A view of Shopkeepers of the World by Eleanor Finlay-Christensen by lucy jefferies

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Illustrator and student, Eleanor Finlay-Christensen shares her experience of taking part in Shopkeepers of the World, a project celebrating and highlighting the role of charity shops in people’s lives. Taking place across St Leonards on Sea and Bexhill, the project features four unique art installations as part of Coastal Currents until 30th September 2018.

I really enjoyed being involved in the project because I had the chance to watch it progress from an idea into reality over the last six months.

Initially, I heard about the Shopkeepers of the World project in April 2018, when Esther gave a talk at my university about the project. Having worked in a charity shop in Brighton a few years ago, I was very interested in getting involved with the project. After the talk I spoke to Esther about getting involved.

 

At the donation days I helped Esther to interview members of the public, talking to them about the history of their donated items. The first donation day was at the Jerwood Gallery, followed by a second event at the De La Warr Pavilion. Lots of people came to donate something or tell us about an item they had previously donated. I found it fascinating to see how one item could evoke such strong memories about their past. Each item represented a little piece of local history which was then documented, photographed and the interview recorded for the project.

 

My favourite part of the whole project was the creation of the zine, a leaflet designed to go alongside each installation in the four charity shops. I was given the opportunity to illustrate some of the donations, painting a series of watercolour illustrations that would be printed alongside the corresponding interviews. I was thrilled with how the finished zine looked when it was printed.

 

Recently I took part in a tour of the finished art installations in charity shops, documenting the day for the Quiet Down There social media accounts. The art installations were created by four different artists in response to donated items collected through the project and in collaboration with staff and volunteers at each partner charity shop. The artist showed us around their installation and talked about the process of creating it.

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The first stop was Hastings and St Leonards Mencap to see filmmaker Albert Potrony’s ‘A Gift’.  As soon as you enter the shop you hear speakers playing, as you move around the store there are various screens and TVs tucked away, allowing shoppers to gradually discover the different parts of the installation. The screens play different interviews, some with members of staff from the shop and a Clairvoyant reading the past lives behind donated items.

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The next shop was Shelter in St Leonards to see Alinah Azadeh’s installation ‘Magic Is Here’. Standing outside the shop is a textile banner spanning the shop window, stitched on are various quotes about the shop, with ‘Magic is Here’ at the bottom in large letters. Inside the shop are two more banners. Each banner is centred around the shop and the staff.

 

After leaving Shelter we got on a train to Bexhill. Our first stop was to see ‘The Fabric of Work’ by Noëmi Lakmaier at Hastings Furniture Service. This is a living installation, with Noëmi sewing onto old donated workwear clothing as she interviews people about their experiences, stitching these onto the fabric. Her sewing machine is connected to dozens of brightly coloured spools of thread attached to the wall stretching up towards the ceiling.

 

Our final shop to visit was St Michael’s Hospice to see Hermione Allsopp’s installation ‘Melt Down’. Part of her installation is about the huge amount of glassware that goes back and forth between the shop and the warehouse. I found it interesting to see the final outcome of her piece having visited the warehouse myself and seeing the large quantities of glassware, some of which became her installation. 

 

I really enjoyed my involvement in the project and learnt a lot about the local area in the process.

Written by Eleanor Finlay-Christensen

 

QDT trip to A Woman's Place by lucy jefferies

 In the Courtyard- Photo by Lucy Jefferies

In the Courtyard- Photo by Lucy Jefferies

For our Quiet Down There summer team day-out, we went to see A Woman’s Place at Knole House.  We looked at the exhibition, walked around the gardens and discussed future projects for QDT.

A Woman’s Place, curated by Lucy Day and Eliza Gluckman, is a collection of commissions by six contemporary artists.  Lubaina Himid, CJ Mahony, Lindsay Seers, Emily Speed, Alice May Williams and Melanie Wilson have created art installations that explore equality through the stories of women who have lived at Knole.  

 Painting part of Collar and Cuffs series by Lubiana Himid

Painting part of Collar and Cuffs series by Lubiana Himid

Lubaina Himid has two works, Flag for Grace- on the very top of the tower and Collar and Cuffs a collection of paintings attached to the water pipes in the courtyard.  In these works Himid represents Grace Robinson, a laundry maid at Knole in the 17th century and possibly the only black servant working at Knole at this time.  The flag is an African print of red, white and blue and the paintings depict intricate details of the materials and lace that reference Grace's work at Knole and the fashion of the time.  I loved these female portraits positioned in the courtyard- they were small and easy to miss but possibly this was intentional to highlight that the courtyard was a space that Grace would have not been able to go to.

Melanie Wilson’s soundwork Women of Record starts by describing the lines of the house, the scale, stone walls and this really draws you in.  The soundwork is inspired by extracts from Lady Anne Clifford and Lady Frances Cranfield’s letters and autobiography.  Both lived at Knole and describe relationships and inheritance and feelings of injustice and loss. The listener then hears contemporary stories recounted alongside which mirror the losses experienced by Anne and Frances.  The contemporary stories are told with such raw emotion, in a way that the listener can relate, which in turn gives a deeper understanding to the historical stories and the strength needed to survive as a women at Knole.

