Issue 40 Nov 2011
October 28 â€“ November 27 2011 BLANKSPACE, Manchester www.blankmediacollective.org/thetitleartprize
contents get in touch welcome... spotlight - Sarah Redfern blankverse - Elliott Burn spotlight - The Title Art Prize blankverse - Rebecca Joy Sharp this monthâ€™s mp3 - Laura J Martin feature -A Community Speaks blankpicks -Newsic Moos Blank Media recommends this month in Blank Media Collective credits
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you are listening to SPY by Laura J Martin
cover art By Sarah Redfern
Every month we showcase writers, artists and musicians who deserve to share their work with the wider arts community and the public as a whole. You can send your work for consideration by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Click here for full submission guidelines: blankmediacollective.org/blankpages/guidelines/
www.blankmediacollective.org www.myspace.com/blankmediacollective www.blankspacemcr.org
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blankpages copyright ÂŠ2006-2011 Blank Media Collective unless otherwise noted. Copyright of all artworks remains with artist.
welcome It’s November, it’s Blank Media Collective’s FIFTH birthday, and we are positively giddy with excitement. To celebrate another year of success, BMC will be crowning the winner of the Title Art Prize at BLANKSPACE (12 November), along with a day of performance poetry and story telling the following day for blankpages Presents (13 November). This month we’ve got a birthday bumper of a magazine, with everything you could possibly need for the best birthday bash in town. It’s one hell of a party, and you’re all invited.
Abby Ledger – Lomas Assistant Editor
Untitled (staple box) Staples
The work is concerned with the transformation of objects and materials through observation and attentive processes, which are largely delivered through drawingbased methodologies. Working both with and from the object, its making is approached with consideration of its changing nature. The practice is underpinned by an uncertainty in identifying a subject or object, which draws the focus to mundane, peripheral objects that in some way seem to invite attention or transformation where none is necessary. In the object-based works, this transformation often involves the identity of objects and their purpose. A plastic bagâ€™s intricately cut upper section begins to resemble lace; too fragile to touch, it hangs loaded with the labour of its making where once was its own. Or a mass of stones bulge within the paper bag that contains them: their collective form and mass gives purpose to the useless by almost returning them to an idealised original state, however precariously. The most recent works have taken these concerns into painting. Working with the labour-intensive medium of egg tempera, these small panel paintings are concerned with repetition and labour that derives from the process itself. Leaving discretely visible the individual strokes of the brush, each mark follows what preceded it. The form of the painting arises from its repetitive production, fuelled by the momentum of each mark; the gesso ground flattening the surface, distancing that which is immediate.
Blue Egg Tempera on panel
Untitled (chipboard) Watercolour on chipboard
Untitled (stones) Stones, paper bag
Untitled (bag) Plastic bag
Based in Manchester, Sarah gained an MA in Fine Art from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2010. Recent exhibitions include ‘Open Tensions’, Bark Street, Bolton, and the ‘West Lancashire Open’ at the Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk, where she was awarded First Prize.
For further information about Sarah Redfern and her work, follow the link below: www.sarahredfern.com
Elliott Burns Tracks in Snow Silent clap illuminates History in frozen state Here a walker Here a dog Here a woodsman cutting log Park Wood on brink of midnight On screen layers of time cast light Through fractured trees Embers burn Tracers left of fusion’s churn Foot after Foot I shift Lines of lives intercept, lock and twist Bleed into soil Feed earthy toil To rise in Spring afresh and green.
Elliott Burns is a recent graduate of the ‘Drawing and Painting’ course at Edinburgh College of Art. His writing concerns the links between the landscape and experience, mixing locations with the narratives they evoke. He is currently working on some large experimental writing pieces exploring the history of his local area.
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The Title Art Prize
On the 27th of October 2011 Blank Media Collective launched a brand new visual arts prize featuring a selection of the best contemporary artwork from across the country. Blank Media Collective are proud to present The Title Art Prize. From its humble beginnings over a cup of tea and a bit of cake in a Salford flat, Blank Media Collective has evolved into a strong, grassroots organisation; championing and celebrating emerging creatives, working in pioneering ways. With 5 years of nurturing artists, ambitious programming and highly acclaimed events under its belt, through the support of Ask Development BMC moved into its first stable premises at the beginning of 2011, allowing for an outstanding turnover of successful exhibitions and events with The Title Art Prize set to be our biggest event to date.
“5 years of nurturing artists, ambitious programming and highly acclaimed events under its belt” The Title Art Prize was conceived as a way to further the help and support that BMC are already offering to emerging artists and practitioners. The vision is to create an opportunity in the North West that rivals other national Art Prizes; showing off local and national talent whilst spreading the ethos of BMC across the country. With this in mind, the exhibitions team have been working hard all summer to put together The Title, excitingly launched in conjunction with Blank Media Collective’s 5th birthday celebrations.
