Wednesday, 14 October 2009

My animation is up!

And if you like Neils music, check him launching a new album at the luminaire, kilburn high road, London on Friday night from 7.30. £5 at

Ooooh, too much excitement for one month!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Races & Faces

The last two weeks sermons at church have been very inspiring and relevant, from Hebrews (one of my favourites) about running your race. Through these messages God has been motivating me to complete this masters course and this project. (the sermons aren't up yet, but I guess they will be soon as some of the admin crew are away)
Woke up earlier than usual this morning and read some of 1 peter. So throughout the challenges of the day 1 peter 1 verse 7 kept reminding me in a new and amazing way of the reality that 'faith is of greater worth than Gold' having an everlasting beauty and worth.

Despite having 2 hours to play with in the morning before tutorials due to waking up, I managed to make myself late as I got distracted by a new creative idea for my project. I was going through my flower pressings collected last week at the allotment in order to photograph them at University under a rostrum camera (as seen above in first image).
One of the flowers stuck to my finger accidentally and to my delight I saw a face appear on my fingertip. Thoughts of super-speedy finger animations and collages caused me to get trigger happy with the camera and before I knew it I'd missed my bus.
In a way I've not applied the last sermons message very well as it was about being 'trainable' and annoying my tutor is not the best start to the week in applying that message as I believe I should listen to and value his advice as difficult as I find it. I might have some nice pictures today but will I have a film in five weeks time and finish this race? For a start I'm going to stop blogging, going out, and watching films and animations now. Research over.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

good animations on youtube

At last, found a channel on youtube full of really excellent animations!

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Hey ho!

Crafting wise I'm feeling fruitful and hopeful. Gary Powell (the external examiner) was an extremely cool chap, full of positivity and encouragement for all. I mentioned God a few times talking about my animation and asked him to clarify after 'are you a Christian' and he said yes, which was good to know there is an uplifting Christian artist about town (I like his stuff).

Also good news on the time-lapse front. I want to use time lapsing live flowers in my animation, overlaying them on drawing. See my first experiment here from the allotment trip from the last post:
Having sent out messages to over 20 time lapse artists last week, who've posted their flower videos online in various sites, I recieved one positive answer today.

Dan Linfield: who also plays the piano pieces in his videos, a pianist, curiously like the subject of my animation. Spooky. The extra wonderful thing about this is he has uploaded about 12 suitable flower videos. Most of the people I contacted had only uploaded one or two videos.

R.e. life...I sold two compact cameras on my second day at Jessops! Woohoo! This had nothing to do with me though... just two extroadinarily passive and I guess affluent customers. I did set off a security alarm in the process. :)

A family member has the swine flu :( but maybe better now than later.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Had an eventful & tiring day... first day at Jessops, lovely people and customers... then trying to create a time lapse flower animation with friend Matisse in flower allotments in New Malden all afternoon in the humid hot weather... we enjoyed a brief attack of flying ants which was a refreshing break from the time lapse monotony..

The day was completed by coming home to the arival of my copy of Amidas EP 'if the wave loves two suns'.
My friend Andy is in Amida so I've followed them over the years. I bought the EP through weepop, following the link from Amidas website.

I'm overwhelmed by weepops personal touch. Handwritten address, company stamped envelope (the postman didn't stamp my stamp so i also have a reusable stamp), handwritten personal note to me. A personalised sticker with printed Amida artwork. A free weepop BADGE. A sherbet sweet. then another handwritten card.The EP cost me about £4 including p&p so I recommend you buy one of the remaining 93 copies of the EP before the rest of the nation falls in love with weepop and Amida.

I already knew three of the five songs and am impressed with the re-recordings of those, with some new angelic strumming and seismic keyboarding. I have to think about the two new ones a bit. Right I'm done in and out like a light

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Neil McSweeney

For my final project, I'm making an animation to this track.

Neil is from Sheffield.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Music Video Log

Have been watching 'festival favourites' on VH1

Most relevant to my project was 'Live Forever' Oasis video directed by Carlos Grasso, where the band are digging up what looks like a community garden, only at the end you realise it is a grave. They bury their drummer in it, but then he ressurrects himself at the end holding drumsticks. I can't stand Noels slurry vocals myself but the words are quite relevant to my own garden themed music video project:

Maybe I don't really want to know
How your garden grows
I just want to fly Lately did you ever feel the pain
In the morning rain
As it soaks it to the bone

Maybe I just want to fly
I want to live I don't want to die
Maybe I just want to breath
Maybe I just don't believe
Maybe you're the same as me
We see things they'll never see
You and I are gonna live forever

Maybe I don't really want to know
How your garden grows
I just want to fly Lately did you ever feel the pain
In the morning rain
As it soaks it to the bone

Maybe I will never be
All the things that I want to be
But now is not the time to cry
Now's the time to find out why
I think you're the same as me
We see things they'll never see
You and I are gonna live forever
We're gonna live forever
Gonna live forever
Live forever

Also watched:
'Right here, right now' -Fatboy Slim, showing animal evolution in an eastward scanning journey until a big fat man wearing a 'why try harder' T shirt ends the journey by slouching on a bench prompting the camera to scan upwards, signifying the end of the journey.

