… Do you ever find it hard to make a decision? Maybe you’re not sure if you should go to Uni or perhaps you’re flummoxed by another of life’s options. This session will help you develop the where-with-alls to make a decision and the conviction to stick to it.

Tue 11 Nov – How to lead a workshop
Being able to lead a workshop is a brilliant skill to add to your metaphorical tool box. In this session we’ll look at the art of creative facilitation and how you can develop workshops from your creative passion.

Tue 25 Nov – How to budget & manage a project
In this session we’ll look at the deadly important skills of project management and how to wrestle a budget into submission. Knowing these skills will raise you head & shoulders above the competition.

Tue 9 Dec – How to change the world
Without creativity – creative problem solving, creative thinking – we don’t have a hope of making a positive difference in the world. We need to think outside of the box to come up with real, innovative, workable solutions to the problems that face us. In this session you’ll meet artists who are making positive changes in society and explore how you can too.

Tue 20 Jan – How to find the time
Your time is being zapped up by The Internet and the zillions of other distractions in life so how do you make the time to do the important stuff? This session looks at the practical skills of time management and reveals that there IS enough hours in the day!

Tue 3 Feb – How to tell your story
We want to know the story behind why you do what you do. Whether you have artwork to sell or an audience to entertain, people are far more likely to engage and connect if you deliver a well-crafted story with an emotional core. This session will help you to craft that story so people will listen.

Tue 17 Feb – How to get set up as a freelancer/start a business
Creatives don’t have a right to make money just an opportunity. In this session we’ll explore the business of creativity and the practical knowledge of tax, insurance, self employment and getting legally set up as a new business.

Tue 3 Mar – How to get a job
Are CVs old hat? In this session Top employers from arts & cultural organisations share their experience of hiring and firing creative talent and what they’re really looking for in an employee.

Tue 17 Mar – How to get big on the internet
What’s to gain from having bags of subscribers to your YouTube channel or thousands of followers on Instagram? In this session we’ll hear from arty types who are big on The Internet, discuss the benefits of having an online following and figure out how you build an online fan base.

For more information visit: macbirmingham.co.uk/event/ng-cht/

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