After being inundated with an incredibly high volume and high standard of submissions, our curatorial team created a shortlist of 25 artists to be exhibited as part of the prize. The task of judging our overall winners has now been passed to our prestigious panel of experts:
Paul Rooney, Artist Artist Paul Rooney was born in Liverpool in 1967, and trained at Edinburgh College of Art. Paul now primarily works with text, sound and video, often focusing on the presence of the historical past within the ‘voices’ of real and fictional individuals. Paul has had residencies at Dundee Contemporary Arts/University of Dundee VRC; Proyecto Batiscafo, Cuba; Tate Liverpool (MOMART Fellowship) and was the ACE Oxford-Melbourne Artist Fellow for 2004. He has shown recently in group projects at Tate Britain, London; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; the Shanghai Biennial; and Tate Liverpool. Paul was included in British Art Show 6 which toured around the UK in 2005-2006, and had solo shows at Matt’s Gallery, London, and Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, in 2008. Text artworks by Paul were published recently by Serpent’s Tail and Whitechapel Gallery/MIT Press. Paul was the winner of the second Northern Art Prize in 2009.
Tomas Harold, Exhibitions Co-ordinator, Cornerhouse, Manchester Tomas Harold has been working for six years as a cultural producer. After graduating with an MA in Visual Art & The City, he helped develop the Liverpool-based independent arts organisation Mercy by curating and directing several international exhibitions and projects. A brief period of free-lance work involved Assistant Curator and Project Manager roles for major Chinese and Korean exhibitions during Liverpool Biennial 06 / 08 at A Foundation and other venues. This period included curatorial residencies in Libya, South Korea and Berlin. Since 2009, Tomas has been employed fulltime as Exhibitions Coordinator at Cornerhouse, Manchester, and in the past 2 years has worked on exhibitions by Jeremy Deller, Artur Zmijewsky, Phil Collins, and Gavin Wade, with planned exhibitions by Rashid Rana and Minerva Cuevas.
Neil Harris, Arts Council England North Relationship Manager Neil Harris is the Relationship Manager and Visual Art/Public Realm officer for Arts Council England North-West. After receiving a 1st Class Hons in BA Visual Arts & Culture from the University of Salford, Neil has gone on to work for Mid Pennine Arts, Salford City Council, Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council. Neil was a member and co-coordinator at Newton St Gallery and Studios in Manchester. Neil Harris is a practicing artist working in public art, photography and printmaking.
Alex Hodby, Independent Curator Alex Hodby is a curator, arts administrator and PhD student. She has worked as a curator with various museums and galleries including Yorkshire Sculpture Park, has been director of 36 Lime Street artists’ studios and co-director of platform projects in Newcastle upon Tyne. Now based in Manchester, she is administrator for Redeye, a network organisation for photography. Alex has an ongoing research project centering on the contemporary art museum and democracy. This research is an AHRC-funded collaborative PhD with Tate Modern (Adult Programmes) and Goldsmiths (Department of Politics).
Stephen Gingell, Sandbar Director Stephen Gingell came to study Architecture in Manchester in the 1980s and stayed. After coming off the educational conveyor belt in the middle of a severe recession and a couple of years in the wilderness he opened Sandbar in 1996 with a fellow student. A “happy accident” Sandbar has evolved over the years changing but remaining the same - firmly rooted in the local community it is now a venue which showcases and supports young talent be they musicians, artists or poets. Building wise he co-developed a number of warehouse conversions during the boom years. He recently completed an MA in Architecture and Urbanism and having avoided being a “proper” architect for 20 years has just set up his own practice: envelope architecture. Interests: Urbanism, reading the Guardian and the next project.
To celebrate Blank Media’s 5th birthday there will be 5 prizes, each intended to support future creative practice. The Awards evening will be taking place on 12th November 2011, with the winner of the 1st prize receiving a massive £500 prize and a solo show supported and curated by Blank Media Collective. 3 runners up will receive £150 and winner of the People’s Choice Award, voted for by the viewing public, will receive art materials and supplies. The Title Art Prize would not have been possible without the generous support of the Ask, Sandbar and Fred Aldous. BMC hope to see you all there for the Awards evening and would like to thank you for your support already over the past 5 years – here’s to another 5 everyone!
For further information about The Title Art Prize please use the following link: The Title Art Prize
Rebecca Joy Sharp Extracts from The Tiger Act (The Song) Calliope You were in the garden when the trick went wrong. Outside, a sleight of hand. I wore your hat while you smoked out the window, letting the moths in. We watched the early summer, our garden surprised and uprising. And didnâ€™t they love it like that, the dizzy insects, the fat plants? I was in the kitchen, in the living room, curling out the kettle. The house was old and let things in and out. I didnâ€™t mind; we almost had the angles right.
