Moving tapestries

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Hi, my name’s Lewis Wickwar and I make videos.

I enjoy working with people to create collaborative video art; it’s a sort of video painting, or a moving tapestry. Here’s an example, which I made after a recent trip to the beach with my children:

Trip to the Beach

I love the way that, by blending bits of sound, video and still images together, it can really get across the voices of the people making the piece – it’s like layering colours and textures to paint a picture.

I am inviting you to make a piece of collaborative video art with me, using the theme What is Your Village Made of? to create a moving tapestry of where you live.

I’d like you to make some short video clips and audio recordings, as well as still images (photos and drawings).

If you have a mobile phone or a digital camera you’ll be able to take photos or video, or record sound. And if you prefer, you can send in drawings or written pieces, as it can all be woven into the picture.

Below is a short ‘shopping list’ of ideas of the sort of things you could do. Feel free to pick as many as you like; you can create brand new work and also contribute work you’ve made for any of the previous activities.

In fact, I’d encourage you to look back at all of the other artists’ activities on the blog site, as they give great stimulus for creating content. For example, a recorded reading of a poem created as part of Dean Parkin’s activity could be the ‘narration’ for the piece.

The deadline for sending in your contributions is FRIDAY 5TH JUNE – so you’ve got a couple of weeks to do the activity – but please feel free to send in your pieces as soon as they’re ready.

Creative shopping list:-

Film a video

Use your phone (or digital camera) to film a still or moving shot of somewhere or something you notice. You could: –

– film a static shot which shows a place, or

– move through that place in an imaginative way (look at Gillian’s Drone in My Home activity – could you create an aerial flyover in video?).

Do you feel a certain way because of the weather or atmosphere around you – can you capture that?

Be playful! If it looks better blurry, shaky or obscured in some way, then film it that way! Think mainly about colour, shape and texture

Take a photo

Both Jacqui and Gillian have given loads of ideas and info on how to capture a nice photo, so I’d encourage you to look at their pages for tips!

Since we’ll be creating a video we have the added element of movement, so think about capturing an object from several angles – when the images are played together in quick succession it can create some really nice effects.

Record some audio

Using you phone audio recorder, make an audio recording. This could be ambient sound – simply the sound of the environment around you – or you giving a description or observation of a place. Anything from water running down the plug hole to birds singing outside your window – again, I would urge you to be playful with this.

Do you sing, or create music? We’d love to hear it, if you do!

TOP VIDEO TIPS:

I don’t want to get too ‘techy’ about this – it’s much more important that you have fun collecting a few bits and pieces to share. But here are just a few pointers …

If you’re using a phone, hold it on its side to film. Since the screens we watch video on are in ‘landscape’ it helps to film with this in mind.

Take a moment to frame the shot before you press record. Have a look at the object or space you’re capturing and make sure you’ve seen all the details. This will ensure you capture the sights you want whilst avoiding accidentally filming your knickers blowing on the line in the background!

Keep the clips to around 10 seconds or less. Cameras today will film for a long time as they don’t rely on the limited space of physical film any more, but try and be economical with what you’re trying to show as this will encourage you to look in a different way and will also make the video files easier to send over!

Sending files

When you’re ready, smaller files (photos and short audio recordings are usually O.K.) can be sent to Suffolk Artlink at the email address at the end of this activity.

Video files hold a lot more information, so they are ‘bigger’ and take up more space on a computer. If you’ve created videos, then these files will probably be too large to email – think of them as a large parcel that needs a special courier to deliver it!

First, you’ll need to get these files off the device you’ve filmed them on; if it’s a phone, this is usually done by connecting a cable to the computer. If you think of your phone as a type of filing cabinet, just find the file you want and move it onto your computer.

If it’s a camera, then you may need to remove the SD card inside and plug that into a computer. If you have any questions or need support with this process, please contact Suffolk Artlink and we’ll do what we can to help!

Wetransfer is great for sending larger files. It’s free to use, you just need an internet connection. Follow this link https://wetransfer.com or type wetransfer into Google. Select the ‘free’ version.

Click on ‘Add your files’ and search through your folders for the images you want to send. Open the folder, select the images/video/audio and click ‘Upload’. Or simply ‘drag and drop’ the file anywhere into the website. Below is an example of the Wetransfer panel, inviting you to add your files, and a computer screen showing the folders.

An image taken from wetransfer website, showing where to add files, beside a picture of a series of folders and how to select one

Type in the recipient’s email address – in this case it’s mdf@suffolkartlink.org.uk and underneath type in your email address.

Press the blue transfer button – you’ll be sent a code by email which you’ll need to enter into the website – that’s the last step.

Please note that, depending on the size of the file and your internet connection, this may take a while to send, so make sure you don’t turn off your computer until the transfer is at 100%!

I hope you enjoy this activity – I look forward to receiving your pieces and weaving them together into a moving tapestry of some of the things that make your village special to you.

