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The Visit // BUMF Reviews

Our Subject Scout, Sarah Gomes Munro, visited AUB Performances’ ‘The Visit’, a cross-course collaboration. Here’s what she had to say…

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Going to see a play you expect to be sat back, in a plush red leather seat with curtains to be pulled and maybe even a live band tuning their instruments in some pit you can’t quite see. What you don’t expect is to walk onto the stage itself, see the chairs stacked in rows going up the walls and the set art to stretch itself all across the room. From the first step I understood, this was going to be quite the immersive experience.

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The Visit by Friedrich Dürrenmatt touches on many raw human emotions. Guellen, a downtrodden German town in the 40s living off the dream of former glory, gets a visit from one of its own former townspeople, the notable Claire Zachanassian who has made her money and her own luck. She offers the town a one million pound investment in return for the death of her former lover, betrayer, but town’s favourite personality and shopkeeper Mr
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There is jealousy, madness and excuses to soothe the soul as morals fight poverty and the promise of a better tomorrow shines brighter than a just today. Everything about this play was thought out, from the cardboard set that echoes the poverty and simplicity of Guellen, to the brown bricks on the floor that were cleaned away to show the bright gold of money and betrayal shining underneath.

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Dance came into the experience a number of times to let feelings and not words tell the story and comedy was woven into the play so that you found yourself laughing at these absurd characters, situations and actions.

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The relatively small cast swapped characters seamlessly and if there were any
mishaps throughout the play I caught none of them. The characters came alive right before my eyes and, as is meant to be, I forgot that underneath the costume there is every possibility they were someone else.

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The collaborative contributions shone on stage and I for one know that I will be
going back to see more of AUB’s plays.

 

Words by Sarah Gomes Munro, Photographs by Ewa Ferdynus


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You Missed This: Arts by the Sea

Our Article Writer, Olivia Church, went to Bournemouth Arts by the Sea last week to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s what she had to say…

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Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival attracts a huge number of visitors to the town centre and gardens every year. It brings a fun and varied visual arts extravaganza that stretches from comedy to music to literature. Here at AUB we already feel that strong sense of arts community, in and outside of campus. But this festival in particular aims to support artists on a local, national and international scale, acting as a showcase for Bournemouth’s creative scene.

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The Lower Gardens was one of the first places on my list. As I entered the gardens a faint sea of colour was making its way towards the crowds. This installation was created by Cirque Bijou whose focus is to bring audiences spectacles of contemporary street theatre and circus acts. The company managed to gather a troupe of about 50 volunteers, of all ages, to participate in parading a kaleidoscope of colourful light-up umbrellas through the heart of town. Led by a lively brass band, the umbrellas bobbed through the gardens towards the square, turning heads and engaging any audience that was available. A surprisingly simple concept like this proves that it doesn’t take much to dazzle a crowd. Instead the focus was on people and you may have seen this on many a Snapchat story.

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A little further down the path were even more crowd pleasers. These came in the form of mostly tall and colourful installations made by a variety of artists to highlight the impact of plastic on the sea. It is an ongoing debate, especially for environmentally-aware creatives, as to how we can prevent further damage to our coastlines, the effect we have on sea life and the repercussions from not looking after the sea as a whole. These pieces were created with an innovative and interactive approach towards a subject that addresses us all.

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A favourite seemed to be one that was decorated with straws; the overall effect made it seem like spectators were looking at a patch of coral and proved very effective. Coral is, at the moment, an endangered part of sea life but the lighting and straws managed to remind us of its importance, reinforcing the damaging effects of plastic. The tactile nature of the plastic was at the forefront of the collective and even though there was an obvious ‘Do Not Touch’ sign placed on this piece it didn’t deter young children from helping themselves to the straws- probably not the artist’s intention.

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Tactility seemed to be a theme that continued throughout the Festival and this was also adopted by installation and mobile artworks company Rag and Bone. The British company were responsible for creating their ‘Umbrella Tree’ (yes, more umbrellas). Rather than being controlled by people this time the rustic exhibit moved through a series of mechanised pistons and steam controls. It was a cleverly-made creation and the sudden bloom of umbrellas that crowned the installation didn’t go unnoticed.