I remember talk of beasts; the house crawling while the tiger slept. I wanted a rabbit. So we thought about rabbits and the tiger slept. The Measures Wilbur I worry about this house. I know the weatherâ€™s coming in. I see the cracks; I feel the breeze. I know it bothers her. She runs baths and hides under the water. I fix what I can. I didnâ€™t tell her about the dream. Calliope I train. I keep it secret. Every time I go under, I stay a little longer. I keep count. I run my lines. I wait for my eyes to swim, the illusion of smoke. Distance growing around me, the feeling of something cold and trickling. I know I donâ€™t have long, but I have longer than he thinks. I give the signal and I wait, allow for something.
Then I come up. We can’t give away all our secrets. I’m writing a song for the final act. I’m having trouble finishing it. I think I have the tune. It’s a small song but it’ll break everything. Wilbur We have a tiger. We have the tiger. I spend all day making notes, measuring the distances between this room and that, imaginary spaces for our practice and the cat.
In the evening we dim the lights and play it out: the tiger yawns, stretches the sleep from his stripes and is ready for work. Calliope enters in costume, hair telling tales from the bath. We have a schedule and a cello tune. Wooden, wire-wound - a spike to teach the ceiling how it’s found. Now itch the string. Calliope You’re a bag of bones, Wilbur, a book of spells.
The house hears everything, while I’m underwater and the tiger sleeps. You stay up late running your moves. I wonder why you think it’s secret. The tiger has one hand on the hook you know, one swipe and that chain will be gone. He waits for us to settle, counting down the waves. He’s no more asleep than I am swimming.
Illustration by Michael Thorp
Poems from The Ballad of Juniper Davy and Sonny Lumiere I. We met by damp light oil-fed, our garden where the grass grew under, drinking in the darkness.
I knew you
I found you face-down, torn up in mortar lacework, a relief of hen’s teeth crowded your fame.
I thought you…
I knew you, still. Our suddenly selves under a red-brick tunnel once-upon-a-time red, sealed in the angels’ share. In our garden, foxes lick from inky puddles, starlings harvest a wealth of weeds. We gather in the bone-yard, in the delve, unearthed gentle relics.
then I saw you there
We found each other in the finding. This is our nature, attended, a murder of crows. Our songs are spun in racks and overhangs cast from tracks, scattered on cracked lantern glass like fallen yellowbacks. Pinned whistled there, as we suck electric air,
our lungs an archive,
in the seams of sleep.
a system of whistles Fingers twinned at the foundry to follow the wind. II. My name is Juniper Davy. I came unseen and left by the same door, I came undone by the age of four. I whistle and sing, in secret.
tiny cups of crimson tipped from high table. After the bustle… I am gone. Unlocked finger-stocks; a tumble of silver thimbles in the pocket of a rock-dove. ………….. ENDS
I am told in dreaming unspoken sadness in the steam of machines,
Rebecca Joy Sharp Originally from Glasgow and currently based in Liverpool, Rebecca works primarily in poetry and performance. Informed by her background in theatre, she frequently works across art-forms, presenting work in the form of live performances, installations and print, often collaborating with other artists in this process. As a musician, she performs original compositions on the harp, with spoken-word. She has worked with the Arches Theatre (Glasgow), HERE Arts Center (NYC), Metal (Liverpool), the Wordsworth Trust and more. She is currently creating a new textbased performance for Lanternhouse in Cumbria. www.rebeccajoysharp.com
this month’s mp3
Laura J Martin - Spy
It’s with great pleasure that blankpages has managed to arrange an interview with the ever rising, angel-headed hipster (cheers Kerouac), Laura J Martin. Her new album, ‘The Hangman Tree’, is due for release on Birminghambased label Static Caravan around January and is the next offering from a label who have a superb knack of unearthing original and quietly talented artists such as Hannah Peel, The Maladies of Bellafontaine, Beth Jeans Houghton, Erland & The Carnival, John Smith, Yellow Moon Band... The list goes on. They’ve been releasing records since 1998 that place an emphasis on creativity and originality, encouraging collaboration and acting as a vital point of contact for emerging artists. So, imagine our wonderment in karmic cycles when label owner, Geoff ‘Static’ Dolman, agreed to chip in a bit here and there, alongside Laura, to talk about the ‘other side’ of things, the parts we don’t sometimes see as customers and gig-goers. It’s our fifth anniversary here at Blank Media so, why not do something special?
by Baz Wilkinson Laura J Martin is the latest signing to Birmingham-based independent label Static Caravan. She commutes between her two homes of Liverpool and London and is currently putting the finishing touches to her new album The Hangman Tree and to a number of collaborations with Euros Childs and Sweet Baboo. The Hangman Tree is scheduled for release on Static Caravan in January and you can see her touring right now and through into 2012.
