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John Foxx’s Cathedral Oceans 6th to 11th June in HD

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It was the Dutch theologian, Hans Rookmaaker, who published a book called “Art Needs No Justification” a few decades ago with the notion that as human beings we are designed to create because we are created by a personal God who is a Creator and who made us in his image.
And ever since humans started sketching hunting scenes on the walls of caves, design, art and creativity has been part of what it is to be alive. In the last few centuries, the church has ceased to be at the centre of creative movements which seems to me to be a shame.
So when our church-based theatre space “Ravenscourt Arts” was invited to be part of the annual Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Festival, we set for ourselves a few criteria and then agreed to be involved.

Criteria? Well, we wanted a range of artistic types – some music, some film, some painting and so forth. We wanted artists who were known outside of Hammersmith which would bring in people because of their reputations. We wanted some local people that we could give first exposure to their work. We wanted some artists who were Christians. And, finally, we wanted the whole process to be educational and thought provoking and to involve some of the local schools that we have been building strong bridges with over the last few years.

We managed to tick all those boxes.

It wasn’t without complications with some artists that we’d initially hoped to involve having to be left out as their ideas proved very different from ours but ultimately it all came together.

John Foxx, a gifted artist and musician whose work is currently the centre piece of an exhibition in Australia, agreed that we could use his film, Cathedral Oceans.

Serafina Steer (classical harpist and contemporary musician) gave us a short conceptual film of one of her songs and agreed to perform on harp on the Saturday night. She asked us to try and get Liam Byrne (who performs on a mediaeval instrument called a viola da gamba) to also appear in the Saturday concert and Liam came on board too.

Local artists, Pat Carey-Willis and Suzanne Yaghsizian agreed to have some of their best work exhibited and to allow us to talk about the way that their Christian faith had inspired them to take to brush and easel.

And then using music by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and a painting by Sam Francis which was inspired by Brubeck’s music, we involved six schools in creating 6 mosaics which were re-imaginings of Mr Francis’ work.

We called the whole exhibition “Mosaics”, inspired by the schools’ project but also carrying the notion that when artists come together as a community, they are stronger than when they’re alone.

Chris and Darren hosted the exhibition which was open each week day for 7 hours and also undertook educational tours which allowed visiting groups to learn about the artists who were exhibiting, their inspirations and the nature of their work.

The Saturday concert was a highlight, if poorly attended. Circumstances meant that England’s opening game of the European Championships was one of the things drawing peoples’ attention elsewhere (as well as several other concerts) but most of those who came were fascinated by the quality of the music as Ms Steer and Mr Byrne performed as well as an opportunity to see the multimedia work of Mr Foxx.

So overall I think we can call “Mosaics” a success. Will we be involved in the Festival next year? I think that will depend on the opportunity to do something very different again. The schools seemed to love their involvement and if there was opportunity to do something equally unique, we’re not ruling it out.

John Foxx

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Liam Byrne – 11th June 2016

 

 

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It was the Dutch theologian, Hans Rookmaaker, who published a book called “Art Needs No Justification” a few decades ago with the notion that as human beings we are designed to create because we are created by a personal God who is a Creator and who made us in his image.
And ever since humans started sketching hunting scenes on the walls of caves, design, art and creativity has been part of what it is to be alive. In the last few centuries, the church has ceased to be at the centre of creative movements which seems to me to be a shame.
So when our church-based theatre space “Ravenscourt Arts” was invited to be part of the annual Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Festival, we set for ourselves a few criteria and then agreed to be involved.

Criteria? Well, we wanted a range of artistic types – some music, some film, some painting and so forth. We wanted artists who were known outside of Hammersmith which would bring in people because of their reputations. We wanted some local people that we could give first exposure to their work. We wanted some artists who were Christians. And, finally, we wanted the whole process to be educational and thought provoking and to involve some of the local schools that we have been building strong bridges with over the last few years.

We managed to tick all those boxes.

It wasn’t without complications with some artists that we’d initially hoped to involve having to be left out as their ideas proved very different from ours but ultimately it all came together.

John Foxx, a gifted artist and musician whose work is currently the centre piece of an exhibition in Australia, agreed that we could use his film, Cathedral Oceans.

Serafina Steer (classical harpist and contemporary musician) gave us a short conceptual film of one of her songs and agreed to perform on harp on the Saturday night. She asked us to try and get Liam Byrne (who performs on a mediaeval instrument called a viola da gamba) to also appear in the Saturday concert and Liam came on board too.

Local artists, Pat Carey-Willis and Suzanne Yaghsizian agreed to have some of their best work exhibited and to allow us to talk about the way that their Christian faith had inspired them to take to brush and easel.

And then using music by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and a painting by Sam Francis which was inspired by Brubeck’s music, we involved six schools in creating 6 mosaics which were re-imaginings of Mr Francis’ work.

We called the whole exhibition “Mosaics”, inspired by the schools’ project but also carrying the notion that when artists come together as a community, they are stronger than when they’re alone.

Chris and Darren hosted the exhibition which was open each week day for 7 hours and also undertook educational tours which allowed visiting groups to learn about the artists who were exhibiting, their inspirations and the nature of their work.

The Saturday concert was a highlight, if poorly attended. Circumstances meant that England’s opening game of the European Championships was one of the things drawing peoples’ attention elsewhere (as well as several other concerts) but most of those who came were fascinated by the quality of the music as Ms Steer and Mr Byrne performed as well as an opportunity to see the multimedia work of Mr Foxx.

So overall I think we can call “Mosaics” a success. Will we be involved in the Festival next year? I think that will depend on the opportunity to do something very different again. The schools seemed to love their involvement and if there was opportunity to do something equally unique, we’re not ruling it out.

