art\write: Two Chairs goes live

Two Chairs project

The art\write Two Chairs project I wrote about earlier has gone live. The main project page links to eleven very different responses to the original prompt by sixteen different artists and writers.

My piece is a short film involving live action and (of course) some small sections of stop motion animation. It took a lot of false starts and rapid learning to get to where it is now. I’ve still got a lot to learn. I am indebted to Pat Roberts and Jon Legg for their help.

The next project is already underway. I was challenged by a friend to incorporate a particular guest character. It felt strange at first but I think I have created a world and style that fits. The screenplay is written, voices are being recorded and some very technical shots are in the can (!). Today I’m reviewing the shot list and getting ready to start the bulk of filming. It’ll be 95% stop motion as things stand. Stay tuned.

Stratford’s bridge of love

It’s a tradition that goes back over a century. A couple buy a padlock, engrave it with their initials, lock it to a bridge railing and then dramatically throw their keys into the torrent below. These gestures symbolise their undying love for each other.

In recent years it’s caught on to such an extent that bridges have been damaged. A fence on The Pont des Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of thousands of padlocks. The authorities removed 45 tons of locks from that one bridge! That’s an awful lot of keys in the river.

There’s more on the background to the love locks phenomenon on the Matador Network site.

Anyway, Stratford upon Avon has it’s own bridge of love. It spans the Rush Brook on Trinity Way. I have to say it’s a less romantic setting than the Pont de Arts.

Bridge over the Rush Brook on Trinity Way

On this bridge is a single padlock. It’s been there for at least the two and a half years we have lived here. It hasn’t had a council angle grinder taken to it (it’s not threatening the bridge’s integrity to be fair) but nor has it been joined by others.

The padlock is quite corroded and I can’t make out any initials.

It’s quite corroded

I wonder what the story behind it is? It’s off the tourist trail so I’m guessing they couple are likely to be local. Did they throw the key in the Rush Brook?

I like that it remains alone. It’s never became the leader of a trend, a fashion. The bleakness of the site stands in contrast to the warmth of the gesture.

art\write Two Chairs project

I am one of sixteen artists and writers invited to contribute to this art\write project during the Coronavirus lock-down. The participants have been invited to create online work inspired by this image.

I’m working with artist Deb Catesby to create a video setting for her drawings.

My piece will be a short video with a hint of drama. I will post more when the work is on the web site. In the mean time you can bookmark the development of the project here. There’s already work there if you’re interested.

I’m still learning new skills but I hope the piece will be competent, coherent and entertaining.

Another stop motion animation

It’s been a while but here is the link to our latest stop motion animation experiment (Penguin / Hedgehog: The World Tour Part 2). It’s a bit rough and ready but we’ve learned a lot putting it together. Things like: it’s hard to light with table lamps. I hope you enjoy it.

More stop motion animation

Our latest short is here.

This time we’ve incorporated more green screen work and our ‘actor’ is a little more mobile.

Our thanks to Jonathan Legg for doing the main voice over work.

Stop Motion Animation

We, like most people, have been stuck at home for weeks. I should be learning French and writing a full length play but that’s not happening.

However, we have become fascinated with making stop motion animation. There’s no rhyme or reason for this. We’ve never tried anything like it before so we’re starting from nothing.

It began as a joke. I’d been sending a daily photo to friends and family purporting to be the story of Morris, our new rescue penguin. In one part of the story Morris is kidnapped and a note has been received (yes, it is silly). One of the recipients asked for proof of life so I decided to animate some mock CCTV footage.

This required some research. There was zero budget and less expertise. I found out about Stop Motion Studio software which runs on an Android phone (did I mention we don’t have a camera?). This allowed us to create the first film.

And then the second.

After that we created a couple of fun shorts here, here, and here. Obviously I hadn’t quite managed focussing at this stage (or, indeed, at any stage so far).

Next we wanted to create something longer using lights (struggling with this as well). This is the Brian Sedge Masterclass. If you like Shakespeare… I’m sorry.

We returned to Morris’ story for our latest effort. It’s all got a bit out of hand. For this ‘production’ we had a screenplay, recorded a soundtrack separately using Audacity, used green screen (chroma key) to give us an exotic setting and used a video editor to mix it all together. It took several days before we found a piece of freeware that worked for us but we settled on Shotcut, which is idiosyncratic but does the job. The result is Egg, Morris’s origin story.

It’s been a steep and sometimes rocky learning curve but it has been fun.

Back to Back at the Back to Backs

10 creative writers and 10 visual artists make a site specific response to Birmingham’s historic communal courtyard housing.

I’ll be writing a site-specific piece and performing it on the * POSTPONED until further notice * at the Back to Backs in Birmingham. I am working in conjunction with visual artist Deb Catesby. The visual art exhibition element runs from * also postponed *.

It’s going to be a great event. More details on the art\write web site. Booking is essential but it is not open yet.

Birmingham Back to Backs – National Trust

55-63 Hurst Street/50-54 Inge Street, Birmingham, B5 4TE

Now preserved by the National Trust these buildings represent the working history of Birmingham. The 19th-century courtyard of working people’s houses provides an atmospheric glimpse into the lives of the ordinary people who helped make Birmingham an extraordinary city. They are Birmingham’s last surviving court of back to backs – houses built literally back-to-back around a communal courtyard. The National Trust tour moves from the 1840s through to the 1970s, giving us an insight into the lives of some of the former residents who crammed into these small houses to live and work.

Unframed in Bromyard

Yesterday was the performance of my short piece unframed at the unframed writings event at the Chapel Gallery in Bromyard. It was one of eight pieces. The art\write writers involved this time were:

My piece was a three-hander and I’m grateful to fellow writers Philip Monks and Sheila Farrell for helping me to perform the piece. The rehearsals for all eight pieces of writing were short and intense and we are all indebted to theatre director Jonathan Legg for his calm direction and support.

The Chapel Gallery is a lovely venue and the audience were great. I hope we helped to raise plenty of funds for Bromyard Community Arts.

Coming Up: unframed writings

I am writing and performing a short piece for the below event. It will be inspired by pieces shown at the Chapel Gallery’s recent, rather wonderful, Unframed show. Please do come along.

unframed writings flyerpic small

Unframed Writings
The Chapel Gallery, Bromyard
2 Forbury Chase, Sherford Street, Bromyard, HR7 4DL
Saturday 25th May at 4.30pm (doors open at 4.15pm)

A group of creative writers, collectively known as ‘art\write’, will be performing short creative works inspired by unframed, which was an exhibition of drawings and sketches recently shown at The Chapel Gallery. The afternoon will include poetry, short prose and drama. Entry to this one-off event is free – donations welcomed to support Bromyard Community Arts. The performance will end at approximately 5.30pm with tea and cake. Find out more about art\write at www.artwrite.net

R&J: take 2 – tickets still available

My piece for Romeo & Juliet: take two at the ArtistsWorkhouse in Studley is ready to go. The short two-hander is called the point of light. It is paired with Sheila Farrell‘s beautiful artwork a small light which will be in the exhibition. We are one of ten writer and artist teams presenting on the night.

The first performance is on Friday (8th June) at 7pm and the second is on Saturday 16th June, also at 7pm. Tickets are still available from Eventbrite at £7 (price includes refreshments). The last time that I looked there were still £5 early bird tickets available.

The exhibition (free entry) runs from Saturday 9th-Sunday 17th June, 11am-4pm (closed Monday and Tuesday). There are more details on the art\write site.

On a practical note… Parking: There is free parking available behind the closed Royal Victoria pub opposite ArtistsWorkhouse (B80 7AU). Alternatively there is a public car park at Pool Road (B80 7HJ) which is a short walk away.