Saturday, 28 September 2019

Camborne war memorial and a World War One exhibition

Lovely to see the War Memorial in Camborne, Cornwall, looking so well-cared for - it's the opposite of neglected!
The graveyard is neatly mown too. We find the grave of Dr William Blackwood who was such a prominent figure in the town from the turn of the century until his death in 1960.

Dr Blackwood was a key figure in setting up a St John Ambulance Division in the town and when World War One broke out in 1914, he led a group of miners to the Western Front. We've been working on this story for the past four years - more on the Bridging Arts website .
To mark Remembrance Day this year, our exhibition PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW will be on display in Camborne Library from early October.
Entry free and open to all.

Monday, 12 August 2019

First exercise session at John Betts House, Hammersmith

Great to start a series of dance and exercise sessions with a pretty large group of residents at John Betts House, Hammersmith, with Italian dancer Simone Sistarelli..... This was the first session. There'll be more in the autumn. John Betts House, run by Hammersmith United Charities, has wonderful gardens (pictured). There are more than 40 flats where residents can live independently.
A huge thank you to LocalGiving for a grant towards this work.
Simone Sistarelli specialises in work with older people. One of his most important projects is one specializing in people suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Click here for his website.

We've worked with him previously at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Feedback from our dance sessions for older people

Thanks to a grant from Localgiving’s Magic Little Grants programme, we were able to stage dance/exercise sessions for up to 30 older people at the Masbro Centre, Hammersith, London. The Centre runs a befriending service for isolated and disadvantaged older people.
These sessions were led by Italian dancer Simone Sistarelli who started with simple warm up movements for everyone – including people whose mobility was impaired – then ended with a full dance session. The idea was for people to learn simple exercises and positions that they could practise at home. 
The elders who participated in the classes said that they thoroughly enjoyed them and wanted more. They enjoyed Simone’s approach which made exercise ‘fun’.

He wanted the classes to brighten up the day if everything seemed miserable – and this is what happened. “I don’t want to be cheese-y but movement can make you happy. We’re going to go crazy and TAKE the happiness!” he said. People particularly enjoyed the dance sequences at the end, and practised between sessions.
“I liked the bit of routine with a funky rhythm. I felt like Michael Jackson. I want to do the Moon Walk next time.”
“I found that every part of the body had been exercised.”

Elders participating in the dance sessions at the Masbro Centre

Sunday, 23 June 2019

New work from artist Max Whetter

Great to see Max Whetter's second year show in his degree course at Cornwall College, Pool. This is work of real quality: very interesting takes on the famous self portrait by John Opie at the Royal Cornwall Museum.  Max won our competition for a new skateboard design in 2016. At the time he was working as a burger chef in Newquay.
This show now moves on in fact to the Museum in Truro, so there'll be a chance (hopefully) to see the original work that inspired Max.
Well worth a visit!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Camborne Youth Band star takes centre stage as soloist

Great to see Camborne Youth Band star soloist Aaron Thomas topping the bill at this concert in Camborne next month.
Aaron played at the Menin Gate during our trip to the World War One battlefields last year and came second in the regional finals of the Rotary Club Young Musician of the Year in March. 
Wonderful that he is now branching out. A big career ahead. 
Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Monday, 29 April 2019

Keeping World War One history alive at Trevithick Day

It was a blustery Saturday but spirits were high at the Donald Thomas Centre, Camborne, where we staged part of our exhibition Playing For Camborne at Trevithick Day on Saturday. 
Alison Pooley looked amazing in a World War One Red Cross uniform .... Thank you to Wenches in Trenches for loaning us this. 
We're gathering together more stories ahead of the full exhibition being staged at Camborne Library and Council offices this November. We will be publishing a booklet with all the stories we've gathered.  The exhibition looks at a group of miners from Dolcoath who signed up in World War One and Camborne Youth Band who followed in their footsteps to the Western Front in August last year.
Alison Pooley with Hannah Viant (left) and Corey Williams (right) of Camborne Youth Band

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Camborne seeks out World War One history this Trevithick Day

Trevithick Day (27 April 2019) in Camborne will have an extra layer of history this year as the town searches for the descendants of a group of miners from Dolcoath who joined up in 1914 and served throughout World War One.

