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Post Date

09 July 2014


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Blood on the Streets in Nottingham

Our Administrator Steve invites us into the world of blood letting with a truly unique trip to the hairdressers.  Photo by Lamar Francois.

As someone who’s always been ridiculously squeamish when it comes to anything involving blood, it can sometimes be a bit tricky being the partner of a performance artist whose main source of material is his own blood. And when said performance artist is Jamie Lewis Hadley, who’s current project, the aptly titled Blood on the Streets, involves live phlebotomy and an in-depth lecture on the history of blood letting, it’s safe to say that I was in equal parts excited and nervous to take in the first performance.

However, just over a week ago on a sunny evening in Nottingham, I did just that.

The idea behind Blood on the Streets is to provide the general public with an informative and visually engaging 30 minute performance lecture on the history of the barber surgeon and their previous involvement in and subsequent separation from the act of blood-letting as a means of curing common ailments. Now what makes Blood on the Streets that little bit different from your average performance lecture to the usual ‘white space’ art crowd is that it takes place in the windows of a number of modern day barber shops up and down the UK, making it instantly accessible to literally the ‘people on the street’.

At 7:45pm one warm, Friday evening on a cobbled walk-way in Nottingham, I waited anxiously outside the vibrant 28 Barbers for the debut performance to start.  Camcorder in (shaky) hand, a large medical curtain pulled across the window to obstruct the audiences’ view and guard the aesthetics of the piece before the big reveal, the crowds began to gather.

As the local church bells chimed in the count of 8 o’clock, the curtain was pulled back and the performance began...

Now, if I were to sit here and go into detail about the lecture, the intriguing use of props, the fascinated passers by, the lovely Dr Belinda Fenty, the leeches (sort of) and of course, the blood, then I’d be giving away what makes this groundbreaking piece of performance art so appealing.

So instead, I would advise anyone who enjoys the extraordinary, the thought-provoking and the little bit gory to go check out a performance for yourself...coming soon to a barbers near you.

Photo by Lamar Francois

Post Date

30 June 2014


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Meanwhile in another muddy field

Artichoke Communications Officer JoJo was back on home turf last weekend for a moving performance exploring life in the trenches during WWI...

Something special happened in a muddy field last weekend.  No, I wasn’t welly-clad on Worthy Farm.  I was in Monmouthshire, South Wales for National Theatre Wales’ latest production Mametz.  Written by Welsh poet Owen Sheers, it was a site specific piece based on the Battle of Mametz Wood in France.  One of the bloodiest battles of WWI, a staggering 4,000 men of the 38th (Welsh) Division were either killer or wounded as they tried to gain control of the forest.

I grew up in Monmouthshire, and went along to the performance with my dad, whose interest in all things WWI grows by the day but is a lot harder to please when it comes to theatre.  Set amongst the beautiful surroundings of Great Llancayo Wood just outside Usk, we found ourselves being led through a trench and then to a pair of old farm buildings which had been converted into makeshift performance spaces.  The story focused on a group of young soldiers, some from Wales, others with Welsh ancestry who were desperate to fight, all frighteningly young and under-prepared, now facing the terror of the wood in front of them.  We got to know these characters, their mothers, wives and lovers, before following them ‘over the top’ of the trench to battle, for an intense finale in the wood itself. 

As we made our way along rain began to hammer down on us.  But the cold and wet felt incredibly fitting, as we watched these characters drag themselves through the mud to an inevitably violent demise, some by their own shells, or by a bayonet. 

It was 100 years since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that very same day. It made you think about relatives and the part they played in the war who are no longer with us, nor are their stories. I know my dad was as moved by Mametz as I was, thinking about his own grandparents experiences and then his parents in the following WW2. Here was immersive, site-specific theatre helping us to remember, to imagine the horror of life in the trenches, and the futile, uselessness of war.  ‘War is the end of dialogue’ one of the characters said, I couldn’t agree more.

Mametz was one of the first events of 14-18 NOW a cultural pogramme of events to mark the centenary of WW1.  

Post Date

19 August 2013


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New addition to the Fourth Plinth

Remember when Artichoke took over Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth with Antony Gormley’s One & Other back in 2009? Well, the latest artwork for the plinth has recently been unveiled – simultaneously unveiling the media’s love for double entendres.

The Mayor of London presents 'Hahn/Cock' by Katharina Fritsch on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth. This playful 4.7m high cockerel is made from stainless steel with epoxy outer and is saturated in intense, ultramarine blue. The sculpture communicates on a number of levels; its strong colour and size stands out against the grey formality of Trafalgar Square, whilst the cockerel itself ironically references a male-dominated British society. The cockerel is also a symbol for regeneration, awakening and strength. Fritsch is well known as an artist for creating iconic images of animals in a single colour that are instantly familiar.