 Photo by Lucy Jefferies

Photo by Lucy Jefferies

At the top of the house in a back room we watched Alice May Williams’ film By The Accident Of Your Birth. The film takes its title from Vita Sackville-West's book The Edwardians and is inspired by her inheritance being given to her cousin Eddy instead of her.  The film looks at class and gender identity and privilege and power. The repetition of the visual image and the language used make it thought provoking and powerful.  The quick pace creates drama, keeping the viewer on edge and leaves you wanting to know more.

I leave Knole feeling completely inspired by the works i had seen and thought that the commissions really added to the traditional experience of visiting the house.  For me, the contemporary artworks made it easier to connect and learn about the history of Knole and the fact that the stories were previously untold and were about real people made it more personal, more interesting and a more fulfilling experience.  

By Emily Atkinson

Not Somewhere Else, Monki Business by lucy jefferies

Not Somewhere Else a Blog by Beth Moss

During the Brighton Fringe Festival, a member of our team Beth, visited Monki Business to see the international premier of his new show, Not Somewhere Else.

Monki is circus performer from Amsterdam. He became Monki when he discovered the Chinese pole and double pole, during his circus training. Now he takes us, the audience, on a journey inside his world and inside his head.

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Monki broke the boundaries between circus and theatre by creating a show that uses live music, spoken word, video, circus, and a touch of madness (his own words) to invite the audience into the inner workings of his mind. He broke the fourth wall with the audience, by including us in the show and by speaking to us, to let us know that he was scared of us. He built a wall between him and the audience with a line of shoes, which made him feel more comfortable with us. It was a truly endearing and enlightening experience to be welcomed in to his world.

Monki was a truly accomplished circus performer, moving around his two pole set up beautifully and doing some terrifying drops to the floor which had the audience gasping. He was also a talented musician playing his bass guitar and using a loop peddle to make beautiful melodies that accompanied the his circus acrobatics.

Alongside this, Monki spoke to the audience (often from on top of a very high pole!), as well as having lots of old television screens that he had filmed himself speaking on, and so he had a dialogue with himself, almost as if these were his innermost thoughts talking back to him.

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It was a brilliant merge of circus, acrobatics, music, cabaret, theatre, spoken word, drama and many other things. Brilliantly strange and endearing, Monki made the audience empathise with him, which is a difficult task to do.

A preview of Not Somewhere Else and other works can be seen on the Monki Business website: http://www.monkibusiness.nl/

projectVOX by lucy jefferies

projectVOX

Tell the story of our time and add the pages to projectVOX, a zine by and for the people of Camden exploring POWER, EQUALITY, HISTORY and PLACE. 

As part of Camden VOX, Quiet Down There calls Camden’s communities to tell their story and leave their mark on the pages of a zine revealing what it means to live in a democracy in 2018.

A zine is a printed pamphlet or booklet like a magazine containing text and images, usually self-published for short-run distribution by one person or a small group. At the heart of zine-making is the power to communicate personal ideas, thoughts and feelings instantaneously and the freedom to share this information with others through duplication. Cutting, pasting and photocopying are common methods for zine generation.

A zine is a tool for exchanging ideas and a platform for disseminating information. Camden is home to an important archive of the feminist zine, Spare Rib which was an active part of the emerging Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 20th century. The archive is currently held at the British Library in the Borough of Camden. Spare Rib ran between 1972-93 alongside a shifting landscape for women’s equality, which saw The Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act, come into effect (1975) and employment rights to maternity leave (1994). The zine played an active part in challenging roles and representation of women, proliferating ideas and questioning cultural and structural inequalities. 

Inspired by the DIY culture of zine-making, which has its roots in counter-culture under-ground press, activism, punk and fandom, projectVOX will platform the multiple voices that make up the diverse borough of Camden.

What does power look, sound, feel like? Who has power? What is your power?

Taking its lead from the zine-making culture, projectVOX seeks to amplify lesser-heard voices and cause an echo through the borough.  The project invites you to explode the concept of the zine and add your voice to its pages by responding to questions around the four key themes of Camden VOX: POWER, EQUALITY, HISTORY and PLACE. Questions will be announced at key moments throughout the Camden VOX programme and a call to action to contribute to the pages of the zines.

Take part in free zine-making workshops for all ages with visual communicator Amy Mock and meet projectVOX writer in residence Adam Webb.

During zine-making workshops there’ll be an opportunity to create your own 8-page zine booklet in response to key VOX questions. Using collage, cut and paste techniques you can create your own unique zine to take away, photocopy and leave for someone else to find.

Writer and poet, Adam Webb will be taking up residency in the borough’s civic spaces, libraries and on the street to capture encounters with the people of Camden. Adam will be building a body of text, crowd-sourced from his conversations with people around VOX topics. Through encounters by bookshelves, bus-stops and tube stations, Adam will weave the language of the people of Camden into the pages of four distinct zines which will be published over the course of the year. Highlights from zine-making workshops and open submissions from community groups and initiatives in Camden will also feature in the zine, each one guest edited by a different artist, writer and researcher engaged in debate on equality and democracy. 

The zine will be available to pick up in libraries across Camden and viewed online.

Stay tuned for workshop announcements and projectVOX updates by following:

@quietdownthere

#projectVOX

#CamdenVOX