Tag Archives: Panopticons

Thoughts from the Singing Ringing Tree – Zoe Greenhalgh

Music Leader from the Songs from the Singing Ringing Tree, Zoe Greenhalgh, recalls her experience…

Relationships

For me, the joy of working on projects such as this, is the wonderful human connections with the very young that are born out of musical play and exploration, without any need for speech.  Singing is such a wonderful medium; no right or wrong, just variations which have infinite potential for development in a whole new direction.

In the settings the day comprised of working with all children in the nursery in small groups of 6-10 each supported by a member of the nursery staff which allowed the children and myself to become well acquainted and build a good relationship. It also enabled me to learn something of the children as individuals; how confident they were, their readiness to sing and make music, their ideas and interests, quirks and foibles.  In these small groups I became familiar to them and they to me, meaning that I could structure my teaching to support their individual needs whether musical or otherwise.  Progress and participation was good and much enjoyment was evident.

The Singing Tent

In one setting I came to know the children over a number of weeks working with small group and their key worker before creating and opening the “singing tent” for business. The groups were predominantly adult led so the tent was intended to redress the balance by offering the children the opportunity to initiate and lead the musical activities, for me to join in with their play.

The “singing tent” was constructed from a clotheshorse and some music printed fabric held together with clothes pegs.  This was intentionally only large enough for me and two children to occupy at any one time thus maintaining a sense of intimacy that might elicit the engagement of even the most timid of children.  Sometimes it was situated inside in the nursery, sometimes outside in the garden.  I stayed in the tent with my ukulele and the children came and joined me as and when they liked.  The ukulele turned out to be a good provocation for the children to respond to: they were attracted to the sound and wanted to play it, but were inclined to play with some delicacy, either listening intently to the sounds they produced or strum it as an accompaniment to their singing. It was often not played at all.

I had tried different instruments for variety – a small number of quality percussion instruments and chime bars – but whilst the children enjoyed exploring these, as a joint interactive activity it was not very fruitful.  Likewise, me sitting in the tent just singing with no instruments was not as attractive, possibly because the sound of a singing voice is a familiar one in the setting.

Within the intimate, private space of the tent, these children recognised me as a play partner and offered me the crown jewels – magical musical connections with voice, sound and rhythm, spontaneous original song improvisations, musical play of all shapes and sizes.  What an honour and infinite pleasure to be so accepted and trusted with their precious offerings.

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Inspiration visit to the Singing Ringing Tree

Ways of working…

During this project I have worked in a more formal, adult-led manner with small groups of children as well as in a more informal, “free flow” way. Both are valuable in their own right but I believe that the impact is greater than the sum of its parts when the two approaches are combined.  How important then that educators within the setting have the musical confidence and skill to scaffold and support children’s musical creativity and development, and that staff development is built into the project in a workable manner.

From my experience; Thoughts on project planning and delivery

All projects of this sort give a cohort of children access to musical experiences beyond those normally available in the setting; musical exposure and engagement that without the project they would not have had.  Fantastic!  What is more difficult is to build in longer term legacy for the settings in subsequent years.

I believe the most crucial and detailed part of all projects is the planning stage.  There is this great idea to run a project doing “X” which would work really well with these leaders in this location and we could build in “Y” and “Z” – wow, how exciting!  This is perhaps the easy bit.  What follows is the contacting of settings and individuals involved to gain interest in being involved which is relatively straightforward, particularly where relationships already exist.

Then comes the nitty gritty of how it will work on the ground, what it will look like in reality, firm commitment to dates, time, staff availability, trips out, available physical space, parental/photo permissions, etc. etc.  This is the really tricky bit.  It is so important that all parties “buy in” to the concept and that the finer detail is worked out collaboratively with all partners at the earliest stage of planning, especially those involved in the day to day delivery.  Settings are very busy with many demands upon their time and energies making this level of detail sometimes hard to sort out, but it is precisely this, along with the ongoing communication between the visiting music practitioner and the setting staff, that turns an ordinary project into an extraordinary one that leaves behind it something truly worth having.  This collaborative, committed relationship means that the project activity is more than just a “bolt on” extra, that it is integrated into the setting beyond the allotted project time, extending reach to more children and developing staff confidence, knowledge and skill and impacting positively on practise within the setting and the experiences of its children.

Songs from the Singing Ringing Tree from Mid Pennine Arts on Vimeo.