Elbow 'Any Day Now', very simple illustration of job direction/confusion in an unbothered young person. Love this song, reminds me of when I worked in a mudane job with one other engraver who gave up career path of graphic design for monotonous work and his family in Sheffield

'FEAR', Ian Brown I hadn't heard this before, really clever wordplay in the initials of the word' Fear'

Forget Everything And Remember
Forget Everybody And Remember
For Everything A Reason

There were more lyrics like this! Then a chorus of 'you got the fear? with references to beliefs and religion'. The video is of Mr Brown on a bicycle ride in reverse, starting in Chinatown (London or Manchester I'm not sure which, but I'd thought London). It seemed to me to be about progress of your journey in life.

Frans Ferdinand 'Take me on' Great graphical style with newspaper print and typefaces enlarged and carefully selected, clever laboured animation of figures.

Blur 'Boys N Girls' Kind of tacky video.

Katy Perry 'Hot N Cold' 2008. I enjoy this video of a bride annoyed at an indecisive groom.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Simba is 16 years old and my landladys cat. Whilst practising the piano for tomorrow morning in church, the cat jumped up and started nudging my with his nose. He is quite big and I am quite ticklish so this was quite distracting.

These events might not seem that strange to cat people out there. However, this is REALLY UNUSUAL!! He keeps himself to himself usually and only rubs my legs occasionally if he wants feeding. His bowl was full of food today and I'm actually slightly worried about him because of this outburst of affection. He is very arthritic and mid-nudge he kept twitching and I wondered if he was simply craving care!

I wrote this note for my landlady

I'm trying to play this Simba!

Simba did give me an idea for my Major project - as I was playing he seemed to be listening to the music and responding! Which reminded me of this music video i love, by bens fold. It seems that there is a chimp with marital problems who comes in and helps Ben and his band set up the piano in the studio. You then watch the chimp listen to Bens playing as he sits on the sofa.
Maybe I could have a cat respond to the piano playing in my music video (MA major project)!
Other exciting news - I start working in Jessops Tuesday morning. More excitingly for me I researched Gary Powell today - he our new is external examiner for our final projects. I'm quite overwhelmed because he seems to be an artist interested in the very same kind of issues and visuals that I love and also seems to be a Christian writing openly about his faith e.g. here:

I'm more motivated to work hard now because I feel like were singing from the same hymn sheet & I kind of dont want to let him down with shoddy results! He works in similar painterly aesthetics and I imagine will be more critical because of the similarities. Yelp!

I smell of old cat now (he drools and malts at once)!

Friday, 31 July 2009

an old drawing

I drew my flatmate and her dog last year, one day after work - I was looking for a piece of work to send someone as an example of my drawing style and almost sent this. I remembered that I quite like it!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Green Pen

Today I had a job interview at Jessops, to be a sales assistant at 12 hours per week. I figure this will be manageable whilst completing my studies and will give me some small job comfort about the future months, and bolster my confidence to get other work. Jessops have a good customer care reputation and I always want to improve my people skills.

The manager was extremely lovely. He told me that he had drawn a star on my CV because I had been friendly to speak to on the phone. He handed me a flourescent green marker pen and asked me to sell it to him. Afterwards he said that he would have bought the pen. Well he already had technically. Regardless of whether I get the job, I'm thankful that maybe I have some potential to sell green pens.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Thomas Hicks

I guess this guy is my favourite animator, partly because he has a passion for music videos too & he's a kingston BA graduate- I only just found his vimeo page where you can see all of his videos, hurray! I did see him give a talk at Kingston but unfortunately couldn't hang about to ask questions at the end because of a groupwork meeting.


All you have is care

Following on from watching Citizen Kanes Godless excess recently, and having watched the first ten minutes of Rupert Everitts documentary on sexual tyrant Lord Byron last night, I remembered a trip to Battersea Arts Centre, back in April. This was to see a Kneehigh performance of 'Don John' with my sister and her boyfriend. In the past my sister worked at kneehigh, based in Cornwall, on the administration side of things.

We didn't realise beforehand it was a modern reworking of Mozarts Don Giovanni, and the Don Juan stories. There was quite a bit of lurid content on stage with rape, sex and violent scenes where I looked the other way, and which caused my sisters boyfriend who I sat next to and had just met for the first time perhaps a little awkwardness. However, trying to brush this aside, I was blown away by the whole production and the cleverness of the direction, by Anna Rice.

The set was astounding for a start, the live musicians were superb and at the end of the show I was pulled up onto the stage by one of the handsome dancers in the show for a bit of a twirl! Quite an experience.