OLD PLACES, NEW VOICES

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Bring your surroundings to life with some dramatic creative writing.

Hello, I’m Lynn Whitehead and for over 40 years I’ve worked as a professional theatre-maker and writer, creating dramatic characters for performance.

I spent several years at both the New Wolsey, Ipswich and the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, where I live. Since recently gaining my MA in play writing (late in life!), my passion has become characters who illuminate the heritage of a place.

I’d like to invite you to create a fictional character who helps shed light on an aspect of your village.

In just four really simple steps, you can come up with a whole new being whose voice has never been heard before!

Have fun inventing – you’ll be surprised how quickly the character you create gets a personality all of their own that you might not be expecting!

Step 1: FIND A FEATURE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Have a look in your immediate neighbourhood for an architectural or natural detail that has a bit of age to it. This could be either in or around your own house or when you’re out for your exercise. For example, it might be …

– a garden gate

– a gnarly old fruit tree

– a corner-stone on a building.

But find your own – something that catches your eye. Something with a history. If you can’t get outside you could look up old photos of your village on the internet and start with one of them. Here are a some photos from my street:

Step 2: CONNECTED CHARACTERS

With your feature in mind, try to think of 2 or 3 types of character (not actual real people!) and when/why they might have been connected to the feature in some way. You can travel through history, don’t forget! For example,

– an old man who painted the gate in 1958 – or the dog who brushed up against it when wet!

– a small girl who posted a sandwich into the post box during the war.

You could do a spidergram of the ideas and choose the one which one jumps out at you most.

Step 3: WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?

Think of some questions you would ask the character if they were real. Get them to talk about the feature. Why are you painting the gate? Is it your gate? Is it new?

Why did you post the sandwich – to get rid of it? To try to get it to your dad who is away? Because the postbox looked hungry?

You get the idea; write down as many questions and answers as you can imagine. Keep it simple and just get your character talking about why they are engaged with the feature.

Step 4: HOW DOES THIS CHARACTER SPEAK?

At this point, you’ve got two choices; you can either …

Send in all your ideas and scribblings about the character and I’ll dramatise your ideas into a short monologue OR

Get the character talking yourself. Try to write as the character would speak to explain their connection to the feature. What kind of language do they use? What words and pauses and mumblings? Get them talking about what is unfolding at the time, rather than looking back and telling a story that is past.

Either way, please send in what you’ve written, from photos of spidergrams and lists of features you’ve thought of, to your very own dramatic monologues, so that we can hear what your village is made of through the new voices you create for it.

A DRONE IN MY HOME

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A MOBILE PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY CHALLENGE

I looked up the definition of the word ‘drone’ and was quite surprised by the number of meanings. None was very positive; distant and monotonous noise, employees that serve no useful purpose – the one exception was bees : ) and, of course, Drone Photography.

We are all very familiar with this style of aerial photography that refers to snapping the world from way above, with the lens pointing directly below – this camera angle can transform even the most ordinary landscape into a fascinating alternative composition.

To keep myself amused in these troubled times and block out the drone of my daily thoughts, I had a go at taking a range of photos around my home, using this alternative ‘bird’s eye view’ – trying to picture the world within my four, very familiar walls, in a new way and I have to say I found it rather absorbing.

This week’s activity is to do just that – take photographs around your home from this ‘bird’s eye view’. Knowing your home inside out, you will be aware of when the sun falls on a much-loved chair, casting shadows, or moments in the garden when the light shifts, bringing certain things to life; bear this in mind when you’re thinking about what to photograph and when to take them.

This activity requires a mobile phone; it’s the phone’s camera that you’ll be using. It’s easy to use, enables you to be quite spontaneous in the images you take and will also enable you to send them on to me – more of which later.

Photo Grids (see below) are a great way of viewing a range of photos on a particular topic because they create a kind of visual diary. I am hoping that you will take a variety of images, such as pets, the garden, a shed etc. and then send them to me and I will create a photo grid for you from your photographs.

I’ll need a minimum of 10 images, which you can either text or email to the contact details below. Please send them in by FRIDAY 15th MAY. I will create a unique grid of your images, which will be posted on to this blog site (so please make sure you don’t send in anything you wouldn’t want to share publicly). We will also print out a paper copy of your grid and post it back to you, to keep as a memento.

So, let’s get started!…….

UNEDITED PHOTOGRAPHS

PART ONE: TAKING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS – THINGS TO CONSIDER

LIGHTING: The key component to making a photograph look more ‘alive’ is, of course, light; in fact, the word photography is derived from the Greek language meaning ‘drawing with light’. So, with this in mind, try and use the light in your home to your advantage – look for those bright patches of daylight that bring out the detail in your surroundings. Later on, we will look at your phone’s basic editing tools (adjustments) that will help tweak your photos and improve the detail or enhance less favourable lighting conditions.

CAMERA ANGLE: Hold your phone so the camera lens is pointing directly down at the subject below. Sometimes you will get your feet in, but that can look amusing : ).

