Sekabo book launch

SEKABO

Chase away any late Autumnal blues by transporting yourself to Scarborough

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for some thrills  2097 style, when it has now become SEKABO, a Provence of China!

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The rather risque lifestyle of one of its family dynasties is uncovered, and the technological advancement of ‘e-spexs’ has become a novel aid to the wellbeing of it’s octogenarian residents, and others who were once preserved cryonically.

You may never view Scarborough in quite the same way again.

The novel is to be presented by its author, Richard Woolley at a FREE book launch  on

Tuesday November 25th 7.15p.m.

at HEART – (Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre) Bennett Road, LS6

Refreshments will be on sale in the centre’s cafe.

The author of Sekabo, Richard Woolley has lived both in exotic and local locations. Headingley and Hong Kong are exotic, as is Sekabo. Richard’s experiences at home and abroad, together with his varied and fascinating work in the arts, are sure to make this an animated book launch. An event not to be missed.

The event is  part of  Headingley LitFest’s  ‘Between the Lines series, with another planned for the 8th December, ‘Dinner with Decameron’ for details of this see here

 Headingley LitFest

Something  else for the future…….in the Spring of 2015 is the Headingley Literary Festival, the organisers of which are busy planning more events for your enjoyment. Look out for the programme due to be published in January of the New Year.

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Sharing Stories – The Rosie Project – 15th July 6pm

Sharing Stories is a collaborative project between Arts and Minds and Leeds Book Club. The aim of the project is not only pleasurable, but an opportunity to raise awareness of issues surrounding ‘mental health; learning difficulties and autism through the use of fiction’.

This is the second year that Sharing Stories has taken place. A selection of books appropriate to the topic, are discussed throughout the year. For July the choice is The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simison, The Independent newspaper describes it as ‘pure, wonderful escapism’, just the thing for a summer read.

If you have never been to a book discussion group before, this event in the cozy Crowd of Favours bar, in central Leeds, could be a good introduction..It takes place between 6-8pm on Tuesday the 15th,…… still time to read it!

If you have never eaten lobster, and you are not a vegetarian or vegan, Tuesday might be an opportune time to cook it! …..This is Dan’s, the narrator, evening meal… every Tuesday, it forms part of his ongoing Standardised Meal Plan. Dan has a similar practical and scientific approach to everything, including finding.the ideal partner, …The Wife Project…..until he meets Rosie.

Rosie does not tick any of the right boxes on his perfect partner questionnaire, which he devised to facilitate this.. Dan values punctuality and precision ….Rosie has her own Rosie Time Zone.

Dan’s way of coping with the world is indicative of people who receive the diagnose of, Aspergers, Simison describes well the frustrations and humour involved in Dan’s endeavour to become more accommodating of other people’ s way of doing things.

Regardless whether we have a similar diagnosis or not, The Rosie Project might help readers of it understand those that do. They might also reflect that even if they don’t encounter such problems,  the need to be better understood, or understand others is common to all.

 

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The Novice – a book review

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A review of The Novice, by Thich Nath Hanh by Milan Buddha ‘Mad ‘ Ghosh.

“To continue the path to Enlightenment Kinh must suffer false accusations, physical hardship and public demolition without complaint, with absolute grace, astounding compassion and unwavering resolve. The Novice perseveres in the face of every challenge, ultimately Kinh Tam’s moving fate will transform lives and offer hope to us all.”

so says the review on the back cover. I found it to be one of those books that I couldn’t put down.. it was in plain English, and spoke to the heart, yet used the understanding of intellect too.

Kinh is a woman who dearly desires enlightenment, but in her part of Asia it is indeed a man’s world, and even the Buddhist establishment in monasteries is sexist, despite Buddha Shakyamunni’s welcoming an order of nuns. So she decides to cross dress as a man, shaves her head, and to behave like one. How she manages the lack of privacy in such a male environment is astounding. She is brave indeed just to do this.

Continue reading

Secret cinema

Diary date:

Friday 29th November, Inkwell,6.30 for 7.30pm

looking for clues

looking for clues

The picture of an old manual typewriter, the sort my father used, and on which I made rudimentary attempts to learn typing, was a clue for one of Inkwells recent, FREE Secret Cinema events, perhaps it was this clue which made me skim over others,…..a claymation?…wasn’t sure what that was, but the promise of black comedy, an in-house produced animation, and a tongue -in -cheek vintage ad pastiche….lured me there.

