Hoping you’re all well and enjoying life. It’s been a busy few weeks, head down working on a few projects and paintings. I’ve included two recent works which form part of my Fusion Series. The works will to be exhibited shortly.
The Fusion Series is an experimentation of colour, using a variety of acrylic paints and ink, encouraging you to think about the relationships between tones and textures in paintings, how they provoke emotions and support mental well being.
A variety of health professionals accept that our healthcare environment has a significant impact on a patient’s perception of their medical care and, in some cases, their actual recovery. Health professionals continue to explore the psychology of colour and how chosen hues on walls, floors and furniture can have a positive, or indeed negative, effect on a person’s health and wellbeing.
Continuing the original theme, the attached works have been influenced by a growing body of evidence that climate change induced mental health issues are increasing. It is particularly worrying to know this is a growing issue with teenagers.
I will endeavour to share evidence and updates in future posts.
‘Children of the Snow Land’ is an extraordinarily moving, inspirational and absorbing documentary, filmed from the ‘roof of the world’ where families struggle and sacrifice everything to help their children.
From the age of 4 years old, children are sent to school in the city, hoping education means a better life. Unfortunately, this comes with the likelihood they will not see their parents and families again for 12 years. Children of the Snow Land documents the life experiences of children born in the High Himalayas of Nepal and follows the journey of three students as they embark on a perilous trek back to their respective villages.
One of the directors is Zara Balfour. Zara is an award-winning director, producer and writer with 18 years experience in all forms of documentary, film and content, specialising in films about the world we live in and people and cultures worldwide. She has filmed in over 20 countries, often documenting community projects in developing countries.
She began her career as an actress before moving behind the camera as producer and director. Zara set up Picture on the Wall Productions and has won awards at film festivals including Berlin Film Festival (winner of the Prix UIP for Best European Short Film), London Film Festival, European Film Awards, Telluride, Warp Records v Creative Review Awards and Cannes Lions. I was fortunate to catch up with her ahead of the film’s general release and ask a few questions.
What support did you get from the Nepalese Government or national agencies?
We didn’t ask for support in the beginning but the school organised a fundraising gala screening in Kathmandu after we completed the film. The Mayor of Kathmandu and the Vice President of Nepal attended. Now we have their support and we hope we can facilitate further fundraising events.
Was the filming of the documentary much of a logistical challenge?
The villages are off the grid. It was only ever two film crew plus a guide, porters and the children. Half the time it was me and co-director Marcus Stephenson or I was accompanied by our cameraman/photographer Mark Hakansson.
We used solar charger kits and backpacks, enabling us to film in difficult and remote areas. We did have porters and donkeys to aid our travel but the journey was treacherous. At times the donkeys would panic in the face of treacherous river crossings. All the rivers start in Nepal and head down towards southern Asia. Some of the dangerous moments aren’t on film and I am scared for the children going back home this year because they won’t be accompanied. It isn’t an easy journey and it’s tougher than it’s shown on film.
What about a sequel and is there anything you would do differently?
I would like to revisit the children in future to see how their lives have changed. Perhaps film them in a similar style to Michael Apted’s ‘Seven Up’ series, which followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964. On a technical level, a bigger crew and more resources would have been nice.
So what are the next steps?
The documentary will be streaming on demand and on general release from 14thMarch 2019 at Curzon Cinemas in the UK, Ireland and Malta.
The aims of Children of the Snow Land are:
To show a global audience what some young people have to do for an education – and allow the Children of the Snow Land to inspire people around the world with their tenacity, grace, courage and wisdom.
To increase awareness and help improve the lives of Himalayan children attending school far from home by helping them to stay connected with their families, and to ensure they make full use of the education for which they have made such a sacrifice. The film has already inspired donations of over $30,000 to directly help the children.
To encourage development of the Himalayan villages so that eventually children won’t have to be separated from their families to achieve an education.
