Category: News

A Start Not The Start (by )

There is so much awesome stuff happening for me right now that I am not even sure where to begin with telling everybody about it, it is over whelming and wonderful and also twinned with my grief and health issues which affect me and the family in general. I have lots of back blogging to do - I have the photos and even stuff written but I have in general lacked energy.

But I need to make a start and this month was the one I chose as the starting point. It is not The Start but rather a start and it is the start of many things.

There are many projects a foot and some in the pipe line, some have been dormant for too long. I feel scared that another curve ball be thrown to us and I am currently typing at half speed having managed to mangle my finger yesterday - I dislocated the top of it but it popped back in ok - it was a searing scream of pain but I often dislocate things - it has gotten worse over night which sucks. I am hoping it will settle down and I won't have to bother the dr with something they really can do nothing about - hyper mobility sucks - mine has gotten a lot worse since the miscarriages - I have devised work arounds so I can get on with everything.

SO life is challenging, life is scary and life is rich.

From Spring time I have been in the midst of Moon Mania, I went on library tours with Space Craft and the Cuddly Science Puppets, I did the online Art Blast for the actual Apollo 50th celebrations, I did numerous activities for the Earth and Moon Festival including sitting by an giant inflatable earth getting people to join in with a community textiles project. I did poetry events and run creative writing workshops, I even got my rocks out at various museums.

Thanks to the Heritage Hub and Gloucester Archives I had oral history training to help me collect as many Moon Memories as I can - I have a lot but I want MORE!

I am compiling a book called The Moon Miscellany inspired by the TV celebrations centred around the actual moon landings - it was my dad's idea and it does hurt that he isn't here - even his moon memory is half written - it shall go in the book anyway. I did talks and came up with other things that I just could not secure funding for but which I hope to take forward over the next few years.

Also I thought artists where bad at sticking to deadlines - but I am still pretty much waiting on ALL bar one of the science and tech folk who were going to write me essays - blooming academics!

The fantastic thing about Moon Mania was that it contains lots of other smaller projects and I got my own funding to take the Moon Maker Meets and Moon Mega Make forward and that is something I did not believe I could do at the beginning of the year.

Everything was themed on space and I even snuck it in with an art exhibition at the Museum of Gloucester as part of the Gloucester Poetry Festival - I could not have done with out friends and strangers alike who volunteered their time. I gave everyone Moon Mania t-shirts.

I've done a huge photo study of the moon using camera and telescope and upped the astrophotography game - I ended up missing the science of it all very badly but also got to share that science with people.

Yesterday Alaric came home with a crunchy bar for me - the chocolate had been given to him as a bribe because someone I have never met wants to see my rocks - my SPACE ROCKS! This pleases me probably far more than it should.

Moonmania has been fantastic with fabric artists, Lino print makers, steampunk, poets, storytellers, comic book artists, glass workers and photographers jumping aboard. And it is not the end of that but a beginning!

My living room is full of crates of meteorites and paintings of space and little origami stars and I need to work out what other art spaces it can go up in! I was very lucky that the community textile project got to go up over the summer as part of Art In The City.

This summer I also won a traineeship with the Carnival Arts Partnership and got to work on the Gloucester Carnival - I learnt so much stuff and made a lot of different types of dragons including getting to go and work with the amazing Matt West at his workshop seeing how larger structures are put together. I discovered a new pair mache technique, how to make giant puppets, and was rather envious of Charles vacuum former. Cheltenham Hackspace helped me through all the Moon Mania and the the Carnival Madness - we were also having work done on the house so that my mum could move in properly at the same time - there may have have been more tears and frustration than I would have liked.

From this I know that I want to do bigger pieces of art and it has fed back into the science and the craft and the performance side of things.

I want to make things with metal and wood - and resin.

This is a beginning.

During the summer and autumn I also got to attend some free business and fundraising workshops with Jolt and the Culture Trust, this was incredibly helpful in building up contacts and directly lead to a group of us story tellers finalising a dream we'd been working on. Gloucester now has a story telling night and that is fantastic! More than fantastic in fact and I hope we can get it self sustaining.

Between the story telling and popping out to do a little bit more comedy I want to resurrect my radio or podcasting and maybe even mix it in with the oral histories stuff. I definitely want to do more acting - I have just finished my Frightmare run and it is still THE BEST JOB EVER!!!

I have been making dragons, and been part of goblin markets, performed and reviewed and created zines. Though my foray into the world of comic books has halted somewhat and I can't really see a way back in - we are now firmly entrenched in the cosplay side of things but again this was really my families thing whilst I sat at the stalls - I need to sort out more things for the zines and books and oh boy is the publishing stuff zooming off ahead!

The cosplay has kind of morphed into historical reenactement which is interesting.

