Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Pastimes and past times

I expected a quiet start to August as much of Frome evacuates to voice camps, music festivals, or continental projects, but the town's creative scene hasn't taken a break. In fact, I even discovered a fascinating ongoing project I wasn't aware of when Carolyn Griffiths who runs the Creative Network showed me round the Frome Textile Workshop, at the Thomas Bunn Centre just off Zion footpath. Dr Bunn was an 18th Century artist-physician with a passion to promote our town to the cultural status of Bath, apparently, so it's apt this is one of only three fully-equipped weaving workshops in the country, with four rooms filled with floor looms, table looms, yarns, samples and other colourful paraphernalia, keeping alive a traditional skill that's died out in most other country towns.

Music and visual arts don't hibernate either, with Jazz Jam at the Cornerhouse and Geniology at the Olive Tree, and a new exhibition at Frome's tiniest gallery: The Toolshed was recently listed in the Artist-Led Hot 100 of venues offering "some of the most superb activity being facilitated by emerging independent artists and curators right now in the UK" which is nice for Tristan Stevans and Tom Bayliss, whose exhibition Floor Games of the Recumbent Strategist is currently showing. "I populate realms in my head but only get as far as setting the scene, I never apply the narrative," Tom said at the opening about his toylike pieces made meticulously from layers of recycled plywood ~"all components of a wider world with a history before me" ~ standing in artificial grass like the model farm I had as a child. Tom wouldn't mind that analogy: he believes "a board game can be a way of codifying reality," and sees himself as a creator of pieces for 'serious play'.

Wednesday saw serious play in Victoria Park, as WPA-play brought games and activities to help the families of Frome to celebrate National Play Day. I googled the logo and discovered "WPA is a small, dynamic, voluntary sector organisation committed to the promotion and provision of outdoor play to inspire, challenge and empower children, young people and communities to affect positive change." The pedant in me wishes they would effect change, not just affect it, but it all looked terrific fun.

Another incoming group with a mission to entertain is Wonderlust Theatre, a 'new theatre company with a nomadic sense of home'. Their first project is LIVE FROM FROME, 0% FUNDING, 100% ART, a performance based on remembered performances contributed by Fromies. Interviews and the devised show this weekend are all at The Works Canteen, and after chatting with actress Kirsty Mary Wood I'm especially sorry I won't be able to see the outcome because I won't be here...
... I'm packing for the Writers' Lab on Skyros, in the island's name-sake town: a cluster of white-washed buildings climbing up the huge landmark rock on the eastern coast, ancient cobbled streets soaked in myth and vibrant with modern Greek culture too. It's a fallacy of course that the future will resemble the past, but I'm hopeful of once again watching sunrise from Rupert Brooke square, writing and sharing words under the fig trees of the centre garden, herb-scented walks down the cliff-path to the beach in the afternoon, and supper in tavernas open to the music and talk of the townsfolk in the warm night air. 

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