The descendants of some of these men still live locally and are keen to find out more about their ancestors’ history. They will be staging an exhibition at the Donald Thomas Centre and are keen to make contact with Camborne families who have history and memorabilia from that time.

Men like Fred Negus, Leslie Pentecost, Fred Head, Ernie Fletcher and James Phillips were among a group of about 30 miners who signed up as soon as the war with Germany started in August 1914. They were trained as ambulance men at Dolcoath, where there were often terrible accidents. This was good preparation for life at the Front and after a brief stop in Salisbury, they went straight out to the battlefields.

“We would like to know more about all the men in the group,” says Ralph Williams, grandson of Fred Negus who ended up as a Prisoner of War in Germany. Fred brought back a 1914 bugle, which was played back on the Western Front last year by Ralph’s son, Corey, who is in Camborne Youth Band.

In 1915 in France, the men organised three rugby matches between Cornish and Devon servicemen after Camborne Rugby Club sent out a ball. The names of the team were published in local newspapers at the time. One was Jack Solomon, a rugby player from Redruth, who played in three matches but sadly died a year later of disease on the Somme.

The descendants of Fred Negus still have a photo of rugby team at the Front and are hoping that some of the faces might be familiar to exhibition visitors.

Alison Pooley and her family are descended from Leslie Pentecost, who went out to France in 1914 leaving his sweetheart Lillie (eventually his wife) behind. Lillie trained as a Red Cross nurse, as well as working in the local munitions factory: Alison will be wearing a WW1 Red Cross nurse uniform on Saturday.

All history and information gathered will be on display at Camborne Library and Council offices for Remembrance Day 2019.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

A short story machine

This sounds a great idea!... 
UK's first short-story dispensers to be installed in London's Canary Wharf
Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Daffodil pickers next year?

Endless confusion and anxiety still about Brexit and its impact on migrant workers - particularly in agriculture.These links circulated by the wonderful Ellie Molesey of Inclusion Cornwall could be very useful background reading:

Seasonal Workers Pilot
(agricultural industry recruitment from Ukraine, Moldova and Russia):



Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Two meetings in Truro on migrant workers

A week of meetings ....
After Camborne on Monday, two more good meetings in Truro yesterday on migrant workers. The first with Carl Warom who deals with Brexit matters at Cornwall Council (not an enviable task! Carl used to be a philosophy researcher  . A real change of path but perhaps philosophy helps in turbulent times).
Then with Andrew Yates, the Diocese of Truro's Social Responsibility officer. We're making plans to do more workshops in schools and with community groups. 
Andrew is so busy and always on the road between meetings. So we met st Truro station before he caught the train back to Penzance.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

First steps in next stage of World War One history project

Two good meetings in Camborne yesterday
- at St John's Catholic Primary School where we're hoping to forge links with a  school in Estaires
- with descendants of Cornish miners from Dolcoath who went out to the Front in 1914
All part of the next stage of our work in Cornwall on World War One history- funded by the National Lottery Heritage  Fund.  More about that here 
Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Unveiling of World War One memorial at Penponds Church

As part of our project Heart of Conflict, we've been looking at local World War One history. Now the centenary of the conflict has passed, we're looking at the years immediately after the war. Many memorials were unveiled then, as people remembered all those who died.
In Penponds, the War Memorial is unusual in that it is in the fabric of the church i.e. the porch, rather than outside.
It was designed by Canon James Sims Carah who was vicar of the parish from 1896 to 1935. Canon Carah, a local man, was responsible for the impressive oak carvings, windows and bench ends in the church today. Originally the building, consecrated in 1854, had a stark and plain granite interior.
Canon Carah, who grew up in Praze, had a vision of something very different. He worked tirelessly to create a building with a splendid fabric and interior, very much in a High Church tradition.
The porch, dedicated in December 1922, was part of this. Canon Carah explained at the time.
The idea was to turn ‘the present porch, as far as possible, into a sort of chapel commemorating all those who gave their lives for us,” he told the local paper.   A total of £300, a large sum at the time, was raised to create it - the equivalent of about £10,000 today.
It was intended to commemorate not only men from Penponds who died in the conflict, but also those who died who were connected in any way with the church and congregation. There are names of men who were studying at Camborne School of Mines, as well as those from local families.
The whole of the main porch was relined in granite in which were inserted four panels of Swedish marble, inscribed with the names of those who died.
Above the marble are carved panels of polyphant stone (also known as ‘Cornish soapstone’). One panel is called ‘The Great Sacrifice’ and has the inscription ‘No man has greater love than this’.
The other shows St Edward, St George and St Michael, said to be the guardian saints of soldiers.
On the roof in gold letters there are the words ‘Lord who dost our souls redeem, Grant blessed Requiem.’  All the work was done locally – apart from the stone carved panels which were sent away to be completed.
A new gate to the porch was made of wrought iron and a new lamp was donated by a Miss Holman (sadly this has since been stolen).  The Holmans were a rich and influential family locally at the time.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A glimpse of Cornwall in the National Poetry Library

