Thursday, 26 April 2012

THE COW COLLECTIVE


Now then, maybe it's because I grew up on 'The Estate' that I was completely and utterly blown away to be this up close and personal to a field of beautiful cows ... 

but I reckon it's because they are one of Earth's most peaceful, charming, extra ordinarliy majestic creatures.





It is awe struck moments like these that make me feel so pleased that I became a vegetarian as a teenager, back in the days before Linda Mc Cartney had worked her magic with soya, before Quorn, when being a Veggie instilled fear into the hearts of meat eaters ... when SosMix and nut loaf were our main staple!


On the one hand, it was a very easy decision to be a vegetrian.
My Dad was a butcher.
He would come home with a bloodied white coat and meat in the grooves of his boots. The stench as he walked through the door after being surrounded by such bloodshed, turned my stomache.


On the other hand ... 
being the would-be vegetarian daughter of a Butcher is not such an easy thing. The family were to survive on 'the perks of the job' a household where every year the cooker was too small for the turkey, where Sunday Roasts were on any day of the week and you couldn't find the ice cream in the freezer box for chops!



Mandy pointed out a little calf.


It had only been born 4 hours earlier! It's Mother was very thin indeed and really didn't want anything to do with it.

It was absolutely amazing to watch the other cows nurture the little thing. A Cow Collective all looking out for their friend's baby while she tried to compose herself after the morning traumar.

It made me think ... how many of us rally round and support new mums in this way? Yes, perhaps our own daughters, neices, sisters, but do we knock the door of the woman down the street who might need our support?

We're all so busy with work and our overfilled diaries, and yet these creatures instintively know that it is right to give love to the calf, whether it be yours or not. They don't ummm or arrrr about it, they just do it! Nudging, licking, making sure it is warm.



Mandy encouraged the Mother and the Baby to come together and slowly but sure they did. I wept like a baby watching this most touching of moments: the calf cried out so loudly I could almost feel it's soul ...

Here is a youtube link I have made of the cows.


 

 

Thanks to Melanie Beall for coming round to my house to show me how to embed these youtube clips into my blog. I am so pleased to be able to show you moving image now and will go back to other clips to insert them instead of just the link.



You can have a look at Melanie's wonderful art work at her site http://www.pet-portraitartist.com/




Embed Youtube Clips Training

Very excited because Melanie Phillips is here teaching me how to embed my youtube clips into my blog so that I can bring you moving images .... so I'm gonna have a go myself at putting one up ... mmm which to choose?? I know ... I'll show you Black Dog which was filmed last year with Fiona Winter & Sam Collins at Southerdown and is now part of the Black Dog Campaign with SANE to raise awareness regarding  stereotypes about mental health :))


Right here goes let's see if I can read my own notes! lol!





HOOOOOOORRRRRAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I DID IT (Although I have to say I do still have my lovely tutor Melanie sat right next to me .. let's see how I get on when I'm on me Jack Jones!)

Melanie is not just a computer whizz but also a fabulous artist ... her and her partner do Pet Portraits for people from all over the world .. how terribley handy that they live in the next village :))) THANK YOU POPPET!

You can see their work at:
www.pet-portraitartist.com




Wednesday, 25 April 2012

LAND AHOY!



 Land Ahoy!

I went down to visit Amanda Painting at her place Morfa Isaf to put dates in for a Fusion Inspire Film Shoot but before scoping the beach, she showed me a very exciting project indeed :)



 This beautiful boat is going to become B&B accomodation! GENIUS!




Imagine snuggling up below deck!




Seriously, I think it's a wonderful idea and I for one fancy sailing (well, staying completely still actually!) In Mandy's new boat! It overlooks the fields reaching down to her private beach, which is where we will be doing the film shoot in October.

At the shoot will be the Arts Care Gofal Celf Dancers, Rachel Hargrave & her drummers perfomring the song I have written Mermaid Tales inpsired by sign language.