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Some of you may have never been to this festival or may feel that you wish you had. It’s true: why would anyone want to walk around on a cold autumnal day to marvel at displays and exhibitions? It’s a hassle and a half of a bus ride in to get there in the first place! Travelling and simply just going out and seeing what is out there can make all the difference to you and your practice if you are prepared to go and look for it.

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What was great to see at the Festival was the element of human interaction with art being the reason why different pieces had their appeal and drew people’s attention- even if people were not aware that it was on and were just walking their dog. It gave people a chance to have closer associations with creative people. It was the Festival’s ability to combine a sense of awe and wonder alongside the need to entertain and delight that became the reason why we need to maintain a strong arts community in Bournemouth today.

Words by Olivia Church, Photographs by Charlie Pryor


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Surfaces // BUMF Reviews

Our Article Writer, Natalia Podpora, attended the opening for Richard Allen’s exhibition ‘Surfaces’. Here’s what she had to say…

A full time illustrator, part time painter and one of his kind: Richard Allen’s exhibition ‘Surfaces’ opened for viewing in the Poole Lighthouse’s gallery on a wonderful Friday evening last week. Richard is a visiting tutor on the BA Illustration course here at AUB.
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The turnout of the private viewing was great. Spectators were really taking their time looking at the paintings, many parts of which become more intricate the closer and longer you look. Thoughts and contemplations were flowing amidst the sipping of glasses of wine, or was that just me?

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The pieces exhibited ranged from cliff landscapes to the paradoxical imagery of geometric wasteland sites, with natural horizons in the background. Another feature was paintings of postcards Richard had found on his travels.
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You may have heard the name Richard Allen before; his claim to fame of winning the 2016 Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’ in November resulted in being undertaken for a number of commissions for the National Trust. A great achievement to say the least!
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When speaking to him it is clear that he is very humble about his talent and achievements, which are numerous.

As to his process, he stated that he often begins with quick, ‘’on the spot’’ sketches which he then builds up using charcoal and, subsequently, paint. He appreciates using what he describes as ‘’edgy layers’’ which add some structure and sharpness to the paintings- as can be noticed when looking up close. You can see the layers of paint, almost a landscape in their own respect, on the surface of the canvas.
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He describes a main inspiration as the idea of being ‘’one step removed’’ from the visage he is interpreting with paint, like when you’re driving through a landscape but only get to take in a snapshot of the scenery before it disappears. He tries to describe this feeling in his paintings of paintings, removing the audience from the immediacy of viewing a landscape. This feeling is also expressed successfully in his postcard portrayals, which blur the real scenes with something fabricated and detached from nature.
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You can check out his work at http://richard-allen.com

The Lighthouse exhibition in Poole is open to the public until the 2nd of December.

Words by Natalia Podpora, Photographs by Alice Clarke


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Tribal // Rhian Beavis

Rhian //This exciting collaboration between courses has been a fun and creative project. With detailed wigs, make-up and prosthetics we have recreated a native African Tribe in full costume. The cleverly applied ritual scars represent a part of their historic culture that we have captured. I have incorporated lots of accessories into the design of the costumes, drawing on the cultural tradition of handmade jewellery, of which all members of the tribe wear. We are producing a trailer for an up and coming film called ‘Tribes’; based on an Ethiopian tribe and their cultural attitudes towards others.

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Make-up – Courtney-Leigh Hannon
Costume – Rhian Beavis
Photographer – Aggie Banks

 

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Are We Lucky to be Creative? // BUMF Says

 

Our Article Writer Olivia Church shares her thoughts on what it means to be a creative.

‘You’re so lucky’, said my friend of mine a few years ago – ‘you get to be creative and artistic and make things’. This friend was someone who was probably going to do an academic subject at university like English or Politics or, god forbid, maths. This also prompted Kylie Minogue’s ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ to play in the back of my head for the rest of the day. Luck is defined as ‘success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions’. If you’re sitting here reading this thinking that your mad photography skills and a membership to the Tate Modern ‘just kind of happened’, then I’m afraid I am going to disagree with you.

