“Bloom” Book Launch 

A few weeks ago I attended a free event at the Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road in London which was the launch event of the book Bloom by Estée Lalonde which included the author (a well known youtuber and blogger) in attendance doing a live Q&A in conversation with blogger Emma Gannon.

I was in London that day anyway for the London Film Festival and since I have been watching her videos for a few years (as well as enjoying the book CTRL ALT DELETE: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon) it seemed like the perfect opportunity! The atmosphere was very friendly there were around 30 people there (mostly female) and everyone was a similar age.

I really enjoyed the Q&A it was warm and funny and I got to meet Estée afterwards for her to sign my book.

I recently finished reading it, it only took a few hours due to the spaced-out magazine style of the book filled with loads of gorgeous photos. I definitely enjoyed the first half the most, in which Estée is the most personal talking about her past, relationships, and mental health. The second half is very much focused on fashion, lifestyle, and beauty most of which is similar to things you can find on her youtube channel or blog. I think you could classify it as a coffee table read as it’s very dip-in-dip-out and visually pleasing. Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend to anyone who enjoys her online content.

 

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On The Stage: A Streetcar Named Desire

I remember studying A Streetcar Named Desire; the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams, in depth during my English Literature A-Level at school. Then watching the 1951 film adaptation starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando and loving them both. So, when I discovered a few months ago that tickets were going on sale for a stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester starring none other than Maxine Peake, who I’d seen perform as Hamlet previously in a recording of the production at the Cornerhouse I couldn’t stop myself from buying tickets.

streetcar

I’d never been to the Royal Exchange before and it’s such a fantastic venue, it’s in the round and I was lucky enough to be stage side so you could see everything up close and personal. The set was incredibly minimalist featuring 2 mattresses, a fridge, a fold-down table and a bathtub separated by a clear screen. Although the set has been criticised for being too simplistic I think it gave a stronger focus on the performance by the actors and the set with the brilliant lighting filled in the backdrop and atmosphere where needed. Throughout the play, Blanche is haunted by 3 personified versions of her inner demons and I found the use of sound and light to showcase this very interesting. Maxine Peake was incredible, capturing both the flirty funny side of the play as well as the dark, complicated side of her character, Blanche DuBois. I also thought the performances by Sharon Duncan-Brewster who played Stella and Ben Batt who played Stanley very strong also. They had fantastic chemistry throughout the play.

Overall, the show was fantastic I absolutely loved it and the venue. I would definitely go back if given the opportunity and if you have managed to get tickets for this show (I’ve heard it’s completely sold out) let me know what you think!

Silent Films on the Big Screen.

I recently saw the 1928 film Underground with a live musical score by HarmonieBand at HOME.  The film explores a love triangle that forms on the London Underground when two men are attracted to the same woman. I really enjoyed this film with its live musical accompaniment, it was pretty impressive to see the band as 2 of the members were constantly switching instruments. The film itself was directed by Anthony Asquith and whilst telling a love story it documented the London Underground system in the late 1920s.

underground

I absolutely loved Underground, It did the usual love triangle plot device of the rejected man framing the chosen man and making him look unfaithful but rather than doing what I expected and the chosen man trying to seek redemption and win back the protagonist she believed him, trusted him and took it upon herself to seek out what really happened. The cinematography of the escalators and underground trains was brilliant and very familiar despite being shot in 1929.

Earlier in the year there was a special screening of The Son of The Sheik (1926), as part of the season of films exploring sex and sexuality. Valentino, one of the first cinematic sex symbols stars in this film sequel about the son of a sheik and a dancing girl falling in love, he then seeks revenge due to believing she has betrayed him.

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Now, The Son of The Sheik was a film I didn’t quite like as much as Underground. It was a massive cliche of the silent film era, dashing hero, helpless love interest, lots of riding around on horses, that kind of thing. I did enjoy it simply because it was such a cliche film meaning it was hilarious in places and was exactly what you would expect a film like this to be.

