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Abbey Gardens webcam it's back - 22.12.09

It's back ...

The ever popular What Will The Harvest Be? Webcam is back online in time for the snow!

The 'down-time' is still a mystery but thanks to Keith Roberts at Newham Homes for being the one to finally find a code to the room where the camera is powered from - we're not sure why but Keith's very presence appears to have jogged it back into action!

We've had a wonderfully successful first season and want to thank everyone who has got involved with the garden, from funders to seed sowers, contractors to mulch movers, chefs to programmers!

The garden is still open everyday from dawn to dusk if you fancy a quick pad round in the snow, unbelievably there are still actually annuals in flower as well as winter produce to harvest. We also have a lovely new What Will The Harvest Be? sign up on the wall.

Our garden club sessions will restart in March and we will be planting fruit trees on January 16th, for anyone who would like to join us full details are on the website

Lastly we are very sad to be loosing Chris Cavalier our hard working Garden Club Leader, he's off to a full time job working for the RSPB and we wish him all the best. We will be advertising the post for a new recruit in the early spring, so if you know anyone who may be interested ask them to get in touch ...

With all good wishes for the holiday season and a toast to an even more impressive 2010 Harvest!

Tomas Bata V says Happy Christmas

Festive Greetings from Somewhere to all our friends!

An Inspiring Weekend in the Country

Had a lovely evening at Cumbria's newest film festival last weekend, run by BRICarts in Broughton-in-Furness. I showed some film clips from our work, and the little-seen Pope & Guthrie short film Little Deluxe Living shot in the Lake District and Japan. This was followed by intriguing shorts by Ben Rivers and Gideon Koppel's acclaimed 'Sleep Furiously'- a beautifully shot doc set in the rural Welsh hills - was just the right thing for the audience there on the night but for me was rather too sepia tinted and genteel though there is much to admire in its restraint, pace and cinematography.

See here for a wee review

A Weekend in the Country - Dec 5th & 6th

We're screening our short film 'Little Deluxe Living' (followed by a Q & A with Karen) on Sat 5th Dec at 6pm as part of 'A Weekend in the Country' which is a new film festival by BRICarts at the Victory Hall in Broughton-in-Furness in the Lake District.
More info here.

Exmoor National Dress on the catwalk in Newcastle

I'm pleased to see that my film, costume and portraits are going on show as part of 'Triparks'
at
ACAdovetail, Amy House, 61 Blandford Square (in front of the Discovery Museum),
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4HZ

Exhibition runs from 4/11/09 - end of March 2010

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9-5pm (occasionally closed for lunch) / Entry is free

For more information: contact: Helen Ratcliffe, (01434) 685040, helenheads@aol.com

A project initiated by Aune Heads Arts

What's German for 'titschy'?

Our piece Titschy / Kitschy enjoys another outing as part of the show by our friends myvillages.org 'Schnucken, Elefanten und andere Gastgeschenke' at Kunstverein Springhornhof in Germany until Dec. 20th.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world...

A belated plug for a group show that we were lately in, in Australia, with our very vintage (1999) piece 'An Artist's Impression', recently acquired for their collection by the Science Museum in London. What was nice that the curator Neil Jenkins had been an early user of the piece's MUSH (for all you Xbox generation-ers, that's an archaic kind of online game - just black and white scrolling text!) - which is still very much alive c/o our technical guru Javelin in the States.

The lovely show title (after Borges) was The Garden of Forking Paths, and broadly speaking it was an exhibition of historic and contemporary artists' computer games with such luminaries as Laurie Anderson in it!

More info here

Autumn is here ...

... and boy has it been windy at Abbey Gardens!

Can Titchy / Kitschy Save Art?

We took some time out from the rigours of the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival recently to visit our little model houses Titchy / Kitschy, currently in the Grizedale Arts exhibit in the show, Can Art Save Us?