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I think it’s likely that we all have a say in what path we take without relying on the stars above to guide us. Perhaps this holds more weight at an arts university. We’ve ascertained that luck is ‘brought by chance’ and yet an in an institution like this, it’s one of the few places where we can have total control of our direction, what we make and who we meet along the way. In BUMF’s FRESH issue, I talked a bit about the idea that whilst we do not always acquire a sense of self on our own, our identities are composited along with an array of external influences. If you would prefer the scientific terms, we are influenced by endogenous factors (i.e.: the internal beliefs) and exogenous factors (i.e.: external effects on an individual). Hopefully that won’t come up in a pub quiz any time soon.

As difficult as it may be, we even have a say in whether something has an impact on us. Sometimes it’s a case of us simply not liking something, if we don’t like it then we move on to find something that we do like (I’m thinking food as an example more than art here!). One problem that I’ve found is students of all capabilities can struggle to keep up with the fast-flowing channel of influence, new and old, and to try and make sense of it for themselves. As creative individuals, we encounter many choices and points of influence throughout our time here. Sharing knowledge and awareness of what is going on in industry is one thing, but when you have a number of people pointing to what is considered to be ‘good art’, it just makes things a little more difficult to navigate. It is important to separate your likes from your interests. You could like photographing landscapes but when you go for a country walk with the dog, you may spend the whole time looking for the next best snapshot.

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Maybe we aren’t lucky at all – us artists have to constantly define and redefine ourselves for a sense of purpose in our work and appeal to wider audiences. Maybe the luck my friend referred to was that some of us have effectively avoided following the academic path and heading in a direction that not many choose to go down. And it doesn’t mean we haven’t had to study, practice, fail, win, fail again and wrack our brains out for a glimpse of an idea that might just make us realise how we want to spend our time. In a country that pushes, even heaves, for academic success from an early age, the fact that people choose to head in to the creative industries shows original thinking, passion and even a smirking sense of rebellion.

So, if it’s not luck that has brought us to where we are, then what has? What is the right word? I am not lucky because I was simply given the ability to illustrate or use my imagination to solve problems creatively. Nor am I lucky because my friend thinks there are people out there who are willing to pursue a road less travelled. A simple ‘go for it!’ would have sufficed. Considering the creative industries is one of the fastest growing centres of the British economy, perhaps what we really need is for others to be more open to those who choose to base their interests and careers in these sectors and to reinforce the idea that it will be worthwhile and you can achieve more than you realise. And luck will have nothing to do with it.

 

Words by Olivia Church, Illustrations by Sveinn Snær Kristjánsson


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Wonders of the Seven Seas // Ksenia Popova

Ksenia// For the final project of my third year I created a collection of imaginary fish, inspired by the Middle Eastern culture. The biggest influence on my work was made by the research of Persian miniatures. They are small painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a Muraqqa. There is also a parallel style of non-figurative ornamental decoration, which was found in borders and panels in miniature, pages and spaces at the start or end of work or section. (In Islamic art it is referred to as “Illumination”.)

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I was fascinated by all the layouts, colours, patterns and all the creatures. Straight away I wanted to combine all these elements together, and interpret them in my own style. I have used acrylic paints for this project and experimented a lot with pattern making.

Website // kseniaaks.co.uk

 

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High Mead // Emmanuel Panayi

Emmanuel// Whilst being assigned a free-range documentary project, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to shoot at High Mead Community Farm in Ferndown, Bournemouth. The project is focused on the scene of an uninhabited (by man) environment. Being from the busy city of London, often I don’t get the chance to stumble upon much rural territory.

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After giving the grounds a quick explore, I began shooting. I loved the different aspects of the farm: one area held animals, another was in complete desolation. I stumbled across one of my favourite animals too, the almighty, dignified, and spectacular creature…a donkey named Susie! Back in my home country, Cyprus, a donkey is the equivalent to the British pigeon, so it was nice to see some familiarity.

