Category Archives: Cultural Tourism

Building walls, community and skills… (via SVR)

A snapshot of what’s been happening as part of Spodden Valley Revealed recently, from this SVR blog.  Featuring drystone walling; artist in residence; Rushcart; researching the stories of Spodden Valley..

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via the Spodden Valley Revealed blog
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Pendle Radicals Needs Your Help!

Pendle Radicals is a brilliant new project which will be exploring Pendle Hill’s amazing heritage of radical thinkers and non-conformists. Unfolding over four years from spring 2018, the project will carry out research, commission new art and celebrate its findings with community events.

In order to get things started, we need volunteers to get researching: bringing history to life, infusing familiar locations with new meaning and building pride of place in the process.

Who do we mean by Pendle Radicals?  They include George Fox, founder of the Quakers, who had his great vision on the summit of Pendle in 1651…  Sir Jonas Moore, known as the ‘father of time’, born at Higham and part responsible for the Greenwich Observatory and the creation of Greenwich Mean Time…  Selina Cooper, a hero of the suffrage movement in spite of having to work in the mills from the age of 12.  Selina, like many members of Nelson ILP (Independent Labour Party) made strong connections to Clarion House at Roughlee, now the last of the Clarion Clubs but still thriving and an inspiring location for followers of socialist politics.

Pendle Radicals Combined Image

These are just a first, few names, but the stories are many, and we are just starting on this exploration.  Over four years our project will bring some of those stories to life.  In doing so, we can give current residents, especially young people, a new understanding of their history, a reinforced sense of local identity and new pride in where they live.

ethel1_from-hbrown-1One particular local woman who might just spark your interest, is Ethel Carnie Holdsworth.  Ethel was a working-class writer, feminist, and socialist activist from Great Harwood. You may not have heard of her as she has been largely lost to history because of circumstances, but as a young woman she was a poet, journalist (for example writing for the Woman Worker in London), children’s writer and author.  She published at least ten novels during her lifetime and her work is significant not just locally but also nationally, as she is the first working class woman in Britain to be published.

We are excited to get started with Ethel especially as the National Poetry Archive are keen to add her to their list of poets whose poems can be heard and explored online, but also because we are hoping that her story can be told through story and song some time in 2019.

So if Ethel’s story has inspired you, or you have an interest in local history and want to tell the story of another particular individual, or special local place, please make contact with the Pendle Radicals team.  For volunteers on our research team, we offer training to develop your archive skills, excursions to investigate source material, and plentiful tea and biscuits.  We promise you a fascinating journey of discovery and chance to bring to life those who deserve not to be forgotten!

A presentation – A short introduction to the life and work of Ethel Carnie Holdsworth plus an overview of relevant sources (approximately 40 minutes in total) can be presented to local history groups or other groups who have an interest in bringing her story to life.  Just contact Nick Hunt, Creative Director at Mid Pennine Arts.

There will be a presentation about Pendle Radicals and a short introduction to the life and work of Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, plus an overview of relevant sources, on Tuesday 2 July from 2-4pm at One Sixty Café, 160 St James Street, Burnley. See the MPA website or contact Nick Hunt, Creative Director at Mid Pennine Arts for details of both, or the project in general.

 

Website:        www.midpenninearts.org.uk

Email:          nick@midpenninearts.org.uk

Phone:          01282 421986 ext: 209

 

 

 

 

 

Picasso y el flamenco

Another in the occasional series by our roving arts reporter, David Smith

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You all know Malaga; some fly over it, some drive round it, others sail past it but few stay in the city.  Well we did, and what a surprise: three days in Malaga!

I had no idea that the airport in Malaga was so big; it was huge….and it was raining. I am sure that it isn’t supposed to rain in Spain once you are off the plane! It was raining cats and dogs…wait, more than that…more like donkeys and elephants…it was torrential.

When we arrived at the hotel we were met with apologies: it was flooded.  We had to move.

The taxi dropped us off by the new hotel, much closer to the centre of the old town we were assured.  The driver vaguely waved at a bell by a doorway, indicated he could go no further and promptly left.  It was still raining.  I rang the bell… nothing… and again… nothing.  We fled to a cafe across the road and waited.  I rang the first hotel.  The number they had given me was their fax machine!  I ran through the rain again to press the bell again… nothing!  Soaked by this time I decided to look for another entrance; walked round the corner of the building to find that it was a pedestrianised area.  No wonder the taxi could go no further.  I found the main entrance to the hotel with a smiling and welcoming reception… what a fool I had been!  What a start to our three days in Malaga.

After borrowing umbrellas and finding a place to eat we were assured by a still smiling reception that tomorrow all would be well.

malaga cathedralMorning was bathed in glorious sunshine.  The Cathedral is always a good place to start.  It lies in the centre of the old town.  It was gloriously full of light.  The great paintings which formed the reredos of many of the chapels, so disappointingly dark in many of the other cathedrals we have visited, were wonderfully bright, full of vibrant colour.  It was a pleasure just to sit and look at them trying to work out which biblical story they illustrated before venturing over to read the small print.  The wood carvings on the choir stalls are magnificent.