I think it’s brilliant that I have been able to see silent films at the cinema, especially with live musical accompaniment, it really brings the films to life and showcases work that isn’t always accessible. I know I for one would love to see more films from that era so I hope cinemas continue to do events like this!

Wonder Women.

March was Women’s History Month and in Manchester there were tons of events to celebrate it and International Women’s Day on March 8th 2016. Similarly to last year, Wonder Women festival was held across the city featuring film screenings, art exhibitions and special events. There was also the annual Reclaim The Night march through the streets of Manchester in late February.

 I finally had the chance to visit the Pankhurst centre (which is a little hard to find,  as it is in the middle of the Manchester Royal Infirmary & is only open on Thursdays). The centre is the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters and is the location of the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union and the birthplace of the Suffragette movement. It’s a really interesting museum and acts as a women’s community centre continuing the legacy of the building. I also attended the art exhibition What IS She Wearing at Manchester Art Gallery by Instigate Arts which explored the relationship between fashion and how it is used to explore gender, sexuality and identity, this was really interesting and included performances, sculptures and installations around the gallery.

I also attended Reclaim The Night on the 25th of February, chanting and singing down the streets of Manchester, it started in Owens Park, Fallowfield and finished at the Manchester University Student Union on Oxford Road. Over 3500 people attended. This was the first Reclaim The Night I’ve attended and I absolutely loved it, the atmosphere was full of such energy, noise and a passion for what we were doing. If you don’t know, Reclaim The Night is a protest movement against street harassment, victim blaming and rape culture. As we walked through the streets we faced both support and backlash from local residents and drivers, some revving their engines to try and drown us out but that was definitely a minority of the people we encountered. Overall, it was a really great experience and I would love to attend next year.

Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film Review.

On the 29th of October there was a special screening at HOME in Manchester of the BFI’s Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film with a live piano accompaniment by Lillian Henley as part of Britain on Film.
morenoiseMake More Noise! inspired by the words of Emmeline Pankhurst featured 20 short silent films that were a mix of newsreel footage (Including the death of Emily Wilding Davison at the 1913 Derby) and comedic shorts from the time period. There was a brief description of the clip before it played giving some context and history to what we were about to view, the newsreel footage playing chronologically depicting suffragettes meeting in 1910 right through to women munition workers in 1917.

Although, not always picturing suffragettes explicitly the funny short silent films broke up what could have been a long series of factual information. My personal favourites were the funny Tilly shorts which pictured two mischievous sisters and were released between 1910-1915 (One of which can be partly seen below).

I really enjoyed this event! Lillian Henley’s live piano soundtrack was great, and if you get the chance to see this whilst it is touring you should check it out.

Ocean Studios – Plymouth

Yesterday, I visited the new Ocean Studios Gallery in Plymouth. The exhibition “A Taste of Things to Come” is the first since the space opened and features artists such as Grayson Perry, Richard Deacon and Gillian Wearing. The Gallery is located at Royal William Yard, a grade 1 listed former Royal Navy building and I absolutely love the gallery space they’ve created.

The exhibition itself had key themes of feminism, motherhood and diversity. One of the most interesting pieces was a series of slate scratchings documenting artist Mary Kelly’s son learning to spell his name and slowly gaining independence after beginning school. The piece expresses how she feels at this separation from him.

I think it’s really great that Ocean Studios has opened in Plymouth, it’s aim to revitalise Plymouth culturally, re-engage the public with the arts and be a home for south west artists is fantastic and I will definitely be visiting future exhibitions!

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You can find out more about Ocean Studios here:

http://www.plymouthculture.co.uk/ocean-studios.html

http://oceanstudios.org.uk

Translucent Screening- Nottingham

A quick update post about the screening of my film Translucent which is at an LGBT short films night hosted by the Nottingham Alternative Film Network called “Translucence” on the 20th of September at 8pm in the Lord Roberts and costs £5.

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“Translucent is an uplifting, unobtrusive exploration of self-identity that discusses being transgender in a way that seems highly refreshing and open.”

Sadly, I cannot attend but I hope you will make it if you can!

http://nottinghamalternativefilmnetwork.com/translucence/