Tag Archives: Artsite

The unusual questions

5 Oct

Poetry Swindon Festival opened at Artsite*, in Swindon’s artistic centre which in the almost-city’s inimitable fashion consists of a tiny theatre, a large theatre, a computer museum, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, a couple of kebabs shops and a nail bar.

From the outside, Poems Aloud set off like a religious gathering**, passersby looking in, wondering what was this self-assuming event and if they should investigate or pass on by the other side.

The usual questions were posed from paper, book and phone. Was/is Philip Larkin misogynistic? The dilemma when you’re asked to write an ecological-biased poem about bees and it ends up as a bee dress. (There were two bee poems, though the bee in the second one had a sad ending, for the bee anyway). Is it ok for shops to begin ‘celebrating’ Christmas in October? How to deal with office romances? Whether good melancholy is a substitute for a happiness? And is a love poem for Swindon possible? (yes)

Outside was the Poetry Pram, inviting cooing adults to adore the poems within. And there were hats.

*A little birdy told me why it wasn’t at the usual venue of Central Library––’they wanted to charge us! For doing the Council’s job of providing free culture!’

**Thanks to Robert Stredder for this observation.

Written by Louisa Davison

Poems Aloud took place at Artsite, Swindon, 5 October 2017, as part of Poetry Swindon Festival

You’ve been framed – Domestic Cherry exhibition

11 May
Domestic Cherry at Artsite

Domestic Cherry at Artsite

Domestic Cherry Private View, a secret lifting of the cherry pinny or an exhibition of the brilliant art contributed to Domestic Cherry 3? Thankfully it was the latter, with Artsite Post Modern playing host to some of the artists whose work features in the annual. Poet Mira Borghs came all the way from Belgium to show her atmospheric ‘Raven’. Images were introduced as the inscrutable DC dog looked on like a particularly surly gallery assistant. Pei-Pei Lim described her process in creating ‘The Hairdresser’ with scorpion imagery and a blue tint to the subject’s skin and Declan Kelly liked letting his work speak for itself. Visual artist Jill Carter presented her two pieces, including one written in response to a poem written by Hilda Sheehan – editor of Domestic Cherry and host of the evening. Domestic Cherry goes from strength to strength each year and plans are afoot to make it even more beautiful, either by adding ermine piping to the pinny or featuring colour artwork in the next issue. Watch this space!

Red Caviar Is Not A Pose – Life Drawing and Poetry Readings

11 May
Suki - Life Drawing and Poetry Reading

Suki – Life Drawing and Poetry Reading

Swindon experienced a coming together of creativity as life model Suki posed for artists, poets and interested thinkers at Artsite’s Post Modern gallery. A drawing session preceded a poetry reading by Suki’s manager Sue Vickerman and a fascinating discussion about life modelling, being an artist and the creative process in general. I tried to think of drawing but got poetry, I looked at Suki’s stretching, kneeling and leaning and found myself in extreme close-up, microscoping ankles, elbows and knuckles while trying to capture what I could with my 2B pencil (purchased this morning). As Helen Peyton, artist and Suki collaborator says, ‘there’s an intimacy but it’s not sexual’, I certainly felt close and connected to Suki and her naked form but much closer to me and my way of expressing things. The discussion between the Suki team and us participants was enthralling. Suki also finds that a life class is never an uncomfortable experience, just that the inside of derelict Yorkshire woolen mills can make things a bit chilly. Suki eats red caviar sandwiches on five hour car journeys and travels to her modelling assignments on a fold up bicycle. Swindon loves the way Suki does things! Sue Vickerman says that what she hears about ‘the practice’ of life drawing ‘completely parallels the process of poetry – the constant striving but you never get there’, personally I’m not sure where ‘there’ is but I feel a bit closer after this unique and bold event.

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Mabel’s House Party and ‘The Joy of Sex’

8 Oct

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‘Odes to Joy!’ and the joy of sex was the theme for Mabel’s House Party though sadness, messiness, uncomfortable and baggage sex was also in abundance.

It’s been forty years since the book, The Joy of Sex, was published with its quirky style and fun approach to lovemaking so Domestic Cherry – the people behind Mabel’s House Party at Artsite Swindon – held a competition with the book as its theme. Saturday night we heard the winners.

It was great to see the venue was completely packed – the only seats left when we arrived were those tiny ones they use in primary schools. Artsite was set up like a night time cafe with feather covered lamps, bottles of wine and of course the Domestic Cherry cups of tea.

There were moments of comedy. Jill: ‘She is less subtle / Goes straight for his buckle’. Judy: ‘I wish I’d misspent my youth.’ Peter made his rhyme out of all the pet and slang names for genitals. Another poet from Ireland read The Tandem – how to decide who cycles at the back and observe the others wiggling posterior. Jo Bell – just named as the first canal poet laureate by The Canal & River Trust – gave us her observations on ‘Coming’ or should that be ‘Cumming’? Continue reading