Saturday 21 April 2018

The constant mediation of the lens

Struck by something that I jotted down from the London Review of Books, talking about the instrusion of images - so many images everywhere, do we really see anything?
Julian Stallabrass wrote this ages ago (in June 2014) in an article 'On Selfies'.
It seems pretty true to me.
 "The constant mediation of the lens is disrupting experience and  memory. Photography, unthinkingly and endlessly made and shared, pollutes awareness and the real world and suppresses memory of anything other than the moment when the image is captured."

Friday 20 April 2018

Brigadier General Sir John Gough and the 25th Field Ambulance

In February 1915, the Cornish miners in the 25th Field Ambulance were involved in a tragedy that touched the very top of military command.
Towards the end of the month a freak accident occurred which resulted in the death of Brigadier General Sir John Gough, one of the most prominent figures in the army. He was visiting a trench near Estaires on 20 February 1915 when a bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit him in the stomach. Despite the efforts of a prominent surgeon, he died two days later.
He was buried in Estaires cemetery and the Field Ambulance lined the route.
We found his gravestone in Estaires cemetery on our recent visit. 

Sunday 15 April 2018

Fresh light on an old window in Paul

Great to see the amazing World War 1 window at Paul Church restored. It had looked impressive enough before - but the new work has revealed so many details. Here are just a few.
It's frustratingly difficult to take photos of the window as so much light streams through it now! Even more reason to go and visit.
The Church is celebrating the restoration with a weekend of activities over the first Bank Holiday in May.
Robert Anning Bell, the Arts and Crafts movement artist, designed this window, honouring local man Lieutenant William Torquil Macleod Bolitho who was killed on 24 May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres.   Click here to read more about Paul Church's extremely hard work to get this restoration funded and completed.

Saturday 14 April 2018

Coffee companions

What a brilliant new idea.
Coffee Companions aims to bring together people who just want to have a chat over a cup of coffee. Various cafes around the country have signed up. You need to go to the Coffee Companions website to find one near you - then when you go there, you ask for a 'coffee mat'.
You sit at your table with your mat - and someone knows that you'd like a chat. Or presumably if you spot someone without a mat, you can sit down and make friends with them.
The whole idea of this is to break people out of either self-inflicted isolation (obsessions with phones etc) or to give lonely people the chance for some social contact.
Very many older people can spend an entire day without speaking to anyone.
 As Coffee Companions website says:
"Coffee Companions is for anyone, anywhere. Putting the paper down, turning off the phone, just having a chat with their coffee and knowing they aren't intruding - using one of our chat mats is easier than mind reading."
They're just starting off so there aren't many cafes signed up as yet.
But I see that the Cafe at Waitrose in Truro has - so I might just try it.  I really hope that this works, as it has such potential.

Friday 13 April 2018

Redruth Young Men's Bible Class - in colour

It's amazing how colourised old photos can make the past come alive.
The Cornish Studies Library in Redruth is currently showing an exhibition of tinted old photos, including this one of Redruth Young Men's Bible Class on a pre-World War One outing.

It made me think of Henry Cobb's colour photographs of Warsaw after World War Two - though amazingly these weren't colourised but taken on early colour film.

Thursday 12 April 2018

Flowerpickers and a receipt

The daffodil picking in the fields near my house is finished now - but I did find a piece of paper by my gate in the mud. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago,  we know very little more about the lives of migrant workers than ten years ago when we launched our project I Packed This Myself - with the aim of bringing migrant workers and local communities together.

The paper was a receipt from Lidl, Penzance, and had been dropped by a worker leaving a car near my gate. Whoever this was had certainly not been wasting money on fine living. Vegetable fat spread,  A bottle of cider, then a diet of noodle soup, white bread and orange juice.

Not a healthy diet at the best of times - and particularly not when working long days in the freezing cold.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Making gold boxes at the Wallace Collection

Gold boxes at the Wallace Collection

Boxes made by the group
A wonderful visit this afternoon to the Wallace Collection in London with the Elders' group from the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith. We visited the museum's dazzling collection of furniture, paintings, mirrors and china... not to mention the armoury.
We were all very inspired to create our own gold boxes at the end in the Education Centre. Here are a selection. (We'll be following this up with a box decoration workshop back in Hammersmith in May. We love working with the Elders' group - most recently on embroidery).
Our last museum visit was to the V&A - click here to read more.

Estaires looks at WW1 destruction

An interesting talk in Estaires, northern France, on the destruction at the end of World War One. The town, very close to the Front Line, was occupied by the Allies for most of the war, but fell to the Germans in April 1918 - just seven months before the Armistice.

These postcards show the extent of the destruction in the town. Estaires has a special resonance for Cornwall as many Cornish miners were stationed in the town at the start of the War. Camborne Youth Band is planning to visit Estaires in August before playing at the Menin Gate. 

A visit to Estaires

We were so pleased to visit Estaires, France, the other day to talk to Pascale Algoet, the deputy mayor, and Regine Henneon of the town's historical society.  As part of Heart of Conflict and the centenary of World War One, we're working with Camborne Youth Band on an extraordinary trip planned for later in the year to the Menin Gate and Estaires.
Estaires has a special resonance for the Camborne/Redruth area as many Cornishmen were stationed there in World War One.  At the outbreak of war in 1914, many miners from Dolcoath's St John's Ambulance team joined the Royal Army Medical Corps went out to the Front, led by local doctor Captain William Blackwood. Descendants of these men still live in Camborne and Redruth, including  Chris Negus, the grandson of Fred Negus.
The group sailed from Southampton to Le Havre, then travelled straight to Estaires where they were stationed for more than a year.
Amazingly - Corey Williams, the great great grandson of Fred Negus, is now in Camborne Youth Band.The plan is to travel back to Estaires 100 years on from the War and once again play the bugle in the town.
We've been discussing plans with Pascale and Regine.
Here Pascale takes us on a tour of Estaires Town Hall's very impressive Bell Tower.

Hopefully the Band will be able to visit the Bell Tower - at the moment they are very busy fundraising for the trip.

Monday 9 April 2018

Daffodils, embroidery and a trip to the Wallace Collection

A bleak rainy morning - but daffodils as ever lift the spirits, here at Hyde Park Corner.

They remind me of the wonderful daffodils in our Stitch project by Chhaya Biswas. Chhaya was a member of the Restart 50+ group in Tooting, London, who all embroidered very imaginative swatches. Chhaya chose daffodils, as they were her favourite flower. She had grown up in Bangladesh and studied William Wordsworth's famous poem about daffodils as a young girl.

She loved the poem, but had never seen a daffodil until she arrived in London at the age of 18 and saw daffodils in bloom on Wandsworth Common.

This amazing piece of work went on display at various venues around London. 

We're about to do some more work with the embroiderers at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith - actually not embroidery this time but an exciting new venture. Tomorrow we're off to the Wallace Collection, London, to decorate boxes inspired by their collection of fabulous artefacts.  Will report back.

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