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David On Tour: Part Three – Jerwood

Editor: The continuing adventures of David Smith during his week in Brighton…

 

‘Cultural tourism’ is on everyone’s lips in the south-east: ‘Turner Contemporary’ in Margate, ‘The Towner’ in Eastbourne, ‘De La Warr Pavilion’ in Bexhill and ‘Jerwood’ in Hastings.  The role of the arts in social and economic regeneration continues to have credence. Well, it was ‘The Jerwood’ for me. My first time in Hastings.

£8 to get in seemed a touch on the expensive side especially when one of my party only wanted clean toilets whilst the other some lunch.  So we started with lunch – fresh crab salad and sandwiches left everyone in good mood especially as I had paid for everything so far.  How refreshing too to visit a gallery with huge panoramic windows letting in the outside.  Two huge pieces by Quentin Blake of artists on the beach drawn especially for Jerwood held the attention of all the diners.

Quentin Blake

In the gallery Quentin Blake, who lives just round the corner, had been asked to respond to 10 pictures he has chosen from the collection. More than that, he concentrates on each of the artists showing them at work on the beach by Jerwood in a way that you makes you smile as you explore them – Stanley Spencer with his pram!  Alongside each drawing he has included a piece of text he has written for each piece. I only knew of Stanley Spencer; so it was a fascinating introduction to a number of artists whose work I didn’t know: from Edward Burra to Prunella Clough.  It was also a way into seeing the part of the Jerwood collection on display which focuses on modern British art.

As a Salford boy, it was great to stumble on Lowry’s, Canal Bridge, which I hadn’t seen before.

Coming back to ‘Cultural Tourism’ and regeneration: it’s great to think that Mid Pennine Arts has been making its own significant contribution in our region since 2003 with Panopticons, Land and now the LANDMARKS programme in the Forest of Bowland.  They are all worth visiting or revisiting.

In Praise of Julie

David Smith reflects on MPA’s relationship with the lovely Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Julie…Julie Hes…Julie Hesmondhalgh….Hayley Cropper…we all loved Hayley and now she’s gone….

I met Julie in the mid eighties.  I was dropping my son Craig off and picking him up each day at a three-week long summer drama course at Moorhead High School in Accrington.  Julie was a part of a friendship group of very talented girls who after A-Level Theatre Studies at Accrington and Rossendale College all went off to drama school in London together.

Julie-Hesmondhalgh-2292864

Julie kept in touch with Craig whilst they were both in London and recommended him for a job acting and writing for theatre with the West Yorkshire based Company Impact.  At that time Craig tipped us off to go to see Julie at the Royal Exchange in Much Ado About Nothing where she was performing alongside her great friend Joseph Alessi son of an Accrington tailor..  She had two small roles: a maid and a soldier night watchman.  It was here that she was spotted by a casting director from Coronation Street and you know what happened from there…

Hayley-Cropper-Coronation-Street-2292866

In 2001 Mid Pennine Arts was working on a major environmental arts community engagement programme called Land.  It was supporting the iconic Panopticons project.  A part of the programme was a project called Trees for Babies.  In partnership with Trees for Burnley we created a new woodland at Rowley Country Park recruiting young families from the Edith Watson Maternity Unit in Burnley.  Julie and her partner Ian Kershaw had a young daughter, Martha Mo.  When asked if she would come to a celebratory event to meet the families involved and present them with a special memento of their involvement not only did she agree without hesitation, and refuse to accept a fee, but she brought two month old Martha Mo with her!  It was an evening to remember. The clue to Julie’s feeling for people was the way she engaged with the young children who came along, making time to speak to each one as they came up with their family to receive a hand-made book:  Trees for Babies…and of course we planted a tree in the new woodland for Martha Mo.

Did you know that Julie asked her fellow cast members not to buy her a present on leaving ‘the Street’?  She asked them to make a donation instead to a charity in Accrington: possibly ‘Maundy Relief’ for which she is a patron.

….and back to the drama course at Moorhead High School in the mid eighties…who set up and managed the project?  Mid Pennine Arts, of course! Have you heard the theory about the importance of the eco structure that exists in the arts, supporting and developing early signs of talent…?  Mid Pennine’s role here is a small example of how it works.  That course was important for me too.  I was so impressed by the school that I went on to work there as Deputy Head for 13 years and then came to Mid Pennine Arts having seen at first hand what it can create and deliver for the communities it serves.

…and what of Julie?  Go to see her at the Royal Exchange in February in Simon Stephen’s new play Blindsided.  Then you might return to see her astonishing performance in Black Roses: the killing of Sophie Lancaster.  Julie is a terrific actress who has never forgotten her roots in Pennine Lancashire .

