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Vintage Bata awning from Maryport, at Eastside Projects in Birmingham

Bata-ville at Eastside Projects in Birmingham

The nice folk at Eastside Projects sent us this picture of our Bata vintage shop awning as it was hung in The Birmingham Show, which comes down today.

Looks small but that's warehouse shows for you :-)

Joan, Mike and I
In front of the swanky refurbished 21st building

Bata-ville autographs here ...

Thanks so much to the Zipp team for inviting us to the Czech Republic to take part in their conference Utopia of Modernity: Zlín. I travelled out with Mike and Joan who were both passengers on the Bata-ville bus and boy did we have a great time. We saw the film in the original Bata cinema (which is enormous and features in the film) we signed autographs (I'm not joking) and generally enjoyed being at the heart of a great event.

'Uncle Mike' (despite being some years my senior) put me to shame on the social front - as I left the Bata villa with Joan on our last night, I saw him in the thick of a crowd of young Euro-architects all laughing like drains and making their way off to a rave in a grain silo - that's regeneration for you.

We love Zlin

... and so it turns out do lots of other academics into the idea of Zlin as a Utopia of Modernity.

You can see more images from our most recent trip on the Zlin Flickr group.

East Tilbury Interview

I enjoyed one of my regular visits back to East Tilbury this week, catching up with Bata-ville friends at the Bata Resource and Reminiscence Centre. These are always busy events and this Wednesday they had 300 visitors! One of these was Michael Casey who has bravely set out to start a new kind of news site for the area focussed on local views. It's called YourThurrock and links to all of the clips he makes on YouTube ... you can see the quick interview he did with me about the film here.

I've also added some new images to our Bata group on Flickr, it's now got some good shots from Bata communities all over the world.

Maryport in the ?1960's

Ye Olde Maryport

Sam Allan recently found this magical postcard of one of my favourite places - Maryport.
The town is one of the starts of our film "Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future", and I don't think any 'Marras' would take it the wrong way if I said that you could scarcely buy a postcard of the town now, some 40 odd years after this postcard was editioned. It's just not that kind of a place.
Intriguingly, the postcard is addressed to someone in Northern Italy, it's postmarked too, but seems somehow to have found its way back to Cumbria.

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

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

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.

Tomas Bata & family
Just one of the great images from the Reminiscence Centre

Reminisce & be thrilled ...

There's two events coming up this week with 'Somewhere connections' that you might be interested in:

Wednesday (25th October) is the Open Day, at the Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre. It will be open from 11a.m. until 4p.m. all welcome.

If you've seen Bata-ville and would like to take a closer look at East Tilbury & meet the stars of the film this is your chance! I plan to go along for a catch up with their plans for a new building and expansion of the archive.

Then on Tuesday & Wednesday this week (24th/25th) Tim Olden (who writes all the music for Somewhere productions) is 'Horror DJ' at Brendan Walker's two Thrill Laboratory evenings at the Science Museum. Book now to avoid disappointment ... a spooky night out with fish & chips, heart rate monitors and a ghost train thrown in ...

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