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Arts & Entertainment

Ordinary shoes with extraordinary stories at the heart of St Mary's Church art exhibition

Holy Ground ProjectHoly Ground ProjectArtist Paul Hobbs combines his artistic skills and imagination with his Christian faith. The exhibition his works completed over several years is entitled 'The Heart of Things' - and faith is at the heart of this exhibition.  His creations turn 'things' - many of them everyday things - into illustrations of religious beliefs that are relevant today.

At the centre of his exhibition in St Mary's Church (open Saturday to Monday, 30 April to 2 May - see link below for times) is an installation featuring pairs of shoes - each donated by an individual - some of them anonymous - and each accompanied by a short and clearly written panel telling their story.

It is called the Holy Ground Project and takes its cue from the verse in Exodus where God tells Moses at the burning bush: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."  At the centre of the illustration is an abstract  representation of that burning bush.

His installation has to fit the space available - this version is four metres in diameter with twenty pairs of shoes.   A larger version stretches to six-and-a-half metres in diameter with thirty pairs - and thirty stories.

"What connects all the people whose shoes are part of the installation," Paul tells Marlborough.News, "is they are all Christians and so have at some point encountered God and made a response."  

It is not very helpful to pick out individual pairs and their stories from this complex installation - so with apologies, here are three pairs:

Haile GebreselassieHaile Gebreselassie Laura CallenbergLaura Callenberg SabinaSabina

This is a pair of Haile Gebreselassie's running shoes.  As a schoolboy in Ethiopia he ran ten kilometres from home to school each day - and ten kilometres back again:  "When I was young I always dreamed of becoming an athlete.  And it's thanks to God that I was able to realise my dreams" - and run to achieve Olympic glory.

These pink sandals - with, I can assure you, have perky little heels - were donated by New York model Laura Calenberg.  Her modelling career led her into the depths and she finally realised she had, as she puts it, "neglected my relationship with God and chosen my own way."  She went on to found the organisation Models for Christ.

Third - and last of the three I have selected - are the pair of boots donated by a Kosovan mother called Sabina: "These are my daughter's boots.  They are not the shoes that Katerina wore when she was killed...a bomb blew our home up and we ran for our lives."

These are shoes that may not fit neatly with the lives of the people viewing the installation - but they make us all think about people's lives and our own.

Paul Hobbs' 'Ten Words' Paul Hobbs' 'Ten Words'

The other large installation is called simply Ten Words.  Blocks made into eleven towers in all sorts of liquorice colours - ten carry words from the ten commandments juxtaposed with appropriate newspaper headlines.  The eleventh tower depicts Christ: "Ten words and the final word."

And to one side there is a smaller version of Ten Words which visitors can explore and re-arrange.

Paul Hobbs Paul Hobbs There are some more representational works. And there is one 'ordinary thing' put into a frame to make us think about the extraordinary and the dreadful:  'In emergency break glass' is simply a machete in a glass case - whose blade can catch the light filtering through the church to make it look extremely chilling.  

It acts as "a memorial to the tragic bloodletting in Rwanda, Sierra Leone or Kenya."  But it is also about what fear can push humans to do - and asks what we would do in similar circumstances.

Paul Hobbs, who lives and works in Gloucester, has been touring with this exhibition for three years - three or four locations a year.  It is, as someone described it, 'a bit of a travelling circus' and certainly complex to set-up. 

Two Australian visitors to the town visited the exhibition in St Mary's on Saturday (April 30).  They told Paul they were atheists, but that they found his works thought provoking - and thanked him for the exhibition.

You can find details of opening times and of supporting events here.

 

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Easton Royal primary school pupils were 'Singing Together' for a new radio play

Raising the roof at the Wiltshire Music Centre (Adrian Harris Photography)Raising the roof at the Wiltshire Music Centre (Adrian Harris Photography)Last week four hundred Wiltshire primary school children from fifteen schools took part in a mass sing-in of traditional British folk songs at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon (April 20).  Among them were pupils from Easton Royal Academy.

Since January, the children have been learning nine folk songs from Britain’s musical heritage.  They included such old favourites as ‘Cockles and Mussels’, ‘The Skye Boat Song’, 'Men of Harlech' and ‘Scarborough Fair’. They have been taught in celebration of the long running BBC Schools radio programme, ‘Singing Together’.

