Kent creatives can now apply for a £10,000 bursary to study locally. The University of Kent has been awarded a total of 232 £10,000 postgraduate bursaries, the sixth largest allocation in the UK, for students admitted to taught Master’s degree programmes at Kent in September 2015. Allocations will be made by mid-July 2015.
Based at the Chatham Historic Dockyard, the School of Music and Fine Art offers MA’s in Fine Art, Music Technology, Music Composition and Sound and Image, with students benefitting from a thriving research environment and strong research profile.
Students have access to state of the art facilities and equipment as well as all the support and learning resources of a major, research-led University. The School hosts a regular programme of seminars, symposia, conferences and other exciting events in a dynamic and vibrant environment.
There is no fixed closing deadline for applications to most postgraduate taught degrees BUT you are recommended to apply as soon as possible and no later than three months before your intended start date. Most taught degrees begin in September although some may offer the opportunity to start in January.
Medway is lucky enough to have multiple arts spaces that each have something unique to offer. If you would like to book a days tour (for a small donation to the Creatabot project) please contact Natasha on email@example.com
Nucleus Arts is the Award Winning flagship arts organisation founded by the Halpern Charitable Foundation. The Foundation was the brainchild of the late Hilary Halpern and it was his dream to promote the Arts in Medway and Kent. Nucleus Arts has become the cultural and creative heart of Kent & Medway over the past 12 years and focuses on affordability, accessibility and excellence in the Arts. They run multiple workshops, events and training programmes.
The main centre is at 272 High Street, Chatham, where the gallery, conference room and main artists studios are based. The artists open studios are held here every 1st Saturday of the month for all to attend for free.
Nucleus Arts also have creative studio space in Military Road, Chatham, Rochester High Street (which also includes retail space) and Lower Stone Street, Maidstone. All spaces have a lovely cafe managed by Cafe Nucleus.
Nucleus Arts are working in collaboration with multiple local charities on their Arts Inclusive programme to make sure the arts can be accessible to all.
This Community Interest Company was formed in 2012 to support and promote the best of Medway’s talent, providing a base for established and start-up businesses in the creative sector.
Within the building, there is a large exhibition gallery, tea room, events space, hire rooms, artist studios, open plan creative office space with hot desk facilities, all enjoying a glorious panoramic view of the River Medway.
Sun Pier House CIC actively promotes the businesses working within Medway’s creative community, encouraging them to grow and develop to their full potential. Sun Pier House is right next to Sun Pier, Medway Street, Chatham.
POP is an abandoned shop turned into a Creative space in the heart of Chatham, Medway. The shop has been funded by EU and Recreate and hosts various free events and exhibitions throughout the year. POP is at 64 – 66 High Street, Chatham.
Unravel and Unwind are working to develop a “country cottage” style craft drop in centre for crafters of all abilities, ages, background and culture where they can come and craft while they socialise-practice-teach-learn.
Their aim is to create a friendly open environment,”a crafting home from home” ) where local crafters & families can practice, learn, teach and sell their crafts. A place where skills can be shared and new ideas encouraging community engagement, increasing social well-being, removing isolation and possibly mentoring transitions into employment. They are based at Intra Arts, 337-341 High Street, Rochester.
INTRA is a Medway based arts venue, hosting creative events, classes, activities and studios, and offering one of the best collections in Kent of specialist arts equipment accessible to the general public – especially specialist printing equipment.
The not for profit company Intra Arts Ltd. was formed in 2014 when they took on the former Spemco building in Rochester High Street. This Art Deco fronted, Victorian building is much loved in the historic area of ‘Chatham Intra’. Their aim is to provide an arts programme, creative opportunities and education in a space that welcomes people of all ages, abilities and circumstances. They are based at 337-341 High Street, Rochester.
Award winning Kent composer Barry Seaman offers an innovative day school series that will appeal to writers, dramatists, music and film lovers, and across the creative spectrum.