 

Once I took a few shots, I noticed that the animal is just as good as a human when it comes to interpreting emotion and character. The images I captured of Susie surely made me giggle. I then moved towards the rear of the site where I came across an abandoned caravan.screen-shot-2017-07-19-at-19.39

Part of my aim for this project is to captivate the viewer’s intuition, making you ask – what?[…] Many questions surround the image as to the comprehensive state that is has become, which I find intriguing. Along with the caravan, an abandoned barn is another structure I captured . Admittedly, there is something eerie about this barn yet it’s still beautiful in a way. The design and structural aspect of it compile to create a contemporary graphic appeal, but the rustic condition says otherwise.

As I packed up towards the end of the shoot, I clomped towards a deteriorating speed sign stuck in the ground – I photographed this too. I chose to strip the colour from the photographs purely to suit the idea of an uninhabited world.

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Throughout the series of images, a common theme is nature. Yes, it’s a common subject, but exploring the definitive and figurative suggestions of the word have taught me to think outside the box, and most importantly to keep in touch with my surroundings when shooting.

 

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BUMF Gallery // ‘McArt’

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The ‘McArt’ exhibition has an aim, and that aim is to make you re-think the most obvious aspects of your life. Consumption.

Upon first entering the gallery, it was clear there was a strong unified message within the pieces around the room – ranging from wax/fat covered skin-like ornaments to McDonald’s fry cushions (providing physical comfort, much like the actual fries would) to mixed media prints & satirical triptychs.
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The ongoing interaction between the works and the audience present was interesting to see and note. Ironically , but perhaps intentionally , the viewers became a part of the viewing & the process consumption which was the main drive behind the creation of the works.

The video pieces were visualising how it felt to be a part of mindless consumer culture, part of the noise, without being perhaps fully aware or mentally attentive to the actions we undertake to receive this acceptance.

Undeniably some concentration and deeper thought was required to begin understanding the motifs and content of some pieces but it was gripping nevertheless. Thoughts were provoked. Questions were asked. The link in between perhaps not as obvious as first assumed.

The type of art presented fluctuated between quickly made – consequently meant to be quickly consumed, and more detailed pieces which required a more questioning approach.

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The cycle of consumer culture became clear after going around the gallery twice the viewers of the work participated in consuming their message and containing the cycle. Mindless. Repetitive. Without realising, we are all part of it.

The work is powerful. Go and see for yourself. Lay in those fries, ponder the sculptures, look and decide for yourself. Give into the effect of McDonaldization.

‘McArt’ runs until Friday 13th October, and was curated by Marius Samavičius.

Words / Natalia Podpora

Photographs / Kate Wolstenholme


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The Factory Shop

Our writer, Natalia Podpora, attended an opening for a new creative workspace in Boscombe. Here’s what she had to say

On a casual Friday evening last week , The Factory Shop opened its doors for a small opening party. A group of talented artists have banded together to create this cosy studio space, designed to operate as both a gallery and shop for the magical creations that they cook up. The shop acts as a sister workspace to The Factory Studios, which is the creative hub and home to a myriad of creative practices including Home Thrown Studios.

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You can definitely tell that it is artist created and led from the clean but aesthetically cluttered layout of the shop, all the creations placed around as though frivolously, creating a fun and homely feel. The owners hope to be able to let the front of the store out to artists for small exhibitions or as a place for fresh faced creatives to flog their goods. Peg boards line the walls making the space functional and wall customisation is easy. Currently these boards are brimming with a variety of prints, hangings and jewellery.

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The event seemed successful in drawing in the creative crowd, the air filled with continuous  bustling discussion and laughter in a cosy atmosphere. The pieces for sale range from cat keyrings, prints, ceramic figures, jewellery and postcards: one of a kind pieces and designs that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. It’s like etsy come to life- definitely one to check out.

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The ambience was truly that of an independently run  and artsy space- it felt fresh and exciting. Towards the end of the night people were making comments that “it feels like an arty cocktail party from the 1970s” and “the turnout was just an OK amount of people”. A success!