What of Laura’s early years? The years that are crucial to a developing sense of taste and outlook? Well, Laura’s formative years seem to have left a lasting impression on a young girl who was lucky enough to have not only a musician for a Grandad, but “a top notch piano player and a very snappy dressing, pipe-smoking Grandad” to look up to for her inspiration. At a time in a person’s life when everything is new and as fresh as it can be, Laura found her much-needed source of inspiration lay on her doorstep. “My main influence would probably be my Grandad,” she
recalls. “I used to be in awe, watching him play with such grace and dexterity. My first real jam - as un-rock and roll as it sounds - was with him.” I imagine she is describing some sort of jazz-cat, bent over a piano allowing flurries of notes to mingle with pipe smoke, whilst the space in between the musical phrases is filled with a wink towards his grand-daughter who stands riveted to the spot, taking it all in. It’s then quite easy to see how her later influences developed into what they later became; “I had an unhealthy obsession with David Bowie in my early teens, and later on my taste became more ‘Catholic’ and included Neil Young, Jethro Tull, Serge Gainsbourg, Wu Tang Clan - quite a bit of hip hop actually as there are some great flute licks on the old school stuff.” Where Wu Tang Clan sit alongside Serge Gainsbourg and Jethro Tull, is a table headed by Laura J Martin. Add thumb pianos, Chinese drums, ukulele, banjo and make-shift kitchen percussion, amongst more standard instruments – such as guitar and double bass - to a willingness to collaborate and experiment, and what emerges is the sound of ‘The Hangman Tree’. Over the years, Laura has embraced a thirst for collaboration and has married her own style with those of other artists. With talk of a future collaboration with Tunng, possibly taking place early next year in Iceland, she becomes thoughtful towards the viewpoint of an individual’s artistic expression inevitably becoming compromised during such projects;
“With collaborations you can’t fail to make something different and separate from your own work. You never really know what you’ll end up with, which is part of the magic! It can be a lonely road with just a loop station to bounce off so, personally, I relished the chance to work with artists such as The Simonsound (Simon James and DJ Format), Euros Childs and Buck 65. Being a hermit and indulging in your own personal expression is great, but only as long as your baked beans supply lasts out.” According to Geoff, it is the diversity of influences that can be found in Laura’s music that originally caught his ear; “I’d say the conflagration of styles. Herbie Mann ‘jazzness’ infiltrating a Gorkys concept single, with an unreasonable knowledge for class audio in someone under thirty, made me want to work with Laura. Having kids means I have had to change my A&R from live to demos, radio sessions and word of mouth and Laura came via all these really. I was so impressed by her Marc Riley session that I badgered Marc to put in a good word for me.” This eventually came to fruition and a lovely combination was formed although they didn’t actually meet in person until Static Caravan’s GM in late August. “She also did a PhD on Dave Lee Travis and weekend Radio One DJs,” Geoff adds. It must be noted that at the time of publishing Laura is still discrediting this, claiming ‘fabrication’ on Geoff’s part! It’s clear that Static Caravan has a good and healthy relationship with its artists, which causes me to enquire about the label’s development over the years from early
beginnings back in 1998, to a humble and very well respected independent label. “I suspect, if it has changed at all, it is that I have settled into the knowledge that I am only able to help artists move along, achieve a little more and shed some light on their magic. I believe that we still release as many experimental works on different formats as we release straight vibes for the man.” It comes down to simplicity: an artist/label relationship should be one built around a mutual and shared vision in which each party is beneficial to the other’s aims and objectives. It seems that Laura has found herself, at this point in her career the perfect label with which to realise her ambitions. The opportunity to record with Tunng’s Mike Lindsay, in Iceland no less, raises familiarity. Hannah Peel, another great artist who is a part of Static Caravan, has worked with him and toured alongside recently. It seems there is a strong connection with this very influential and well respected band so I ask Geoff to elaborate; “Well, at the time of the first Tunng album we were in daily contact and, you know, they are just the most lovely people, and Mike is really a spiritual brother to me. Mike (Lindsay) is a studio wizard and his studio partner at the time (Benge) did, and does, all my mastering, so it was a natural step for us all to try and put a family arm around artists. I guess Beth (Jeans Houghton) was the first and the intention is to get Laura into the studio with Mike (in
Iceland) in January next year, when Mike has finished his solo album and bedded his new studio down.” It can be a seriously demanding job trying to run your own independent record label. Being that Static are probably one of the few in the country actually succeeding so well and with longevity, they’re probably better placed than most to suggest ways to avoid things folding in on themselves like so many others seem to. But it hasn’t been plain sailing and there are many factors that have buffeted the Ship of Static. Then again, it stands as proof of how good a label it is to have come through this. “I am glad you think so highly of us, but it is truly hard to keep going at times. Sales are low, lower and moreover the lack of interest can be mortally wounding.” I ask him if he has any advice for anyone thinking of setting up a label in the hope of emulating people like Static Caravan, Red Deer Club, Humble Soul and the Scottish label Fence Records. “I’m not sure anyone needs one anymore, but both managing aspiration - you know, it may be worth doing but only have a 200 release range - and following your own gut reaction are important. Keeping a live approach is also important, walking into Rough Trade or Probe or going online and spending £50-60 at Norman Records on new releases is important! Try to hear things and, if you love it, then you should be doing this anyway.” With the next offering from Laura J Martin, the passion that keeps Static Caravan ongoing is certainly going to be