The most moving scene however was toward the end when the ghost of the 'Commandatore' gives a speech to Don John but faces us the audience. This is a war hero whom Don John had murdered, after raping his daughter who'd been struggling to care for her very ill father.

I cant find the relevant quotes from the script online, but he was talking about the wretchedness of life and then repeating 'all you have is care'.

So then the speech ended 'and you John, you have none' and I think with that line in mind Don John then died.

In my understanding of the word post-modern, I would label it such with this show as a sign of our times in being so over the top and sensational, bandying about references to futile religion with a lovable but mocked priest as one of the main charachters. The directing was so powerful, when the speech came about care, it reminded me of the glorified so called 'good' people, that work in charities or as carers or in the NHS, or social worker friends. Maybe people do want some spiritual direction or to make conclusions about life when they visit a theatre. I felt a bit sad that someone might come out of the show reaffirmed that they can choose to be a good person out of their own strength, by showing care. That they are not the excessive hedonistic Don John portrayed, so everything will be okay.

I had a look at the some clips of the closing scene of Mozarts Don Giovanni online, where the ghost appears to Don and they mostly ended in Don falling to his death into flames. In the opera the commandatore asks Don Giovanni (in Italian) if he will repent. Don refuses and then complains 'who is ripping my soul apart?' before falling into what seems to be a tradition of live flames being used in the theatre.

I wonder if the mixed reviews of Don John, with theatre critics either loving or hating it (I was shocked it could recieve even one bad review) was influenced by a sense of the sacreligious. Maybe those who hated it, loved something about Don Giovanni that had been lost?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Lone working

Bridget Stott " A good animator is adaptable - you need to be able to combine the intense process needed to produce good work on your own for several days with an ability to be part of a production team during filming."

I'm playing the piano a lot, cooking, worrying about boys, washing umbrellas, removing stains from clothes I wont wear again anyway and playing with the cat. I'm not working on my project. I'm struggling with lone working! Part of the attraction of animation for me was the opportunity to work in a team on something creative and exciting. And I have created and can create teamworking opportunies if I am strong and decisive. But the quote above has encouraged me to stop using this as an excuse to not get on with the work and creative decisions I need to make alone. Lone working came much easier when I was a teenager, and could through my work prove something to the world... "I can do it alone, ha!" The challenge I have now is more worthwhile taking serious, I want to work hard to reflect and glorify God, not to prove something for myself. As I aspire to work in teams, the fruit of my work will be looked and weighed by people around me.

I was reading about the wise woman of Proverbs 31 today, actually I'm corrected looking at it again, the woman most definetely is a 'wife', ha! I'm not one of them so maybe I can let myself off a bit?!... hmm probably not as I'm part of Christs bride the church anyway... are men as challenged by this chapter?

Proverbs 31verse 16 "she considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigourously; her arms are strong for her tasks''. She is one cool lady, of noble charachter, she seems to consider things then make her decision, and work hard.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

making a little birdhouse in my soul

Highlights of my Sunday !

Firstly, hearing a very straightforward but practical sermon in church by Andrew Nicholls on ‘blessed are those who are persecuted’ from Matthew 5.

Secondly, having an interesting chat with a South Korean friend I’d not spoken to much before, about acting. Perhaps all actors everywhere already know this but have never told me before! I learnt that there are four important things an actor controls. 1. Body language 2. Arms and hands as the direct expression of the brain 3.his voice to express emotion 4. His eyes, to convincingly communicate truth. If I want to be a creative director of films I need to know this stuff.

What was of particular interest to me in this conversation was my Korean friends eastern perception of his ‘heart’ as opposed to his ‘mind’. My friend Sung-Eun, also South Korean, is currently trying to illustrate pictures about Buddhist meditation, and she is using images of hearts and minds, but placing the mind inside the heart. Often when I study biblical truths or hear scriptures such as ‘love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind’ I like to draw a picture to illustrate this, and I place the mind in the brain. As seen in previous blog ‘hearts’ I’m trying to illustrate something about a man’s heart myself, as a very different issue to the mind.

Reading an article about Citizen Kane yesterday, I’ve been learning how films can use the whole background and set to paint a picture of the state of a mans heart or mind. We never really get to know the main character, Kane. I read, the ‘No trespassing’ sign at the beginning and end of the film is supposed to serve as a reminder that we can never really walk into the workings of a mans heart.

In answer to my question ‘what is the difference between expressing a heart to expressing a mans mind, or soul?’ My actor friend tried to ‘act’ this out to me visually delightfully.

He was showing me how we take in physical but also spiritual, ‘soul’ information about another person through our mind, then it goes into our heart, gets all mixed up, travels up to our mind again, then we respond and also create spiritual soul information. I was most impressed that he had thought about it and was so enthusiastic about it!