For colleagues and blog followers in the UK, the Architects for Social Housing (ASH) collective take up residence in London’s ICA Upper Galleries. ASH are exhibiting their designs and work, including a map of London’s existing estate regenerations, at public open days on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 August, and they host informal discussions about different aspects of the housing crisis every evening of the week. As an ongoing presence, the group embodies the application of cultural practice within social activism. Established in 2015, ASH is a working collective of architects, urban designers, engineers, surveyors, planners, filmmakers, photographers, web designers, artists, writers and housing campaigners operating with developing ideas under set principles.
With the dramatic increase in economic disparity across the UK, there is a heightened need to find sustainable solutions to the housing ‘crisis’. ASH’s work responds to a lack of support for social housing and the communities they home. First among the principles they work to is the conviction that increasing the housing capacity on existing council estates, rather than redeveloping them as luxury apartments, is a more sustainable solution to London’s housing needs than the demolition of social housing, enabling the continued existence of the communities they house.
The residency runs from August 15th to 20th. For further info please visit the ICA website.
The world is reminding us of how fragile modern society is. I’m becoming frightened to switch on the TV, read the paper or catch up on tweets in case I hear of another modern day lynching of innocent African Americans, terrorist atrocities or corrupt and untrustworthy politicians fighting off party political and military coups. In previous blogs I’ve paid reference to forthcoming projects I wish to share. I’m not quite there yet but it’s timely to address some of the above issues as they feature strongly in the material I’m working on. Please watch this space and more importantly, look after yourself and each other.
“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate.”
I’m undecided which way to vote and need to consider to what extent the EU provides opportunities I can personally take advantage of. In theory, access to Europe and the freedom of movement is great but a rise in far right politics, nationalism, Islamophobia and continued discrimination, particularly against ethnic groups, doesn’t encourage me to think we are closer to practicing the harmonious union of nation states our leaders advocate. Many groups consider it difficult enough in the UK so will Europe, with all its challenges, be any easier for citizens with non-European origins to move freely? It’s all about perspective.
For most people, the Brexit issue didn’t appear life threatening but with the vote less than a month away, Brits are now considering the benefits of staying in. Despite the scaremongering and poor performance of leading politicians explaining the issues, we do need to consider if benefits of lower prices, more jobs and increased trade will be at stake.
The UK economy is undoubtedly strong and has benefited from being in Europe. Whilst the ‘Out Campaigners’ argue Britain is the fifth largest economy and can survive on its own, we should consider whether its economic ranking is a direct consequence of having preferential access and influence on the EU trading block comprising of half a billion people. We also need to consider the view of the Bank of England and IMF who provide an overview of the UK’s likely performance as a consequence of exiting. There remains a belief by many that Britain is in a position to command the same political and economic clout as it did at the peak of is colonial empire but this simply isn’t true, particularly with the rise of new global economic blocks and their growing influence on the political sphere. There are so many things to consider such as what is right for businesses, particularly small enterprises and how will they compete on a world market?
So what does this mean for the UK Arts sector?
In theory, being in the European market opens up opportunities for its creative industries. European Union funding nourishes and protects innovation in the UK and it is hoped such benefits will continue. Arts funding has historically been one of the first areas to be cut by UK Governments in periods of austerity so would a UK Government exiting the EU act differently during what may be a financially turbulent time?
The vibrancy of our arts sector is one of Britain’s great qualities. It is an arts superpower and home to recognised artists, musicians, filmmakers and theatrical impresarios. The UK is apparently the second-largest exporter of television in the world, worth £1.2bn in 2012 and home to the second-largest design sector on the planet, worth £131m in exports in 2011. The EU is Britain’s second-largest export market for music. Approximately 1.6 million people in the UK are employed in the creative sector, pumping out £71.4bn in gross value added. Of course, this is the result of the talent and drive of individuals in the British arts sector but there is no doubt that EU membership and funding from the EU’s Creative Europe initiative has and will continue to be been a contributing factor.
So Yes or No?
I’ll be the first to say the EU is not at all perfect and I do have my concerns about how the UK handles immigration and its economy. Is it right for Britain to throw away 40 years membership of one of the most lucrative markets on its doorstep, not to mention once again jeopardize the continuation of the union of the UK with a possible second Scottish referendum? What will all this mean for the creative industries? I’d love to hear your views. It’s time for UK arts professionals to speak up and vote!