Wednesday, 26 September 2012

RELAYS - It's not over yet!

Team RELAYS on 14 Sept 2012 with Olympic Champion Jason Gardener, MBE
and  Team GB Paralympic Bronze medalist, Ben Rushgrove 
Since 2008, RELAYS has worked with nearly two-thirds of a million people across the South West of England. On 14 September 2012 we put on a special event for 120 invited guests at Watershed, Bristol to celebrate the success of the project over the last four years.

A number of key speakers talked about how RELAYS has inspired people through creative arts, sport, volunteering and business across the region. The RELAYS Volunteer Awards 2012 were also presented by Olympic Champion Jason Gardener, MBE and Team GB Paralympic Bronze medalist, Ben Rushgrove. I was very proud that Bath Spa University graduate, Kara Rennie, received a runner up award in the category for 'Outstanding contribution to the 2012 Cultural Legacy' for her fantastic work on Illuminate Bath.

There were also performances by B Sharp music group, based in Lyme Regis, and RISE Youth Dance from Bristol, as well as an exhibition of RELAYS event paraphernalia. It was lovely to look back on all that we've  achieved as a team. It's been an amazing journey. I've relished the opportunity to develop and manage such a diverse range of projects and work with so many talented and enthusiastic people, organisations, students and volunteers. I've been writing this blog since the early days of RELAYS and it's a great reminder of all that has happened and how far we have come.

It's not over yet as RELAYS has been awarded additional funding from Legacy Trust UK to help us work closely with Widening Participation departments in Universities in the South West over the coming months to fully integrate our work, and ensure an ongoing legacy from London 2012.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Mail, Maps and Motion in Bristol

 At the weekend I went to a one off event in Bristol combining projections, live music and film curated by Watershed. It was held in the Digby Wyatt Building at Bristol Temple Meads railway station, a big warehouse type space where Brunel's original train platforms are, that is now used as a car park. I really liked the urban location, it was dark inside so the projections looked great, the music was loud and with more than 2,000 people inside the atmosphere was a bit like a club. They rigged four giant screens from the roof of the building forming a rectangle, which meant that you could stand in the middle of the space and watch projections on all sides, (although it was very crowded in the middle so I saw most of it from the edge!)

Black and white archive films were projected illustrating Bristol's industrial heritage, along with some of Brunel’s original drawings and live iPad drawing from Bristol graffiti artist Inkie. The grand finale was a new commission bringing together Joanie Lemercier from AntiVJ (I've mentioned their projection work before on this blog), with Adrian Utley from the band Portishead and a host of other musicians, conducted by Charles Hazlewood.

The event was free as part of London 2012 Festival and See No Evil, an art project that brings together a selection of the world’s best street artists to create a huge outdoor gallery on Nelson Street in Bristol City centre. I'm so glad that I got to see it, it was an amazing experience and reminded me why I love big projections.

Monday, 13 August 2012

My day at the London 2012 Olympics

After years of anticipation I made it to the London 2012 Olympics on Friday. The weather was fantastic and we enjoyed a lovely day exploring the Olympic park in the sunshine. It's hard to believe that the park was industrial wasteland up until a few years ago. The transformation is huge and it's now a wonderful green space, full of beautiful trees, plants and flowers.

We followed a path along the river and came across the Gloriana moored on the river, a royal barge privately commissioned as a tribute to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee, and the lead vessel in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.  The site was buzzing with people and every now and again we could hear huge roars coming from the crowds inside the stadium and the other venues.

 In the evening we watched the Men's Diving 10m Platform preliminaries held in the Aquatics Centre. The atmosphere was wonderful and there were extra loud cheers for Team GB divers Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield. The duo had narrowly missed out on a medal the previous week, coming fourth in the synchronised 10m Platform competition. However things went better for Tom Daley this time and he went on to win a bronze medal in the final the following day. 