Thirdly, as I ate my lunch today I became gripped by a supposedly biographical film on BBC2 called The Birdman of Alcatraz 1962, starring Burt Lancaster as remarkable prisoner Robert Stroud, directed by John Frankenheimer. The prison cell environment and the carefullly crafted birdhouses created the perfect artistic opportunity to illustrate the condition of a mans heart or mind as the state of his ‘soul’ seems to improves through relationship with birdlife.

Fourthly, I left facebook… freedom from what can sometimes become a little prison!

Fifthly, I had a lovely conversation with my Dad about his Tewkesbury Abbey annual concerts and then the Proms organ recital I went to yesterday. In the past year, we have been enjoying longer chats on the phone occasionally. I’m really thankful for this as our father-daughter relationship has sometimes felt distant and complex and personality wise, he isn't a big talker. It would be so great if I could replace all my facebook time with chats with my Dad or other family and friends that really matter to me.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Kane...Cane... Cain?

I watched Citizen Kane last night in one sitting. Directed by Orson Welles and starring himself as the main charachter.

I'd voluntarily attended a few 'Film History' seminars run for BA Animators at Kingston University, at the start of the course because I'm on the MA course.

One of the scenes played to us was from Citizen Kane where a marriage breakdown is summarised in about a minute through clips of the couple at a breakfast table getting more distanced as time passed.

I havent researched into ths film and the response to it at the time, but I found it effective at communicating a point about what is not love... love of power and control, glory, selfish ambition, love of money, thinking other things can replace human care.
Maybe every man is a wicked Kane. Ooh, only writing that just now I'm seeing a Cain and Abel reference... biblical Cain slays his brother, being the first violent charachter we learn about in the bible.
I'd been thinking last night that the title 'Kane' was referring to the symbol of a 'Cane', like a big stick to hit people with and let no-one get in the way. Maybe that stick got its name from Cain too.

Friday, 24 July 2009


A drawing from my sketchbook, with no particular purpose, that I'm pleased with.
However, yesterday, the contrary combined wisdom of Goya & Leonardo did prove fruitful. I focussed on writing my project report instead (reasoning) and in so doing felt encouraged and inspired to draw together the different area of research (flower photography and drawings of people). Just by ordering my photographs and labelling the flowers and writing things I remembered about them, I feel more of a need to do this animation well.
I still need a right kick up the backside though!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

draw pictures, it's easy!

Having come to what feels like a total inspiration standstill, I spent the last half hour trailing the net for some inspiring words on drawing, which I could then post on here as my manifesto for the day. But I just found visuals, and a good music video. lots of amazing artworks on the net, that intimidate me more than please me! Oh no.

At last I found something in an advert for a site which helps you make your own ecard 'draw pictures, it's easy'. Great, thanks.

I have a brain of my own...Surely the masters of the past have something to say on this. I seem to remember that Goya spent a lot of time inside his house, going mad creating things and Leonardo had some good quotes.

Goya: 'Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produce impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels' Thats kind of warning me away from the abandoned stream of consciousness drawing I was about to embark upon in a bid to keep light and inspired. Hmmm.

Leonardo:'He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.' Kind of similar to Goyas warning. Ok I won't do that.

Leonardo: 'A well-spent day brings happy sleep.' I really do want to spend it well.

'As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself. ' True! I'll focus on one thing at a time then, really I'll try. Thanks fellas!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Remembering Provision

Two years ago, a friend and I visited Tuscany for a week staying in various youth hostels. We visited Pistoia (where pistols got their name), knowing nothing about the artist Marino Marini. We went to see the Marino Marini museum there. What a find that was!

A few days later we visited Florence, so I took the opportunity to visit the twin Marino Marini museum there an Italian newspaper seller was most happy when I asked for directions to it. Seeing I was British his eyes lit up and he most enthusiastically told me how much Italians love this Tuscan born artist. How lovely!

Anyway, the point of this is that a few days ago I visited Kingston University arts library and, strangely, there is a shelf of withdrawn books at the entrance which you can help yourself to. Imagine my happiness to find a large hardback thames and hudson book of the complete paintings and drawings of.... Marino Marini. I've spent £60 befoore on an artists book of this depth.

It is good to remember times like this when your desires are satisfied with good things (psalm 103) and when God provides you with more and above than what you expect.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Old people in love

Aren't old people in love great?

I think about this a lot!

Johnny & June (RIP), my parents, older couples in church.

A South Korean guy told me recently that it is unusual in his country for old married couples to hold hands and in church he was really moved to see older couples show affection to one another.

I don't think these couples realise the impact and positive influence they have on younger people. Just by being in a successful loving relationship they give out a message of hope to the world.

Monday, 20 July 2009


I've sketched 77 keyframes for my MA final project storyboard. I like these two sketches the most at the moment!