After the Roman amphitheatre we began the steep climb to the Moorish Fort: the Alcazaba, which overlooks the city.  I confess that we gave up, came back down and took a taxi to the Parador which stands above the fortress to sip mint tea and cold beer to admire views along the coast and the city below.

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flamenco

The evening offered live flamenco in a tiny theatre close to the Picasso Museum with a free glass of cava. Three dancers, one male, a guitarist and a singer offered an evening of fury and passion.  I love flamenco: the noise of the dancers’ heels on the wooden boards, the wail of singer,  the drama in the faces of the women as they feel their way into the dance, the spray of sweat from the dancer’s hair as he shakes his head.

It is as if they are dancing for themselves, ignoring our presence; yet we are totally engaged.  Fantastic!

Exhausted we fall into the street for another glass of cava to recover.

The following day the Picasso Museum is a joy.  I have enjoyed the reopening of his museum in Paris but I enjoyed this much more.

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There’s a real feel of chronology as we are met with work from Picasso’s childhood and taken through his life into his 90’s.  The works are beautifully and spaciously hung, breathing life into the white walls, exploding with colour.  My only regret was that I saw nothing from his ‘blue period’.

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Sitting in the museum’s shaded courtyard, sipping cold beer with music from a Spanish guitar drifting over the walls, I thought: ‘Hmm…I will come here again…’

Art gazing is tiring so what next?  The answer is obvious: two hours in a Turkish spa:  Hamman al Andalus, hot and cold bathing, hot stones, and a massage!

 

David Smith

Are you a bit ‘sniffy’ about musicals?

Another blog in the series from our roving arts & culture reporter David Smith

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Well I am… or at least I was…  Over a family meal when the subject of musicals came up I dismissed them all with:  “I don’t like musicals!”  And then, of course, I had to start trying to justify my arrogant posture.  “Come on Dad, explain yourself; that’s a bit of a scattergun approach…”

“Well, most of the audience are ‘of a certain age’.”

“Like you?”

“Well  yes; you don’t see the theatre full of young people.  The narrative is always weak, characterisation thin and often you are lucky to find one memorable song.”

Have you ever felt like you are walking on ice and you can feel the ice cracking underneath you with each step you take?  That is exactly how I felt and waited for the broadsides to come.

“Wait a minute; you took us to see Joseph, Blood Brothers, West Side Story, Cats… I suppose Billy Elliot doesn’t appeal to young people either!”,  and the list went on.  “They may not have the characterisation of King Lear but those theatres were full of young people.”

Basics in Burnley produces a musical each year with a cast wholly of young people, and you encouraged me to audition for Burnley Youth Theatre‘s West Side Story, came another voice across the table.

“Then you won’t want to have one of the tickets I’ve bought for Sweet Charity at the Royal Exchange”, chipped in my wife Kay enjoying my discomfort.

“I give in…”

And so at the  weekend we went to see Sweet Charity.  What a show!

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Charity Hope Valentine is a ‘hostess’ dancer in a New York gents’ club.  She falls in love with clients – always the wrong one – believing everything they say, longing for the marriage proposal which her friend know will never come.

Kaisa Hammalund is terrific as Charity.  She fills the stage with a an energy and vibrancy which left me exhausted.  She engages so perfectly with her audience that we are all wanting her love quest to succeed… the underlying irony in the show is that there is no charity on offer.  It highlights attitudes to women, makes fun of the excesses of 60’s hippies… and more.

The whole cast is excellent I can hardly say that there are no memorable songs when I am still singing them in the car: Rhythm of Life, Hey Big Spender, If My Friends could See Me Now, There’s  Gotta Be Something Better Than This.

The direction from Derek Bond is brilliant.  There is a disco sequence which took me back to my 60’s disco days with all the moves I attempted exaggerated and presented like a Matthew Bourne piece of choreography.  The scene where Charity finds herself in the bedroom of a film star when his partner returns, hiding under the bed and under a covered tea-trolley is hilarious.  The stage craft making use of a minimalist set allows each individual member of the audience to be engaged throughout yet showing smooth transitions between scenes with clever lighting.

…and the music from a band visible on stage throughout is magical.  It is a show that had me laughing out loud, miming the songs and tapping the lady’s foot next to mine.

Go and see it, if you can (on at the Royal Exchange, Manchester until 28 January).

I love musicals;  I can’t understand anyone who says they don’t… I’m off the see Strictly Ballroom at the West Yorkshire Playhouse next week… watch this space.!

 

 

Digging a Little Deeper in Spodden Valley…

 

On the weekend of 2 – 4 December an exciting new phase of the Spodden Valley Revealed project started, with field survey work by Archaeology team Dig Ventures  and volunteer Explorers.

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Starting out from Whitworth Library and Whitworth Museum the team recorded heritage sites such as Facit Incline and Peel Chimney, Healey Dell, Cowm Reservoir and a ruined farm and exciting standing stones at Brown Wardle.