There have been so many magical moments in the last couple of weeks. My personal favourites were the Opening Ceremony that exceeded every ones expectations, Jessica Ennis winning the heptathlon, Mo Farah's 10,000m and 5,000m triumphs and of course Tom Daley taking bronze. Sadly it's over all too soon but I'll remember the London 2012 Olympics for the rest of my life, and we still have the Paralympics to come!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bristol Urban Sport Exhibition Opens at M Shed

Inside the Bristol Urban Sport exhibition

In October 2011 I started work on a unique project supporting five Bath Spa University History students to co-curate an exhibition called 'Bristol Urban Sport' at M Shed, in partnership with staff from Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives and Bristol City Council.

Eight months later after a lot of hard work the exhibition opened on 22 May, coinciding with the Olympic Torch's arrival in Bristol. We attended the private view on 1 June which was a fantastic way to celebrate the project with lots of people who had contributed in some way.

Bristol Urban Sport explores the relationship between the fabric of the city and sport over the last 200 years. The exhibition reveals how the people of Bristol have manipulated both the natural landscape and man-made architecture for sporting activity.

The students interviewed a range of people from local groups and clubs and identified photographs, memorabilia, objects and film that is featured in the exhibition. They uncovered some fascinating stories along the way e.g. the first modern bungee jump from the Clifton suspension bridge.

Students Sam, Bethan, Alice and Hannah (we were missing Alex that day)
It's been a fantastic opportunity for them to learn about how an exhibition is put together, and develop lots of new skills. The best bit for me was seeing how excited and proud the students were when they first got a glimpse of their work on display in the gallery. I also really enjoyed working with the team at M Shed, spending time there and learning about the history of the city. Bristol is such a special place!
The exhibition runs until 9 September 2012 and is free to attend. A programme of events, talks and family activities will run alongside the exhibition. Please visit the M Shed website for further information.

I took this photo from the M Shed balcony during the private view

The student team in front of one of M Shed's iconic cranes on the harbour side

Thursday, 24 May 2012

West of England Celebration of Sport evening

Me with Bath Spa University students Vicki, Grianne, Pete, Natasha and Jade.

Us on stage with the other nominees and Kriss Akabusi.

Last night I attended the first West of England Celebration of Sport Awards in Bristol with five students from Bath Spa University. The event was organised by the West of England Sport Trust and we were nominated for a 'Contribution to legacy' award for the resource pack we've developed for primary schools about the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The evening was compered by Kriss Akabusi MBE who was fantastic, bringing energy, enthusiasm, pride and passion to the awards. We heard from lots of inspiring people who've made a huge contribution to sport in their communities, as well as some local Olympic torchbearers and volunteers who will help to make the London 2012 Games happen. We didn't win the award in the end but we didn't mind at all because we had such a fantastic evening and it was great to be a part of it. Now I just need to find a good spot to display our certificate at the University.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Synchronised Swimming at the Olympic Park

I was invited by BT Storytellers to watch the Synchronised Swimming Qualification at the Aquatics Centre on Sat 21 April. This five day event was the final opportunity for synchronised swimmers to qualify for the London 2012 Games.

It felt exciting to be walking into the Olympic Park. It’s completely transformed since I last visited in August 2010 when it was still a building site. We got through the airport style security quite quickly and stopped to take a few photos of the Olympic Stadium before we entered the Aquatics Centre with its iconic wave shaped roof. Inside there was a great atmosphere and it was very warm. We sat high up in one of the stands and we had a good view looking down on the pool.

Synchronised Swimming is one of two women-only disciplines in the Olympic Games (the other is Rhythmic Gymnastics). We watched 10 countries competing in the Teams free routine. Teams of eight athletes perform a four minute routine to music which is designed to show off their strengths and creativity.

The athletes need to be incredibly agile and strong to be able to perform in synch with each other and the music while holding their breath under water for a lot of the time. The fast pace of the routines and the variety of positions, movements and lifts make it really watchable and popular with spectators.

Judges mark a variety of components during a routine, including choreography, difficulty, synchronisation and execution. The routines varied quite a lot in terms of music and theme. The theme for Great Britain’s routine was inspired by Peter Pan and Neverland. I particularly enjoyed Mexico’s routine inspired by karate and martial arts.