This is a woman pulling the dead roots out of a mans heart. In real life this wouldn't happen.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A drawing

Proof that I am doing some drawing towards my masters project, not just writing random blogs!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


This is my name in Arabic (I hope) as written by friend Bahij.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Heaven Never Seen

sicAbout this time last year, 80’s Sheffielders ‘Heaven 17’ played a free gig from the top of the Sheffield Hallam University building roof. There was a large projection of the band on the outside of the university building so a friend and I walked into the ‘gig’ by accident as we passed through the centre of Sheffield, it was a sunny day and it seemed quite a young and fun place to be that evening.

I didn’t recognise any songs except ‘Temptation’, but I remembered (whilst swimming the other day) that there was a song which affected me, or it caused me to feel annoyed. Looking through their tracklisting now I think it must have been the song ‘Hands up to heaven’.
The lyrics repeat: ‘oh it feels so good, the people move as one, everyone raises their hands up to heaven’ .

The annoyance I was having was that people gathered at the concert were so easily sing along to the lyrics of this and other heaven 17 songs, which refer to church experiences. Perhaps the songwriters did have some informed understanding of what they wrote about in this and other songs, but what about the enthusiastic audience?

So many people sang along with passion but most of these people probably didn’t have any experience of even going into a church gathering and seeing for themselves what experiences of Christian worship might really be.

The other thing that was nagging at me was the shallowness of how so many artists use Christianity as a reference point for creative ideas. It’s like they run out of ideas of things to write about when they’re sick of lovesongs.

There are names of bands and albums for a start… Genesis, Jesus and Mary Chain, Judas Priest, Bingo Jesus, Jehovahkill. Reverend and the Makers …. And how weird are reverend and the makers anyway….

The audience seem to be all under 20 and uniformly with their hands in the air to the ‘reverend’ John Mclure, an opinionated creative guy with comments about young peoples lives, just like a chirpy personable local reverend.

Other songs that refer to or comment about Christianity that open cause for discussion…

REM ‘Supernatural superserious’
Alanis Morissete ‘Forgiven
Boy George ‘Church of the poison mind’
Depeche Mode ‘Blasphemous rumours’
Tracy Chapman ‘ Speak the word’
Belle and Sebastian ‘Get me away from here I’m dying’
Nick Cave ‘Praise Him’
Divine Comedy ‘Eye of the needle’
Crash Test Dummies ‘mmm mmm mmm mmm’
Genesis ‘Jesus he knows me’

Monday, 13 July 2009


Animation director, Pedro Serrazina visited Kingston University to talk to us MA animators, some weeks ago and showed and talked anout this 1995 film, 'the cat and the moon'.

I learnt it took a year and a half to make with a big team of people and a composer who came in at the end of the finished piece. It is hand drawn.

I think it shows really clever handling of space, Pedro being from an architecture drawing background, in Portugal.

He said of the film that it marked a specific issue and time in his life when he was waiting... I think am now at the point that he was at!

Sunday, 12 July 2009


I've been listening to Genes album 'Drawn to the deep end'

The songs reminded me of being a student getting baptised in April 2002, and listening to this album in the messy, shared halls of residences, singing along loudly to it as a kind of personal song to God! Perhaps a little strange but worth remembering.

A picture of my baptism....

Yesterday I went with my mum to a CFAN preaching by Daniel Kolenda, based on John 2 wedding at Canaan and Marys request for Jesus' miracle.
The point was that we can draw on the power that is in Jesus. In the same way that we can have irresistable faith in our friends or family or pastor and in so doing can draw out wonderful gifts and abilities from them, by having faith in Jesus we can draw out power from Him, as he is our best friend anyway. But then you have to be obedient, and respond to Jesus in action.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

3 minute miracle

Whilst having my morning bath (the shower is indefinetely broken- bah) I remembered I recently purchased, for 97p, a sachet of Aussie 3 minute miracle. After washing my hair I applied the sweet smelling cream and thanked God that I could already feel my hairs being revitalised and refreshed as they were touched by the precious ointment. Then I looked at the clock in order to measure the 3 minutes of waiting.

Unfortunately, no sooner had I loooked away from the clock after my vow to wait, my thoughts became distracted about the events of the previous day, good things to think about, mind, and in moments I had sank my head under the water, instantly forgetting my vow of a few seconds earlier.

I couldn't even wait 3 minutes for my 3 minute miracle. I couldn't even wait 3 seconds.

I sing in church from the bible 'strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord' along with the congregation.

So I am now thinking about waiting and what it means to wait. I'm blessed by being around other single Christians in Kingston at the moment, many waiting to hear back from job applications. I suppose there are three universal issues that the 'waiting' might refer to when we singles say we are waiting upon the Lord. 1. The return of Jesus Christ 2. A marriage partner 3. A successful career. I put marriage partner second because values I've adopted or gleaned from church teachings over the years have been prioritising family over your job - so its God number 1, family number 2 priority.