‘Singing Together’ was created in 1939 to help bring a sense of community to the evacuees of World War Two.  It ran for nearly 60 years.

Swindon’s Prime Theatre and the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival have joined forces to provide professional singing leaders for each school. The recorded songs will become part of a specially commissioned radio play featuring both professional actors and members of Prime’s Youth Theatre.

The play has been written by Vicky Ireland MBE and will be broadcast by BBC Wiltshire on Monday, June 6 at 11.00am as part of the 2016 Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival (27 May to 11 June).

Swindon’s Prime Theatre and the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival have joined forces to provide professional singing leaders for each school.   Director Ben Occhipinti and his team had a great time bringing well-loved songs to today’s children: "The enthusiasm and energy they’ve given to each one will make this a moving and memorable project for listeners young and old.”

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Who’s coming to Record Store Day? Show of Hands

Show of HandsShow of HandsBritish roots and folk legends Show of Hands will be playing a live set at Marlborough record shop Sound Knowledge on Saturday, April 16 to celebrate Record Store Day.

The nationwide initiative, now in its eighth year, sees record labels produce limited edition vinyl presses of new and classic albums, which are offered for sale only at participating independent record stores.

Sound Knowledge will be open from 8am on the day to cater to the needs of hungry vinyl junkies.

The music continues on Sunday, April 17 with RSD Live, featuring singer-songwriter Nick Harper, rock four-piece Sonic Meds, alt-folk duo Water Pageant, Avebury-based singer-songwriter George Wilding, and folk rock band Marcella at the neighbouring Thirty8 cafe bar from noon.

Attendance is free.

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Kids urged to get cracking at launch of town-wide Easter egg hunt

Sydney (3) sets off on the Easter Trail, egged on by Janice Pattison of DucklingsSydney (3) sets off on the Easter Trail, egged on by Janice Pattison of DucklingsA town-wide egg hunt will once again send children on a trail around 26 of Marlborough’s independent retailers this Easter.

By collecting a sticker from each participating outlet, children can collect a free Easter egg from Ducklings toy shop. And they will be entered into a prize draw to win a giant bunny.

The initiative was launched on Saturday and runs until the end of the Easter holidays, on Sunday April 10.

Toy shop owner Colin Pattison said: “It’s a great way to encourage children - and their parents - to visit Marlborough’s independent retails.

“They don’t have to spend any money to get their sticker, but for some people it’s a first introduction to a shop they might want to spend some money in - now or in the future.”

The initiative is sponsored by Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, which paid for the printing of the Easter trail maps, which are available at Ducklings.

This year, four new locations have joined the trail: 100 Chai Street, The Sweet Shop, eCycle UK, and Food Gallery Express.

The participating retailers include:

Mustard Seed
Kit Stone
Luisa’s Cupcake Boutique
Mercer’s of Marlborough
Cosy Bean Coffee Lounge
Padfield Porkies
The India Shop
Beauty Fulltime
Fair Isle
The Food Gallery
Crosby & Lawrence
Cook Marlborough
Marlborough Library
Urban Barn Interiors
Moore & Bradfield
Heart’s Desire
Valentiner Designs
Susie Watson Designs
The Merchant’s House
White Horse Bookshop
Lighting of Distinction
Faux Arts Studio
Ducklings Toy Shop

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Eighty artists to exhibit ahead of Open Studios

 

Open Studios chairman Lisi Ashbridge with David Dudley and Sabine Orton of David Dudley JewelleryOpen Studios chairman Lisi Ashbridge with David Dudley and Sabine Orton of David Dudley JewelleryEighty artists from Marlborough’s Open Studios scheme will be previewing their work in the town next month.

The preview show will be held at The Mount House Gallery in Bath Road from April 15 to 19, from 10am to 5pm daily.

The preview – as well as July's art trail – is being sponsored by jeweller David Dudley.

Open Studios chairman Lisi Ashbridge said: “David Dudley is a perfect fit and we are thrilled to be working with him in a year that sees Open Studios enhanced by a number of new artists.”