It's at the Millenium Galleries, Sheffield, until Jan. 10th 2010 (no rush then) - more info on it here

"Atmosphere ... I love a symposium with an atmosphere"

Last week I attended the following event at Goldsmiths ATMOSPHERES OF PARTICIPATION: ART, MEDIA, POLITICS (Two talks and a discussion about presence, liveness and the importance of participation). As usual I had rather rashly agreed to participate in this event as a speaker without being entirely clear what would be asked of me. The day before I looked in more detail at the paperwork and realised the event would be a round table for invitation-only guests and that I should probably

a) Think through more carefully what I wanted to contribute and

b) Attend the evening talks the night before as one was being given by an old colleague who would also 'respond' to my presentation and the other would be by another participant.

SO I left the Royal College and tried to take a train from Victoria in the pouring rain with my bike, having failed to get on a train but by now underway I continued in the downpour arriving late, lost and soaking during the first talk. Despite being a read paper (which I always struggle with) you can't knock a talk which features "Suffragists, Trolls, and Sharon Hayes' Art of Protest". However, as I steamed dry and tried to focus on the next (again read) paper I became increasingly panicked about what might be in store the next day. Now I'm sure the speaker who we'll call Mr S is a very bright, very well read man ... but there was no possible way to gauge this from his talk. As well as reading a very dense piece of theory he simultaneously showed on a huge screen behind him a piece of work (given very little intro) which had subtitles to lots of montage protest footage. This went on at some length and after about 5 minutes I gave up trying to follow him or the subtitles (never mind both) and just sat there longing for the whole thing to be over.

Now, had I not been speaking alongside this man the next day I probably wouldn't have felt

a) Rage that I had sat through the best part of an hour of this or

b) Increasing panic about how I would engage with the other academic material on offer the following day.

In fact without this pressure I may even have indulged in some curiosity as to whether he was just being deliberately difficult or in fact had no idea that it was impossible to follow.

So we come to the next morning, I get up at the crack of dawn and write my talk without a clear guidance as to how long it should be or the availability of AV equipment. Terrified of missing the first speaker and not being seen to 'fully engage' I then take a cab to Goldsmiths to be there on time. I then spend the morning sitting round a large boardroom style table listening to more or less interesting (but again drily delivered) academic papers which to my mind seem to connect rather loosely to the questions posed by the organisers.

Along with the other two artists asked to participate we all struggle to remain engaged through these rather lengthy and specific papers as we are then to have lunch with these other guests and they will in turn respond to our ideas ... or so we think.

As the usual bolted lunch and missing AV cable anxieties subside and we settle into our allotted artists slots (approx. one third of those allowed for the academics) there are some rather obvious gaps around the table. Basically most of the morning's presenters have now made a hasty exit and we are left with a vastly reduced group of participants and for me a somewhat disappointing atmosphere of 'participation'. Each of the artists (including me) successfully cuts short their presentation in order to keep to time, as well as giving a lively, illustrated and specific talk (without reading) accurately tailored to the advertised interests of the conference.

The day is completed by a final academic from Goldsmiths. He begins with an 'apology' for his failure to attend any of the rest of the day, as he has been speed reading a newly published book apparently unavailable in translation and so (I assume he assumes) inaccessible to his audience. Rather than a generous sacrifice I take this as a rather arrogant opt out of the days event and a final nail in the coffin for the idea that it has been about participation. This impression is not helped when he corners myself and another artist in the pub afterwards and oscillates between name dropping, apologising for missing our presentations which he nevertheless tries to comment on and bleeding us for contacts.

By the end of the day I was developing a sneaky liking for Mr. S the source of all my anxiety the night before. By now I realised that the majority of the audience had failed to follow a word he said so I no longer cared about this. Plus of all the people at the event only he and a handful of the other academics made any attempt to actually engage with the atmosphere created by the people in the room and what they bought to the debate. I actually almost found myself willing him to make another comment before the day was up, I may not have followed what he was saying but we did at least seem to have a mutual respect for the 'importance of participation'!

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