However, as a single person its probably better in this waiting time to focus on your work until you have your number 2 in existence, in the same way that Adam was busy working not feeling a lack of a woman before God blessed him with one. But I do pray for a husband as my number 2 priority over my work because I would want a stronger relationship in the future than the strength of my career, and you can achieve more in partnership and lean on each other. Yes it is good to be content, but surely even better to have a vision in order to pray for yourself?

'waiting is trusting, praying and preparing' someone writes on their facebook status.

In the church I belong/ed to in Sheffield 'waiting upon the Lord' often translated as spending lots of prolonged time in prayer, 'in the Holy Spirit' probably speaking in tongues and most probably fasting. Putting requests before God. This waiting for Jesus' return, prioritising your relationship with God over all else encompasses a whole load of different kinds of waiting - waiting for God to work in the lives of the people you pray for who haven't come into a relationship with God yet. Waiting for the church to grow. Waiting in the sense of serving God (like a waiter) by serving in the church and serving others.

And then there is another kind of misguided waiting, when you wait for something you were never meant to wait for. When you allow a fantasy to take hold of your thinking and waste your time. A career you were never meant to pursue, a relationship you were never meant to fixate about or persistanty waiting for a super-spiritual experience or miracle that was never going to happen in Gods plan for your life.

This kind of waiting can open the door to confusion and misunderstanding about what it mean to wait. Its easy to get self righteous and say 'I've waited ten years for this' and even be tempted to come across as 'super-holy' to others. The other thing about it is you can become engrossed with the red herring and forget to count thank God for all the blessings of friendships and things God granted you that you did pray for earnestly in the past.

I describe myself as a very patient person. But am I truly patient? Just because I'm a good listener & don't get frustrated or even notice if the bus driver is slow? Is it just that I'm a a bit of a sleepy Christian, letting time pass, without being aware of a sense of urgency about the things I should have at the forefront of my mind about Gods purposes to pray for and respond to actively?

The real miracle is there in my hands to activate, but the way I'm waiting for it to work is so confused it often just slips through my fingers.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Engagingly Flaky

Last night, using 4 on demand on the internet, I watched the first episode of Channels Fours Sunday evening ‘Revelation’ series, because the topic was about the Alpha course.

At this link you can read peoples posted comments about the show:

With this link you can watch the programme until it expires in two weeks time:

The soundtrack by the idiosyncratic artist Jeffrey Lewis was sensitively placed over the footage, enhancing the tenderness of the people in the film. It reminded me of the soundtrack to a documentary about weird outsider art that Jarvis Cocker presented in 1998 using a similarly outlandish yet light soundtrack. Quirky music set the tone for viewing beautiful to look at but arguably and maybe mysteriously pointlessly over-decorated built environments.

It sets the mood of the program. It helped to communicate from the start, the film maker Jon Ronsons conclusions about Alpha- that he summarised at the end as having a ‘mathematical structure of niceness’ where people share their lives and only put pressure on the attendees once (in the form of exposing them to teaching about speaking in tongues on a weekend away)in an engagingly flaky way.

The presenter Jon Ronson came across this way too, as likable, light, funny and quirky. He chose to include footage of himself where he accidentally leaves the camera on and talks to one of the Alpha guests about his new shoes.

Ronson seemed to emphasise:

1. Agnosticism.

He repeatedly defined people attending the course as agnostics. I don’t know if he interviewed each person who entered the group and asked them how they define themselves, maybe he did. Ronson opens the program with an assumption that his audience knows what this term means. Maybe he intentionally wants to knee-jerk/challenge the viewer to place themselves as Christian or some other identity as they begin to watch.

As Ronson repeatedly describes the Alpha attendees as agnostics, the lightly alien, ousiderish mood of the film is built upon. You might aswell exchange the word ‘Agnostic’ for ‘Alien’. We the viewers are now Aliens, watching Aliens being part of a super-alien Christian ‘structure’

2. Structure.

Ronson refers to St Aldates as ‘routinely’ transforming non believers. And the hostility of attendees or their non-conversion, he refers to as marking a less successful Alpha.

I’ve been on an Alpha training day, having been involved with running a course. Ronson shows us video footage of the Toronto revival of the 1980’s and tells us that for Nicky Gumbel who attended this event, speaking in tongues is a vital part of the course and the weekend away.

It’s the first time I’ve seen footage of the Toronto blessing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard people speaking in tongues on an alpha course but maybe I’ve just forgotten. At the training day I attended it was emphasised to encourage people who attend the course to come to the Holy Spirit weekend or day, to do the whole course, to be taught about the Holy Spirit. This needn’t mean speaking in tongues has to be demonstrated.

Teaching on water baptism isn’t written into the Alpha course but in our group we used to add in a session to answer questions about this subject. Alpha can be a flexible teaching guide not a cult structure by a weird leader longing for a toronto spectacle of yesterday. There are as Ronson points out 30,0000 UK courses. This is not the outplaying of a mans strange vision for people everywhere to speak in tongues. It’s more likely because it is useful teaching material that you can easily apply to your own church, and as Ronson points out the value of a small group where because there are inherently spiritual people there, relational, emotional things happen.

