The Lost Generation

How most kids at school now will probably never own a physical copy of anything…

Do you remember what it is like to buy a brand new album, the joy it brings to remove the protective cover and slip the disc into the player while you pull out the sleeve and read it cover to cover?  Or when you take out a book from the library and flick through the pages while it reveals that old, musty smell you only get from an old book?

I bet children of this generation will never get to experience this. With all this growing technology, it really gets you thinking about how it is affecting them.  It seems that they will never understand that feeling when you buy a new CD or record.  Or when you buy a new book or borrow one from the library and fan the pages across your face to get that smell. 

It is a shame in many ways to know that in school they are now on computers most of the day and are expected to have homework typed and printed from a computer.  What happened to the days of the good old pen and paper? 

Or they walk around with earphones in making it hard to socialise when out and about, every piece of music they own is probably downloaded.  Unless they are die-hard fans of music in which case they buy the physical copy then put on their iPods.

Then we have the Kindle which means that instead of going out and buying the book to have and hold, you just download onto this new piece of technology.  Ask yourself, If you are going to spend £10 on a downloaded version of the book that you will never get to physically hold, then why wouldn’t you just go to your local bookstore and buy the real thing?

It is kind of like your favourite restaurant having an ‘app’ that you can download your favourite meal from the menu and all you can do is smell how it would be if you had the real thing.  There really is no comparison to having the physical product in your hand and the joy it can bring when you re-discover that album or book you thought was lost.

 

Technology is advancing far more quickly than our minds can process it.  With iPads, iPods, Kindles and laptops it is hard to step away from it all and get a kid to read a book or write a letter.  Rather than typing a text or having their heads buried into a screen all day long.

It is a shame and if we as a society don’t try to make it better, then it will be too late.  Say goodbye to the days of going into a music or book shop and wondering around for hours taking in the smells and sounds. And say hello to the World Wide Web, where you don’t get to experience the smells and sounds you once loved. 

You are probably reading this thinking it is some old, wise and bitter person who hates technology because they can’t figure out how to work it.  But it is not, this is a woman in her early twenties who feels we are losing the generation that are the future of our nation. 

Now this is not saying technology is a bad thing, of course it isn’t.  Just that maybe it is time to stand up and show the younger generation that life isn’t all about getting the latest downloads and gadgets, that there are alternatives like having the physical product in the palm of your hands.

If they just got the revelation that you can still go to the store and buy the product then maybe we can put a stop to losing not only this generation but losing our beloved high street.

This of course is a whole separate matter…

Images reproduced from nytimes.com and inspireddribble.com

The Folkestone Triennial 2011

If the town’s folk wouldn’t walk ten minutes up the prom to the Metropole (Kent’s pre-eminent contemporary gallery until its closure three years ago) traveling to another gallery to see a show would seem a pointless exercise. But when galleries can appear intimidating and highbrow, walking into a local church, library or just nipping in off the high street is much less daunting.

Folkestone was once a thriving Victorian seaside resort and latterly a ferry terminal for the Boulogne day-trippers until it’s closure in 2000, but now art is the reason to visit and the net being used to fish it out of the doldrums.

The town’s second Triennial has been introducing art into Folkestone via the Creative Foundation, a local initiative headed by ex Saga boss Roger De Haan, and Its everywhere you look. Fine for an arts enthusiast like me but many locals may quite rightly ask, what’s in it for them. The answer starts with some big names in contemporary art whose work is attracting cultural folk to visit and stay for a weekend; new restaurants are opening to cater for the newcomers, and the local coffee shops are bustling with visitors sipping cappuccinos and lattes.

Curator Andrea Schleiker has chosen to introduce an international selection for this years “A Million Miles from Home” themed festival. Balanced between migration, home and otherworld, many works reflect a sense of being in a strange place or on unfamiliar territory, while others speak of journeys and wanderings. All are sited in new and unusual settings, some in overgrown, locked up or previously hidden locations.

As an invigilator for the Triennial I’m happy to chat to strangers, and if i can help someone to understand a work then so much the better. Having invigilated half of the 19 works thus far, it’s easy to see those which stand head and shoulders above the rest on the popular vote. Hew Locke’s installation in St Mary and St Eanswythe’s church For Those in Peril On The Sea – a colourful display of model boats suspended above the nave receives well over 250 viewings each day, people returning with friends and family to share the experience.

Atop a large rock by a sandy beach sits Cornelia Parker’s bronze The Folkestone Mermaid. The body cast of a local woman is a direct reference to a stylised version in Copenhagen (The Little Mermaid) and like that iconic piece is one which will undoubtedly stay, adding to the growing collection of permanent works from the previous triennial.

At the far west end is Christina Iglesias’s Towards The Sound Of Wilderness, a sculptural piece of polished steel and green, textured bramble cast in resin. Creating an impressive viewing point or passage onto an eerily overgrown Martello tower and one which few local realized was there, the combination of rampant nature over the hidden ruin suggests a portal towards other worlds.