COMPOSING YOUR PHOTO: A photo should include a main subject or point of interest. This focal point gives your photo meaning and offers the viewer a place for their eye to rest. Try to fill the frame and avoid any unwanted background, this is where zooming in a little can come into its own (see photo below on the right).

FOCUSING: Just before you snap, tap the phone screen, to properly focus your image. Then SNAP!

OPTIONAL: If you have the setting to make your photo a SQUARE shape (see middle photo below), that will help when I am making your grid (so select before you take each photo). If not, don’t worry, rectangles are OK, too!!

PART TWO – EDITING YOUR PHOTOS BEFORE YOU SEND THEM TO SUFFOLK ARTLINK

EDITING: This is optional, but you might enjoy it. Editing your phone photos means using the in-phone tools to enhance and improve the appearance of your photos and get a little creative. It is not something to fear.

First, tap your Photos (library) or Gallery icon on your main screen to open all your photos and then select a specific image by tapping it. The image will fill the screen.

Once your image is open, tap EDIT. There are two key parts to editing; if you are unsure, choose a couple of practice images to play around with.

Adjustments: Adjustment tools (see below) help enhance and improve any lighting issues (e.g. brightness, contrast, etc.). However, most phones have a Magic Wand tool that you can tap to automatically enhance your photo as a starting point (see below).

Filters: These can completely alter the mood of your photo and give you the opportunity to experiment (see below).

REMEMBER, YOU CAN ALWAYS PRESS CANCEL OR REVERT TO GO BACK TO YOUR ORIGINAL IMAGE.

In the illustration below you can see the edit screens for an iPhone.

Below, I’ve included a couple of links for extra tips, one fore editing using Android, and the other for editing on an iPhone.

Link for Android e.g. Samsung, Huawei:

https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6128850?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid&hl=en

Link for iPhone:-

https://support.apple.com/en-ie/guide/iphone/iphb08064d57/ios

I decided to give my photos a more uniform appearance by changing them all to black and white. I did this by tapping on FILTERS (3 crossing circles), scrolling right for black and white options and then fine-tuning my image by increasing the contrast in ADJUSTMENTS.

PHOTOS CONVERTED TO BLACK AND WHITE, GIVING A PERHAPS MORE UNIFORM EFFECT

FURTHER EDITING IDEAS TO EXPLORE (optional): If you are familiar with your phone camera and editing, you may want to try uploading free apps for Android or Smartphones. Two popular apps are Pixlr or Snapseed. They will offer you a wider range of filters, borders and adjustment tool to experiment with – enjoy!

PIXLR APP INFORMATION: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pixlr.express&hl=en_GB

SNAPSEED APP INFORMATION: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/snapseed/id439438619

I used a combination of my phone’s adjustment tools to enhance my photos, then played around with Pixlr, using the filter and border options.

PIXLR IS NOT EVERYONES CUP OF TEA – HOWEVER YOU CAN HAVE FUN EXPERIMENTING THE RANGE OF JAZZY FILTERS AND BORDERS

On Reflection…..

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Here are the eleven amazing grid results by our particpants in response to the phone photo project………

I was blown away by the enthusiasm and wonderful creative images sent to us from people who were inspired by last weeks, ‘Drone In My Home’ mobile phone photography project. We also had some wonderful comments by email which I have added to the participants, grids below. Thank you very much for showing us your very personal take on the objects, places, colours and textures that make up home life during ‘lock down’. We appreciated that the project would appeal to both younger and older members of our community and as Suffolk is a very large, rural county accepted contributions as we received them.

Don’t just put your camera away! I have listed, below the grids themselves, other ways for you to develop this project idea.

Very best and stay safe, Gillian Allard x

DEVELOPING YOUR IDEA FURTHER

If you didn’t get around to using the editing tools, then make this your next challenge – it is great fun and can really add a creative twist to your images; once you start I promise you it is quite additive : )

Rather than look at the ‘home’ as a whole, try choosing a single subject and look at it in as many ways and from as many angles as you can, the blooms in my garden, my pet’s routine, the view from every window in my house (perhaps at different times of day), baking a cake ‘from bowl to first bite’ etc.

Have you ever tried the opposite of drone – an ants eye view : ) It is a unique point of view and your phone camera lends itself to this point of view because you can easily hold the phone/camera at ground level while shooting and see what you are doing on the screen. Give it a go!

Cow Parsley in The Great Churchyard by Jacquie Campbell

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May 2nd, The Great Churchyard in Bury St Edmunds is transformed into a magical space by the lacy veil of cow parsley blooms. The plants rise to our waists and offer a shady undergrowth for White Dead-Nettle, Borage and Wild Garlic. Those Orange- tipped butterflies are everywhere, they seem really appreciative that the churchyard runs wild for a while. Soon it’ll all be cut back to give other plants a glimpse of sunlight.