The mystery movie on this occasion turned out to be….’Mary and Max’, it covered many mental health related themes, alcoholism, loneliness, diagnosis, attempted suicide, etc…..so why did we the audience find it so amusing? perhaps it was Max and Mary’s idiosyncratic advice to each other, the droll way Max is brutally honest with himself and others, his matter of fact acceptance of the way things were for him, Max’s ‘symptoms’ often got him in a lot of trouble, he found it hard to understand the non-verbal  cues in everyday interaction with others, diagnosed with Aspergers, he embraced this diagnosis, and with help he learned to better ‘read’ people, smile more, and  remove himself from a situation where someone took advantage of his foibles.

Mary’s unique and dogged creativity in keeping on, despite the catalog of things she experiences and observes, was heart-warming, as was the innovative gifts she sends Max, – her own bottled tears on one occasion when Max reveals his desire to cry ‘properly’, their story apparently based on a true one, sees their friendship span a twenty year period, those years are not without times of misunderstanding and withdrawal between them, the film demonstrates both the negative and positive impact of that.

I rather liked the practical, sometimes amusing advice of Max’s zany psychiatrist, we see him perform handstands on his office desk while advising Max, ‘never eat anything bigger than your head’, ….seemed sensible to me!  as did, ‘accept yourself warts and all’, however I’d have to disagree with his advice about Max ditching his imaginary friend  Mr Ravioli , apparently so did Ravioli who decided to stay anyway, quietly reading self-help books like ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’, until such time as he takes some of the books advice, and slinks surreptitiously out of the window of the high rise Manhattan apartment, ……so much for Berne,… a person who appeared to like playing games, drawing circles and figuring out what to say after saying hello?!

That old cliché ‘hardly a dry eye in the house’ was pretty close to the truth, as the audience were moved to tears of both laughter and sadness at the unfolding story, the film was so well crafted  it was easy to forget you were watching clay figures. Claymation is not a genre I’ve previously been drawn to, but I appreciate the painstaking skill, work and eye for detail that goes into its production, this film involved shooting more than 250,000 frames of which 125,000 were used in the final 90-minute feature, for someone like myself who struggles with much simpler techniques of multimedia, that’s mind-blowing.

Interestingly the often common reserve many face when sharing public spaces with strangers, was broken when the audience dared to show how touched they were, getting out their figurative hankies, commiserating with each other at the films bitter/sweet moments, sharing collective feeling, …..some  scenes were very disturbing, was it a happy ending? …..hope you get to watch and find out.

I’m pleased I took the mystery trip and will be looking to watch it again.

Thanks to Inkwell for investing time to keep this kind of free activity going and for the innovative work in producing their own animations, ….their vintage footage gave me an idea what to buy  for one special person at Xmas!……007? ….. ssh it’s a secret!

Here is a clue for this Friday’s screening

‘title was changed to a very famous Led Zeppelin song’ …..

follow @inkwellarts on Twitter for more hints.

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*Cartoon customised on Bitstrip app.

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The Present, a short film about a woman’s emotional journey to work.

Last year I took part in a film making project with the community group ‘Arts and Minds of Leeds.  A few of us, who were new to film-making were involved in this creative project which culminated in our short films being shown as part of last years Love Arts festival and The Leeds Film Festival – Film to Change event.

My film had a theme of emotional well-being and is about a woman who is struggling to manage stress and unhelpful patterns of thinking – which is causing her to be unhappy. However she manages to find some respite from this,   watch and you shall find out….

THE PRESENT 

The Present she unwraps is actually a gift which allows her to become more aware of  The Present moment.  We can worry about the future, ruminate about the past and dwell upon problems to the extent that it interferes with our quality of life and decreases our sense of well-being. This kind of thinking can be all-consuming and leave little space for anything else,  which may leave us feeling depleted and stressed. Research has shown that purposefully paying attention to the present moment is a technique which can help to manage this. Once the woman in the film has opened the present – she is then able to appreciate the beautiful roses on her desk that she previously hadn’t noticed.

It’s not always easy to change the way we think or to manage difficult emotions but there are techniques which can help. I had recently attended a Mindfulness Meditation Course which was the inspiration behind the film.

Sophie MacWhannell is the actress who played the woman in the film.  She is Leeds-based, very talented, passionate and extremely supportive.  I am going to plug Sophie because she was so fantastic !  Not only has she acted in various plays and short films but she also performs as part of a comedy improvisation group called Monkeyheads AND is part of *Urban Sprawl.  She recently performed with Urban Sprawl in the play;  ‘Wrecked’ which was also part of the Love Arts Leeds festival. So if you need a talented and dedicated actress – look Sophie up!

Thanks also to Carl Allport, who was the course tutor and teaches at Leeds Metropolitan University, to Arts and Minds and also to Inkwell.   Also thanks to everyone else who took part whose names are in the credits, it was very collaborative and nice to work in a great team.

Hope you enjoyed it, would love any feedback, thanks Vicky 🙂

Also If you are interested in taking part in the making of a film contact Arts and Minds.

