An Appeal

After a long wait we’ve finally finished our next comedy short.

Shining Tor

If you create any piece of art, or artistic expression, whether it’s a painting, a performance, a stand-up comedy routine or a film, you want it to be seen. You may create for your own satisfaction but I think art that isn’t shared on some level is a tragedy.

Art is about expression and there’s not much point in expressing yourself if no-one’s listening.

“The earth has music for those who listen.”  ~William Shakespeare

Filmmaking now, has become more accessible with developments in cheaper, high quality equipment that have meant virtually anyone can go out now and make a film, which is great. The downside is that with the massive amount of content shouting for attention, how does anyone get heard in the cumulative din?

The hope is that, talent will always rise to the top. If you’re better, and you work at it, you’ll eventually get noticed, get a…

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Claithe Heights

Bank Holiday Weekend and a good weather forecast, so Lady Hughes and myself joined the slow procession of cars up the M6 towards the Lake District and Claithe Heights, to test out her new rucksack and my new camera lens.

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Clare’s old rucksack was bought for a trekking holiday in Tanzania back in 2001, and for fourteen years it’s given excellent service but it was looking a bit tired and, like me, was starting to give in various places. So, with birthday money kindly donated by friends at work, she bid a tearful farewell to the old one, and unlike me, moved on to a newer and more colourful model.

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My new lens on the other hand was a second-hand bargain bought from someone who had barely used it and without getting too technical, as I know it bores the backsides of most people, it’s very wide angle, so great for landscapes – which the Lake District is full of.

We ditched the car at Hawkshead on the banks of Windermere, the biggest lake in England, and took the ferry across as foot passengers to start our walk.

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The walk took us to the village of Far Sawrey and then Near Sawrey, I don’t know who named them but surely it all depends where you’re starting from. I mean, we got to far first and then had to go further to get to near – if that makes sense?

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Anyway, they were both beautiful, chocolate-boxy, villages, one famous as the location of Beatrix-Potter’s cottage – we didn’t go in, hey we’re on a schedule here.

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This was a walk of little moments really, one was when we came across a house selling little jars of home-made jam with an honesty box to pay. Clare had just bought some jam when a car pulled up, the door opened and an old lady fell out onto the floor. We helped pick her up and administer first aid to her cut face before moving on.

Another was when we came across a large group of middle-aged dutch women walking in the opposite direction, but dressed as though they were going out for the evening.

Once through the villages we headed up into the woods towards Claithe Heights. The dense woodland made navigation a bit difficult but I’m proud to say we managed to follow the whole route with no major mistakes.

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On the tops we were rewarded with occasional clearings where you got panoramic views of the surrounding fells, including the Langdale Pikes, Old Man of Coniston, Fairfield, Ill Crag and even Skiddaw in the far distance.

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Back at the ferry Clare announced the rucksack had passed the test and as for my lens (10 – 20mm by the way), well here’s a few more shots – you decide.

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Feeling at Home, at ‘Home’

Manchester has a new arts venue, confusingly named ‘Home.

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Already, I’ve encountered the problem of statements like, “we saw it at home”, “we’re off to home” and “great time at home last night”. I get round this usually, by adding the preface, “the arts venue, not where I live“. Hopefully this confusion will dissipate once people get to know the place – the arts venue, not where I live.

This new centre, houses two theatres, a five screen cinema, exhibition space, bars and a restaurant, and it’s the new ‘home’ of the old Library Theatre and Cornerhouse cinema.

The official opening was last Thursday, but Clare and myself went to an early performance of the first play to be performed here, ‘Funfair’, the Saturday before, and we took Elliott to a screening of ‘Blade Runner’ the day after, so we’d had chance to have a look around before all the hoopla of the official opening.

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The venue itself is great, with a good location just on the edge of the city and lots of space to wander around and explore. Obviously, everything is shiny and new and the design appears to be very minimalist with bare concrete walls and lots of glass – very modern but perhaps a little cold and inexpressive.

But hey, maybe that’s the idea, after all the test of this venue, won’t be the wallpaper, it’ll be the stuff going on inside.

The opening itself was blessed with glorious sunshine and we were excited to hear that Danny Boyle, one of the patrons of Home, and Oscar-winning director of such films as Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire would be there to cut the ribbon. So, we stuffed our DVD of Shallow Grave in Clare’s handbag and popped down to see the show.

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There was lots of colourful characters and music so we had a great time, Elliott even managed to get a selfie with Mr Boyle and got him to sign our DVD – though Elliott did forget to take the pen we gave him, but Danny Boyle had one himself, which was lucky.

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Now we’ve been to ‘Home’ (the venue, not the …) a few times, I can say how much I like it. I love cinema and the theatre, so this is a welcome addition to the already vibrant arts scene in Manchester. Even though the architecture is new, shiny and a little cold for my taste, the energy and vibe is quite warm and exciting, which can only be a good thing.

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It’s actually quite ‘homely’.

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Victoria Baths

Victoria Baths is a Grade II* listed building, situated in the Chorlton-upon-Medlock area of Manchester. The Baths opened to the public in 1906 and were used for most of the 20th Century before falling into disrepair. In 2003 the baths won the BBC Restoration programme, securing funding to start the difficult process of bringing them back to their former glory. IMG_6034 - Version 2 IMG_6033 - Version 2

The baths aren’t too far from where I live and I’d always wanted to visit them, so the open day yesterday seemed like a good opportunity for a bit of architectural photography. There was also a vintage fair on, so I reckoned there should be something interesting to shoot.

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The baths themselves are beautiful but obviously still far from finished. There are three (empty) pools, Turkish baths and various other rooms to wander around and explore. The hope is that one day they’ll be able to refill the pools and get people swimming again but for now they are empty with the middle one covered and used for today’s vintage fair.

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I quite like the fact the fact that it still has its original fixtures and fittings even though they are in a sad state in a lot of cases. It hasn’t gone through the clinical process of being stripped out and modernised over the years, removing all character and Victorian beauty for a sterile shell. I think it’s brilliant what’s being done, bringing it back to life, but wandering around looking at the scale of the task you can see how immense this project really is.

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Some rooms are more like building sites and then you are struck by something like the stunning green tiled stairwell which doesn’t seem to have aged at all.

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With all the redevelopment in Manchester at the moment, its great to see something unique and beautiful from our past, not just being protected but actually repaired and returned to it’s original function – even if it is a bloody long and difficult process. I tip my boater to the volunteers – hip, hip hooray!


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