Monday, 12 September 2016



I am thinking ahead. About a month ahead to the Imagined Village exhibition at Beachcreative. The Favelas fit very nicely into the theme of 'Imagined Village' as a community village installation, displayed during Oct forming part of Herne Bays contribution to the Artists Open Houses and the Canterbury Festival 16.

Favelas in the Kaleidoscope Gallery

A little bit of background to the Favela Installation which has been displayed at the Gulbenkian Theatre as part of the B0ing16 Festival and initially displayed for a month at the Kaleidoscope Gallery in Sevenoaks. This project was called 'Inspirar' (to inspire in Brazilian)and is Kent County Councils Schools Education Olympic legacy Programme promoting leadership. This installation in Oct at Beachcreative will be the third display, on a smaller scale this time.

Favelas in the Kaleidoscope Gallery
Five schools in Sevenoaks took part and the project, which was delivered with artists from Animate Arts Company. Over 300 pupils between 5-18 years old took part each building their own house from paper and cardboard boxes.

Favela close up
Reading a little more generally about the Favelas of Rio they have been described as a 'New Urbanism' something aspired to by urban planners in the US and Europe in recent decades trying to solve challenges of planning to foster a sense of community.

Due to a lack of central organisation and investment favela residents themselves have to compensate by organising their own society, education, daycare centers, food distribution, support for the elderly, art, literature, sports, mobility, nutrition, hygiene, dance classes, and much more. 

Here is a list of some plus points of urban living established amongst the Favelas in Rio

  • A density of population that promotes and enables quality public services without the excessive high rise verticality in western cities that leads to isolation
  • Affordable housing in central areas
  • Pedestrian-oriented planning not centred around car use, encouraging better opportunities for community development
  • High use of bicycles and public transport, which has a positive environmental impact on the local and global scales
  • Mixed use (residential over commercial lots) which reduces the need for transportation and stimulates community exchanges
  • Living near work, reducing expenses and time spent travelling, as well as avoiding overloaded rush hour peak gridlocks
  • Organic, or slow, architecture – iterative architecture that slowly evolves and adapts to the needs and conditions of residents
  • High degree of residents’ collective action, which not only strengthens community bonds through mutual support, but often creates an economy where services and materials are either exchanged or offered in kind
  • Advanced degree of art and cultural empowerment, embracing social change by linking people to their culture. Telling stories, performing and making sculpture or paintings attracts audiences and connects people across geography, social position and time.


Favelas at the Gulbenkian

Favela detail at the Gulbenkian Theatre

the first favela school workshop

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Home Town

The Imagined Village is an idea - a vision - a utopia that keeps surfacing in many ways. A theme that really does inspire me. Recently everything I have done relates in some way to this theme even though I have worked on other peoples projects 'The Imagined Village' some how underpins everything I do.

So I thought it a good idea just to put some of that work here on this blog. This blog should show work on that theme and become a storage area for ideas and work on the theme until it finds its way into a funded project.

Home Town is a cardboard installation about what home is explored by families in Canterbury. I have worked with Animate Arts Company to build this cardboard neighbourhood and one of my roles in this included street names and signage. The display is over the Kent University campus site for the Duration of the Boing Festival 2016.  

But the Country Cottage is one of series of 9 houses and is the one I have had the most involvement in making. Working with adults, children and other artists to make..... it become a special house with history and character, but modern technologies inside.

An imaginary house part of an imaginary village

Thatched Country Cottage made with families to a workshop at the Gulbenkian Theatre.

inside is a cardboard kitchen

oven close up with chequered tiling

every village needs a Post Office

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Guerilla Master Plan

The Guerrilla Master Plan !!!

So to explain briefly then:
The golf course in Herne Bay was sold off and a large redevelopment is now a taking place. After about three years of non use the golf course had become my country park where I walked my dog regularly and felt that I was walking  the grounds of some kind of retreat, getting away from the everyday hustle and bustle, listening to the birds and watching butterflies. Now the diggers and bulldozers are starting the groundworks for development plans drawn up by Quinn Estates.
Redrow Homes are to build a recreational and residential development there with a strap line of 'a sports hub'.

I took a walk over there and estimated that maybe 70%-80% (who knows how many? ) trees had been felled............. this gave me an idea!

I have drawn an alternative development plan to Quinn Estates. 
The main difference from Quinn Estates plan and my plan was that I started with the existing trees and designed a new community around the trees that were already there. I used old aerial photos to map the approximate positions for the trees when it was still a golf course and made my Guerrilla Master Plan.

The Guerrilla Master Plan

Other differences might be that mine has a Arts and Heritage Centre, a Health Centre with medical gardens. A School which has livestock, shops, a pub and something I have labelled as an Exchange and Recycling Centre? A place where no money is required and exchange and upcycling is the rule here. I won't have nearly as many houses as required and other flaws contravening the agreed planning specifications required by the local authority, but hey ho this is me just wondering what communities might need. Its a little like playing with a dolls house when young. Moving things around and placing things where you think they should go. I have a park with perimeter cycle paths and I tried to place many houses so that their gardens were 360 degrees around the property. This is something I noticed that really struck me about the community in Dungeness the feeling of space that generated.

I don't know if people would encouraged to grow their own vegetables with properties like that, with a residents gardening association distributing produce over the entire estate, or would it just create more room for, broken plastic chairs, mattresses, flocked sofas and Range Rovers without wheels, propped up on bricks?

Monday, 29 February 2016

The Village People

the drawn village people

The Village People:

I walked through my workshop this evening and saw these figures standing on the table exactly where I left them about two months ago!

