Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Denis Darzacq

These are some of the images that Denis Darzacq created inspired by/as a response to the riots in France in 2005. He describes wanting "to capture an entire generation in freefall with no one to catch them". So he went out to the suburbs of Paris for these shots. Amazing, aren't they? To me they speak about youth in many ways. Who does catch people when they are about to smash into the pavement?

Monday, March 26, 2007

In praise of blagging - how to Be Important

I got a taste of what it feels like to be Important this weekend... My friend Helen (a film maker and part of Undercurrents) was up this weekend from Swansea as one of her latest films is showing this Tuesday at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. However seeing as she couldn't get away on Tuesday she came to a reception/networking opportunity for Short Film Makers (some of whom were quite tall...erhm...sorry Fisch) on Saturday to get a feel/buzz of the festival.

I got to go along to something that frankly I thought only existed in books: the professional networking party. The festival organisers provided the alcohol in the Green Room and everyone else talked. I met someone who does films for Channel 4, a woman whose pictures are regularly exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, first time film makers who shot their piece on a mother's holiday camera and edited the film on iMovie and got into the festival (there is hope for us all!), a very funny stand up comedien(ne?), one of the festival programmers, and loads more film makers... So I was horrendously out of place, but everything was fabulously interesting. An insight into such a different world. And to top it all off we managed to talk ourselves into having a car drive us all the way from South Bank to Richmond - I think I said "I can't believe this..." a few times.

Undercurrents are soon launching a peer-to-peer TV channel over the internet and so Helen and I took the opportunity to interview some of the women film makers for the women's channel Broad Horizons. Interviewing people is such interesting work as people have such interesting things to say. I love asking about something a person is passionate about and then listen. I found it really inspiring to listen to these women. It is nice to have something to do at a party...and there's nothing like casually holding a fluffy microphone and a camera to feel like you might be blending in.

The next day I somehow got signed up as a delegate. Now I own a bit of plastic with my picture on it and it says: FILM MAKER on it! It's completely undeserved as I did nothing in Helen's film, but it does get me into all the screenings at the festival for free plus some various other perks. So I shall go and be an Undercurrents presence on Tuesday for Helen and hope that no one will ask me any questions about being a film maker. The film world is not one inhabited by a majority of people, but it is an interesting one I was glad to dip into for a moment.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A little snow/rain never stopped BTCV before...

My heart sank a little yesterday morning when I saw that there was white stuff falling from the sky because the previous day I had volunteered to go out with this conservation group for a day of work. I phoned in to check if they were still planning on going ('yes'), and then pulled on many, many layers and set of to the woods named Leg 'o Mutton...

I ended up having a great day! Despite the dubious sounding name of the place (I have no idea why it's called that!) it's a pretty little nature reserve with a lot of birds. We saw one white swan, gleaming in all the grey, sat on its nest in the water. It never quite cleared up but the it did stop snow/raining and we were busy enough working to keep warm. We spent the day dead fencing or creating a fence along the path to help keep dogs away from the sensitive nesting area. It was a lot of weaving of long branches along some stakes and eight of us working managed a good long stretch despite not quite finishing what we aimed for.

I valued spending a day outside (about five 1/2 hours) doing physical work as it is a change. Although I can tell it is rare thing as my body is slightly aching! I only got one blister which I think is good going... After years of volunteering in youth work projects I'm finally getting around to volunteering for environmental/conservation projects. It's such a catch-22 situation: you need the experience to get work but can't get the experience because you need to work! One woman I was working alongside has given up her fulltime work as a lawyer to do a 6 months/4 days a week volunteer position with the organisation.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Elizabeth, my State-side friend who is visiting for the weekend, and I have just come back from experiencing the musical Wicked. It's about the "wicked" Witch of the West and tells the story from her point of view - it is amazing! The production, the fabulous costumes and remarkable shoes, the singing are all brilliant! What a memorable night! And it's rather appropriate to see a musical about a green person on St Patrick's Day, isn't it? The Apollo Theatre is very grand and thre was a very impressive mechanical dragon's head that moved and it's eyes lit up at moments although I'm not quite sure of it's overall contribution to furthering the story...

My feet are ready to go to bed after miles of streets and art galleries and charity shops and trying to find this place that I once went passed that looked like it had good food. Needless to say we didn't find that restaurant. The art that is around this town is amasing (in fact, a lot of the paintings look exactly like the postcards I've sent in my previous life) and I've been re-inspired to go exploring.

Most of all it has been a delight to meet a friend I haven't seen for four and a half years and pick up the conversation as if we only said goodbye last week. Wicked indeed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Visiting a mosque

Yesterday I went to visit a mosque in Kingston with a bunch of other people. We were given a tour of the mosque by Rashid, met Yusuf Islam's (ie Cat Stevens) father-in-law - the president of the mosque, had an impromptu lecture from the Imam (who first came to Kingston from Morocco as an acrobat for the circus!), were fed lunch, and then joined in with their Friday prayers.

It has been a few years since I have been to a mosque and last time I went I didn't have much opportunity to meet the people worshiping there. In Kingston everyone was very friendly and welcoming and I found it all interesting. There was a man in the group who posed a few cringe-worthy questions but otherwise we were also on our best behaviour! Obviously for the prayers I went upstairs with the other women. We listened to what was going on via some tinny loudspeakers (ideal for the sung parts, but not so much for the spoken sermon/teaching bit) while we sat facing Mecca.

The women's hall had Qur'ans but also prayer beads and some spare long kaftan like garments for women to borrow. There were also signs telling us we should not talk during one part of the 'service'... Some things seem to be ubiquitous regardless of place of worship: namely asking people to give money and the notices! I felt quite comfortable being in the women's hall as there is definately something very interesting in being in a women's only space, which is not something I have done very much of in the religious context so I was quite up for the experience.

My favourite part was upstairs watching a small girl (4-5 yrs) interact with her mother. Her mother was praying but while she was bowing and prostrating her daughter clambered all over her and while she stood up the little girl squirmed through her legs. It says a lot when your religious experience is large enough to include a small child using you as a climbing frame... The beautiful part was the complete acceptance of the situation by everyone there.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The latest FUN thing...

Freecycle is amazing - and addictive! It's a brilliant group that pass things around for free. Anything really from beds and garden sheds to toys and a frying pan. The Richmond group is very active with items posted in the morning gone by the afternoon and this does add an extra edge to the proceedings. So far I was too slow on asking for some mosaics and grouting and Lotte vetoed my suggestion of giving the gardenshed a home here...but I live in hope that something exciting is waiting for me in the next message I open. Lotte and I are also planning on giving anybody who donates us stuff flapjacks, so I'm fully expecting once word of this gets around we will be the first people everyone thinks of when they wish to get rid of an item.

Jen, from Swampea, came to visit me last weekend which was brilliant. We saw an amazing photographic exhibition in the Natural Science Museum. We also found a couple of artists who deal with a mistaken case of SARS (turns out to be PMS), observe some veggie monsters and penguins loose in London, and generally have a lot of rabbits bounding everywhere. It's quirky and there are plenty of delightful details in the panoramic views. [Go to for your viewing pleasure.]

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Welsh Day!

Cheers to leeks and daffodils! Happy St David's Day everyone:)