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Acorn Bank, Penrith - National Trust residency

I'm very happy to be this year's Dorothy Una Ratcliffe Fellow! (that sounds rather grand doesnt it?!)

This means I'm artist-in-residence at the National Trust's lovely Acorn Bank property near Penrith during the summer, culminating in a show there from August to October '17. Dorothy was its owner for a relatively short while before it was the Trust's, and she was by all accounts quite a character (see right).
I know we would have got on!

You can read more about the residency here.

Is Cumbria a women in film hotspot?!

I recently attended a panel dicussion as part of the surprisingly good Women's Arts International Festival, in Kendal. The topic was 'women in film' and it was put together by the laudable but horrendously-titled 'Birds Eye Film Festival' which - no, has nothing to do with frozen peas at all - but screens women's films at an annual event in London, as well as doing a lot of good education / awareness-raising work.
I'll own up to being still a tiny bit miffed at our film Bata-ville's rejection from the Birds Eye Film Festival ( I mean, how many women director-made road movies about shoemaking were we up against that year?!) but I dutifully attended the panel with an open mind, there were some very notable speakers on it including one of the producers of the Full Monty!
The chairwoman conducted the event with a slightly self-effacing, slightly dotty and slightly posh manner that despite myself (I have good friends who can be just like this) I find a little cringe-making in a public speaker, especially when under a feminist heading. This was perhaps encouraged by the small audience, but there were some good points made, especially towards the end when cinematographer Zillah Bowes suggested the industry started to ensure that at least one woman was included in training schemes etc, pointing out that 'working your way up' in the industry seemed still to be nigh-on impossible for women (you basically went 'in' at the level you wanted to operate at , either by studying it first or fluke - like me!) But anyway, down to my main point.....
As I was musing on this, I noticed that the other women film-makers based in Cumbria did not seem to be in the audience or on the stage - Mags Scholes (whose recent short 'Call Me' made with Jo Hutton is in Cannes this year) and Juliet McKoen, and 3 bear animations. In fact, of the active Cumbrian film-makers that I am aware of, most are women, and there is a high standard of professional achievement there - for example, feature films being made and not just shorts.
I wonder if in fact the question might be more - what is it about the urban, centralised film industry that discourages or excludes women - as opposed to how they are successfully operating in the rural or provincial contexts, such as Cumbria?
Discuss...

Karen , Anna & I with John Graham (winner) and other liars
Santon Bridge 2000

Lies Lies Lies ...

I enjoyed hearing Sue Perkins on Radio 4's 'The Lying Game' at the weekend. If you missed the programme it's worth using 'listen again' just to hear the lovely John Graham's voice ... I've no doubt, as Sue said, she robbed him of the Trophy!

The programme managed to capture the atmosphere of the Santon Bridge pub pretty well ... but I do have to take issue with the claim that this was the first year 3 female contestants have taken part! After the Festival of Lying Karen, Anna and I made the journey to Cumbria for the 2000 competition - the least we could do after the sterling work put into the Festival by 'our liars'.

I can confirm it was a terrifying experience - unlike Sue we certainly didn't win ... we did get a certificate though.

It's a Lake District Knockout
Beatrix Potter never looked so scary

Nina Pope - Birthday Girl!

As Nina (I hope) celebrates her birthday in fine style I am waiting for 80's pop star Jesse Rae to stop footering with his ISDN radio station in my barn, so I can have dinner!
He (like us) is doing a project for the upcoming Grizedale Arts Coniston Water Festival here in Cumbria, involving yet more broadband to our mountain - s'thing to do with ISDN and radio being inextricably compatible...so sadly BT have cleaned up once more here.
I've added a new pic of our mascot heads, for our It's a Lake District Knockout project here - I think they might be Wainright and Beatrix Potter, and I have to say I'm rather chuffed with them - apparently the sculptor is art-school trained (they tell me)....The company we have commissioned were impressed with my guide sketches of the 4 mascots - until, that is, I told them that I to went to art school. I think they were then slightly disappointed.
Tomorrow I design some props for the games - I am particularly looking forward to the clapometer....