 

If you want to check out the shop, and we definitely recommend that you do, you can find it here 779 Christchurch Road, Boscombe.

Facebook // The Factory Shop

Instagram // @thefactoryshop_779

Words and photographs by Natalia Podpora


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Let Me Tell You a Story // BUMF Says

Our new Chief Article Writer Daisy Leigh-Phippard shares her thoughts on story telling.

Once upon a time, we used to tell each other stories in the dark. Around a campfire that was underwhelming dim compared to the ones we saw in American films, or by the lamplight huddled under our duvets before bed, we’d sit and listen to stories. As we’ve gotten older stories are no longer spoken to us, and have started being shown in other ways: films. Where the action is just as important as the dialogue and artwork and photography tells whole stories without saying anything. But we don’t talk and listen like we used to. Maybe we share a few anecdotes over coffee, but it’s not quite the same. As interesting as interpreting a wordless story is, I wonder what our culture would be like if we stopped and verbally told stories to each other more often.

I did a project over the summer filming and interviewing a group of artists. At the end of each interview, I asked them to tell me a story. It was somewhat of a throwaway question, something to distract them from their self-consciousness by engaging in something that comes naturally to all of us, even if we hate the camera of public speaking. But it had surprisingly rewarding results. One person told me about a teapot she was given to make a sculpture from. It was a teapot that the owner had been drinking from when the radio announced that Britain had declared war on Germany in 1939. Imagine all the fear that must have brought, I was told. Everything that that meant. How British it was to solve it by having a cup of tea.

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Someone retold to me a fairytale of a young girl that rescued birds from cages in the woods that transformed into women that had been trapped by a cruel old king.  I learnt about a couple who had gone to great efforts to make their own clothes for their first date, buying the fabric and sewing it themselves in the days before online ordering. They had turned up in an exactly matching dress and blazer. Despite my plans to get the artists out of their own heads, I found myself outside of my own as well. I was immediately absorbed just by listening to someone verbally tell me a story. Something I hadn’t really experienced in a long time.

Oral storytelling is arguably the oldest form of storytelling itself past cave paintings. Back before we had recorded history, we know travelling storytellers went between communities reciting their tales as well as news from across the land. It’s a medium that’s uniquely intimate, where the teller is flexible to change elements of the story depending on the audience’s reaction. The closest thing we commonly have these days would be plays or performance poetry and comedy, but even then performers are often afraid to go off the tracks and improvise which was the key part of oral storytelling.

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Ever wondered why every time you hear a fairytale it’s slightly different? They were initially spread through word-of-mouth. Literally. People would forget parts and make it up, or change it because they thought of something better. It’s like Chinese Whispers through time, and it’s part of the reason it’s such an intimate tradition. Listeners were part of the creative process either when the teller altered the story based on their reactions, or when they went and retold it to someone in a new way themselves. Of course, this meant that the story being told was limited to the perspective of the person telling it, but before the general population could read or write, before we had cameras and coloured pencils, this was how we had access to stories.

Now I’m not against visual storytelling. Telling a story in a single frame and with no words at all is a craft, and by many accounts harder. How do you unite visual and sound elements to explain something to the audience without spoon-feeding them? Where do you draw the line between being explicit and letting people discover the story for themselves? By extension, the audience is just as involved in the creative process: they interpret it themselves and make their own meaning. The same painting means a different thing to everyone who looks at it.

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But I’m still sad to see that we don’t celebrate stories that don’t need anything but words like we did when we were children or all the way back in ancient times. A lot of the people I know haven’t heard the fairytales or mythology that I love because they went straight into movie-watching or music, and somewhere in the middle skimmed over the stage of just sitting and listening. As creative storytellers, I think it’s an invaluable experience to be told a story that changes and evolves around you, the listener. It’s one of the things that helps you learn how to shape stories yourself, so I wonder what it would be like if it wasn’t something just left to childhood, and if we kept telling each other stories in the dark even when we have electric lights and Netflix.

Words by Daisy Leigh-Phippard

Illustrations by Sarah Gomes Munro (Instagram // @gomunro)