Monday, December 03, 2012

Hip Yak Poetry Shack put on a fantastic show at the Merlin on Friday when the usual Yakkers ~ Liv Torc, Jonny Fluffypunk and Chris Redmond all in fine form ~ were headlined for this Take Art benefit night by Matt Harvey. Jonny shared a recollection of childhood in Little Kingshill, the only village to win awards in both Britain in Bloom and Middle England in a Coma, and a passionate love poem to coffee, while Liv offered a similarly hilarious eulogy to The Wet Patch, and a touching new poem about her unborn, unconceived, child, you who may never be more than a nudge, a thought, a fear... Beautiful. Matt's speciality is brilliant links dryly delivered and he's wickedly funny about his home town Totnes where, he claims, a Holistic Hooliganism Workshop to deal with rowdy Torquay lads resulted in chants of You're going home with your chakras realigned... All great stuff, and a worthy cause: Take Art supports a big range of creative projects across Somerset to help sustain rural communities and encourage participation in the Arts, and long may they do so.

And in other news... Frome's roaming protegee Niamh Ferguson showed some of the exotic images from her book Love from India in Paul Street Pop-up Gallery, and The Parlour launched Marian Bruce's exhibition Shelter inspired by squatter camps in South Africa ~ woven refuges and hides made from "elements readily available, reference to Zulu huts in the bush, Cape Town camps, even the nests of weaver birds." These unadorned, unrobust, shelters provoke salutary reflection on this most basic human need.

Frome's streets were thronged throughout the weekend for the famous Extravaganza ~ it's been rebranded for some obscure civic reason but we still call it that because the ritual is the same: solstice celebrations in the streets, reindeer in the precinct, mulled wine in the reclaimed precinct toilets, masses of stalls and all things festive from carols to roasted chestnuts. Highlight is traditional lights-switching-on event in the market square: loud 5-4-3-2-1 countdown from the crowd followed by equally loud burst of mirth as nothing occurs for 40 seconds, loud cheer as the tree illuminates and half the street lights follow suit. A popular ritual followed faithfully on Saturday, with this year a fantastic pop-up market throughout the town centre on Sunday. Eat your heart out Bath!

Final footnote: fans of satiric animation featuring Jack Hersey, reddest-necked cop ever, will be delighted to know there's a new one on the way: You can read about The Patsy in Scriptwriting in the UK and even better, you can click on Kickstarter and make it happen! So don't worry if you missed out on supporting rural arts, here's another opportunity to show solidarity with struggling artists and get big warm glow inside as well as a hugely entertaining outcome.

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