Canterbury Cathedral

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Paint Off 2012

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Lovely day spent in the grounds of Salisbury Arts Centre. Plain Arts and The Unit held the third #Paintoff today a wonderful event where people come together to paint and then, the resulting canvasses are auctioned off at the end of the day. Charlotte and the team from Plain Arts worked hard to ensure an enjoyable day in the sun, with indian head massages and shiatsu also available! Nich Angell a wonderful young comix artist who had the day before, been at a convention in Manchester promoting his first volume of Cat & Meringue comic books was the judge. He is normally joined by Stew Taylor but Stew is also a member of a local amdram group – Studio Theatre and they were at the RSC collecting their award for winning a competition with their production of Hamlet. So Nich pulled in @_TheUnit manager Heather to help him choose five winners. Also there for a DJ mix-off was DJBong and next door in the Council Grounds one day festival ‘Park Life’ was going on – so a pretty eventful day and James Butcher worked his socks off as the Paint Off ‘auctioneer’

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Oxford is…

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A bookshop where every book costs £2, a castle with a hotel in it, a museum that celebrates stories and childish imagination, a gallery that houses a cafe in its loading bay, a hospital with a glass fountain, parks, allotments, yellow sandstone, oak doors, Jericho…. bridges… oh I’ve missed so much but  Colin Dexter only caught the half of it too, so I don’t feel so bad about that.

#TorchRelay 2012

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For me the stars of the show were Carnival Arts and the Police. Well done Alex Grant for coming up with a simple and accessible idea for children in schools – to create beautiful silk banners to wave and cheer with – they looked stunning and the children were all very proud of their work. I have seen children from several schools waving their hand-made banners today whilst out and about today. And well done the Police and the MET for really conveying the Olympic spirit by producing a real spectacle, smartly turned out, waving and grinning to all the excited children – giving them a sight to remember. I was hoping for something more inspiring (torch included) than the baggy white track suits, and dowdy brown outfits worn by accompanying out-runners (all three of them). A bit disappointing. There was no space for highlighting the stories behind the chosen runners in the actual relay, or the achievements (if there were any) of the trickle of random people inside the coaches or loping alongside of them. It probably looked more exciting on the television.  Without doubt, the torch relay must have been a nightmare both to organise and execute, and I’m grateful our children got to see it but I’m not sure however if the most prominent message given out from the Olympic torch relay was one we should be giving out. The spirit of the Olympic Games: athleticism, challenge, endeavour and sportsmanship were overshadowed by big brightly branded lorries/coaches/buses. Handing out free bottles of coke to children, certainly didn’t win me over.  Still at least the Police might see a higher rate of new recruits after this, I nearly joined up myself (nice bikes!). Real life should be a better experience than television but in the case of the Olympics I think it’s all been choreographed to look good on the TV soundbites. Or maybe they were all a bit tired by the time they got to us at 6pm today.

Artist Pondering Art: Portrait of @LloydDavis

Social Artist and Creative Collaborator Lloyd Davis studies Ben Dearnley’s sculpture of a torso holding a fencing foil (based on Olympian Alex O’Connell who competed with the GB fencing team in 2008)  as part of  ‘Avenue of Champions’ exhibition hosted by Salisbury Cathedral

According to the artist (whose Dad was once Director of Music at the Cathedral)  “My work here is an exploration into the world of some of the UK’s top Olympic and Paralympics athletes. I wanted to create a series of sculptures which honour and celebrate their achievements and reflect their individual commitment and excellence within their sport. The sculptures hold something of the power zone of each individual athlete, which I see as pivotal to them being the best in the world at what they do. As such each work is a collaboration between athlete and sculptor, understanding their body’s action and capturing the ‘moment’ in a fragmented form.”

I wonder how Ben feels about the fact that there is an incongrous lump of ‘blue tack’ on the end of the fencing foil? (Oh and the typo under the Oscar Pistorius  bronze)

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Although each torso was beautifully cast, and each cast a different hue or metal content, for me they were ultimately torsos and could have belonged to anyone. Of all the pieces, the only one that had any significance or meaning in terms of ‘champions’ and ‘olympic’ was the piece based on Lee Pearson, three times ‘Dressage’ Olympian which was a two sided, stone sculpture and an immensley provoking piece, conveying to me not only the power, the relationship between human and horse but also what it is that a paralympian, through their training, committment and focus might experience when working with horses.   A shared sense of partnership, reliance, strength and control.

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