strengthened and you should mark those words above. With recent headlines of the riots in London affecting large sectors of the independent music labels (due to the PIAS warehouse burning down), it would seem the perfect time to nip out to a local record store or online and spend a bit of cash on something that will help to support these artists. Gone are the days, to some extent, of massive bands touring worldwide and every possible artist there is scrambling to be signed by Sony and Warner Brothers and punching the sky with a feeble cry of, “We’ve made it!”. The most creative artists are being given a platform by labels just like Static Caravan; a truly independent label that has been vital to the underground scene in the UK. Their artists are even more proactive in their own marketing and promotion than ever. It pays off, maybe not monetary-wise, but certainly via the respect and love passed on from festival and gig-goers to the artist. With 2011 already passing quickly and 2012 on the horizon, I mention to Laura that a lot has happened for her this year. So what have been the highlights? “The highlights have certainly been playing with Euros Childs and Norman Blake, meeting Marc Riley and the infamous Geoff Dolman and getting this album done and dusted. I’ve played a fair few gigs and festivals this year and, I have to say, Green Man was just the cat’s pyjamas - I flippin’ love that festival.” Not only that but she has recently been to-ing and fro-ing to Cardiff and spending time in the studio quite a lot with all manner of great artists/peers. This can
only be good news for us: Laura + Studio = Release, which, in turn equals happiness for us, the record buying public. All of this surely must be allowing her to look forward to 2012 with anticipation. “Now that we have ‘Yorkshire Gold’ tea, my life is pretty much complete,” she jokes, “but I am looking forward to releasing the following next year: an album with Euros Childs and Sweet Baboo under the moniker of ‘Short and Curlies’; an EP with Richard James; and my own album, ‘The Hangman Tree’ will be released in January, and of course am excited about creating a second album and future collaboration work!” I say buy it all, get the vinyl spinner on, sit back and enjoy. Then head to a local gig because Laura will no doubt be touring quite a bit in 2012. If you’re already sold by the track attached to this issue, you’ll be able to see Laura this December at various venues. For more information, check out her Myspace below. ‘The Hangman Tree’ will be released officially on Static Caravan in January on CD and download (see their website for details below). However, if you can’t wait that long I urge you to go and see Laura J Martin play live as you’ll also be able to grab an early copy at one of her gigs very soon! Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/lalajmartin Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lalajmartin Static Caravan: http://www.staticcaravan.org
A ‘ Community Speaks’; Writing Projects in Manchester By Rebecca Owens
As the final chapters of the Manchester Literature Festival draw to a close for another year, blankpages has been voraciously exploring the surging tide of innovative writing in Manchester. This city is teeming with pools of prolific writers, up to their elbows in inspiration. Whilst fanatics of all things prose and poesy are no strangers to the small book clubs and writing groups that seem to pop up out of nowhere in libraries and cafes all over the country, it is in recent years that community and online writing projects have taken off. These unique platforms invigorate local enthusiasm for writing and Manchester itself is the eye of this creative storm, setting the bar nationally. This is largely thanks to the efforts of adventurous and forward thinking organisations such as The Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) and Open Stories. Cathy Bolton, director of MLF, explains the ethos behind their projects;
“They help artists reach audiences that they might not otherwise find from releasing a small publication. They work to support and celebrate local talent, which allows artists to raise their profile locally.” This year MLF’s projects have been incredibly thought provoking and interactive, encouraging writers and their audiences to explore more deeply the hearts of their communities. Poems on the Road saw MLF team up alongside ALL FM Radio Station to celebrate poetry dotted along the A6 corridor. Five poets from the area wrote specially commissioned poems for the project. Listeners were transported to haunts in Levenshulme such as the Antiques store and Aquatics centre, each with unique tales to tell that dip a little beneath the radar of the busy passer-by. Martin de Mello’s Olive’s Café teased out the vibrant life of a busy caff residing inside (of all
image courtesy of Manchester Literature Festival
things) a metal container by Levenshulme tip! Martinâ€™s writing, combined with live audio, added weight and depth to the esoteric cafĂŠ, the stories unfolding there so often overlooked and taken for granted. His, like each of the other poems, offered a deeper interpretation of a familiar landscape, and grouped together the work shows just how powerful community writing is at communicating shared experience.
