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Our Bata-ville installation
Part archive, part exhibition

Knee pads for the North

AT LAST I’m on the train after a grueling 4 day ‘hang’ of our Leeds show for the Northern Art Prize. We are really pleased with the final result, but boy was it a slog.

It all came flooding back to me on day one when we arrived to find progress on our space a ‘little delayed’ about 6 hours into day one I was already reacquainted enough with the familiar pain of installing an exhibition to remember why we haven’t really had one for years! Making films can be exhausting hard work and emotionally grueling but it can also have ‘highs’ that I have yet to encounter whilst scrabbling around on a grubby gallery floor or trying to fix something to a high wall with inappropriate fixtures.

The worst thing is your knees … within about an hour of arriving Karen wished she’d bought her knee pads (which we did in the end purchase when we used to regularly install and de-install our huge Island model!) as you seem to spend an awful lot of time on the floor moving things about. You never have the right screwdriver and I think someone might even have pinched my tape measure.

Still as Matthew Olden would say ‘mustn’t grumble’ it’s finally up and it looks great even if we do say so ourselves.

A MASSIVE THANKS is due to the East Tilbury Bata Resource & Reminiscence Centre who have lent us much of their precious archive for the show, mixed in with the Bata-ville materials it’s made for a really interesting screening space/archive. Also due are thanks to Tim for helping with the hang and Sue Giovanni for her patient work on our new film ‘Little Deluxe Living’ finished late the night before we left for Leeds. Thanks to go to Andrew & John at Leeds City Art Gallery who soldiered on helping with our rather ‘unusual’ hang right up until the Private View wine started to flow.

Wish us luck, we’ve gone completely over board on effort for the show and there is a prize – as Karen keeps reminding me – “we’re in it to win it”!

Then at 2.00 everyday it becomes a mini cinema
for a screening of the full length documentary

Photo: Nina Pope

Look at them go in Leeds!

This is the hot trade happening on 'the honesty table' last night at the opening of the Northern Art Prize show ...

We had great veg. from the local Leeds & District Gardeners Federation (thanks to Dan Robinson for bringing this in), Rice from Toge, Karen's umeboshi, Jerusalem Artichokes from Tim's Dad's allotment, Japanese Zouri & more ... it looked & tasted great.

Get down to the gallery for your fresh produce while stocks last ... or better still take some of your own down and sell it from the table.

You can now read more about what's on the table on it's own page here.

Curiously the tables were specially made for us by a great company in East London called Unto This Last - each with 6 special money slots. I say curiously as this project (all part of 7 Samurai) has become for Karen & I about a set of strange coincidences ... in this instance the Ruskin connection that inspires the company name, as Karen lives in Ruskin's former farm house ... anyway it's a long story all now in the short film 'Little Deluxe Living' showing with the table.

The BR&RC team ...
Photo: Nina Pope

Meanwhile in East Tilbury ...

Big congratulations are due to the fantastic team from the Bata Resource & Reminiscence Centre on their successful fund-raising and new refurbishment. It was great to see everyone again at the launch!

For those with a 'Bata' interest you might want to take a look at my group on Flickr for Bata pics. there are now some interesting ones from all over the world. People still send Karen and I pictures of Bata shops spotted on their travels, and this is a good place to keep them.

We have a group for Zlin too.

Bata Avenue Autumn 2007
Photo: Nina Pope

Julie with Maryport's last Bata relic?

Sad sign

Here's the lovely Julie of Akitts curtains in Maryport, with the Bata awning which they found in the basement when they took over the site in the mid 70's. I travelled to see if we might be able to use it in our Leeds City Art Gallery Northern Art Prize show.
Sadly it had got very damp and rotten, but as we rolled it out on the yard we both couldn't help admiring it.

Bata-ville comes back to Cumbria!

Its a welcome return for our first film 'Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future' to Cumbria and to the home turf of its Maryport stars!
The film will screen at the new 'Docs at the Docks' film festival at Barrow-in-Furness' Canteen on Michaelson Rd.
Date: Tues. 27th November
Time: 8.00pm for an intro from me and some cast members
Entry is £6
See the website for more info

In the kitchen at Lawson Park
Chopsticks really do work best for this

Northern Art Prize homework

Here I am with my pan full of umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums)- or, strictly speaking, Cumbrian pickled damsons.
After a month under a heavy weight, in alcohol, salt and red shiso they're getting dried off in readiness for their appearance in the Japanese component of our Northern Art Prize show at Leeds City Art Gallery later this month....