And of course it's been 10 years since I started the insane writing challenge NaNoWriMo - so this month marks the beginning of me pulling the big over all project I have been creating into some sort of shape. The Punks Universe - it is more than that - it is the story I was writing with my dad when I was a kid and it is the story my kids make characters for and it needs to be out in the world properly and not scattered here there and everywhere with half of it hidden.

This is more than enough to keep me busy and sometimes I am too busy and I am also a worried mummy - Jean appears to have inherited the hyper mobility though is one joint short of a diagnosis of the syndrome but also needs to now go to the Dr with her back and hip. This I am fearing will put the kibosh on some of the dreams and hopes and it is a sucky condition. Mary is very flexible but is a dancer, an acrobat so I think she'll be fine she just has horrendous melt downs and though excelling at maths is struggling so with reading and writing (though she has drastically improved over the summer thanks primarily to the Library and their Reading Challenge that she loves - it was space themed!) - considering again my own issues with dyslexia and ADHD I am worried.

But we will adapt and try not to be sad and angry but sometimes that is hard.

This is a beginning, a start - this year has been an upheaval and a transition - the last two years have been a personal trial of pain and suffering and yet I have created, my family have achieved and we are Polyps together against the world - and we need to be because - even the good things are hard to be enthusiastic about and I very much love the good things.

So I shall end with some good things - I was offered a place on a song writing workshop - I attended and worked with musicians and made a thing and the thing is on an album and I am even doing the word bit and that is an AWESOME thing I have always wanted to do. I ended up performing at the 3 choirs festival.

Alaric loves working with physical things - metal work is his main thing and he enrolled on a welding curse and he has done all his exam pieces already and it has bought him much joy.

Jean re-sat her radio license exam and passed and has been enjoying radioing Alaric and they did their first Raynet event - this is a voluntary organisation that provides comms support for community events ie radioing through accidents or where crowd control need to go and work as a back up network for emergencies and disasters like the floods in 2007 when all the phone networks went down.

Mary has chopped all her hair off to donate for wig making for those kids who have lost theirs due to cancer treatment, also Mary can read... Mary read out a poem at the last poetry event, Mary has worked very hard on this.

Nanny has started making a Harry Potter cover for the cot settee.

Things We Are Up Too :) (by )

Sun 20th of Jan - Waterstones Presents Villanelles with the Gloucester Poetry Society 2-4 pm in the cafe Waterstones Gloucester free entry

Thurs 31st of Jan - an evening with Holly McNish and fellow poets at Blackfriars Gloucester (sold out)

February World Poetry Writing Month - or WoPo - a writing drive I have been running for nearly a decade now, it runs through out Feb and I pop up writing exercises and various inspirational bits including guest bloggers and I have some fantastically talented people lined up as guest posters this year 🙂 There is also a Facebook group and page and posts will appear on TheMonsterBlogs twitter and the Pinterest board.

Thurs 7th Feb - First Thursday The Enduring Eye at the Wilson Museum and Art Gallery Cheltenham Sarah will be presenting a poetic response to the polar exploration exhibition, free event and part of regular series: On the first Thursday of the month a cultural hub of food, music, performance, art and retail – all within walking distance and outside of traditional working hours – will come together along Clarence Street, Royal Well Road, St George’s Place and Church Street. First Thursdays is a public event and free to attend. The cultural quarter stays open until 9pm or later on the first Thursday of every month

Mon 11th of Feb - Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam Qualifier 7:30 pm Playhouse Theatre Cheltenham, £5 tix

Sun 17th of Feb - Waterstones Presents Villanelles with the Gloucester/shire Poetry Society 2-4 pm free event - this event is now on the third Thursday of each month bar April as it clashes with Easter Sunday.

Sat 23rd of Feb - Folk Craft and Story Telling at the Folk Museum Gloucester (also known as the Life Museum) this is a free event as part of the Folk Trail during the Gloucester Folk Festival. Based in the Dairy and Victorian School Room out the back of the museum - sadly due to structural work the actual museum will be closed but the diary, cider press room and garden will be open. We will be running Rag Rug and Barge Painting workshops in the Dairy and story telling (including Aethelflead the puppet) in the Victorian School Room!

Horrid Henry isn’t Horid (by )

There is an article on the BBC news website asking - Should Parents Ban Horrid Henry?, my response to this is... NO.

Horrid Henry is not actually horrid - pretty much as soon as you ask should you ban a book the answer is NO (even bad books that really shouldn't exist should not be banned they should be watered down with lots of other books and besides if you ban them you have just made it more likely that impressionable people will read them as they are now EXCITING, it's what I call the prohibition effect).

The stories have progressions where the kids fight and resolve differences and get around issues such as dyslexia and ADHD etc... and the insecurities that brings for kids etc... they are a positive thing. They also covered headlice and all the other little things that dominate a child's world, yes they contain toilet humour but lets face it 6-12 year olds tend to love that sort of stuff (regardless of gender), just pomp loudly in a room full of kids and you'll see what I mean!