At the opposite east end of the town, the National Coastwatch station is showing a film created by Indian based arts group, CAMP (Creative Arts and Media Practices). In The Country Of The Blind, And Other Stories, a title taken from a story by the once local resident H G Welles, refers to the Dover Coast Guard’s blind spot of the Folkestone harbor area, and as in the country of the blind the one eyed man being king, alludes to the telescopic views which are echoed by the films framed presentation. The film is an hour long sequence of 50 edited clips of interesting, bizarre and everyday sightings, made all the more entertaining by the narration of the station’s volunteer group.

Other films in the Triennial include Promised Land by Nikolaj Larsen, screened in a disused bar by the beach in an area home to many asylum seekers. The film focuses on a group of migrants in camps near Calais at the end of long and dangerous journeys from Afghanistan and Iraq on their way to Britain giving an insight into their lifes and struggles just twenty miles away over the channel.

Light house In The Sea Of Time is a beautifully filmed and choreographed series of multiple projections of two Algerian lighthouses, built during the French occupation. Zineb Sedira has also included lighthouse keepers’ reminiscences of their life and love of the monastic lifestyle.

Smader Dreyfus’s film of Israeli classrooms, School, can be found in a series of darkened vacant offices above Boots. Each room has a screen, a representation of blackboards, where the spoken dialogue during lessons is projected as white text, the content emphasized in various font styles and sizes.

Upstairs in the main library you can find Charles Avery’s The Sea Monster. Skeletal remains of an unknown beast lays prostrate on the polished parquet floor, the combination of at least five different animals including horse, python and llama, and a continuation of Avery’s ongoing project, The Islanders. Illustrations help to decipher, but mainly add to, the visually cryptic clues of this strangely mysterious community.

One of those simple but brilliant concepts you wished you’d thought of is the Spencer Finch’s The Colour Of Water colour wheel. Most people when asked what colour is the sea would suggest one, maybe two colours at most. On various mornings I may text in my chosen matches of four different sea colours against the giant revolving pantone swatch, to be later hoisted as flags in the town centre.

A shop in the Old High Street has been chosen for the Boutique Kosovo, housing a rare and eclectic mix of traditional folkloric dress but presented in a fashionable clothes shop style. Erzen Shkololli has put together this collection as a reminder of the richness of traditional clothing design and their link to culture, whilst at the same time highlighting their fast disappearance and replacement by the bland uniformity of universal fashions through globalisation.

There are many others to be discovered and for me to invigilate, such as works by Tonico Auad, Hala Elkousy and Martin Creed. Some of which may perhaps be chosen to be added to the already impressive list from the first Triennial: Mark Wallinger’s Folke Stones and Tracey Emin’s series of Baby Things are just two. All seem to have been accepted by the community, and with a sense of pride as something important that belongs to the town.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

July sees the return of the UK’s best-loved open-air Shakespeare Festival. The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2011 runs from 11 July until 27 August. The festival takes place in a number of Cambridge University private gardens and promises to deliver some of Shakespeare’s greatest works in the timeless and magical surroundings of the College Gardens.

The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival includes performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anthony & Cleopatra, Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet. Eight plays will be performed throughout the summer and up to 25,000 visitors are expected to attend the productions across the eight weeks of the festival.

The actors perform in period costume with live Elizabethan music adding authenticity to each production and the garden setting offers a unique atmosphere as the setting sun and moonlight provides the open-air venues with special lighting that could never be recreated inside a theatre.

Before each evening’s performance, the audience can picnic in the picturesque College Gardens before settling down to watch the actors bring Shakespeare’s plays to life with their dramatic interpretation of the Bard’s work.

The absence of the usual trappings of a stage production means that the focus remains on the actors themselves and brings the audience closer to the action. The Company presents each play in such a way that even those who are unfamiliar with Shakespeare can enjoy their first experience of the tragedy, comedy and history of Shakespeare’s plays.

Performances take place every evening during the Festival except Sundays and begin at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased on the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival website, on the door or in advance from City Centre Box Office on Wheeler Street.

Special charity matinee performances will be held on Saturdays at 2.30pm and support the Children’s Hospice in Milton and St. John’s Hospice on the Wirral. Click here for further details.

Below is a list of productions taking place during the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival:-

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 11 to 30 July – St John’s College Gardens
  • Anthony & Cleopatra – 11 to 30 July – Robinson College Gardens
  • The Winter’s Tale – 11 to 30 July – Downing College Gardens
  • The Comedy of Errors – 11 to 30 July – Girton College Gardens
  • Much Ado About Nothing – 1 to 20 August – King’s College Gardens
  • Macbeth – 1 to 20 August – Trinity College Gardens
  • All’s Well That Ends Well – 1 to 27 August – Robinson College Gardens
  • Romeo & Juliet – 1 to 27 August – Girton College Gardens

Click here to see a video about the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival and experience the magic for yourself.

Images reproduced from cambridgeshakespeare.com

Turner Contemporary – Margate

Tony Foster – City Connect’s art critic – visits the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate and reviews the gallery and it’s opening exhibition “Revealed” which brings together work by the visionary British painter JMW Turner and six contemporary artists. The exhibition runs from now until 4 September 2011.

