Icebreaker – Kraftwerk Uncovered

The group Icebreaker have previously done a tour where they re-interpreted songs by Brian Eno. Brian Eno shot to fame in the early 70s with the band Roxy Music, where he played synthesizer, an instrument which was in its early stage of development.  Eno had previously been an art student, inspired by ‘minimalism’, an art form which is about only using the basics.  Eno then went on to work with a wide variety of other bands, such as David Bowie, Talking Heads and German ambient pioneers, Cluster.  After this tour, they wanted to do something similar.  They chose Kraftwerk because like Eno, (in fact much more so) they were highly influential in developing electronic music, from the early 70’s and up until the present day.

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On the 23rd of January Icebreaker performed at Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds. Before the main performance, Icebreaker did their version of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’. Terry Riley was, an American minimalist composer. ‘In c’ is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The composition went through many different shades, from mellow to noisy, from joyous to dark, from hypnotic to intense. It gradually built up from a luxuriant clarinet to a climax of sound. There was a part that for some reason made me think of a giant worm coming out of the earth!

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Each Kraftwerk song was performed as an avant-garde instrumental, apart from a little snippet of processed German vocals, which I believe was sampled from Kraftwerk. Each song segued into the next. The performance was for about an hour. The songs combined many eclectic sounds and influences. After a while a booming bass appeared. The drums were more for percussive effect, such as crashing symbols, rather than rhythm. They were combined with electronic drums for extra volume and bass.

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Above the musicians were three large screens.  The screens began showing abstract shapes and rotating wire mesh which flashed to the pulsating bass and crashing symbols. There were shots of what would normally be mundane – doors, windows, pieces of metal. Grainy black and white images of Kraftwerk’s home city of Dusseldorf, desolate streets and factories with no people.  Weeds blowing in the wind, industrial chimneys blowing out thick smoke.  These images could have been filmed anywhere in the Western world. Scenes that would usually have been empty and inhuman evoked emotion.  The film, created by Sophie Clements and Toby Cornish, is intended to create insight into Kraftwerk’s ideas of technology and how technology affects urban and natural space.  For the song ‘Autobahn’, first we were shown a car driving down a motorway, from the viewpoint of a passenger.  Then, the screen showed the white lines of the road, which you would expect to be dull but was in fact rather intriguing!  The bleak images contrasted with the powerful music.  It would be interesting to know what Kraftwerk would think about this! I thoroughly enjoyed this performance.  Much thanks goes to Howard Assembly Rooms

Members of Icebreaker: James Poke – flute, pan-pipes, WX11 wind synthesizer, bass drum, Rowland Sutherland – flute, pan-pipes, Bradley Grant – saxophone, clarinet, Dominic Saunders – keyboards, Ian Watson – accordion, Audrey Riley – electric cello, Dan Gresson – percussion, James Woodrow – guitar, bass guitar, Pete Wilson – bass guitar with J.Peter Schwalm on electronics and processing.

By Daniel Tavet

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A little bit of culture does you good

Leeds Grand

What does the word ‘culture’ mean to you?  Art galleries? Museums? To me, it has always sounded a bit posh, and something that I’m not part of.

At last year’s Love Arts Festival, I was involved in some research with the University of Leeds which aimed to look at culture and what it means to us.  It got me thinking.

Maybe culture wasn’t something high-brow and elitist.  Maybe it was something I was involved in already.  At the time I was taking art classes, joining in with the Central Library’s creative writing group annual collection of short stories, in a choir, and making beaded jewellery.  That’s all culture, right?  And I’d be going to the cinema, had a museum visit with the writers’ group, an art gallery visit with my painting class, as well as all the visits and events with Love Arts.
Continue reading

Love Arts – The Big Conversation

Love Arts Conversation

Love Arts Conversation

The Love Arts Festival is nearly upon us again.  The festival launches on 15th October, so be prepared for exhibitions, poetry, plays and more special events, all with a mental health, creativity and arts theme.

There’s something new this year: the Love Arts Conversation is a festival-flavoured conference which will take place on 21st & 22nd October 2014 in Leeds City Centre. Continue reading

A Mental Health Information telephone line for Leeds? A recent focus group.

A few weeks ago I attended a Research Focus Group which had the aim of establishing  whether a Mental Health Information telephone line could benefit the people of Leeds.