MLF, Hamilton Project and Bury Text Festival joined forces for Station Stories; a public display of written work at Manchester Piccadilly station, using the latest digital technology and improvised electronic sound. Similarly to Poems on the Road it found inventive ways for a community to explore itself. The railway station is a place where community meets and converges, the stories found there are many; people running late, trains boarded to far off destinations, and people meeting for the very first time. Station Stories provided a very intimate exploration of this
ever changing world. Specially commissioned writers were asked to read and perform their rail-inspired stories live whilst walking around the station interacting and engaging with the world around them. Unsuspecting members of the public fell prey to the wizardry at work, unable to tell whether the events going on were real or fictionalised. A private audience watched and listened via headsets whilst soaking up the immediate environment.This superb use of technology allowed them to immerse themselves within the surroundings, indeed the stories themselves. MLF projects impress with their ambitious use of the latest technologies, so it is no surprise that a special relationship formed with Open Stories, the organisation responsible for some of Manchester’s most famous online literary projects. “Their projects are very unique, the first of their kind nationally and they are all about nurturing new writers,” Cathy Bolton explains. Open Stories is a collaboration between Kate Feld and Chris Horkan. Its seeds were sown when Kate moved from New York to Manchester and became immersed in what was then a relatively small local blogging community. After beginning her now much acclaimed blog Manchizzle she created the Manchester Blog Awards in partnership with the earlier incarnation of MLF, as a reaction to the untapped talent around at that time. This was an important step in allowing bloggers who were not necessarily known to gain the credibility deserved.
“There was a lot of wonderful writing out there on blogs, so we wanted to create a platform for it,” she says, “the great thing I found with blogging is that it is so diverse and incredibly personable which you don’t always get with other types of writing.” The Awards have grown in popularity since they began in 2006, continuing to look after local bloggers and firing winners and nominees into the centre of public attention. Award winners such as Jenn Ashworth with her short fiction and literary whimsy blog Every Day I Lie a Little have gone on to further realms of success, securing book deals and opportunities to write for big names in the media. Another such is Emily Morris whose My Shitty Twenties plucked two awards for Best Writing 2009 and Best Personal Blog 2009, and unfolds along a road of absorbing trials and tribulations. She was at the forefront of the rising surge of single mothers who started taking up laptops and using blogging as a creative outlet. Emily sees the Blog Awards as a vital pedestal, giving this writing validity; “The Manchester Blog Awards helps to foster the strong blog culture we have in the city. Although social media is hugely important, a lot of people still dismiss blogs as being devoid of quality writing. The Manchester Blog Awards recognises the importance and potential of online writing and as part of the Literature Festival, opens up blogs to new audiences.”
image courtesy of Manchester Literature Festival
The Awards certainly have delivered a succulent dish of passion and ingenuity, with everything from the likes of Fat Roland on Electronica’s witty, easy-going style to 330 Words’ ambitious showcase of literature derived from stunning photographs. As the Blog Awards demonstrate, opening up little passages of opportunity for emerging authors is what Open Stories loves to do. Peeking out from the hordes of arts and culture websites is Manchester’s overwhelmingly successful Rainy City Stories website, which came about through Kate and Chris’s desire to do something with mapping. “We wanted to give writers an opportunity to think creatively about place, as people feel such strong attachments to places, especially ones they grew up in. We then wanted to attempt to plot and cross-reference all these stories, memoirs and experiences across a map of Manchester.” Kate recognises that Rainy City Stories engages importantly with aspiring and emergent writers. “When we came to creating this project, there were not a lot of opportunities for writers to publish work. It’s a nice stepping stone for them. We even like to focus on regular folks who don’t even see themselves as writers until they give it a go.” The site is a work of art in itself; something that writers in Manchester should be incredibly proud of building. It displays an interactive map of Manchester, and writers
are encouraged to send in their unpublished work which is marked on the map by cloudy symbols, a little trick that fittingly overcasts the stories played out under Manchester’s unrelenting storm clouds and sopping showers. One piece that stands out and really reflects the tone of the website is the winner of 2009’s Rainy City Stories Love Competition, “The Shortest, The Coldest” by Craig Melville, a piece filled with pathos about the homeless wanderer on the streets of Manchester. Rainy City Stories is currently on hiatus as Kate and Chris work on something a little bit different and more open in terms of style and substance, namely their latest project The Real Story, a celebration of creative non-fiction – which is described intriguingly by Kate as, “a vehicle for creative writing with a basis in fact.” Kate is especially interested in using the self as a means of inspiration, so calls were sent out for the submission of diaries, personal essays, travel writing and memoirs. The newly launched website publishes the best submissions and makes for a beautifully personalised online masterpiece that adds another trinket to Manchester’s brimming box of writing treasures. It’s safe to say that Manchester’s various writing projects get their audience thinking about alternative ways to write, create and express. Working with the idea of community, they encourage people to team up and be part of something bigger, making a patchwork of their individual creations. It’s wonderful to think what may be waiting to be discovered in the next few years.