*Urban Sprawl is Yorkshire’s only homeless theatre company. Formed in August 2004, we are committed towards using theatre as an arts engagement tool to help people affected by homelessness and related issues.Urban Sprawl meet every Monday at Multiple Choice 5-8 pm.If your interested in finding out more email us at urb@urbansprawl.org.uk

 

Stress: Portrait of a killer, A documentary and review

Stress! Yes, we all know too much of it is bad. But sometimes ‘I’m stressed’ becomes so prolonged it turns into Mental Illness. Robert Sapolsky is a Neurobiologist at Stanford University and features in the excellent documentary which I have linked to the blog:  ‘Stress: A portrait of a killer’.

Sapolsky studies the behaviour of Baboons in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. He talks about the origins of stress as a fight/flight response. The stress response kicks in so we can run away from tigers in the wild or so we can chase our prey. The problem with humans is we don’t run away from tigers anymore but this same response is still activated. We perceive situations to be life-threatening such as worries regarding mortgages, traffic jams, work issues and a whole host of others.  Sapolsky claims that whilst in the wild the stress response is activated then switched off – (you either survive or die!), with humans the response is being prolonged and that we are struggling to switch it off.

In the documentary Sapolsky suggests that people in subordinate roles in life are more prone to stress. Having a low ranking job in a hierarchical organisation can increase one’s levels of stress. He explains that these levels of stress (caused by low-ranking position) can be offset by having some status or a sense of control outside of work (for example becoming the captain of a football team.)

Within the Baboon Troup, the lower the rank of the baboon, the more likely it will suffer with stress-related diseases. However Sapolsky observed a tragedy which resulted in a change of culture within the Troup and this change resulted in a decrease in  the amount of incidences of  stress-related disease.  The more dominant and aggressive males of the Troup contracted TB and died, this changed the dynamic of the group. The group became less hierarchical and less threatening and had more emphasis on grooming and sharing, which in turn resulted in less occurences of stress.  The documentary suggests that the culture that we live or work in has a huge impact on our stress levels. 

I loved this documentary. I came away inspired and that is why I decided to upload it to the blog. I can see how my stress has been increased in situations where I had less control and where I was exposed to uncertainty and unpredictability. I think about situations both in childhood and adulthood. Having an understanding of the stress response and what may cause it has helped me manage things a little bit better.

Sapolsky suggests some Stress-Management techniques on the Stanford University Website. His suggestions include: Modifying your environment to have some control and have an understanding of what control you do have, being objective and gaining perspective on things (are you really being chased by a tiger?), having a social support network, practising stress management activities daily and not just at the weekend. Of course sometimes we may need extra help and support to reduce stressors from our lives. Sometimes we can increase our sense of control in small ways and take little steps, perhaps by organising some paperwork or by tidying up – small steps often help.

I hope you enjoyed this documentary..

Thanks Vicky 🙂

We Are Poets – free screening of an inspirational local film

We Are Poets

There are FREE tickets available for the screening of We Are Poets, this Friday 7th December 2012, 4 p.m. at Hyde Park Picture House, Hyde Park, Leeds. I saw this film a few months ago, when Benjamin Zephaniah turned up to say how brilliant he thought it was (see his comment below). It really is a great story of a group of young local poets from Chapeltown who travel to the US to take part in a poetry slam competition there. You follow their individual stories as they prepare, then travel to America. It features great local poets like Khadijah Ibrahim and Rommi Smith. Rommi says of it ‘It’s an inspirational film – an affirmation of the transformational power of poetry, it’s also a story of Leeds. I’d be inclined to turn up early on the day, as there are likely to be queues.’

Check it out at the Hyde Park’s listings, and read a review from the Guardian here. 

Synopsis: WE ARE POETS follows six young poets from Leeds over the course of one very special year, as they are chosen to represent the UK at Brave New Voices, the most prestigious poetry slam in America. From their inner city lives to a stage in front of the White House in Washington DC, the poets must prepare for the journey of a lifetime. Cinematic, honest and deeply personal,WE ARE POETS is a testament to the power of creativity, community and the dynamism of young people. Anyone tempted to dismiss today’s youth as apathetic better pay heed: here is electrifying evidence to the contrary.
Free screening – part of the Centre for World Cinemas at the University of Leeds’ Language/Cinema Conference. Tickets not needed – just turn up on the day

Critical reaction:

From its utterly brilliant opening, through to its moving finale, ‘We Are Poets’ is inspirational!
SHEFFIELD DOC FEST
Amazing…It’s poetry itself. Poetry is an art, filmmaking is an art, it takes great sensitivity to bring them together – this film shows us how it’s done!
BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH