Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back in the southwest: viewings, writings, and readings

Encounters Short Film & Animation festival took over Bristol dockland screens last week. I went along to the South West Showcase and enjoyed a fantastic programme of 15 bite-size movies ranging from 90 seconds to 13 minutes, some dramatic, many comic. One of the more intriguing shorts used verbatim speech to tell a behind-the-scenes story of train journeys from the cleaners' perspective, but overall my favourite was The Best Medicine, for reasons summed-up by another viewer on their FB page: Seriously the best film I've seen all year... can't believe I went from crying to laughing to crying to laughing so quickly... It touched me... I want everyone to see it! its so life affirming... I want more awesome people like Jon in my life... THANK YOU.
I couldn't put it better.

Meanwhile in Bath, a rather different celebration with the annual Jane Austen Festival, bringing all things sprigged and genteel to the Georgian streets and tea-rooms. From a cosy talk on Rummaging through the Reticule to a city walk termed The Unsavoury Tour!, Janeites can gavotte, nibble, trim turbans, learn etiquette, and generally immerse themselves in Jacobean fashion from sun-up till candlelit evening ~ including a daily dose of Pride and Prejudice at the Podium library. Reading the entire novel takes four hours a day throughout the week using relays of readers: Rosie and I were recruited for a stint in Thursday's installments, the ones when Lizzie has seen the house of which she would have been mistress and begun to regret her strident rejection of its owner, and deciding his renewed addresses stirred an impression of a sort to be encouraged as by no means unpleasing.... Great fun, and a reminder of the author's mastery of irony and clever eye for social mores.

Frome's riverside gallery Black Swan Arts has a new exhibition for autumn: a collection of very diverse images by Rachel Anne Grigor with the intriguing title where the earth meets the sky. Words at the Black Swan writing group met as usual on the first Sunday after the opening to consider this visual art from a verbal perspective. Rachel uses a process involving etching ~ and an element of random outcome ~ for most of these pieces, while achieving apparent precision and touching detail.  This was the day after I got back from Spain and probably my head was still full of Picasso's injunctions so I may have plunged depths unintended, but I was reminded of Auden's wonderful poem about Brueghel's Fall of Icarus, how "everything turns away / quite leisurely from the disaster... " My responses, and those of the other workshop participants, will be posted in the FB archive of Words at the Black Swan.

Final note: another local overview from  Martin Dimery blogs Frome, a recognisable summary in my experience. Like Martin I'm an ancient incomer: I arrived in 1987 from an area of London where litter didn't flutter only because it was solid with the debris of glue-sniffers, so I found the town quaintly respectable at first. I grew quickly to realise it was stubbornly egalitarian and anarchicly quirky, had the wildness of Glastonbury without the dreadlock self-theming and the otherworldliness of Totnes without the cliquey snobbery. I suppose I'll always be an incomer, but unlike those more western counties with their scorn of 'grockles' and 'emmets', locals in Frome always seemed to me to welcome new energy pragmatically. As Martin says, Ever since Frome weavers resisted the lure of industrialisation... Frome has engendered a sense of anti- establishment independence, attracting the like- minded to move in. Frome likes its artizans, writers and artists. Which is why Frome, with arts funding hardly worth bending to pick up if it fell in the Cheap Street leat, nevertheless thrives.

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