'Hahn/Cock' is a striking addition to the Fourth Plinth, which has become one of the world’s most celebrated public art programmes since the Fourth Plinth Commission was launched in 2005. The programme has seen the site host a range of innovative art commissions including Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005-07), our obvious favourite: Antony Gormley’s One & Other (2009) and most recently Elmgreen & Dragset’s Powerless Structures, Fig.101 (2012/13).  The Fourth Plinth programme is part of the Mayor’s vision for Trafalgar Square to be a vibrant public space and also encourages debate about the importance of public art in the built environment.

Post Date

06 June 2013


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Peace Camp Exhibition 2013

Dear All,

As we’ve not spoken before, I should introduce myself. My name’s Joe Emerick, and for the last five weeks I’ve been working on the communications desk at Artichoke with Anna, JoJo, and Nicky, typing like a madman, unwrapping pictures, and sending many an email. I’m London-based, graduating from Goldsmiths College in 2011. Since then I’ve been working at ski resorts in France, shaping surfboards, and writing blogs. After Artichoke I’m hoping to stay in communications and keep working as a freelance copywriter. If you want to see a picture of me, there's one at the bottom of the page. Rob Evans' competition winner for the Caemas Bay Peace Camp is just too good...

Anyway, nice to meet you.

As you may know from our news page, there’s a Peace Camp exhibition opening in a few days that will be showcasing the brilliant photography and the heart-rendering poetry that went into the encampments and website over the course of 2012.

What you may not know is exactly how this exhibition has come together, what we’ve all been doing to make it happen, and what you can expect from it.

So I’ll tell you.

     We’re holding it in the Poetry Café, which is run by the Poetry Society. It’s on a lovely side street in Covent Garden, and sells some great tea, coffee, wine, beer, and food. We’ve been in five or six times in the last few months, measuring walls and wildly gesticulating as to what we want going where. It’s the perfect environment for an exhibition about love poetry (and they gave us free coffee last time).

      The images and poems going on the walls are mainly contributions from our website, as well as professional photographers. It’ll also be the first display of the photographs taken by the Amateur Photographer Magazine’s Peace Camp Competition winners[1], as well as original poetry submitted to the website from members of the public[2]. As well as their work, there’s a record of their memories and experiences of the event. We think it adds to the depth of the work (and by extension your overall enjoyment of the piece) when you know what the artist was feeling at the time, and what they’re trying to show with their work.

“I remember being engulfed by maybugs at Peace Camp, there were so many of them they were getting in my face and inside my jacket. Apart from that, it was awesome seeing the Godrevy Island illuminated by the tents.” – Keith Johnson, Winner: Cornwall

When I found out that Cliff Beach was hosting one of the Peace Camps I was delighted. I concentrated on taking as many different photos as possible before sunrise. The warmth of the tent lights and the sounds emanating from inside them, combined with the natural sounds, made for a soothing and relaxing experience.  – Tim Riches, Winner: Valtos (Isle of Lewis)

The photos and poems were chosen from a whole raft of work submitted by the general public, and wowed us to the extent that the word ‘amateur’ didn’t seem to apply.

If that isn't enough to get you interested, the work will be staying around for a whole month, giving you plenty of time to have a look. Whether you’re passing through Covent Garden on a Saturday morning, or out and about with friends, just stick your head round the door and have a look at some truly remarkable photography, beautiful poems and maybe even borrow one of the MP3 players and listen to the soundscape for the full experience. You never know, you could leave with love poetry echoing through your head, and bump into the person you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with (if your life is the subject of a Richard Curtis film). More likely, you’ll just have had a really nice time.



Artichoke Communications Intern

[1]Competition winners were: Charles Kirkpatrick, Anne McNamee, Claire Leith, Rob Evans, Jon Franklin, Tim Riches, Keith Johnson, and Jacqui Barry.

[2]Poets who’s work will be on display are: Aedin Geary, Amanda Pengelly, Annamaria Murphy, Cate Parish, Dave Young, Jocelyn Murgatroyd, John Currie, Kate Dempsey, Knotbrook Taylor, Marsha Sanders, Simon Peter West, Tony O’Dwyer.

Post Date

01 March 2013


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New Girl in Town

I must admit I started my first week at Artichoke a little bleary eyed, having said goodbye to Cardiff just two days before and my new bedroom in London was still looking a bit like it belonged to a serial hoarder (ie full to bursting with cardboard boxes!)  

Anyway, my first five days getting to know the team at Artichoke have certainly perked me up a bit.  As their new Communications Officer, we are just about to start planning our work for Lumiere, so it’s a good time to start!  With this in mind, Anna packed me off to Durham on Wednesday to get to know the City a little better.  I spent three years studying my English degree in nearby Newcastle so I was very excited about being back in the North East, and I was blessed with unusually bright blue skies during my time there! 

When not pretending I was Orienteering (map on clipboard in hand) I also met with two of the companies who will be creating work for the festival.  We’re keeping who they are under wraps for the moment, but I can tell you they were both from outside the UK and one of them was wearing particularly impressive orange leather trousers.

With me and Anna both hailing from the Land of our Fathers, we’ve both been celebrating St David’s Day in the Artichoke office today.  Any suggestions on where to find emergency supplies of Welsh Cakes are most welcome.