Yes, we all love Julie…

Opportunities for accomplished project managers at Mid Pennine Arts

Mid Pennine Arts is recruiting.   We need additional support to help us maintain and extend our busy portfolio of creative learning and community engagement projects.  We are therefore seeking one or more experienced, versatile project managers, initially on short term agreements, but with the opportunity to develop longer term relationships.  If you have a strong track record of developing and delivering high quality, project-based work, and would like to contribute to the work of our team, we would love to hear from you.

About Us

MPA is the commissioning agency based in Pennine Lancashire and developing projects across Lancashire and beyond.  We commission high quality creative work through a variety of collaborations and in response to the distinctive contexts of our natural, built and social environments.  Our projects interrogate and celebrate what is unique about our area, our heritage and our communities.  We aim to originate exciting creative work that has lasting impact for participants, audiences and our project partners.  MPA brings art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives.

MPA was established in 1966 and has a long and proud track record of working in our communities.  Our work is centred on contemporary visual arts but uses a broad creative palette.  MPA has developed specialisms in commissioning work in landscape and public spaces and in heritage settings.  Our portfolio of recent work has included the Panopticons contemporary landmarks and the Contemporary Heritage series of major new commissions in heritage locations.  All of our projects include dimensions of engagement and learning for young people and adults.

Over many years we have built up a reputation for high quality work especially with schools and young people.  MPA works with some 60 schools each year.  In 2013 our creative learning team have made advisory visits to 90 schools, working in partnership with the ACE Bridge Organisation, Curious Minds, as cultural advocates for Lancashire.

Key partners for MPA projects have recently included local authorities, Lancashire Museums, environmental agencies and our fellow arts organisations.  We believe strongly in collaboration and all of our work is developed through a variety of partnerships.

MPA attracts funding from a variety of sources, including Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council and lottery distributors.  With less revenue funding now available, we generate funds project by project, from multiple sources, to help sustain our organisation.  All our team contribute to this effort, which is vital to our future.

Our Team

MPA maintains a multidisciplinary team to originate, curate and project manage our busy programme.  In autumn 2013 a number of circumstances will be reducing this team, but MPA’s programme will be busier than ever.  So we are seeking additional support.

We have a number of projects already in progress and further exciting projects in development.  So we want to reinforce our team as soon as we can.  We are therefore seeking experienced, versatile individuals who might be available at relatively short notice to contribute to our team over the next few months.

Our Programme

Projects already confirmed include these:

  • Portraits of the Past – an extended engagement programme built around our Contemporary Heritage commission at Gawthorpe Hall and celebrating the place of this Jacobean gem in the life of the local community.
  • Youth Music – Two new projects resourced by this lottery fund and engaging groups of young people and early years children.
  • Creative Communities – A programme of structured volunteering for young adults, funded by Awards for All, providing opportunities to work with us on a variety of exciting projects.
  • Burnley Rivers – Partnership work with the Urban Rivers Enhancement Scheme to celebrate the Brun and the Calder.

In addition a number of projects in development are likely to add to our workload in the near future:

  • Contemporary HeritageMajor new commissions for 2014 and beyond, and engagement programmes to support them.
  • Spodden Valley Revealed – Creatively interpreting the ancient and modern heritage of the area around Whitworth.
  • The Three Towers – A strategic partnership programme to celebrate the heritage and realise the destination potential of the West Pennine Moors.
  • Super Wet Way – Participation in a major new partnership programme themed around the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with Canal & River Trust, our fellow arts organisations and others.
  • Truce – An engagement programme for Accrington throughout 2014, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

We will also be continuing to originate projects and develop partnerships.

The Opportunity

We would like to identify probably two individuals to join our team on a part-time, short term, contract basis.  Initially we are able to offer a term of around three months, but we are looking to identify contributors with whom we can establish a relationship for the longer term.  In the future, we anticipate maintaining a more flexible workforce that can adapt swiftly to changing circumstance, so we are keen to build a group of regular associates.

Terms are flexible according to experience, but as a guide we envisage basing the remuneration on a full time salary of £20,000 to £23,000 (pro rata) for a commitment of around 2.5 to 3 days per week over three months.  This is open to negotiation for the self-employed and for exceptional candidates.  Proven capacity to help generate further income may be an influential factor.

Person Specification

The individuals we seek will be able to evidence certain core skills:

  • Substantial experience of managing complex or extended projects.
  • Experience of working with a wide variety of people.
  • Accustomed to building partnerships and working collaboratively.
  • Excellent written communication skills, and ability to produce convincing funding proposals and project reports.
  • Highly organised, capable of multi-tasking and prioritising a busy workload.
  • A self-starter able to identify opportunities and realise them.
  • A team player who will enjoy working collaboratively within the MPA team.
  • An understanding of our geographical area (social-economic context) or of comparable communities.