In addition the beautiful Maggie Hampton will be signing the lyrics for us as the waves wash over her feet:
Our Mother of all the Mermaids




This is Mandy's other 'project' now complete. Her Gypsy Caravan Accomodation. Perfect my for my film shoot! OH and for honeymooners or holiday makers! :)



I'll take you to the private beach where we'll be doing the shoot in a blog or so ... but first I have got to show you who we bumped into on the walk down through the fields ... 



Monday, 23 April 2012

Coracle Adventures: Finding Geraint Pillock!



'Geraint Pillock' Aka Denzil Davies signing his Book  for me in his lounge


Behind the Coracle Museum is a Mill that harnesses the speed of the falls. The water crashes against the rocks and is mesmerising. It's hard to think that these waters were once navigated by sheep farmers in their little boats.




We decided to follow the advice of the Coracle Museum Owner (see last blog) and look for an elderly gentleman in the village whose brother is quite a local celebrity having been part of a Comedy Sketch Show called:
'Barry Welsh is Coming'
where Denzil Davies was Geraint Pillock!


Barry Welsh used  a clip of Denzil when he paddled his way across The British Channel in 1972. When filmed by the news he was asked why he had done it, and he said  'Mainly because it's a challenge.' He then went on to say 'It's a challenge for me, a challenge for the coracle and a personal challenge for me'
& this became a comedy catch phrase for different impossible scenarios every episode.

Here's a youtube clip of Geraint Pillock
on The Barry Welsh Show




'Just drive down there and look for a garden with lots of coracles in and you'll find the brother'

... said the Museum owners ..

and so that's what we did but could not see the house with the traditional welsh boats so I called into the local garage and asked the chap behind the counter if he knew of the person I was looking for. He said that the house was on an estate and sent us off on another expedition to find our man.






We pulled up on the estate beside a boat parked up ... called
What Orange Boat? and that quite tickled me!

Next to it was parked this ...




Well, Jeff had come with me for the day and he started doing that lad thing of getting excited about old orange cars with tiger print furry seat covers, while I went sniffing around the estate looking for a garden full of coracles.

I couldn't find one but I did find a house with lots of very long willow cut ready in the porch.

With that a chap came out of his house. I'm not surprised, we must have looked really dodgey! Jeff taking pictures of other people's vehicles, me peeping in people's gardens!
 I'm surpirsed we didn't arrested.


The man who had cottoned on to the suspicious looking hippy types invading the estate, was dressed in a formula one drivers jump suit, his white hair coloured only by the oil on his hands, marking his life time passion for old cars and boats.

I explained that I was doing research for an arts production and wanted to find out about coracles ... that I was looking for a chap on the estate in his 80's who has made coracles all his life ...

Sadly the gentleman had passed away the week before.

The racing driver- clad man showed me the house, and the back garden was as the old man had left it, with his half finished coracles, half filled cans of bitumen & lonely strips of willow.

I felt a genuine sadness for this man, even though I had never met him ... his little boats were wating for him to return
and finish them ...

I explained why I was so disapointed to Racing Driver Man and he must have taken pity on me, because he explained that the brother, who had gone in a coracle across the channel in 1972, lived in an old cottage and he proceeded to give us directions ...

'Just knock his door'

When we got there, I felt too embarrassed to knock the door. The poor man had lost his brother only last week; he didn't need 2 strange art-y types ringing the door bell.

But I got a sudden burst of bravery and thought,
'Well we've come this far so let's just do it!'

It  felt like the right thing to do ... till I got half way up the little pathway! Then I thought better of it ... but something in me wouldn't walk away and I gingerly knocked the old door.

A man opened it, he looked a bit put out at first ... but after I explained who I was and what I was doing, he invited us in. He was a great character! He had been poorly and was a bit shakey as a result, but completely on the ball. He took us into his workshop out the back where he makes coracles!








He showed us the actual coracle that he went across the channel in all those years ago.






