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Cannon Hill Collective Week Five: #SoulSelfie

Holstee Manfiesto

The topic of this week’s session was reflection. Not selfie in the mirror sort of reflection, but reflective practices. Where have you come from? How have you got here? What’s changed and why has it changed? How does who you are affect your creative methods? To answer these questions we created a sort of mind map of ourselves, a soul selfie if you will.

To make a #soulselfie you begin by drawing a picture of yourself and then make a note of your skills, attitudes and attributes. My main skill is the slightly vague, ‘words’ and I’m also surprisingly good at navigating public transport for someone with no sense of direction. But the next question was did I have these skills 10 years ago? And if not where did they come from? I found that my list of attributes, being helpful, open to new people, and generally quite positive (or naively optimistic) about everything has been with me for a long time, it’s mainly my skills and attitudes such as determination that have been developed or discovered over the years.

Next up we had to define our creative practices. This is always a problem for me because I am a ‘slasher’, or multi-stringed practitioner, I am a spoken word artist/a theatre maker/a workshop facilitator/playwright, most of which fall under the umbrella of ‘storyteller’. Next we had to think about the moments of how we got there? Personally, there wasn’t a eureka moment, but I can trace loving theatre as a child and going to see The Singing Kettle, through to using drama at school as a stress relief escapism lesson. Then moving to spoken word, because I had an urge to be creative and no money to put on a play, so I signed up for a poetry slam and from there things began to snowball.

All this leads to the question of values. What do we hold as guiding compasses in our work that helps us to make decisions? But before we discussed that it was time for a break, the traditional assortment of Aldi delights mixed with the added festive stollen bites. Moving back to work, we took a partner through our #soulselfie whilst they jotted down key words that they felt summed up our values as a practitioner.

Louise told me about how she loved to research her illustrations and other illustrators, how she wished people were true to themselves rather than trying to look like everyone else and how she loved working with the ordinariness of the every day. From this, I took the buzzwords development, empathy, and empowerment. After telling Louise my tale, she surmised integrity, determination and collaboration, which I think sum up my approaches quite well.

Lastly, we spoke about manifestos (like Holstee’s one above) and we discussed whether or not they helped in making day to day decisions or if they focused mainly on creative work. I decided to have a go at making my own manifesto which you can see below as well; mine was written on the bus, can you tell?

Manifesto


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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 ourselves 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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Compared 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’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 F’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 after 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 Station 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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Show and Tell


Nothing like a last-minute challenge. Tonight’s Cannon Hill Collective session challenged the group to bring with them something that they could share, in a speed networking styley. This could be a skill that can be taught or something that shows off their work and/or something that represents them. With 21 in the group and only an hour to do it, this was a challenge. But with such a diverse group of talented people there was an amazing array of skills to share. Such as; demonstrations of 3D design software, books, portfolios, poems, a collage, websites, a music track and even an example from Nathan of the correct way to ‘Dougie’.


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Critical Mass

Tonight was our first Cannon Hill Collective meeting and we did a ‘Show me your numbers’ exercise. Each of the collective considered their total number of followers & friends from  twitter, Facebook, G+, WordPress, Instagram, blogger & Tumblr, we then pooled these numbers together to get a social capital of over 20,000. Now that’s what I call a critical mass.


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Applications have now closed.

If you applied to be part of Cannon Hill Collective with mac, Birmingham, please keep an eye on your email, we will be inviting shortlisted applicants to a recruitment workshop on Friday 28 September from 4 to 6pm.

For mac’s full programme and further opportunities check the IdeasTap partner’s page – mac, Birmingham.