I'd never been to the National Poetry Library and didn't even know it was in the Royal Festival Hall. But it's worth a visit, particularly to see the current exhibition - a recreation of W. S. Graham's study, the poet who was based in west Cornwall and died in 1986.  Irritatingly, the exhibition is short of any biographical detail or explanation so I'm not quite sure where W S Graham lived (though a Google search says Madron).
But the study that's been recreated looks out on to Gurnard's Head, quite a view. And there is a lovely poem in memory of his friend, the artist Peter Lanyon (killed in a gliding accident), on the wall.
More here.
I called today, Peter, and you were away.
I look out over Botallack and over Ding
Dong and Levant and over the jasper sea.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

St Piran’s Day in Hammersmith

Fantastic to see the Cornish flag flying in Hammersmith this morning. This is the very flag that travelled with Camborne Youth Band on their historic trip to the World War One battlefields in France and Belgium last summer.
A huge thank you to the St Peter's Square flag association for hoisting it.

Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Monday, 4 March 2019

Newlyn artist and horses in World War One

A rare opportunity to see paintings by Alfred Munnings at the National Army Museum.  Most of these paintings of men and horses in action in World War One are usually in Canada, in the Canadian War Museum. Munnings was an official war artist, painting the Canadian Expeditionary Force in action.
He went out to the Western Front late in 1917. In the years before that, he had been in Cornwall, one of the Newlyn colony of artists. The then vicar of St Hilary, Bernard Walke, talks fondly of him in his memoirs (published in the early 1930s).
The colours of Munning's paintings are bright and vibrant, very much the palette of the Newlyn-based artists painting scenes of Cornwall and the sea. One of his war paintings in the collection is of a cow (in the Jura).  Munnings, famed for his studies of horses, remarks that he had once bought a cow in Cornwall to study as a model and it had proved one of the best investments he had ever made.

We're hoping to continue our project, Heart of Conflict, in Cornwall marking the centenary of the end of World War One. We're waiting to hear if we have funding to take the work further.

Friday, 1 March 2019

British Sari Story Education Pack

In 2019, we'll be working with schools in the UK and in France - so we've been taking a look at the various Education Packs that we've produced over the years. The British Sari Story Education Pack has always proved very popular. It's still fresh and full of ideas.  Click here to read more.
Our project, The British Sari Story , looked at the sari in Britain in 2007, the 60th year after Indian independence. We ran a competition for young designers to create new patterns for this iconic Asian garment that reflected contemporary life in this country. We staged an exhibition, national competition and educational workshops exploring traditions, heritage and identity.  Click here to find out more.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

International Food Day in Hammersmith

A great day yesterday (Tuesday 26 February 2019) at the Elders’ Club at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith.  People brought in their traditional dishes and talked about the background to the recipes. So many were taught them by their mothers – from the Caribbean to Ghana and Bangladesh and southern India.
We’re hoping to put together a book of these recipes, with photographs of the cooks and information about the history of the dishes.