Denzil has written a book about his Cenarth and his life experiences. It's a lovely read & only costs £4.




I asked him to sign it for me and he told me he is currently writing a new book about local boxers in history







Then he showed us his current project which is making little minature true to life coracles ...






AND THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING NEWS EVER!!!!!!
Denzil very kindly offered to take me out in his coracle for a little trip along the River Teifi! How AMAZING is that!

In 2 weeks time 'Geraint Pillock' is taking me out on the river and why am I doing it?

Obvious isn't it ... 'Mainly because it's a challenge.'


Seriously though, what an opportunity! The man is a living legend and part of coracle history, and little old me, a scrap of nothing from nowhere, has found this chap and is going in his hand made boat to experience exactly what it would have felt like to dunk dirty sheep all those years ago.



AND EVEN MORE EXCITING Denzil has offerd to lend me a coracle for the Production Tour as a piece of history to show people, up close, their heritage. How kind is that! 

I was going to have a graffiti coracle in the installation but I will change that because  I want to respect the coracle in it's historical context as  Denzil has requested.

Watch this space for an update of
my continuing coracle adventure !




Aside: Thank you so much Denzil
What a joy to meet such warm welcoming genuine people





Thursday, 19 April 2012

Coracle Adventures






When I visualise my central character for Fusion Inspire, he is a welsh fisherman and in my mind he looks like this photograph which is hanging on the wall in the Coracle Centre in Cenarth.





Most Fusion Inspire Mornings start like this, me and my uke checking out lyrics written in the middle of the night
on the computer in a sleepless frenzy,
structured and re-jigged in the morning ...



Then up and off for the day's adventure ... and on this day,
Cenarth Falls




 We went to the Coracle Centre but the day panned out in a way we could never have imagined!



It started at the Museum ...




I was intrigued by these little traditional welsh boats ...



Hand made from willow and bitumen ...



But I wanted to know the stories of the people adorning
the walls in photo frames ...


What was it like to be bobbing around the falls in these fragile boats dunking and washing the sheep?




The owner of the centre told us about a person who would be able to tell us all we needed to know! An elderly gentleman living in the village who had made coracles all his life, whose brother had been across the Channel in a coracle that he had made himself in 1972 that casued a real stir ...


But our story takes as many twists and turns as the coracle  itself.
I could not believe what happened next!
Read all about it in my next blog ...


Many thanks to Cenarth Coracle centre for permission
to take and share photographs.



Driftwood Days




Fusion Inspire will be live performance based around an Arts installation. Within the installation there will be a driftwood Story Telling bench made from all the lovely things I find on our West Wales Coast Line. In every season, I will go out for Driftwood Days to collect things, including my thoughts ...

Some of the things I collect I will make into little lyric gifts and give them to all the people who come and share the production with me when we perform it in Jan and Feb 2013. I'm visualising that YOU will be one of those people who come to share the Fusion Inspire Performances, becasue YOU are someone who has been part of my journey with me, and we will meet as if we are old friends on the sea shore... because maybe, just maybe ... we are ;)

My first Driftwood Day was at Pembrey, Llanelli ...



Pembrey Coastal Path must be Llanelli's best kept secret! There's hardly ever anyone on the beach, even in the hottest summer it is never full of sun bathers ...



I made my way down between the dunes ...














To find myself in paradise ...




Collecting More Driftwood than one woman can carry!





And completely entranced by enormous shells
full of colour and texture ...





Over to the next dunes ...












And then I found this!




But this one really was too heavy to carry back
so I had a sit and a think for a bit ...


 And then called a man with a van! :) Thankyou so much to Jeff Beer for coming to my rescue!



It was a nightmare carying this lump between the 2 of us but somehow we made it back across the dunes over the hill and back to Car Park! Now the washed up wood is in my Garden waiting for the Story Telling so that it can drift again ...