image courtesy of Manchester Literature Festival
“Newsic Moos” After running around the world post-degree trying to gain any kind of experience in music journalism that would lead me to achieving my teenage dreams of writing for Mixmag, I returned to Manchester to a devastatingly pants media jobs market. Back in August 2009, newsicmoos began on Blogger as a two finger salute to the myriad of ruthless rejection I faced, and became a much needed outlet for my creative obsessions; dance music culture and writing. I didn’t realise that two quick years later it’d be on the brink of becoming a musicfocused online magazine, something I’ve aspired to since the illegal UK raves of 1988. I was three. For the blog to be read by thousands and complimented by many, just by doing what I desire, is a feeling I can only describe as a continuous urge to pee. So screw you jobs market, (cue Rocky music), I’ve had to do it myself. Contributors have come and gone, and now newsicmoos consists of a small team of raver-type writer/DJ’s, all of whom I credit so much for the amount of trustworthy, knowledgeable and passionate content, constant ideas and bucket loads of patience. With their help, I hope I’ve created a blog that focuses on competent writing as much as the local and global music being promoted. With a few other ideas in mind, who knows where this will lead.
Iâ€™ve been swaying between a few blogs that I keep up to date with, finally making a decision to recommends Letters Of Note (lettersofnote.com). Without my knowing or having even spoken to the editor, Shaun Usher, I learned of his blogging entrepreneurship through a friend, which gave me the kick-start motivation for launching newsicmoos. LoN is hugely insightful, educational, entertaining and unique, and it deserves a global audience. One of my favourite examples of extraordinary correspondence is a letter from Stephen Fry to Crystal Nunn: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/it-will-be-sunny-oneday.html
11 11 11 - IN REMEMBRANCE MANCHESTER Platt Chapel, Wilmslow Road, Manchester 11 November from 11am, £12/£8 From the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year 11 artists present 11 performances. 11 hours of art. 11 11 11 brings 11 of the UK’s most questioning, curious and audacious artists into one location to perform 11 new performances that ‘attempt to re-acknowledge, re-address, re-surface, re-action, re-speak the remembrance’ of past events and past lives on this day of ‘remembrance’. www.inremembrance.org.uk NOW THEN IMPLODING INEVITABLE - NAJIA BAGA + GERARD STARKIE + AVITAL RAZ Dulcimer Bar, 567 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton 10 November from 8pm, £4 suggested The November Now Then Manchester show is a collaboration with Imploding Inevitable that’ll bring Avital Raz & Gerard Starkie along in support of Najia Bagi’s album launch event www.dulcimer-bar.co.uk
FENCE RECORDS’ FLAMIN’ HOTT LOGGZ Anstruther Town Hall, Fife 5 November from 2pm, £20 Fence Records’ is one of the most important independent record labels in the UK at the moment. They regularly celebrate by having part of their rosta play on a big get together which always has a sense of the unique. They have planned an all-day event, taking place on Saturday, November 5th 2011, at the Anstruther Town Hall, starting at 2pm, and finishing at 1am. There will be music in the hall throughout the afternoon, with a procession to Cellardyke and bonfire in the early evening, and a big ol’ party back in Anstruther to close. The music line-up will be revealed at a later date – but, rest assured, will be a mixture of Fence Collective bands, and some very special guests. www.fencerecords.com ENTER A SMALL ROOM ARRANGED FOR THIS PURPOSE: PART TWO Untitled Gallery, Manchester Runs until 5 November Enter a Small Room Arranged for this Purpose is a series of three exhibitions in Project Space Leeds’ version of Untitled Gallery, an intimate contemporary art space in Manchester. Enter a Small Room Arranged for this Purpose: Part Two presents work by Manchester-based artists Dave Griffiths and Mike Chavez-Dawson. untitledgallerymanchester.com
MANCHESTER AND SALFORD ILLUSTRATED Creative Lynx, Manchester Runs until November 10 The very first Manchester and Salford Illustrated exhibition (#MASI) will be held at 52 Princess Street, Manchester. It will be a showcase of the very best commercial artists and illustrators in the area and has been created to raise funds and awareness for Manchester based charity, Wood Street Mission. At the exhibition, and on-line, we will be selling strictly limited edition prints – your chance to own a piece of unique art from Manchester & Salford while contributing to a very local, and worthy, cause. manchesterandsalfordillustrated.co.uk RASHID RANA: EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING AT ONCE Cornerhouse, Manchester Runs until 18 December Cornerhouse, with Asia Triennial Manchester 11, is pleased to present the first major UK public solo show from Rashid Rana, widely considered to be the most prominent and original contemporary artist working in South Asia today. Everything Is Happening At Once includes new and recent work that cuts across conventional notions of the scale and status of the photographic object, opening up its potential to represent cultural, social and physical realities. cornerhouse.org