 

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Paul Cookson – Poetry Workshops for young people

I first met Paul Cookson in the early 1980s at an Arts Festival called Greenbelt. Back then he was writing poems for adults and selling them in self-published booklets on the “fringe” area of the festival.

A couple of years later he had found his true vocation and graduated to writing poems for children. We started doing schools presentations of his work about 15 years ago and when I opened the theatre “Ravenscourt Arts@ Ravenscourt Baptist Church”, his performances became a regular if occasional part of our repertoire at the theatre as we have invited Paul to work with local schools groups.

This tradition continued in May 2016 as over 800 young people joined Paul over 6 events and laughed, worked with words, invented rhymes, and wrote their own poetry.

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Over the period that I have worked with Paul his public performances have remained broadly the same. This isn’t because the poems in his performances are necessarily his best poems but they are the ones that children who are hearing him for the first time react most fully towards. He has an innate sense of what works best in this situation.

Schools from all over West London had gathered for these shows for just that reason. The young people are drawn in. They join in the lines they are given and the choruses with all their heart. All of this means that by the time that the second half of the show comes around, Paul is their friend and they all want to be the one who is asked to present a question to him. They ask about his influences, about how he became a professional poet and what are the things that he likes to write about.

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Amongst the fun poems, Paul will occasionally sprinkle in an inspirational or devotional poem like “Let No One Steal Your Dreams” or “Invisible Magicians” and the newer “Footprints” which is based upon his Christian beliefs.

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After the questions there is still time for the whole of the group – up to 150 at some performances – to work together on a community poem. All of a sudden people who didn’t think they could write poetry are finding a new skill.

Working with and hosting Paul Cookson is a real privilege. We look forward to his next residence at Ravenscourt Arts.

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Daughters of Davis Return – October 2015

On the 3rd of October, we will once again be greeting the Daughters of Davis as they come to play at Ravenscourt Arts.

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Tickets are now on sale. Full price is £7. Special rate of £5 for members, retired folks and students.

For group bookings at special rate (more than 5 tickets), please contact 07807 666220 and ask for Chris.

The Daughters of Davis last played at Ravenscourt Arts in 2014 and were a huge success.

In recent months, they have toured Europe with The Eels, Sam Bailey and Rebecca Ferguson.

They’ve also played major Christian events like Spring Harvest, New Wine and Big Church Day Out.

We look forward to welcoming them back to Ravenscourt

Tickets can be booked at www.wegottickets.com/ravenscourtarts

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Goose Chase – December 2014

What: Goose Chase

Who: Riding Lights Theatre Company

Where: Ravenscourt Arts

When: 9th December 2014

This was Ravenscourt Arts’ (a new venue in Hammersmith) first attempt to stage a play / pantomime for families with young children. This reviewer attended two performances on this date – a free daytime one for local school children which was packed and a evening one which carried a ticket price for which there was a good number of spare seats.

Let me give you a brief synopsis of the story line. A Wise Man gets lost on his way following the star and ends up at the home of a sad Baboushka in Russia. The grandma has a goose called Boo as a pet. The wise man is being tailed by Herod’s bullies who wish to kill the child who is to be born in Bethlehem. The Baboushka decides to follow the Wise Man and takes the goose along for the journey, in the hope that the child that is to be born really is a King. All of this takes place in scenes which alternate with other scenes that build-up to the birth in Bethlehem. We meet Mary and Joseph and Ivan, a electric guitar-playing Russian, who is already in Bethlehem for reasons that I wasn’t exactly clear about.

Ivan, the electric guitar wielding Russian

Ivan, the electric guitar wielding Russian

Anyway, the two story lines eventually combine with the goose dressing as a baby in order to distract Herod’s hired assassin for long enough so that the baby and its parents can escape to Egypt. The scenes where the Russian assassin attempts to kill the goose dressed as a baby lead to much “He’s behind you” fun in the manner of a typical English pantomime.

Boo the Goose

Boo the Goose

This is the place where the Gospel of Matthew meets the traditional pantomime and you go away feeling that you’ve learnt something as well as being thoroughly entertained!

The cast was made up of a mere four actors: Hannah Blofield (Babushka, Mary); Ivan Scoble (Joseph, Wise Man, henchman no. 1 etc.); Charles Hanley (Ivan, henchman no.2 etc); and Boo the Goose (Boo the goose). Each played their roles with brightness and enthusiasm and gusto. Their singing skills were a little second division but, hey, you can’t have everything and the kids didn’t mind.

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Hannah, Charles and Ivan

“Goose Chase” is now on a UK tour. You’ll do well to catch it!

Paul Cookson – June 2014

What: Paul Cookson Poetry Workshop

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: June 2,3,4, 2014

Just under 300 children booked places for the poetry workshops which were scheduled for the 1st week of June in Ravenscourt Arts. Paul Cookson was the poet and Darren Hirst the M.C. as the schools’ groups came and went, over a three day period.


Every child left with a smile. There were noisy poems, join-in poems, poems about teachers, poems about football and thoughtful, inspiring poems.

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From first-to-last, each performance was a treat and was followed by a workshop in which Paul taught the group the skills necessary to work with words and write their own poems. He also fielded every question that any child could come up with – some of which came from children who wanted to think about a career as a writer or poet and others who just wanted to ask personal and slightly embarrassing questions. Paul handled all in great spirit and the fun just flowed.

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Speaking of embarrassment, more than one teacher found themselves worked into Paul’s poems and found their funny bones pinched. A great time!

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Come back, Paul!

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