Music for Writers 1, on the 25 October, is called Love, War and Trains, and explores the connections and relationships between poetry, verse drama and music. This Day School will be of interest to creative writers and music enthusiasts, and anyone intrigued by the way that words and music can be combined to create drama and emotion. The vivid and imaginative use of language is discussed using a variety of dramatic works that include Samuel Beckett’s Words and Music, and atmospheric verse dramas for radio that include Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and the extraordinary Love, War and Trains by celebrated author Ian McMillan. Ways that writers, poets and composers work together will be studied and celebrated.
On November 22, Music for Writers 2: Emotion, Music and Moving Image looks at the ways music can be used to express and convey emotion and atmosphere when combined with the medium of film. What is the relationship between sound and image? Using case studies that include films such as The Go-Between (Joseph Losey), Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Psycho, these issues will be explored and examined.
Both Day Schools, which run from 10am, – 4pm, cost just £29.50.
To book please contact April Doyle via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01227 863451.
How do you see the world? Is it ugly, beautiful, evil, good, exciting, depressing? A mixture? None of these? The mind’s eye is a strange expression. According to wiki (the fount of all knowledge!) it refers to the human ability for visualization using the imagination.
When you look at an object, or a place, do you see what is there – or beyond this? Can you see what it means, or meant; its place in history? Does it evoke the past?
Recently, I spent an absorbing few hours catching up on programmes I recorded on Sky Arts (a brilliant source of material) which began with a film about my favourite artist Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) the Dutch pioneer of abstract art. Mondrian is my favourite artist. He sought through his work to find essence and truth using horizontal and vertical lines, to create a new kind of beauty through geometry. His art is about structure, distillation, order and emotional connection and he wanted his art to be part of a greater whole. Not surprisingly he saw architecture as living art. On arrival in New York in 1940 he commented, “They told me New York was a hellish place, where you grew old before your time and gangsters made the law. That may well be true. But that is not the New York I saw, the one I loved and thought of as my own.” He saw beauty in the lights, the sounds, the skyscrapers and the vibrancy. The film, called Dans L’Atelier de Mondrian (in the studio of Mondrian) shows the artist’s studio as a working art installation and moves me to tears every time I see it. Mondrian lived in poverty most of his austere life and did not receive critical recognition until he was in seventies. (A familiar story for so many creatives, regrettably).
The next film was a documentary called Hitchcock on Grierson, which offered further insights into the ways other creatives have seen the world. It’s always interesting to see what one film director thinks of another and how he was influenced. I admire much of Hitchcock’s work but knew little about Dr John Grierson, who I discovered was a prolific, influential and pioneering Scottish film director and producer (1898-1972) who used documentary to express his distinctive way of seeing the world, utilising stunning shots to find patterns in objects not usually considered art, such as scaffolding and cranes, and seeing beauty and meaning in geometric shapes and structures and feats of engineering. It reminded me of Mondrian, and also the French composer (and one of my favourites) Edgard Varese (1883-1965) a visionary who had been dreaming of new sounds and electronic music a generation before it was technically possible, and whose astonishing blocks of dissonant sound are incredibly beautiful. Listening to his music, it is not surprising to learn of his fascination with architectural structures.
Reflecting on the way that these contrasting but connected artists saw the world, I was also reminded of doing art classes at school, and learning about seeing the light and shade in an object like a pot or a piece of cutlery. For a long time, I just didn’t get this. I couldn’t see it. Then, one day, I did and it was like a revelation which has never left me. Like being let in on a wonderful secret.
Written and presented by Tim Plester (who was also co-producer and co-director) it is a personal, heartfelt journey, both physical and spiritual. Every shot was like a painting or photograph, with amazing lighting and stunning landscapes. Subtlely observed, like Grierson, this film used documentary to convey something profound about community, ritual, and the human soul, and what tradition and shared history can mean to us.
To see beauty is a gift. I’m a natural pessimist. I get angry about injustice and passionate about causes I believe in. But I can get emotional about beautiful landscapes and wild birds; about music, art, film, and literature.