Jean's read all the books and for Mary the Too Cool for School episode/film thingy was immensely important as a confidence builder. In the article the actors main issue was that his kid started kicking up after watching it - my take on that... kids go through phases. Jean started kicking after watching Ben 10 the animation - this was a time to teach that you can't just blanket copy what you see.

Also the books have the easy read high content thing going for them which is exactly what reluctant readers and those with things like dyslexia need. They need a story they can get their teeth into and in this case they will often identify heavily with the protagonist i.e. Henry but it is not so bulksome and wordy that they will feel they are grinding their way through them.

Yay so Horrid Henry is not actually horrid!

The Folk Museum (by )

The Folk Museum (rebranded to the Life Museum) is Mary's favourite museum - it is a great local treasure full of local history and fun activities for the kids, behind the scenes there is a lot of curation and looking after the collections. The building itself is a beautiful wooden beamed structure that is hundreds of years old - sadly this also means it is expensive to maintain.

And so what with cuts and austerity and a struggling council the heartbreaking news that they were going to close the museum was not so much a shock but an expected blow. The museums do relatively cheap activities for the kids and the staff are lovely but the news had already reached me that the staff had been slashed in number over all three council run buildings (two museums and the Guildhall).

This is the museum where Mary left her money baby in the wendy house and the staff went out of their way to return it too us.

So obviously I'm not the only person who feels ill at ease with loosing this local resource and historical gem and a petition was soon up and running - you can sign it here. Since it was started up the Civic Trust have said they will take it on but if that is the case then it is doubtful that they can afford a curator so there would be no one to manage and maintain the collection. Curation is not just about labelling things and putting them in shelf displays - it is also about making sure things are kept in ways that do not damage them - with out a curator then the potential damage is pretty high (mind due the roof leaks so if that is not fixed then the damage will be damn high too).

Added to all this is the fact that historic buildings that are not wanted by the right people tend to go up in flames around here - recently there was three fires in one night - all targeting local old pubs with development issues.

Jokingly me and my friend suggested we might need to make a human shield around the museum - we were only half joking :/ I wish I was rich because I would buy it and fix it and pay the staff and make it free access and have a mini hackspace and little science/education bit in the new building out the back in garden. I'd hold talks in the cafe and stuff like that.

Refugee Week and Poetry (by )

I found this podcast which explores the refugee crisis etc... through poetry and musical expression. It contains an amazingly beautiful and sad Wade in the Water which has been cleverly adapted. For those of you who don't know the history of Wade in the Wader it was part of the Slave/Freedom Train in the US before the full abolition of slavery (and in some cases even after it). It was a sung code as were a few other songs.

This is something else that has been breaking my heart over the last few years - when we were trying to adopt (on hold now due to head injury) I felt I was doing something to help because we'd been told that refugee kids were the largest group and I don't care where a child comes from a child is a child and I just want to keep as many safe as possible weather from here or abroad. But obviously that didn't happen and now I sit in my house with spare rooms... and all any one tells me is that it would have been dangerous for my kids :/

I wonder if the households that took in the evacuees and the jewish kids in the second world war had the same sort of issues?

A few years ago Neil Gaiman made this video whilst visiting a refugee camp and highlighted the efforts that are being made and also the plight. He like many in the UK is descended in one branch of his family from refugees - pretty much anyone is going to find foriegn links if they actually bother to look and investigate and just ask. Many families have tended to keep that sort of ancestory secret but not all.

You can read his write up about here on the UN Refugee Agency website.

Currently I am putting together some more political poetry pamphlets/zines just my poetry at the moment - within which I have a few poems about refugees. This one is called The Journey and shamefully I can not even remember which group or news report it is about because there have been so many - so many little bodies and big bodies and just people - washed up along the shores - lives gone and wasted.

A Journey

The journey was across the water
And was flimsy with grief
The crowds swarmed
Desperation palatable
In the tang of stale sweat

Grey waters ebbed to black
Hiding those who could not make it
Or were Unwanted
Thrown to the cold placid stillness
Breath gone

Bodies bloated and rotting
Effluent choked to the fish
So they could no longer
Nibble the corpses
And still the people came
Fleeing, frightened
Seeking sanctuary
That so many of them
Would never reach
The waters filmed with grief

.....

Years ago now I remember sitting in the Wilson Museum and Art Gallery at an event where the guest poet was a refugee - I wish I could remember the mans name - he was seeking asylum at the time - in many places poetry is outlawed, poets especially political poets are actually risking their lives for something that gets seen as "a bit prissy" in this country.

I think that for next year I will try and get the Gloucester Poetry Society to organise an event.

For more information on Refugee Week go here.

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