THE CASKET WORKS OPEN The Casket Works, Manchester Runs until 18 December Previewing on Friday 25th November is The Casket Works Open where all 3 studios housed in The Casket Works [Hot Bed Press, Suite Studio Group and Cow Lane Studios] will be opening the doors to the general public for nibbles, wine and networking. A great opportunity to see a wealth of art and creativity in one visit. Over the weekend, we will be running free demonstrations and our ever popular Under The Bed Sale where members’ proofs, old prints and those with tatty corners are for sale from £2 – £30 so there are some great bargains to be had! Hot Bed Press will take 50% on sales and all money will be put into buying new equipment. Last year we ended up raising enough for racking, squeegees and blankets for the press, and we’re hoping to do it again. hotbedpress.org
SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT? To include your event or recommend someone else’s in a future issue just email us with your event title, location, date, time and a short description. Editor@ blankmediacollective.org (max 100 words)
this month in BLANKMEDIACOLLECTIVE... blankpages PRESENTS... BLANKSPACE , Manchester Sunday 13 November 2011, 4-7pm
As part of Blank Media Collective’s FIFTH BIRTHDAY celebrations, blankpages magazine is hosting Rebecca Joy Sharp & Fat Roland - a FREE performance event at BLANKSPACE. Come along for a laid back love-in of spoken word, performance poetry and soulful beats, hosted by the blankpages editorial team.
Hailing from Glasgow and based currently in Liverpool, Rebecca’s cross disciplinary performances mix celtic harp and folky poetics to create what critics have described as “...entrancing, enchanting, enticing - at the same time edgy and mysterious”. “Sharp’s words take you to an otherworldly place…” (Liverpool Daily Post, May 2010). Winner of Manchester Blog Awards 2010 (Best Writing in a Blog and joint Blog of the Year), Fat Roland will be performing live at BLANKSPACE.
Headlining the Sunday session will be Rebecca Joy Sharp (performance, poetry & installation), Fat Roland (spoken word), Jazzbo (DJ) and more to be confirmed. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see Rebecca’s critically acclaimed performance of The Ballad of Juniper Davy and Sonny Lumiere in Manchester.
Stephanie de Leng
Anything goes during the open mic; collaborate with other artists; freestyle or read off the page. Musicians are welcome to join in the jam, so bring your banjos, accordions, harmonicas etc.
Following his recent rise in notoriety on Manchester’s live literature scene and very recent commendation in the Manchester Fiction Prize 2011, we’re proud to present this most exciting new voice. And fresh from a summer of festivals including Isle of White and Standon Calling 2011, The Mixnot’s DJ Jazzbo will be providing the sonic soul sellotape to keep our Sunday together. Jazzbo is a regular at Shipping Forecast and Chibuku in Liverpool, and has played at major events in Ibiza, Malawi and Prague, so we’re lucky to have him. Of course, it wouldn’t be a blankpages event without tea and cake, but stronger beverages will be provided in the spirit of celebration. Admission is FREE. Donations very welcome.
In_Tuition is an open forum for creatives based in the North West. An opportunity for artists to talk about their work and inspire others through creative understanding, musing and action! IN_TUITION (FINE ART) BLANKSPACE, Manchester November 3 6.30-8.30pm IN_TUITION (CREATIVE WRITING) BLANKSPACE, Manchester November 10 6.30-8.30pm IN_TUITION (MOVING IMAGE) BLANKSPACE, Manchester November 17 6.30-8.30pm IN_TUITION (PHOTOGRAPHY) BLANKSPACE, Manchester November 24 6.30-8.30pm
Blank Media Collective Team: Director: Mark Devereux Co-Director: John Leyland Financial Administrator: Martin Dale Strategic Development Consultant: Chris Maloney Development Coordinators: Kate O’Hara Community Arts & Learning Coordinators: Chris Leyland Website Designers: Simon Mills Exhibition Curators: Mark Devereux, Jamie Hyde, Kate Charlton, Peter Fallon, Beth Kwant, Sophie Barnes & Rose Barraclough Documentary Filmmakers: Charalampos Politakis & Insa Langhorst Official Photographers: Gareth Hacking & Iain Goodyear
blankpages Team: Editor: John Leyland Assistant Editor: Abigail Ledger-Lomas Feature Editors: Sarah Handyside & Rebecca Owens Fiction Editor: Dan Carpenter Poetry Editor: Christopher Riesco Music Editor: Baz Wilkinson Visual Editor / Designer: Michael Thorp Design Intern: Simon Meredith