In the 1940s, Mondrian wrote: “Art today is condemned to a separate existence, for present day life is essentially tragic. But in some distant future, art and life will be one.”
How do you see the world? Consonant or dissonant? Can you find beauty easily? And has your view changed over the years?
Earlier in the month I attended a conference about using the arts to regenerate East Kent coastal towns, a topic dear to my heart, after spending 4 years as Marketing and Outreach Co-ordinator for University Centre Folkestone (which, sadly, is no more). Listening to the speakers made me realise that I was still angry and upset about the loss of UCF (and I did make my feelings public, and then had a bit of a rant in the ladies loos afterwards!). However, I learned a lot from the conference, and one of the speakers, when discussing the way that the arts and culture are measured and valued, referred to a concept called The Value Triangle, which I had not heard of before.
The phrase, it appears, originates from John Holden, an associate at the independent think tank Demos and a visiting professor at City University, London, who has been involved in numerous major projects with the cultural sector ranging across heritage, libraries, music, museums, the performing arts and the moving image. We were shown a You Tube clip taken from the PARTicipate Conference in Belfast, which questioned and explored how the value of culture and arts impacts on the regeneration of Belfast. John Holden describes models of cultural value, and the value triangle of intrinsic, instrumental and institutional value. He then went on to discuss social return on investment and measuring change.
The topic is one I will doubtless continue to explore. The relationship between artists, and how they value themselves and are valued by others, is an important issue, especially when arts council budgets continue to be cut and so many are struggling to survive.
I had my first short story published in a UK magazine at the age of 14. I got £10 and will never forget how it felt to have earned what seemed a lot of dosh for something I had enjoyed producing. This was 1974 and normally I would have needed to work for 9 hours washing up and waiting on tables in my cousin’s café to earn that much (My Saturday job). No wonder the life of a writer seemed a glamorous option! Oh, how naïve I was….
I know, I know; who isn’t? Go into any overpriced coffee-delivery chain-pit in the world and you’ll be able to spot at least three people with Moleskine notebooks, or typing on Macs, who when prompted will spew words at you about their novel. About how it explores the deeper significance of caramel biscotti, or it’s about non-conventional love dodecahedrons in tribes of scholars living in log cabins in Alaska, and every character is called Jim, even the women, because conventional naming is just holding us back, man.
These people will usually be wearing tweed ironically or skinny jeans un-ironically and all of them will be plastered with that smug look that makes your rage-glands twitch. Some of them might even close their eyes as they describe a scene from their novel in great detail, like it’s transporting them to their own personal Nirvana and they can’t bear to look upon the real world while they frolic in it. This is your cue to punch them as hard as you can right in their awful neck, pour their mocha-frappe-London-fog-flat white-fuckwit-latte onto their Macbook (because it will be a Macbook) and run, howling, into the misty night.
Except in November, when you might just spot a nomadic tribe of Wrimos, bedecked in nothing but pieces of fruit; weary, harrowed eyes; frantic caffeine jitters and normal clothes.
‘Wrimos’ are what people refer to themselves as when they are participating in National Novel Writing Month, which I’ve mentioned before. (You can see it by clicking the second instance of the word ‘here’ in this sentence, here.)
So, as I say, I’m writing a novel, but far from taking me years to craft a pretentious masterwork with infinite layers of detail, none of them funny, I have precisely thirty days to write 50,000 words. Any less and I have not ‘won’, any longer and I have not ‘won’. I have one of the harshest deadlines ever levied on a person, and it’s self-inflicted. Not just by me, either; there are currently thousands of Wrimos busily scribbling or tapping away at their own 50,000 word minimum and at this exact point in time (which I suppose is in the past, from your perspective) there have been precisely 942,626,284 words logged by everyone combined. To put that into perspective, the entire Harry Potter series comprises some 1,084,958 words.
We are eight days into November.
It’s mind-boggling the amount of people who throw themselves at this challenge, and the enthusiasm with which they metaphorically flagellate themselves with this ridiculous deadline.