In addition, you should have one or more specialism(s) that will be particularly relevant to our programme of work:

  • Creative learning work, with an understanding of the National Curriculum and experience of key programmes like Arts Awards and Artsmark.
  • Contemporary visual arts, with experience of curating work outside of the gallery setting.
  • Experience of work in landscape, the natural environment and rural contexts.
  • Community engagement, with a range of resources for effectively involving groups and individuals in creative projects.
  • A focus on heritage and the rich fund of creative possibilities that it offers.
  • Issues around sense of place, destination and local identity.

How to Apply

If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you.

Please apply, using our standard job application form (downloadable from our website) to highlight your most relevant experience and your reasons for wanting to work with MPA.  You should attach an up to date CV, and a covering letter if you wish.  Please submit by email only to:

melanie@midpenninearts.org.uk

Please submit your application by Friday 30 August.  There is no formal timetable for recruitment, but we aim to act without delay.  We will acknowledge all applicants.  If you are shortlisted, we will invite you for interview as soon as can be arranged.

To find out more about us and our projects look at our website, Facebook page and Vimeo channel.  If you have any questions about our work or this opportunity, please contact Melanie Diggle, MPA Finance & Admin Director, as above, or on 01282 421986.

A deconstructed apple crumble…

David Smith our Creative Learning Coordinator visits the South Coast…

I was enjoying a meal with my family in a Brighton restaurant just over a week ago.  I didn’t recognise one of the dishes on the dessert menu so I asked the waiter what it was. “It’s a deconstructed apple crumble,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well…” a note of impatience was edging into his demeanour, “…the crumble, the apple and the custard are arranged in a non-conventional way,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because…” there was a pause – he needed thinking time. “…we sell more of them this way than if it was conventional.”

I ordered a black coffee.

The next day conventional David was in the Olympic Park clutching tickets for women’s handball in the Copper Box arena when I was confronted by Anish Kapoor’s ‘Orbit’.  “What do you think of it Dad?” my sons asked in unison putting me on the spot.  They think that I am meant to know about these things.

in orbit

in orbit

I didn’t answer.  I walked up to it; I walked round it; I looked up and down it.  I didn’t pay the £15 to go to the top of it.

It really did make me think of the apple crumble: it is London’s 21st. century answer to Paris! It is a deconstructed Eiffel Tower!  It is a swirl of ideas and has the fun feel of a giant helter-skelter. Yes it is wild, it is challenging and it provokes just as our Panopticons did in Pennine Lancashire. When it is lit at night it becomes something else – like our ‘Halo’; almost alive!

I’ve always liked Anish Kapoor ever since I bought a bedside table lamp designed by him – where did I buy it?  In an exhibition in the Mid Pennine Gallery in Burnley!  What a connection!

tear-drop bedside lamp by Anish Kapoor

The artworks and architecture of the Olympic Park have not had the attention they deserve. Everyone knows about he spectacular Velodrome (design team leader Mike Hopkins) but the Aquatics Centre (designed by Zaha Hadid), will be just as spectacular.  It doesn’t get the same publicity because it has two temporary ends which obscure its beauty.  They will be dismantled over the next 12 months.  At that point it will rival the Velodrome.  Everywhere you go the whole site has been given the feel of a park by imaginative wild flower planting. Even temporary structures like the white, puffy, cloud-like basketball arena are striking.

wild flower planting

wild flower planting

Branding is not allowed in the Olympic Park – can you imagine it: a world sporting event with no branding when major funders have put in millions? Well, Coca-cola, (mention Pepsi and your mouth will be washed out with soap and water), funded the Beat Box which is so visually exciting and mystifying it smacks you in the face.  Hundreds of interlocking red and white plastic panels forming an ice-like crystal. The most creative piece of going beyond the brand I have ever seen!  Google it!

Back to Brighton for an evening meal with friends.  “I hope you like the dessert, it’s a deconstructed gooseberry cheese cake!”

Places to visit this Easter

With the weather so variable, we thought we would share a variety of ideas for things to see and do this Easter.

Helmshore Mills Textile Museum

Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.  Here you can soak up the atmosphere of the historic mills and witness original machinery at work as well as having fun and learning in an exceptional environment.  The museum offers activities, events and special exhibitions, one of which is part of our Contemporary Heritage programme.   The spectacular No Match, created by international sculptor Claire Morgan, is a site specific installation inspired by Claire’s discoveries during her research residency in October 2011.   See the museum’s website for details of opening times and entrance fees.  Not to be missed!