3. Peoples Stupidity.

Ronson encourages us to have empathy with and take the conclusive viewpoint of Ed, to respect the selflessness and decency of the Alpha leaders who’ve spent themselves serving and praying for the people attending the course. Yet he laughs over the speakers and mocks them outrageously at points. Near the start of the film he hints that the small group leaders ‘cleverness’ is in an overdependence on their pamphlets and the main vicar and speker is merely copying Nicky Gumbels video in his talk.

Student Daves drunken nights out are again just lovable human stupidity to the filmmaker. Like some beautifully worked up yet pointless mosaic…

Ronson refers to Daves 12 pint night out as a ‘normal student night out’. Daves willingness to be prayed for and ecstatic corridor wandering are presented as light and amusing matters.

Well maybe to some of the Jeffrey Lewis fan-base audience of today perhaps it is. However, there are two different pictures of Dave in my mind, of what he might look like in ten to twenty years time, depending on what choices Dave makes at the next Alpha course he joins.

All Hype

Watching so many music videos recently, I have been reminded of a whole bunch of musicians from the nineties that I’d forgotten about completely.

In particular, I have remembered the Longpigs, from Sheffield I’ve just learnt (I lived there 5 years and never noticed that Richard Hawley used to be in this band) whose first small hit (no 67 in the charts according to unreliable wikopedia, I’m sure it did better) was an energetic song called ‘She Said’ from the album ‘the sun is often out’ which I then bought, after buying the single which had impressive b sides.
I remember buying the single (a cassette in those days haha) about two months after its release for 50p from the bargain bucket in ‘Badlands’ record shop on my much anticipated Saturday daytrip to Cheltenham with my best friend, and being elated about this.

I loved all the songs on the album, but there was one song that was particularly tender and soft with rocky contrasts too. Unfortunately on my tape cassette I could never hear the ending of this most loved song, as the tape was faulty, even when I first bought it, but thank God now for MP3s!

The song is ‘All Hype’ and it was sung, not by the front-man Crispin Hunt but another guy who sounded Irish to me and I always imagined it was Sean Hughes singing. Maybe it’s the fellow in the shades in this picture, looks a bit like Sean, the drummer Dee Boyle, a suspiciously Irish sounding name.

The song as I interpretted it at the time was about a Christian church, or leaving church or Christianity behind with the conclusion that it is ‘all hype’, which in 1995 when the album came out, I had done myself the year before, aged 13. When I’d left church I’d been sent a difficult letter asking why & at that time, this song was like the response that I couldn’t write myself.
Listening to this link below has been the first time I’ve ever heard the ending! It seems an honest sort of song


And I am living

Without the love of Jesus in my eyes

It's easier to swallow than collide

The way above the lows and sold your highs

[It's all hype]

When suddenly they strip it when you try

[It's all hype]

I still don't get the joke but nevermind

It's all hype

All heights

But your gonna fall down

Yeah your gonna fall down

And your gonna be round

And your gonna see

That I am leaving

The light of baby Jesus far behind

For one with history leaking from her eyes

As always things get tense when things are taught

Twisted and distort

But your gonna fall down

Yeah your gonna fall down

And your gonna be round

And your gonna see

And oh for heavens sake

I needed you today

And never having been

The countrysides obscene

I understood the part

But only only one

You've given up the choice

Why don't she dig my voice

And I believe in

The biggest touted answer to the lie

But always when it's caught you in the eyes

Cos usually it is that I don't mind
It's all hype

It's all hype

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

48 hours of music videos

I've spent the past 2 days watching music videos, online & on VHS shuffle (the other channels are filled with Michael Jackson). I wont make a habit of it, as all the nudity and ego-centric visuals can make good material for nightmares.

The videos I've found most effective, or interesting to me, have been ones where the musicians themselves have had creative input into the visuals.

This observation seems to be contrary to what most animation tutors or students or directors advise me. The wisdom I often hear is that it is best if the musician surrenders completely to the director, allowing the creative to excel in their different gifting. I suppose this video I watched this morning of Ruby by Kaiser Chiefs proves their point. The concept of the video is surprising and kind of seems irrelevant to the lyrics. A few friends have pointed out that they enjoy seeing something unexpected and new in a video.

Different tutors have said about my work that I have far too much respect for the musician. Well... Kate Bush directed Wuthering Heights. Guy Garvey and the Elbow boys have entirely filmed some of their own videos and seem to have had an onging collaborative relationship with 'soup collective' (Islington Mill film makers, Manchester).

I remember some years back Guy offered something like £1000 to whoever could return a sketchbook of his that he lost (I think it was mostly visual rather than song writing). Julian Copes 8mm Laughing Boy is an well worked out expression of a what is perhaps supposed to be a drug fuelled personal experience of the world.