So far I’m 7,845 words in, which at this stage is ok but not great. The average by now is about 11,000 but I spent a weekend doing things with my friends and a day training someone at work (I essentially have to write at work, since it’s all I do during the week), which is three of my days spent not writing at all. A couple of days I wrote about 1000 words, some days nearer to 2000. I’m writing a near-future-sci-fi-murder-mystery. Not by conscious choice; it’s just that when I started writing my main character (a journalist. Write what you know.) found himself at a crime-scene and some facts didn’t click together properly. I thought I was going to be writing a pulp sci-fi drabble, all smooth chrome spaceships and laserguns and whathaveyou. I’ve ended up with a subcity slum under London, twenty minutes into the future in a subtly totalitarian police-state.
That’s the trouble with this kind of writing. There’s no time to force your story back onto the track you picked for it. It’s a brilliant exercise in compromise. For example, there’s a character who I intended to be throw-away, maybe two or three lines of dialogue, but she’s ended up building a nest in my head because I like her so much. I have resolved to kill her at some point, purely so she doesn’t derail the story. Her fate is sealed, as far as I can tell, but characters can be fickle.
There’s also the need to kill your inner editor. If a sentence is clunky or overwrought you have to leave it. There’s no time. You can’t listen to the voice in your head telling you something is stupid. I had to slip in a justification for something that happened pages later because I couldn’t go back. That’s another interesting exercise; you have to make things fit together coherently without being able to go back and rewrite sections. Murder-mystery lends itself to this, luckily: Agatha Christie used to just write the whole story and pick the least likely character to be the murderer, making all the evidence fit together right at the end.
The last thing I wanted to discuss before I stop writing this and go back to writing that is that I’ve gone bloody mental.
Only really in terms of writing (maybe you’d noticed?), but still it’s almost a problem. For example, I was just skimming my work and noticed I’d written the word ‘corners’ as ‘carners’, but instead of actually realising there was a problem I proceeded to read the rest of the paragraph giving the voice in my head an Irish accent.
I spent an entire paragraph explain how ‘regarding’ and ‘looking at’ are different.
I was physically unable to stop myself from writing an awful pun, then giggling at it like a schoolgirl.
One of my recent Tweets reads: ‘The Information Superhighway has no cycle-lane.’ I don’t remember why.
While typing the above sentence literally milliseconds ago I put my electronic cigarette down and now I have absolutely no idea where it is.
I’m not sure if I’m coming out of this unscathed, but at least I’m having fun.
That’s 978 words I could have typed for my novel. Oh god, the deadline is coming! It’s almost here!
They say everyone is creative. I believe everyone is born creative, but that if you let go of it, it is much harder to get back. Those who are non-creative are known to be more rigid in their thinking; they like rules and like to stick to them. Those who are creative are more spontaneous, like to be different and break the rules – us creative’s have issues with “walls”.
Recently the UCA Pop Up Gallery in Chatham was host to a visit from Lucia N°03 and it’s creators: Dr.Dirk Proeckl – a neurologist and psychologist, and Dr. Engelbert Winkler – a psychologist and psychotherapist.
Dr. Ernst Mussmann also joined them in the Gallery with his newly designed Vibrating chair.
Lucia N°03 is a lamp that contains white strobe LED lighting, when you sit in front of it with your eyes closed it stimulates the pineal gland and causes your brain to create a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns. The flickering LED light is controlled by a computer programme, which can be adjusted to suit the participant.
I read recently that those with more serotonin in their bodies tend to be more creative, whilst those with more dopamine are the non-creatives, as described above. Lucia N°03 not only stimulates the pineal gland but also the release of these hormones.
I asked one of the lamps creators, Dr. Winkler, whether older people found Lucia N°03 had little influence in comparison to younger people. Interestingly he explained that older people had the same results as younger people because they were more relaxed and had less pre judgements. He informed me that the most close-minded people couldn’t stand the results of the lamp and would want it switched off immediately.