Friday, 15 February 2019

War Memorial at Penponds Church, near Camborne

Penponds churchAs part of Heart of Conflict,our project looking at World War One in Cornwall, we studied war memorials and graves of men who had been buried back home. Penponds Church near Camborne had very close links with Camborne School of Mines and the war memorial there remembers many young men who were not born locally - but had very strong links with the parish. Click here to download a guide to Penponds War Dead, compiled by a current parishioner, Craig Carey-Clinch.
The war memorial was created by Canon James Sims Carah, vicar of Penponds from 1896-1935 with the help of local people. It was unveiled by Dr William Blackwood, a veteran of WW1 who had led a party of St Johns Ambulance men from Dolcoath mine out to the Front in 1914.
Cornish miners played a vital role in the first part of the war, digging out under enemy lines to plant explosives. Many died.  One of the School of Mines students was Cecil Calvert who was recommended for a medal for his bravery in digging out a trapped man from a tunnel with his bare hands to avoid being heard by the German troops above. Tragically he died in another fearless rescue attempt before receiving the award.  He was, though, commemorated in Deeds That Thrilled the Empire, a book published after the war to boost morale at home and celebrate the heroism of British forces.

Friday, 8 February 2019

A flying visit to Estaires, France

Anne Debette and Sylvie Mignot
It was lovely to be back in Estaires, northern France, yesterday - even briefly -  and see our friends from the College du Sacre Coeur, the local history society and the Town Hall.  We've been working with Estaires to mark the centenary of the end of World War One for nearly 18 months now.
We had lunch with Anne Debette, Sylvie Mignot and colleagues at the school (which put on such an amazing display when we visited last November).
Anne Debette at the school door
Then we went to the Town Hall to pick up the exhibition boards which have been there since November. (Hopefully these boards will be back on display - with the entire exhibition - in Camborne in time for Remembrance Day this year).
En route we called in at Sailly-sur-la-Lys graveyard, not far away, where the former Cornish policeman Thomas Penhorwood is buried. We visited this graveyard with Camborne Youth Band last August.
Thomas Penhorwood's grave

It's amazing how clean these graveyards look - expertly maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. They were created in the years following the war, so nearly 100 years has passed. But they look almost new.
Cemetery at Sailly-sur-la-Lys

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Poetry marking Hayle's history

This poetry was written in autumn 2018 in Hayle, Cornwall, a century after the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front. Click here to read more.
A display of poppies made by parishioners at Phillack Church, Hayle
Keen writers – some experienced, some trying their hand for the first time - gathered at three workshops led by respected local author Jenny Alexander. They created poems to mark the centenary of the end of World War One, looking at Hayle’s extraordinary social and industrial history.
The result is a moving and powerful anthology - poems reflecting the courage, stoicism and heartbreak of those terrible years.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Migrant workers and local people in Cornwall

Daffodil pickers in West Cornwall/photo by Tom Pilston
A New Year and new resolutions.
In these days of Brexit confusion, is there ever more need to bring communities together and increase understanding?
We're just starting to do more research on the situation in Cornwall.
If you missed all the things we did at the start of this project, here are just a few highlights:
Workshops at Camborne School
An exhibition at Penair School with a film made by migrant workers
A workshop at Helston School
Ten workshops in a day at Torpoint School
A touring suitcase exhibition
And, for an overview, please visit the Bridging Arts website.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Bridging Arts accounts 2017 to 2018

We operate on a shoestring and are far too small to post our accounts up on the charity commissioners website.
But we do produce annual accounts and a report which should be of interest to supporters.  Click on the following link to read our latest annual accounts and report: Bridging Arts annual report 2017-18 .
Very many thanks to all our supporters and our local Trustees who have worked so hard over the past 12 months.
Conductor Alan Pope leading a Camborne Youth Band practise before an historic trip to the World War One
battlefields last year. Travel costs were covered by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of our project 'Playing for Camborne', looking at Cornwall's World War One heritage.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

More dance in Hammersmith

It was great to see Italian dancer Simone Sistarelli again yesterday (29 January 2019) for another dance class with people attending the Elders' Project at the Masbro Centre in Hammersmith, London.
Visit the Bridging Arts website to watch a short clip.
Simone started with warm-up exercises then moved on to dance.
"Research shows that dance is a bit like medecine," he said. "You take pills twice a day to get better - you should dance twice a day. That way, you'd really feel the benefit. It's important to practise, just like in any other field."
We are fortunate to have received funding from Localgiving's Magic Little Grants for this final class in a series.
This is the final class for the time being. But we're hoping to find funding for more as the benefits were so obvious, and everyone enjoyed it so much.