The Russian team won gold in the competition. They are the current Olympic and world champions. Spain won silver and Japan won bronze.

They join five teams that had already qualified including Team GB as the host nation and the European representative. You can see the full list of results on the London Prepares website
It was fantastic to see world-class athletes in action inside the Olympic Park. Synchronised Swimming is a great event to watch and I’m looking forward to following the competition during the Games.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Olympic inspired resource for primary schools launched

Last week we launched ‘Our Games, Our Values’ which is a free resource for primary schools in South West England, inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Values.

I've worked with five Bath Spa Uiversity History students to develop the resource over the last 18 months. It contains ten activities that celebrate local, ‘South West’ links with the Games. It creates opportunities for children to learn about elite athletes who train here, local artists who have been inspired by the Games and important local people, such as Hodgson Pratt, who have played key roles in the modern Olympic Games.

It's been quite a complicated project. The students did a lot of research before they came up with the activities, which we decided should be practical, creative and adaptable. They sought advice from education professionals and piloted the activities in four local primary schools. We worked with a designer to produce the pack. The students also created PowerPoint presentations to accompany the activities which involved sourcing images and content and obtaining the appropriate permissions.

The launch event was hosted by the Vice-Chancellor at Bath Spa University and Rt. Hon. Don Foster MP, who both made lovely speeches about the project.

I've enjoyed working with the same group of students for 18 months. They had just begun their 2nd year when I met them and they're now very close to graduating. I've got to know them individually and it's been lovely to see them grow in confidence. Taking part has inspired several of them to become teachers once they graduate which is a fantastic legacy.

The resource is available online on the RELAYS website.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Illuminate Bath 2012 in pictures

What an incredibly busy few weeks! Illuminate Bath 2012 was a tremendous success. The festival got busier and busier each night. We estimate that about 36,000 people attended the festival in total over the four evenings. We've had lots of great publicity and photos of the artworks have been enjoyed by people all around the world.

The best part of it for me was seeing so many people of all ages enjoying the artworks. It's hard to take it in at the time but there were a few precious moments when I stopped to look around me and I felt there was a magical and playful atmosphere. After nearly a year of planning it seems like it's gone in a flash. Thankfully there are loads of amazing photos on flickr to enjoy. It's also great to read lots of positive comments on twitter and facebook.

Catch Me Now by Tine Bech. Photograph by Andrew Welsher.
Part of Pulse by Bath Spa University students Tom Shuttleworth and Paul James. Photograph by Edward Lockyer.
Clockwork City - Under the grills, by Bath Spa University students Frances Jones and Joanne Wheeler with Enlightened Lighting, inspired by greyworld. Photograph by Edward Lockyer.

Frequency by Alex Cotterell, Will Kendrick, Lumen and OCD. Photograph by Edward Lockyer.

Clockwork City - Phone Box, by Bath Spa University students Pinn Bunyapana and Thomas Wells, inspired by greyworld. Photograph by Edward Lockyer.
People enjoying a projection on Stall Street. Photograph by Andrew Welsher.

Friday, 6 January 2012

20 days to go

Frequency by Alex Cotterell, Will Kendrick, Lumen and OCD. Photograph by Edward Lockyer.

Just under three weeks to go until Illuminate Bath. I'm so excited to see everything come together after all the planning and preparation. Predictably whenever I get busy with work I tend to neglect my blog. The festival  takes over and it's a struggle to keep up with my other projects. The next few weeks are likely to be a whirlwind of site meetings, risk assessments, finance and last minute issues to sort out.

I'm really proud of the programme that we've put together. I think the festival showcases a range of original, playful and accessible artworks, created by internationally renowned, as well as local artists, university students and Bath school children. We're working with a lot of student volunteers to deliver the festival. I hope that the experience will inspire them to get involved in more arts projects and events and organise their own in the future.

This photo above is of Frequency, a new light installation in the Roman Baths. The balcony area of the baths will open for audiences to view the artwork  for free on two nights. We're already getting some good media coverage, such as this article in Venue . Let's hope lots of people hear about the festival and brave the January weather to come to enjoy it.