Clitheroe

Clitheroe is a great day out at any time.  Not only does it offer a large variety of unique and boutique shops there is also a fantastic selection of cafés, bars and restaurants to enjoy.  There are many walks that begin in Clitheroe which you can find out more about here.    Clitheroe Castle Keep is currently host to TAKEN, another of our Contemporary Heritage commissions.  This sound installation by contemporary classical composer Ailís Ní Ríain is inspired by the story of the Lancashire witches.  TAKEN allows the visitor to imagine how the 12 individuals may have felt during their last four months in captivity whilst awaiting trial.

Greenways in Padiham and Preston

The Preston Greenway was constructed along the formerly disused railway line that formed part of the Bamber Bridge to Preston extension of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.  The greenway links Penwortham, Bamber Bridge and Preston city centre and forms part of the National Cycle Network.

The Padiham Greenway was created on a disused railway line that runs between Rosegrove in Burnley and Padiham.  The Padiham Greenway has been developed as part of a longer route between Great Harwood and Burnley which is designed to create an off-road trail that connects people to facilities and open spaces in and around the towns that flank the route.

Panopticons

Have you visited the Panopticons yet?  These iconic, contemporary landmarks were designed to attract visitors into the countryside to discover the stunning landscapes that Pennine Lancashire has to offer.  There are four Panopticons each situated on a high-point site commanding spectacular views.  For more information click here.

You can also download various maps and guides for walking around the Panopticons and other areas of interest here.

Have fun whatever you do!

 

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt reflects on a five-year milestone for the Singing Ringing Tree…

Don’t time fly!  I hadn’t realised quite how swiftly, until the Christmas card from the Chief Exec of Burnley Council brought it to mind.

The official municipal card was exploiting a suitably seasonal photo of the Tree in its Siberian winter setting, with a pile of presents sketched in around the base.  This playful bit of graffiti might have been tailor-made to offend the impeccably minimalist design sensibilities of its creators, the inspired architect duo Tonkin Liu, but at MPA we are still inclined to be delighted whenever a Panopticon gets a bit of extra exposure.

Reflecting fondly on how often that happens with this particular, much-loved landmark, I suddenly realised that the fifth birthday of the Singing Ringing Tree had slipped past in December without us noticing.  Damn!  We should have been celebrating…

The Singing Ringing Tree was the third of the Panopticons series to be commissioned and built, in a very productive partnership with Burnley Borough Council.  It was unveiled in December 2006, with two coachloads of special guests ferried up to the site and bent nearly double to keep their feet in the face of the howling gales.  Back in the car park at Crown Point, the big executive coaches were rocking side to side as if about to capsize.  But this delicate little landmark survived its crazy launch day, and has not looked back since.

You can catch the wind-buffeted flavour of that day, and the story of the construction of the Tree as a ‘giant Meccano set’ , in Roger Appleton’s film of the project:

http://vimeo.com/13093620

The Panopticons project  was intended to encourage folk to use the landscape on their doorsteps, to discover spectacular new views of Pennine Lancashire, and to explore further the rugged splendours of our area.  More than this, it was designed to create positive images to project out into the wider world, and transform perceptions about our locale.

The Singing Ringing Tree has delivered on all of this, with knobs on.  Burnley Council and people promoting Pennine Lancashire both make fulsome use of this very photogenic icon in all their promotional stuff.  http://www.regeneratepl.co.uk/pennine-lancashire-location/about-the-region/.  Images of the Tree have whizzed around the world.  Millions of YouTube users have viewed viral videos of the Tree and its song.

And this momentum is not slowing down.  In 2011 we’ve had features of the Panopticons on two network TV shows – a lovely feature on Flog It! and another on Country Tracks.  The Tree has featured in audio and image in the Berlin fashion mag Sleek and its covermount CD.  And the new edition of our local OS map – guess what it has on the cover!

This is the gift that keeps on giving.  And what a gift it was.  By happy coincidence, that launch day in December 2006 was also the 80th birthday of the Tree’s first benefactor, Sir Simon Towneley, who had identified the site, donated use of it, and worked tirelessly to help us locate the extra funds we needed.  He also recruited our second benefactor, his son Peregrine Towneley, whose immensely generous contribution made it possible for us to balance the books and to complete this dream of a project.

So happy 85th birthday Sir Simon, thanks again Peregrine, and here’s to the next half decade.

http://www.midpenninearts.org.uk/panopticons

More information for planning your visit at:

http://www.visitlancashire.com/things-to-do/search/panopticons-p96590