“As a creative jeweller myself this event reflects all that is important in developing our community in understanding how many superb artists we have in and around Marlborough,” said David.

“Open Studios has now become one of the major events on the Summer calendar, and we feel privileged and delighted to have taken over as the lead sponsor for this growing annual event.

“I would encourage anyone to make the most of this event and, during July, visit as many of the Open Studios as possible. To add some extra sparkle this year, I will be offering an amazing piece of jewellery to be won by one lucky Open Studio visitor.”

 

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Get your Swindon Festival of Literature tickets before the Brummies beat you to it

Director Matt Holland launches the 23d Swindon Festival of LiteratureDirector Matt Holland launches the 23d Swindon Festival of LiteratureLiterature lovers of Swindon beware – the book-readers of Birmingham are after your Festival tickets.

Swindon’s 23rd annual Festival of Literature was launched in the courtyard of Swindon Library yesterday (Thursday) – the day that tickets went on sale.

And by 8.30am, revealed Festival organiser Matt Holland, the box office had already received ticket enquiries – some from as far afield as the Midlands and Home Counties. “Don’t be beaten by people from Birmingham and Basingstoke in getting tickets,” was his dire warning.

The launch itself was a celebration of Swindon’s vibrant art scene. In a break from tradition, the brochure’s front cover is a painting – the winning entry in a competition organised by Swindon Open Studios.

Tim Carroll’s Woman Reading graces the brochure, posters and postcards, the latter produced in the hope that Swindonians will revive the pre-digital tradition of writing to friends by mail (and urging them to come to the Festival).

Over 100 Festival supporters were treated to verse by community poet Tony Hillier, and entertained by top classical guitarist Richard Durrant, whose book – The 26 Bus to Paraguay – charts his journey from Brighton housing estate to South America… via Swindon. He’ll be talking about it on May 9.

Richard also led the assembly, in Pied Piper style, to the children’s section of the library, where an Artswords project, curated by No Added Sugar’s Gordon and Toni Dickinson alongside poet Hilda Sheehan, was unveiled. The Butterfly Wall was created by Swindon people, young and old, who over the course of three days decorated 600 butterflies with paints and verse.

Swindon Festival of Literature runs from May 2 to 14, and features dozens of international, national, and local authors, entertainers, historians, philosophers, and politicians.

Highlights of this year’s programme include former Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable (May 3) and former Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone (May 10).

Mr Cable’s book, billed as a carefully-considered perspective on how the economy should be managed over the next decade, is called After the Storm. Perhaps Ken Livingstone, whose new book is called Being Red, will question whether the storm is actually over, when so many citizens are still getting wet.

Austrian academic, ethical economist and contemporary dancer Christian Felber – author of Change Everything – will certainly have a view – or maybe a dance – about it.

Felber has designed what has been described as an ‘economy for the common good’ which is attracting the attention of leaders from the worlds of business and politics. In a festival rarity, Felber is getting a double bill to himself on May 11.

Actor Brian Blessed will be bringing Absolute Pandemonium – both his book and sense of being – to the Arts Centre on May 12, after Festival organisers convinced his agent Swindon ‘could handle him’. Rows A to W are suitable for the hard of hearing.

Another shouty performer – Dom Joly, he of the over-sized mobile phone – will be walking his audience through Here Comes the Clown: a Stumble Through Show Business (May 5) while, earlier the same day, fellow TV comedian Isy Suttie will discuss her book, The Actual One, which charts her very real struggle to remain a twenty-something forever.

As always, Festival-goers will be encouraged to think, rather than simply sit back and be entertained. Author and cultural historian A N Wilson (May 4) will discuss The Bible as a philosophical work of literature for a secular age, while later that day philosopher Roger Scruton will be asking the big questions – who are we, and why are we here? – as explored in his latest work The Soul of the World.

The festival will also pay tribute to Kaye Franklin, a long-time supporter of the Festival and a ‘force for good’ in Swindon, who died last year. In the first Kaye Franklin Memorial Lecture (May 3), Festival director Matt Holland will ask ‘why do we read, write, and listen to stories?’