Nirvanas 'Heart Shaped Box' interests me, directed by Anton Corbijn, 1993 wikopedia tells me it was devised mostly by Kurt Cobain, which shows:

Biographical details interest me in a video. I happen to know that Courtney, Kurts lover and later wife collected heart shaped boxes and kept an old letter from Billy Corgan (A pisces himself with an Smashing Pumpkins album out called Pisces Iscariot) in a heart shaped box under her bed. I've read Kurts published 'journals' with its memorable sketches of KKK figures. Also, the little girl in the KKK outfit is Kurts younger half-sister. It can become so irresistably personal to an emotional teenage audience.

Watching Smashing Pumpkins early videos I can spot visuals which, having listened to numerous interviews with BC as a teenager I know to be of personal interest to Billy Corgan - Roman Catholic icons such as sacred hearts & expressing a kind of ethereal femininity.

I warmed to this video of Jarvis Cockers 'Don't let him waste your time' (Dir: Dougal Wilson 2007), perhaps because of Jarvis personality being able to shine in it. Also, to me, it is effective in its use of adding sound effects, which I felt was done badly in David Bowies 'Thursdays Child'.

My highlight of this 24 music video fest however, was spotting Sean Hughes in Terrorvisions 'Tequila' Video. Random yet thrilling.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Pier Paolo Pasolinis 'The Gospel According to St Matthew'

I've just finished watching this film... in four sittings. It was hard to watch. The camera work made me dizzy and the actors stare at you, a lot! I don't really like to surrender a few hours of my focussed attention to a film in one go anyway unless it is humourous and has Colin Firth in it.

Being ignorant (this is not a film review or teaching, but a diaristic comment), I watched the film with the entirely wrong preconception that the director was a catholic monk! I saw the name 'Pier' and wrongly interpreted this as Italian for 'Father' (actually 'Padre' in Italian)... doh! On this wrong understanding, I formed some general 'first watch' criticisms of the film (made in 1964 before I was born) from a bible following point of view.

Of the New Testament gospel accounts I find Matthew, (also the longest to read) the most difficult and challenging, in a good way. It has caused me to have to follow up its teaching with action. Usually the favourite choice of study by Christian friends I look up to in their maturity.

1. Mixed up empathy! Pasolini seemed to want me to form empathy with the baddies and dislike the goodies. Jesus didn't come across very personable at all, and stared at me with terrible communication skills most of the time. It seemed unbelievable when the children started following him and waving palm branches, but more noteworthy because it seemed so unnatural... creating an unhelpful feel of 'mystery'. Herodias' daughter however (who later requests and is granted John the Baptists murder) seemed positively lovable when I was introduced to her as a more believable child playing innocently with a stone, dressed in white. And her mother also looked like an iconic saint. I even found Satan to be quite a likable and friendly tempter, not an entirely unhelpful comsideration.

2. Baptism or christening? My biblical understanding of the baptism Jesus taught about in John 3:5, and would have recieved himself, would have been one where the whole body is immersed in water, symbolising death to an old self, going under the water and new life as you rise up out of it. Matthew 3:16 'he went up out of the water' Acts 8 :39 'When they came up out of the water'.

If Pasolini had been a Roman Catholic or a Christian of an other denomination following some watered down (haha) tradition of baptism I'd have a reason why his portrayal of baptism is a little touch of water, as in traditional, still practiced, arguably non-biblical Christenings on the head. Also there is a small child portrayed as recieving this 'baptism' at an age where the boy would probably not be ready to choose to receive it. Maybe Pasoloni didn't want to annoy his Roman Catholic critics too much. I clearly need more research as to why this was, but is it even worth the time?

3. I did understand some a part of scripture I think more clearly as a result of watching the film... about the parable of the Tenants Matthew 21:33-46. Seeing actors recreate the scene of Jesus being direct with the Pharisees in this Parable really makes clear what Jesus was saying to them about their extreme mishandling of God given responsibility.

4. Too much staring and 'Icon' like imagery creating a false sense of mystery.

5. I did enjoy the earthiness of some of the camera work, where it seems Paolini tries to give us the viewpoint of a person in the crowd (when Jesus is questioned about whether he is claims to be the son of God).

In conclusion, I like the film more somehow now that I know it is directed by an atheist, perhaps handling scripture in such a way to try to honestly find some truth behind it in the film-making process. Except that the baptism scene and staring disproves this being achieved by the director fully.

Overall I feel the film does more harm than good to the viewer, if only because of the persistant eerie staring of a not very human Jesus. I wont watch it again or reccomend it be viewed in one sitting, but might revisit the clip about the parable of the tenants.

Monday, 6 July 2009

billy corgan drawing

I drew this picture of Billy Corgan today. It amused me enough to want to share it with the world on the internet. So I started this blog to document these precious 'crafting' moments and to share my thoughts on things relating to art and creativity.