The Lonely Planet Guide describes Margate as a town still striving to recapture its Victorian heyday of candy-striped beach huts, donkey rides and Punch & Judy puppet shows. But these days it’s more about amusements and chippies, and outside summer has the melancholy air of a town past its prime. That would just about sum it up except perhaps for the new arts influx.

Driving into Margate you can’t miss the collection of white angular boxes at the end of the harbour. Standing in stark contrast to the Victorian brick and Perspex, the Turner Contemporary (designed by David Chipperfield) appears clean and functional if a little clinical. Walking back from parking off the high road (the gallery car park is big but short on spaces) I was struck by the smaller detailing as I crunched across a path of white cockleshells and then the rubber entrance matting, spongy as a damp beach underfoot.

Apart from the far too small staircase to the main galleries the interior is well laid out. Inviting lots of natural light and sea views, the main entrance hall window sports an impressive yellow striped installation flanked by mirrors, Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape by Daniel Buren.

There are to be no permanent exhibits at the Turner but regular shows throughout the year, a wise choice for its limited size. The opening show Revealed, is intended to link closely to the location and to Turner himself. Teresita Fernández’s work Sfumato, a glass bead pool and Eruption, wall mounted graphite fragments are both inspired by volcanic eruptions. Lava flows and reining ash clouds which in turn link to Turners own work close by, The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains, in the Island of St Vincent. Both apparently refer to the explosive announcement of the new galleries opening onto the Kent art scene.

I was hard pressed to see any links to the Conrad Shawcross work, who’s impressive mechanical windmill with converging lights and spiral sketches all seem to follow their own rhythmical patterns. Although it was said Turner showed a great interested in mathematics, science and philosophy.

Next door, there could be no mistaking the direct references made by the artist Ellen Harvey. Propped up against a wall and in giant carnival letters the title of the piece Arcadia, stands outside a scaled down version of Turner’s own private gallery. Now turned into it’s own amusement arcade hang glass, etched and back lit views of today’s harbour, including empty arcades, chippies and tower blocks all glowing in the darkened space.

The final room is devoted to the work of Russell Crotty, surfer, amateur astronomer and artist. Three large painted orbs and giant sketchbook show ‘nice’ views of the local shorelines and incorporate his own thoughts as written responses to the landscape. The work seems lightweight but there is a clean simplicity, which is perhaps right for this show.

The new gallery is well worth a view if you’re local, but you’d have to be a keen art enthusiast to warrant the 90-minute train journey down from London.

City Connect Suggests

Situated on the North Kent coast, Margate is only a 90 minute drive or train journey from central London. The Turner Contemporary landmark gallery is just over half a mile along the seafront from Margate train station and close to all main bus routes in the town. The gallery is just a short walk from Margate town centre and the Old Town, where there are a number of artists’ studios, galleries and lively cafés and restaurants.

High speed trains from London St Pancras and Stratford International run every hour and take just 90 minutes. If travelling by car, there is plenty of on-street parking near the gallery on the Harbour Arm, as well as pay and display car parks close by at Trinity Square CT9 1HR and College Square (Morrison’s multi storey) CT9 1QA.

Admission is free and the gallery is open from 10am to 7pm every day except Mondays. However it is open on Bank Holiday Mondays.

Turner Contemporary
Rendezvous
Margate
Kent CT9 1HG
Tel: 01843 233 000

Image courtesy of Tony Foster

Verdict – Cambridge Arts Theatre

The Agatha Christie Company proudly presents Verdict, one of the most riveting and compelling dramas by Agatha Christie, the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime.’ With an all-star cast, this gripping play will captivate the crowds of Cambridge when it performs at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from 11 April to 16 April 2011.

Following the huge success of The Hollow, The Unexpected Guest, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, and most recently Witness For The Prosecution, the Agatha Christie Theatre Company is coming to Cambridge to entertain and enthral theatre-goers at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, one of the region’s most exciting Arts venues.

The all-star cast is led by Dawn Steele, from the hit BBC drama Monarch of the Glen and the popular ITV series Wild at Heart. She is joined by Ali Bastian (The Bill, Strictly Come Dancing, Hollyoaks), Peter Byrne (Dixon of Dock Green), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter film series), Elizabeth Power (Eastenders) and Sixties teen idol Mark Wynter.

Verdict tells the story of the brilliant and idealistic Professor Karl Hendryk who, having been forced to flee persecution in his home country, leads a content and morally upstanding life with his invalid wife. The prospect of a life-saving treatment for her persuades him to take on a new pupil against his better judgement.

Professor Hendryk’s world is then turned upside-down by this new pupil, Helen – a spoilt, scheming minx who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. After a terrible murder leads to a tense court case, the anticipation of the verdict about to be delivered has us on the edge of our seats as we hold our breaths as we wait and see if justice will be served.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Box Office on 01223 503 333 and are subject to a £2 booking fee.