We had some very interesting discussions that day, I am fascinated by the mind and having the opportunity to ask these doctors questions is something I won’t forget. We spoke about how the mind is resistant to change, and how there are those who know their life is going a certain way, that it is playing a certain story. I asked “But can they change that story?” One of the doctors replied, “You can” he paused “But, most people do not want to”.
Being someone who happily did change their story some time ago, you can imagine that I was happily the first to volunteer for a session with Lucia N°03.
An area of the UCA Pop Up Gallery had been sectioned off, and behind a black curtain was a comfy lounging chair and Lucia N°03. The chair had been created by Dr. Ernst Mussmann to help the person in it to relax. It emits sound by running the vibrations of frequencies through your body. I lay down and wooden “shoes” were put on my feet. I also laid my hands on wooden panels; these emitted the sound in a soft way to my body. The feeling this is supposed to reproduce is of being back in the womb, the brain is therefore relaxed, safe and your experience with Lucia N°03 will therefore be stronger.
Mussmann explained that the sound currently being played was the noise of the rotation of the earth, sped up. Amazingly he also informed me that if you were to put the frequency of this sound to a colour, it would be green. The Doctors have also been working alongside an aroma therapist, so I had some natural oils put on my hands to inhale and again, help me relax.
I was told that at first I would have a soft session for 2 minutes to check everything was okay. I had headphones put on, was told to close my eyes, and then I waited. I was very relaxed. The light switched on, and to start with I felt like I was laying in the sun. But what was strange was that it felt like the light was changing colour, but I knew it wasn’t. After a 2 minute test run the Dr started a 15-minute soft programme. He said it was very soft, and added to this the sound level I had chosen to have the chair set at was also low.
Again, it felt like I was laying in the sun to start with. Then after about 4 minutes, something happened. Everything started moving, and there were suddenly colours and patterns everywhere. As I moved my eyes around the pattern would move and change even more. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope, with the patterns ever changing. I had a short break between each experience, which I assumed was to give me a rest, but it turned out it was just a softer point of the programme and not everyone gets a break. I was told I could have a stronger session later on in the day.
Each persons experience is unique to them, for some reason my brain appears to love triangles. I spent the day drawing what I saw on my first session, so that you can see for yourself.
The stronger session later in the day was indeed stronger. The sound levels were made higher and the programme was stronger – more strobe patterns. I saw patterns and colours again, but this time with no breaks in between, the patterns just moved and changed continuously. I felt so relaxed. I wondered whether I could control what I was seeing though, so I tried to, I told my brain I wanted to see flowers. What happened? All the patterns stopped! As soon as I was not relaxed and just letting my brain enjoy the experience the patterns and colours were weaker. So I realised that this lamp was an amazing relaxation aid. In order to have a stronger experience I had to relax. It was something that I took away with me actually, I have learnt from it what “relaxing” actually is, that feeling of emptying your mind.
For this reason (and some unexplainable others) the Austrian doctors have found the lamp to help those that have certain issues in changing their life. It helps them to see themselves in a different perspective, which then helps to adjust their thinking and help the brain organise information better. When you are fully relaxed and enjoying the colours and patterns, you see your problems from another point of view, and it can help you to make some changed either mentally or physically to make things better.
The mind is an amazing organ, and we will never understand the depths of it. One of the doctors spoke about how light and consciousness are so similar, neither can be fully explained and our understanding of them is so small.
The lamp makes someone who maybe isn’t creative; think in a more creative way. And for those who are creative, well it is inspiring and really gets your creative juices flowing.
Fear of the unknown. Is that what is so daunting about writing those first few words? Why is that blank space so intimidating?
Page fright. A writer’s nightmare. The evil twin of procrastination. You’ve done battle with the big P and now you are poised to dazzle with your wordcraft skills, your pearls of insight. But wait – you hold back. Will you censor your thoughts and strangle your darlings before they get the chance to draw breath? What are we afraid of? Being judged, criticised? Not being good enough?
