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China on my mind

Thanks to architect Charlie Sutherland, who brought two young architect / planners to Lawson Park (Karen and Grizedale Art's home in the Lake District) to talk about Cheng Du in SW China, a city of 12 million where Charlie is planning and designing many things including the 6000 sq m+ museum. 

We barely caught our breath as they showed us a series of startlingly futuristic animations of cityscapes, all of which will be done and dusted by 2016. One of their major practical and philosophical challenges is the linking of the rural to the urban - we toured them around the Lake District showing them what is called 'the tourist offer' here (shops selling tat, poor food, expensive parking) and highlighting how Grizedale and Somewhere's approaches to working with the indigenous cultures we find differed from this. Cheng Du will soon have all the iconic arts spaces of any world city that has arrived - museums, opera houses etc - but potentially it can also have a cultural masterplan that develops grassroots creativity for all its citizens and connects them with each other as well as China's past glory.

I gave a short presentation about What Will the Harvest Be? and hopefully the Mayor of Cheng Du is enjoying the website as I speak....

And the prize for most remote screening of Bata-ville so far goes to...

...the enterprising Oxen Park Cinema Club, started by a group of cinephiles in a remote hamlet here in my adopted homeland, the Lake District.

I have screened a short with them before and this time was invited to screen Bata-ville with a Q & A session afterwards, in the same remote church hall that Grizedale Arts had hosted a memorable evening with the venerable Ken Russell last summer. After Lisa and I had sat outside the wrong venue for 15 minutes chatting, I powered up my laptop and discovered in fact we were meant to be at an even more remote church hall - with 10 minute to go!
The rain was streaking down but by driving at 80 mph down country tracks (a speciality of mine), and ringing up Adam for directions from home (knowing that noone at the church hall would be getting a mobile signal) we made it - just in time to prevent the waiting audience from watching the lamentable directors interview on the DVD to fill time.

The dozen or so people there were most forgiving, and presented me with a lovely framed film poster they had made for the event - which was really touching. As I have watched the film countless times, I snuck back through the mire to my car for 90 minutes, passing the time on my laptop and feeling strangely moved that here I was in the middle of nowhere, with an audience for my film that outnumbered many we have had in cities. Next time I feel despondant and cut off out here in the sticks I must remember Oxen Park Cinema Club, and the energy and dedication of its members.

To continue the charideeee theme from Nina (below) - the Club is also hosting a further Bata-ville screening to raise money for the Coniston Water Festival (in which Nina and I did another of our Knock Out performances)
It's at the John Ruskin School in Coniston on Thurs. April 13th at 8pm, where we'll also be joined by a group of Czech orienteers who are staying at the school - giving us another dimension no doubt (and some better beer?!) to the Q & A at the end....