Garage Band: The Artist's Review

Patricia Mc Parlin: Artist Musician Writer Tutor


Hello folks
I've been so busy actually creating Fusion Inspire that I have hardly had time to blog about it so am going to do a series of shorter updates to keep you all in my loop.







Massive thank you to the lovely Patricia Mc Parlin for inviting me over to her place to have a look at Garage Band on her Mac. How lovely to be down a country lane surrounded by trees and fields as well as her amazing art work and creativity ... made sitting in front of a computer feel less grey!







I met Patricia when she came to the Celtic Women Concert Series at The National Botanic Garden of Wales. I organised the Series as the legacy to the Celtic Women Community Project of which I was Creative Director.





She came to the Great Glasshouse and we hit it off straight away.

It transpires that she is infact a gifted and recognised artist, having run a Gallery in Pembrokeshire and exhibited in some our most prestigious events.





She is also a wonderfully intuitive musician playing guitar and drums .. oh yes, and she now plays ukulele having come on my Ukulele & Songwriting Course at The National Botanic Garden of Wales in The Great Glasshouse in March (ps there's another one in May)




So Patricia is coming at technology from the same angle as myself. It's not that it is the central aspect of her work; it's the support aspect of many artists across genres in terms of getting their creative work out there. It's something we have to learn to do to reach out to the world with our creativity rather than our actual passion.So we need to make it as painless as possible!

It tickles me because you wouldn't expect an IT person to write you a song or paint you a beautiful picture, but I have met a fair few IT people who think I'm a complete clutz cos I can't fall in love with their lingo!



I found the whole experience at Trish's Home far less daunting than the Cubase training .. I felt as if I was just at a chums house having a cuppa sat at the computer looking at the gubbings :)) so I would recommend others doing this before committing to what is a very big expense and important decision ... You could either have a look at a Mac with your friends, or Patricia has kindly said for an hourly tutor rate she would gladly support others in her home.

She played some uke and sang just sat in front of the screen, showing me how it works and then straight away I had a go and in terms of recording, it is absolutely easy peasy lemon squeezie! Must be if I can handle it ... but Trish didn't have any outboard gear or an interface so we couldn't be sure what we were hearing back is what we actually would want on a CD ... I would also need to have a good poke around the EQ levels and effects.

Kindly the lovely Bob Edwards, who is a Volunteer at The Garden as well as a fine musician, actor and great chum, has come to our rescue and is lending Trish his interface and I'm going around again next week to have a butchers.


Bob Edwards as The Rebecca Riots
at The Story Telling Weekend Children's Tale Trail.
I was Creative Director making it all happen back in Feb this year.


Conclusion?? Looks like I will get a Mac its just bringing myself to part with the money because my grant doesn't cover new equipment, so like every other bod, I have to try to find £1000!!! Having said that, I will chase up the Local Initiative Fund which is 40% of outlay, but will wait til I know how much I need to spend on a new video camera and put both expenses in. I'm thinking it may not come through in time! But you don't know unless you try!

Massive thank you to Patricia for her time in showing me this very intuitive and almost beautifully simple way of recording music on the computer rather than my old skool set up in my studio.




We are doing a trade off and she is coming over to my studio next week to have a go and see how she feels about the quality of the end recordings. Be interesting to hear her comparison .. old vs new technology!

A chum on facebook had asked me for a quick review of my thoughts on Garage Band and this is what I instinctively wrote to him on the day ...


Hi Alun, Garage Band is like so easy compared to Cubase ... it is very intuitive and quite slick ... I am very tempted to get an imac to upgrade my studio and i reckon it may be a tad limiting in terms of monitoring multi instrument levels and EQ's but that may just be cos I didn't have enuf time to poke around and my friend didn't know ... but it was such a quick result! A tad sterile maybe compared to what i'm use to in my analogue studio but absolutely brillant for sketching songs .. am going back for a whole day to have a proper look at it before deciding :) Defo 10 times less complex to work out than Cubase! hope this helps, chez x