That’s not an exhaustive list, and doesn’t even touch on the Dawn Chorus, the Swindon Slam poetry competition, the Think Slam philosophy throwdown, the children and families day, the Swindon Affair, and the eclectic Festival Finale with music, poetry and watering cans. For a full festival programme, log on to www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk

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Marlborough & District embroiderers celebrate 40 years of stitching with a ruby exhibition

Four of the members' ruby squares [Click to enlarge]Four of the members' ruby squares [Click to enlarge]Here I am sorting through my stash of red fabrics and threads - some so precious that I have never used them while other scraps drift in and out of my magpie collection. We have been challenged by our chairman to each make a ruby square. The square is to be ten inches by ten inches, we are free to use any materials, any techniques, any design.

The squares' colour is to be predominantly red - ruby red - but to include touches of other colours. Yes you’ve guessed it, our Marlborough and District Embroiderers’ Guild is forty years old next month (April 2016.) We are celebrating with an exhibition of members’ work and, centre stage we are planning to show a block of ruby squares.

There are so many decisions to make when starting a piece of work. We are able to explore, invent and be excited by a whole range of products and materials. Our workbox is as likely to contain a soldering iron as a needle case.

We may have fabric paints and printing blocks, brushes and rollers. We may hand stitch with the most astonishing range of threads or use a sewing machine as a drawing tool, employ soluble fabrics to create lacey structures, or work with a whole range of non-woven materials.  

Embroiderers nowadays are bombarded with so much choice.  Styles of embroidery come and go and change frequently over the years.  Embroidery worked an age ago dates alarmingly.  Such pieces can end up in a charity shop only to be reclaimed by a new generation searching for vintage items.

As our April anniversary and its exhibition approaches, we have been wondering what our branch was like forty years ago. Thanks to one of our members we have a copy of the branch programme for 1976/77 and we read that meetings were held in Marlborough Public Library.  

Monthly talks and workshops laid the foundation for the way our branch works today.  In this old programme we see that Miss Kaye Norris gave a series of talks about the history of embroidery.

Kaye Norris had been taught by Constance Howard at Goldsmith’s College of Art, they remained life long friends. Some examples of Kay Norris’s work can be seen in “Inspiration for Embroidery” by Constance Howard published by Batsford in 1966.  

Constance Howard had an enormous influence on contemporary embroidery, urging that the design side of embroidery should not be overlooked and was as important as the craftsmanship.  Another book by Constance Howard “Embroidery and Colour” was published in 1976, which is as relevant now as it was forty years ago, but it appears strange to us that a book about colour has so few coloured illustrations.

Nowadays modern technology means that we have easy access to wonderfully produced books full of enticing colour, not to mention CD’s and YouTube with its instant access to the world of “how to do it range of crafts”.  Followers of Pinterest and blogging embroiderers abound.

Our own branch now communicates with members online and we have published a newsletter since 2001. One of our members designed our website and another writes a regular blog showing photos of talks, workshops and outings.

Lorrain Lockwood's woodpecker designLorrain Lockwood's woodpecker designIn 1977 Mrs Vilma Wells gave a design workshop with an exercise based on black and white counter-change. The results of this can be seen in the woodpecker box top designed by Lorrain Lockwood who also made the box.  Lorrain was a founder member of the Marlborough and District Embroiderers Guild  

Lorrain’s embroidered Cockerel was part of the branch challenge of 1977. Then members were given a preprinted picture of the cockerel and told that they could use any method excluding gold work or canvas work.  Both of these pieces were in the 1978 July exhibition.

Early meetings of the Guild moved from Marlborough Library, to the Scout Hut, and then to the Bowls Club.  Now our Branch meets in Kennet Valley Hall in Lockeridge and we currently have a membership of sixty-five.  As well as monthly talks with regular and exciting workshops, we run a stitch day for members who want to come and do their own work.  

We run a six-session course, Design to Stitch, which covers machine techniques with a chance to experiment with design. Young Embroiderers began in 2003 and continues to thrive, meeting regularly during school holidays.

The ruby squares are now complete and they will form a very exciting display.  We do hope that you will come and visit our exhibition in Lockeridge, in April 2016 and see for yourself – details of the exhibition can be found here.

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