The Imagined Villagers, 
I was going to take them down to the beach and try and make an animated video experimenting with styles an techniques. 
I wanted the sea moving in the background behind them
I was going to try and realise imagined characters from the origininal Hampton Community.
A working oyster and fishing community in the 1900's  
I wanted to see if they developed their own life stories.
Stories and feed back from people who saw the video or saw the figures exhibited, moved them about, rearranged them.
I might have made some 'props' things to group together make scenes with, regroup with different items to generate new stories.

Adding to their lives and re-creating the community

I havn't got the time to do that now and things have moved on anyway.

the filtered village people
They would be giants, if they walked amongst the imagined village model of white houses.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Memory Houses and Radio Lines

Memory Houses
As an exhibition with no specific theme into which I entered my ‘Memory Houses’, houses made from old family maps used on walks, cycle rides and camping holidays, comes to an end, another starts this time themed, Radio Heads, into which I am entering my ‘Inside - Out’ houses, thus named as they are made from wallpaper, with the addition of lines from radio programmes and dramas coming out of the windows fading away into the atmosphere… 

Radio Lines 
The ‘Memory Houses’ attracted a lot of interest, I’m not sure if it’s because they are made from maps or because they are quaint little houses, so it will be interesting to see how people react to the Inside - Out, Radio Lines ones. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Ballard of Accounting

The Ballard of Accounting:

Is a song written by Ewan MacColl and he sings it with Peggy Segar. This song is right at the top of my best ever play list, because it is so insightful and would without a doubt be with me on my Desert Island. It has lessons for us all and is the wisest song you will ever hear. The lyrics really rummage deep inside ones own attitudes and approaches to life and its issues, truly one of the finest songs ever written.
The song is a list, in the same format as Baz lurmans Wear Suncream which was good, but this is less American and far more astute. 
Why am I rabbiting on about a folk song? Because there is one line in this song which my wife highlighted as her favourite. My favourite was a different line. But her line is the one that goes:

'Did you ever question the set up?'
Now this is leading up to the real reason for this blog post. The Arts Council grant application  to support our Imagined Village project has been rejected, and been rejected as High Risk - Finance. Not broken down or fully explained the cost expenditure. The costs in the box are not detailed enough for a decision to be made to see if this is truly viable.
In my opinion that must be their 1st base.
Now here's the thing!
Their box for the accounts section of the application must have worked in a different way then from all the other boxes in the extensive number of boxes in the rest of the form. I discovered the system of making new lines to go in all the other boxes on the form and I applied it to the accounting box the format did not work and I could not create new lines within the box? 
Stupidly I concluded that this was fixed and that what was listed in the box was how they wanted their budget broken down, so I entered all the figures. 
 All through the process is this ...' it should be easy you can speak with the arts council while you make your proposal and they will answer any questions you have.....oh their really helpful and you can discuss any aspect of the application over the phone. Yes all absolutely true. Did I phone them and ask them anything, well I did and I asked how best to use the supporting material......and the answer was .....well its up to you really? A totally useless question which does not even have an answer.
 'Did you ever question the set up?'
 Er No

Had I asked why was the accounts box behaving differently from all the other boxes on the form, that would have been the right question. I don't know what the answer might have been...probably 'does it?' or 'yes the portal is very temperamental today we are making server changes in the very near future and things are a little glitchy right now and try it tommorrow' those kind of answers would have really helped me.
That might be one reason why Imaginary Villages are imaginary and not real. 

to listen click here

I noticed one of the comments below the song on youtube suggested that this song should be played every day at school assemblies. 
what a good idea that is!


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Imagined Village (The Movie)

The Movie: Kind friends spent some time bringing the model to life. Film is an unknown area for me and bringing a still world to life like this is exciting. Models become transformed and the detail is highlighted. A world is created by magic.

Making the model it seemed all about constructing individual and different houses, windows extensions, guttering and loft conversions all seemed interesting. I even made a few cars and trees to make it more like a real community! The location shown by drawing out maps to represent a long lost place was a high priority. 

An imaginery place was alway intended, but somehow its no longer imaginery and the rather quickly sketched tiny figures really grab attention. While I was drawing them I had no idea that the focus or expectation from them would be so high. They feel to me like a next step for development in some way. It was if I was one of them walking around my own neighbourhood where I once lived and this was a flash back to an earlier time, or possibly a look at some future event. An unusual experience made by Nick Godsell and Al Reffall. 

                                              building a world in a few seconds 

So what next? Karens melting the houses as if to reconstruct their demise. I feel I have to pull the handbrake up and wait. Why? Because it doesn't feel validated. Karen clearly has no such hang ups and can enjoy exploring with materials and ideas. Me: things will have to wait.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Wonky Houses & Ice Houses

A New Year has brought with it new ideas, I’ve been experimenting making wonky paper houses based on the drawings I did on the brick pebbles and used for my christmas card design.

Also using one of Rob’s wooden houses as a forma had a go at making a latex mould to see if I could make some Ice Houses, an idea suggested by one of my daughters when we were discussing the project to her during her christmas visit. 

Because water expands as it turns to ice, they are coming out slightly bulging, but I quite like that, it’s sort of making them different houses again to the ones they have been moulded from. 

Spurred on by the success of the initial experimental one I have now set up a production line to make several more moulds, again using Rob’s different house designs as formas with a view to creating a village of Ice Houses for a photo shoot.

Rob's wooden houses with the first coat of latex drying.