Creation is a mysterious process.
As a younger writer, I would spend ages staring at that white page (we used pen and paper or typewriters in the 70s!), digging deep for inspiration, wanting the words to be perfect immediately. I would get everything straight in my head before committing it to paper.
I’ve often read advice for writers that suggests writing anything to fill that space, to overcome the self-censoring instinct. Later, you can edit what you have written and mould it into something that satisfies you. This works for me. The advent of technology has changed the way I compose and I can write my novels in whatever order I wish. If I am in the mood to work on that action sequence in Chapter 9, I will. If I feel more reflective, I will write the complex emotional exchange between the main characters in Chapter 3. Oh, the joys of the cut and paste tool on a word processor!
The way in which we work, the medium used, does affect what we produce. I love the freedom and flexibility that my laptop offers me. If I want to change the middle section of my story, I can do so without having to type the whole lot out again from the beginning. Bliss! I approach the writing like constructing a patchwork quilt.
But when I use pen and paper, my thought processes are different. I work inside my head more, and will cover the white space with scribbling, diagrams, lines and arrows, visually setting out the connections. I probably dream the story more in advance. And I love using white space to create poetry, which for me is both visual and musical.
When I teach writing workshops, I generally get participants to use paper and pen, which for many students is a bit of a novelty, especially the IT generation, because it offers possibilities that may not have been previously considered. The results are always exciting. Especially when students have no more than five minutes to complete the first workshop exercise. Pressure, whether real or imagined, can be a useful motivator.
So, after we have slain the fiery dragons of Procrastination and Page Fright, what other obstacles await us as we continue our journeys on the path of creation?
Yesterday garnered an interesting new experience for me, a new aspect of the world of writing that threw me for a loop and no mistake;
Just on a whim I tried to write a little five-hundred word article to use as a marketing tool for my work, basically a little slice of my life involving the product in question, loaded with key words and phrases I could link back to our website. Standard ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ stuff.
That’s not the interesting part; the interesting part is what I felt while I was writing it.
I felt like I was forcing it out, for one, mainly because I was, but I also felt…
Dry, I suppose.
Every sentence I typed felt dry and cracked and empty, almost gritty in my mind. Every time I started a new paragraph I was struck by the mental image of an arid, lonely desert. It was very strange. Almost frightening in fact, in that ‘Have I finally snapped?’ sort of way.
I also got very annoyed with myself, at first for not being able to do the task I set myself with any real passion, but eventually it was simply for even trying in the first place. I felt like I was betraying something ethereal, like I was using my powers for evil. I felt like Superman burning down an orphanage.
I know, I know, marketing is necessary in this modern world, but I’ve conditioned myself through the years to be distrustful of it, bordering on paranoia, and to be annoyed by it bordering on outright hostility. To find myself engaging in it was a little like telling my past self to shut up (although to be fair, he really should have, just not about this), or kicking my inner-child.
I stopped, about halfway into it, and had to go do something silly on the internet for a while just to stop feeling so despondent. I went back eventually and typed a few more sentences, but the feeling came back stronger. It hit me like a blow to the soul.
So now it’s unfinished and squats in my hard-drive like an awful goblin, it’s even called ‘Stupid Marketing Bullshit.doc’, which I don’t remember typing at all.
I’ll get on it eventually. I’ll either continue to force it out or I’ll find a way to make it enjoyable again. I might even have to start over and just write something on a whim, then try to find a way to force links into it in random places. But I’ll get it done.
I don’t know how interesting this was for any of you, but to me it was fascinating that I could have such a powerful adverse reaction to what should be a simple task.
I suppose writing with ulterior motives just doesn’t suit a man who wants to write stories about dragons, crisps, people and THE FUTURE. (‘THE FUTURE’ must always be in all-caps when discussed in the context of fiction. This is a rule I’m establishing right now.) Or maybe I’m being hugely egotistical about my writing and verging on the ‘too deep for you’ mentality that ruins a lot of prose.