We met in the head office of Age UK which is in a fantastic listed building.  It also houses the lovely Arch Cafe which is described as a ‘Cafe with a Conscience. ‘  All profits go to support Age UK’s work with older people. It is a great place to go for coffee and cake!

The research room had a positive feel and was fresh and bright.  I couldn’t help but compare this favorably to institutional or clinical environments, which are often the type used for mental health services.  But this is just an aside.

Back to the Focus Group….

It was a stimulating experience and I felt valued to be part of this research.  Members included Health Professionals, members of the public and those (including myself) who had personal experience of using mental health services within Leeds.

The group took the format of a discussion.  It was friendly and insightful.  We shared many of the same views.    A consensus soon emerged that we all thought an Information Line would be an asset and a worthwhile investment in Leeds.   However many questions and concerns followed this.

The information line would not be a Support Line, would it naturally turn into one? This then led to a discussion about the lack of places to go or call when in crisis. Who would run such a line?  We thought that the person should be empathetic and have either personal experience of mental health issues, or experience through caring for a  relative or have worked in this area.  It was important to the group that the telephone line must not be harmful to the person in any way, as all intervention counts and can impact the well-being of a vulnerable person. We expressed  the desire that the person must have an appropriate sensitivity when dealing with callers, that they are aware and that they ‘get it.’

Who would run this line? The NHS? The Local Authority?  A Third Sector organisation?  Most people seemed to think the latter!

Would the telephone line be backed up by social media, text, a website?  …

And the discussion went on…

It will be interesting to find out the outcome. Will Leeds eventually have an info line for Mental Health and if so what information will this provide?

Watch this space…

The research was conducted on behalf of Volition by StopHateUK.

Thanks for reading,

Vicky 🙂

DIY Fitness – Free, Outdoors and great for well-being! How about it?

Social Media is a fantastic way at keeping in touch with people and can aid well-being.   But sometimes ‘well-being’ involves putting the Smartphone down and switching the computer off.  Ouch!

There isn’t anyway of getting around it, we need to do it – exercise!  Regular exercise can add years to our life and it can lift our mood.  I recently joined a gym on a short-term basis however I am afraid to say I didn’t go often.  I found it a little lonely!  The environment didn’t feel right for me and it was too expensive. However for some people using a gym maybe an excellent way of keeping fit and there are usually free trials available.

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I think I prefer to be outdoors, get some fresh air and be with others. So how about a Power-walk in Hyde Park? Anyone up for it; or have any other ideas? Or do you know of any outdoor free or other cheap ways to keep fit that you would like to share?  Please leave a comment or send us a tweet with any ideas!

The NHS Choice Website claims that Research by the University of Essex has shown that exercising outdoors boosts people’s physical and mental health more than going to indoor gyms, even in winter. The National Trust has written about the outdoor gym and they claim  that Just five minutes in the outdoor gym every day can lead to improvements in mood and self-esteem, as well as physical fitness.

They report these benefits on their website

Benefits of exercising outdoors

  • Burn up to 20 percent more calories
  • Work harder and improve balance on uneven surfaces and in natural elements
  • Perfect full body workout
  • Vitamin D boost good for bones
  • A really healthy glow

So it’s January and I can’t think of a better month to start. Please send any comments or ideas – Thank You

VIcky 🙂

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

 

Physical Health Symptoms

Why is a mental health charity campaigning on physical health? Isn’t that all sorted out by GPs? These are some of the questions I’ve been asked while campaigning on physical health. I’m an Activism Officer at Rethink Mental Illness and I’ve been looking at why people with severe mental illness usually have poorer physical health than the rest of the population – yes there’s lots of stats to prove that!

One of the problems we’ve seen is that symptoms are not always taken seriously by healthcare staff. So someone goes to the doctor and tells them what’s physically wrong and the doctor assumes that it must be caused by their mental illness.

I know one woman who was told for months that her intense abdominal pain was all in her head. It turned out she had gall stones and a diseased gall bladder!

I’d be interested to hear if this happens in Leeds. Have you had staff tell you that your physical symptoms were down to your mental illness – and were they right or wrong?

Many people do get psychosomatic symptoms, such as tummy ache from anxiety and it must be very hard for doctors to tell the difference. But then people with mental illness are just as likely to get appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome or chrons disease as anyone else. So it’s not a clear cut issue. What’s your experience of this?

www.rethink.org/ph
twitter: @MHActivismNorth