gill moore photography

Archive for the 'green' Category

Creative Studio sharing … a Danish example but it needs a green roof!

Maybe one day I will dabble in a bit of studio sharing. I often think it sounds like a stimulating and fun environment to work within, different creative skillsets all housed in one building with the possibility of collaboration plus the practical benefits of sharing facilities. Whilst savouring the wonderful design work on the bloesem site, I discovered a successful creative workspace enterprise called ‘Lynfabrikken’ (the lightning factory) based in Denmark.
I suppose the closest thing we have here in Manchester would be The Craft and Design Centre but it rents out only small units and does not have the space to attract photographers/musicians/film-makers. Maybe Islington Mill has the potential to grow into something bigger, though the Danish example seems to have a more central location and therefore the ability to morph itself into trendy cafe, place to be seen plus a gallery and performance venue. Lynfabrikken is open to the public with opportunities to buy and view unique work and provides a meeting spot for all the creative tenants and their clients.
I shall carry on with my idealised daydream for the Perfect Studio ….
Of course it would have to utilise all roof space, maybe a green living roof similar to the Unicorn Grocery roof project in Chorlton, their site has a live web-cam (you can actually control the camera movements!).
The Unicorn scheme provides a green escape for their employees and was designed specifically to attract the rare black redstart, a bird happy in the urban environment but rapidly disappearing from the UK. There have been reports of at least one breeding pair of these birds this summer in the centre of Manchester (near the CIS building) so maybe they will wing their way over to Unicorn one day soon.

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International Garden Photographer of the Year 2008

The International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition is one of the most prestigious photography contests  and the Overall Winner this year features the above stunning scene from a Japanese Garden.  Australian photographer, Claire Takacs, managed to be in the right place at a wonderful time AND possessed the skills to create a beautiful evocative image.  What is it about trees and snow which combines so perfectly.

 

Talking of trees, allow me to point you in the direction of Paul Debois.  He has a series of black and white images taken with a pinhole camera in the Portolio Section of the IGPOY competition (click here to view) which I just adore.  Yes, the winning set of shots is beautiful but (in my humble opinion) Debois’ work is more deserving for top spot as it is individual, highly creative and skilful and possesses the ability to move you into another zone.  I have always liked Edward Steichen’s work and it was no surprise to read that Paul Debois’ “Pinhole Impressions” has a dab of Steichen inspiration behind it.

 

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Who will be crowned England’s premier Cycle City? Cycling England Funding up for grabs …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did anyone know that 19 towns and cities in England have reached the final shortlist in a competition to find the country’s first Cycling City and ten new Cycling Towns?  I certainly didn’t, but  I was delighted to see Manchester is in the pot for the Cycling City Award.  The winner is to be announced in early June 2008.  A list of all the shortlisted towns and cities can be found here.

There have been 6 pioneer Cycle Demonstration Towns operating a pro-cycling policy for the last 3 years.  These are Aylesbury, Brighton & Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter, Lancaster & Morecombe.

Some of the benefits a winning area will gain are extra funding (up to £500,000), advice on best practice, access to other Cycle England funded programmes and support with promotion and monitoring.

Is it all hot air?  I guess if it pushes cycling up the news headline barometer, no bad thing.  To take an example from one of the previously successful “Cycle Demonstration Towns” namely Brighton,  here it certainly seems to have kick-started the Council to become more cycle-friendly.  They match-funded the Cycle England’s contribution, which promises a £3 million investment in cycling over the next 3 years.  Brighton is a town which has seen cycling increase by 47% since 2000 and with 45% of city-workers travelling less than 3 miles, then this presents a fantastic opportunity to inform and tempt those workers to ditch the car and travel on two wheels.

UPDATE :  Today it is Wednesday 18th June and still NO announcement and NO explanation on the cycle demo towns decision.  I guess we’ll just have to keep watching on the Cycling England website.  Of course I will post the winners as soon as the “powers-that-be” make a decision.

UPDATE TWO : Yes the decision is out this morning (Thurs 19th June 2008), Bristol is the winner,  it will become the UK’s first “Cycling City”.  It is probably not a massive surprise as historically Bristol has always projected a very strong supportive relationship with local cyclists and aimed to encourage cycling in the area.  Sadly (for me anyway) Manchester doesn’t get a look in, it is not even on the demonstration town list of winners, those are: York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport and Woking.  Read more on this story here.  Good luck to all the chosen towns and cities, hopefully this extra money will allow and encourage more people to cycle and using pedal-power becomes a more enjoyable, respected, desirable and safer experience in urban areas. There is further BBC piece here which looks at Bristol and attitudes to the city winning the award and the difference it could make.
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“The Chorlton Bench Project” by Gill Moore. Preview Night, Chorlton Arts Festival @ Chorlton Library, Manchester.

Last Friday 16th May saw the launch of the 8th Chorlton Arts Festival.  The programme covers visual arts, dance, music, film and with 18,000 visitors to last years festival it seems to grow more popular, bigger and better each year.  It is all based around a 1 mile square area in the South Manchester suburb of Chorlton, Manchester, UK.
I was lucky enough to be chosen to exhibit my most recent work “The Chorlton Bench Project” and I was delighted to be able to bag my number one venue at Chorlton Library.
Friday was the Preview Night for all the visual artists.  Part of the Festival’s appeal is that venue’s can range from an Art Gallery such as Arison, a plant nursery, barschurches and even a first for the festival someone’s own house becoming an ArtHOUSE.
After weeks of hard work and preparation things went right to the wire for my Exhibition;  I kid you not, I had people queuing at the door.  But bang on 6pm I was ready and my Preview Night was up and running. The most popular bench in Chorlton was named shortly after the start.   Lance Crookes, who features in one of the photographs, very kindly accepted my invitation to make the announcement.  The winner was Mary’s Bench which is fairly close to Jackson’s Boat alongside the River Mersey.  Voted Top Spot due to number of visitors, bench aesthetics, bench user vibe and having a darn lovely view.  Apparently the Chorlton Kingfisher can be seen from this spot.
Three other popular shots on the Preview Night were: “smile” on the Blue Bench, “After The Storm” from the Flower Bench and “butties” on the Triangle Bench.  To see all the images selected for the exhibition together with some further information on the “The Chorlton Bench Project” just click here.
Many thanks to those generous souls who selflessly helped with the exhibition and to everyone who made the effort to come along to show their support.  It would have been a very lonely night indeed without you all, I had a fantastic time and I hope you all enjoyed the evening.  The free wine just lasted til the end thank goodness :-)  I have done a quick little montage from pictures taken on the evening (thanks Mike!).
I had loads of feedback notes in the suggestion box, I am so glad I put that up, I always feel a bit self-conscious writing in a comments book so I thought I would try out the box and see what happened.  There were many lovely positive words which are enormously helpful and encouraging to me.  I have posted a few below (I hope people don’t mind).  The handmade postcards sold well, certainly worth all the effort.
This time I’ve been much more organised on the publicity front.  I had fab support from Helen @ Marketing Doris.  I got a little feature in the South Manchester Reporter, though my cunning plan to ensure any picture of my good self would have to be tiny was thwarted as they upsized the small file I gave them and so not only was the picture of me printed, it was big AND fuzzy. :-(
Whilst putting up the exhibition, I got chatting to lots of people who were interested in the images.  This is just what I had been hoping for, folk were reminiscing on their favourite benches, gently chiding me for ones I had missed out,  stories behind some of them (the flower bench grew from a previous Arts Festial which had a nice symmetry).   I even met my local councillor Val Stevens …. a mine of information on Chorlton plus a few of the people who featured in the shots who came along to say hello; it was lovely to see their reaction to the finished work.
“The Chorlton Bench Project” Exhibition will be on display at the library until the end of May, normal library opening hours.  After that, I would love to take the work somewhere else and possibly produce a book illustrated with stories from the locals and with hand-drawn maps of the area and where you can find each bench.  I  have been contacted by a local school who want to write and perform a drama based on one of the benches (I shall let you know how that develops) and an idea that came up on Preview Night was for a web-based International Bench Project (where people could upload their own bench shots from around the world) which would be amazing.  So watch this space …..
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Cardboard Toys Anyone ?

Paperpod are a new and pretty innovative company based in East Sussex, UK. They take a well-known fact; that children actually have far more fun playing with the packaging their presents arrive in than the actual toy, to it’s natural conclusion. They produce kids toys and furniture made completely out of cardboard such as a den, a rocket and a dolls house. All items are lightweight, low environmental impact, easy to store and decorate.

It is not clear whether the cardboard is made from recycled sources, nor how outdoor products like the playhouse are waterproof. Maybe someone can enlighten me there? Nevertheless, it seems an interesting angle to approach the normally horrendously wasteful kids toy market. Do you think one day they will do an adult teepee, I like the sound of that? :-)

UPDATE : September 2009.  For any US-based readers, check out designer Ben Blanc’s latest sustainable designs including cardboard animals for kids and room dividers.  All made for US company Cardboardesign who specialise in all things eco and made out of cardboard.

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film chat: “Silent Light” by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas and “Into the Wild” by Sean Penn

Time for a bit of film chat.  The compulsion for me to actually spend some cash and go and see a movie is often a completely random thing.  I try and speed read reviews so I don’t actually wind up knowing the whole plot but it proves sufficient for me to digest something, a gist or a theme.  Even how the film looks can nudge me to watch something,  from this accumulated heresay I can usually make a decision and word of mouth from trusted sources can assist things too.  
I spotted some stills from a film called “Silent Light” the other day in a magazine, worthy of further investigation I thought and duly noted the details in my phone (very useful if my notebook isn’t to hand!).  The film was released at the end of 2007 written and directed by Carlos Reygadas, a Mexican film-maker apparently deemed a bit of an enfant terrible judging by reaction to his previous two films; “Japón” (2002) and “Batalla en el Cielo” (2005).  He favours long-takes and often uses non-professional actors.  The wonderful cinematography is from Alexis Zabe.
The film is set in a Mexican Mennonite community who practice nonviolence and pacifism and deals with a married man who falls in love with another woman.  It is a quiet and very slow film, not always a bad thing and the reviews were fairly glowing.  I shall investigate and post back.  Definitely a bit of Terence Malick about him looking at the stills.
silentlight.jpg 
One film I have seen recently that made a deep impression was “Into the Wild” (2007) directed by Sean Penn.  I was really put off this film by some of the reviews and so decided against seeing it at the cinema.  The main criticism seemed to be that the hero was so flawed, egotistical and selfish that the audience simply hated him too much.  The result being that any message the film wanted to reveal was lost in a sea of annoyance.
intothewild_poster.jpg 

Though I would not go so far as to say the critics were wrong, in fact many rated it highly, it simply goes to prove how we are all so different in our tastes and take different things from the cinematic experience as a result.  The film is based on a true story and a book  written in 1996.  It is the fascinating tale of a gifted American student who decided to drop-out, hitchhike to Alaska and live in the wild.  
With his films Sean Penn sometimes has a tendency to veer into smugness and simplicity (though I believe his heart is in the right place) and maybe this explains the mixed reviews, I am not sure, but if you love open spaces and sometimes tire of the materialistic road we seem to be freewheeling down then I would say give the film a go.

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