Interesting finds included a fully intact cellar at the ruined farm site, with vaulted ceilings, and intriguing standing stones that are exactly nine metres apart with curious indents and uniformed points, are these stone tenter posts as part of tenter frames to dry cloth as part of the cottage industries?  More to come as we investigate further – it has certainly caught the interest of our archaeology team…

It was such a great weekend, especially with our younger Explorers who really enjoyed being a part of the team, learning new skills and getting out into the wonderful landscape of Whitworth.

Keep an eye out in the New Year for more family based archaeology activities and for more ways you can get involved.

For more information email Diana Hamilton, visit the webpage and follow us on Facebook.

 

Three days in Paris

Another blog in the series from our roving arts & culture reporter David Smith

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Day 1

Ten  years ago I was in Paris with Nick (MPA Creative Director) for the opening of the new Mac Val Gallery of contemporary French art in Vitry-sur-Seine.  Nick had been invited to make a presentation on the Panopticons project with a special focus on the Singing Ringing Tree.  I had volunteered to carry his bags.

With a couple of hours to spare, whilst Nick was honing his presentation, I visited the Picasso Museum in the Marais Quarter of Paris.  What a disappointment it was.  Many pieces were on loan, the museum was dull and the organisation of the collection left me uninspired.

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Last month I returned.  What a transformation.  Having been closed for a considerable time for refurbishment the Museum reopened 18 months ago with a new curator.  Picasso’s works are displayed in chronological order with sketches, paintings and sculptural works side by side.  It allows you to make a journey through the museum which follows Picasso’s creative process: carvings, engravings, sketches, photographs, ceramics, paintings and sculptures. The collection is huge; in fact, most of the works were given to France to settle his unpaid tax bills!

The Museum includes a roof top garden used to display some larger sculptures in a quiet, peaceful setting; perfect to sit, muse, rest your feet and take it all in…and I love this quotation from Picasso:

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Day 2 morning

A visit to the Opera Garnier began my second day.  From the outside the building is stunning.  If you have never been you will know it as the setting for the Phantom of the Opera.paris - 2

Much of the lighting depended on candlelight which, of course led to blackened walls and ceilings.  In the 1960’s when the time came to restore the ceiling of the auditorium above the great chandelier – and yes it did actually fall down on one occasion in 1896 and killed a member of the audience! – they couldn’t afford the cost of restoration.  A French artist who was working on set and costume design for opera offered his services for which, I believe he was never paid…his name, Marc Chagall.  The ceiling is magnificent:

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 Day 2 afternoon

Have you ever shopped in Leeds and visited those lovely Victorian glass covered arcades?

Well; from the Opèra Garnier, I was led around ‘Les Passages Couverts‘ – 19th. century, glass roofed shopping galleries. They provide hidden corners of superb architecture full of cafes, antiquarian bookshops, shops for stamps, coins and art – a fascinating experience.

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Day 3

My final day took me back in the direction of the airport to Auvers-sur-Oise , the village where Van Gogh spent his last 70 days before his premature death.  During this  period he painted 70 pieces yet during his whole short life he sold only one painting – to his brother!  He died as he lived, in poverty.  In the village you can follow a trail: ‘In the steps  of Van Gogh’ which take you from the café where he rented a room, through the village to the church and finally to his grave where he and his brother lie side by side beside a field of sunflowers.  It is a very moving story and a moving journey.

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Revealing the Spodden Valley

This spring we are delighted to welcome a new but familiar face to the MPA team as Diana Hamilton gets to work as Project Manager for Spodden Valley Revealed This is our  major new project promising some transformational impacts for communities in the Whitworth area of Rossendale. Unfolding over three years,  Spodden Valley Revealed will explore the long timeline of human settlement there, through an engagement programme involving local people of all ages, and a range of exciting artist commissions.  The end result will be an innovative, linear heritage destination for local people and visitors to explore, adding rich content to the off-road cycling and walking route which will become the Valley of Stone Greenway.

Diana has worked around the North West, managing arts and public realm projects, for over 10 years. She is passionate about telling the stories of a place in a creative and engaging way and re-interpreting heritage for new audiences.

Previously, Diana led on the development of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which stretches 33 miles from Salford to Bacup, putting together a 6-year plan to secure Arts Council capital funding for its redevelopment.  She has supported the creation of a brand new Sculpture Centre at the heart of the trail in Bury.  Most recently, she managed an experimental public art programme across five new interchange sites for Transport for Greater Manchester, including temporary commissions, digital trails and events, testing a new way for working for that organisation.

Diana has worked across many other cultural events, opening up unexpected spaces such as a medieval tower and shopping space for Barnaby Festival, and local churches, parks and an armoury for Bury Light Night.  For Station Stories, she partnered with Manchester Literature Festival to create a live storytelling event at Manchester Piccadilly station, taking an audience in headphones on a journey of six newly commissioned stories, told by an unknown storyteller in the throng of commuters.

This depth of experience and breadth of imagination, combined with her knowledge and understanding of the North West, mean that Diana is brilliantly well equipped to take forward our unique vision for Spodden Valley Revealed.  With Diana getting to work now, we are delighted to be getting started on this fantastic project.

You can contact Diana via email for more information on Spodden Valley Revealed.

Diana Hamilton - Project Manager for Spodden Valley Revealed - March 2016