A Song for a Circus

Somewhere is suddenly VERY busy ... we're still trying to sort out Almanac, we're off to Newlyn to see the new Gallery there next week, we're working really hard on our show for the Northern Art Prize in Leeds (on everything from making 'honesty' tables to editing our new short film) AND we're launching the first of two Somewhere projects for Agrifashionista this week --->

A Song for a Circus is a Somewhere project I'm developing with composer Tim Olden. It's for the wonderful Arnold Circus on the Boundary Estate in East London & we're looking for musicians who live or work there to collaborate with us ...

Read more here or see our lovely new posters on the circus --->

(Thanks to Steve Ounanian for designing these with us)

Installation team ...
Tim Olden (composer) Dorian Moore (Programmer) & me (I bought lunch!)

About bloody time too ...

Almanac is a digital database of timelapse photographs which are programmed to order themselves into short 'trailers' that show a year passing at one of five locations.
This bespoke database includes just under one million still digital images captured over a full year at five East Anglian locations. These sites - Kentwell Hall, Nene Valley Railway, North Weald Airfield, Southwold Common and Orford Castle - were chosen because of their significance as shooting locations in notable feature films.
Almanac is programmed to show a 365 day sequence that starts and ends on the day you are seeing it on screen - in other words, no 'trailer' is ever seen twice.

At last we have FINALLY installed our project Almanac at the new Cinema City in Norwich over 4 years since we were originally commissioned for the project!

I'm sure it's been a painful process for Cinema City too as their re-build plans went way over schedule and perhaps the public artwork you commissioned full of optimism at the start of the process doesn't exactly come top of your agenda when you're trying to get the building open ...

Anyway I won't bore you with the details, but I was disappointed not to be able to hear the final piece working as it should. Tim has written a series of surround sound compositions that the database can 'attach' to each days movie ... we had the sounds, we had the cables but they didn't as yet have the box to plug them in to ... seems like they have their work cut out before the grand opening on Thursday.

If any one reading this is going - see if it sounds like surround sound to you!

Many thanks to the team who've worked on this project with us - especially to Dorian who has spent too many late nights watching these images flicking around in various sequences.

We hope to have some web-versions of the films uploading from the server soon ...

Dorian in the projection booth

Tim in front of the big screen
He can see Nene Valley Railway, but he can't hear it!

Karen & Mike
talk planes on the trip

The spectator takes over ...

Well 'Searching for the Spectator' turned out to be (as usual with these events) a bit of a mixed bag. However, as the only 'spectator' who'd actually experienced one of the projects discussed (Uncle) Mike Ostler came up trumps ... that man needs a Blog ... I for one would certainly read it!

As usual he downloaded to me more information about new developments in Thurrock than I could have unearthed in hours of Interweb research. He then gave a funny and engaging presentation (after I lined him up with a brief history of how Bata-ville began and showed a film clip of the egg dump by way of an intro to the trip) provoked more questions than any other speaker, and apparently then held forth in the pub! Next time I'm just going to give him the DVD and stay at home ...

I have to confess that our session (presented with the Juneau's and Adam from Grizedale) did feel rather at odds with the rest of the day. I personally failed to see the connection to other more gallery based pieces discussed. It's not that I don't find this work interesting I just think it's attempting a type of engagement so different to the work we were presenting that any comparison seems a rather pointless.

Ironically having listened to people talking about 'art engagement' all day - some of the most limited kind - I went to an amazing theatre production by 'Punchdrunk' that evening. As I experienced a 'one-to-one' with an actress who locked me in a room alone with her and then blindfolded me, I had to laugh as I thought back on the rest of the days engagement!

I can't stop myself ...
Bata shop Rouen spotted on holiday

Bata-ville news ...

This Saturday I'm heading off to Reading with "Uncle Mike" for a Bata-ville outing as part of Searching for the Spectactor: Art for New Publics A One-Day Symposium organised by Artists in the City, and the Department of Fine Art at the University of Reading.

Meanwhile it's all go at the Bata Resource & Reminiscence Centre ...

"The Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre, based in East Tilbury Library, Essex, has recently made a successful bid to EEDA (The East of England Development Agency) and received a grant to enable a major refurbishment of the Centre and Library which will provide extra space for displays and exhibitions. Since it’s opening in 2002 the Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre has been so successful collecting hundreds of photographs and many items of memorabilia that it has become impossible to entertain interested groups in the limited space that remained.

The financial assistance from EEDA will provide the resources to enable a complete refurbishment of the building which will allow the Centre more space to display items as well as entertain groups for lectures and discussions. The library will also benefit by being redesigned and being able to introduce more modern areas to work and research.

During the refurbishment the centre will only be closed for a short while, we intend to minimise the disruption to our work and that of the library.

Work should be completed by the middle of October 2007."

We can't wait to visit - in the meantime you can find lots of new materials on their great website, or see the article written about East Tilbury on Radio Praha.

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