That whole pandemic thing

Oof, been a while again hasn’t it…

2020 me: “Wow, now the world has basically shut down I have so much extra time! I can update my website, write some blogs, do all those online courses I signed up to and forgot about, get some good practice in with Spanish and guitar, workout, start that podcast about procrastination that I keep procrastinating on… etc etc”

2021 me: “Welp.”

It’s been a hard time for us all, it’s okay. Getting through it was the priority, any productivity was always going to be a bonus! To be fair though, I have been able to keep working through almost all of it, I did get back into working out to some extent (doing physical work keeps me reasonably fit anyway) and I also completed the CELTA training which was something I had been wanting to do for ages. So if you or anyone you know would like some online English tuition (as in learning the language, not analysing Shakespeare and such), hit me up ūüôā

So what the flip have you been doing all this time? You don’t write, you don’t call…

Since my last blog post? Er sorry no idea, that was too long ago… probably more of the same sort of thing I was waffling on about then! But since last spring when the world went a bit sideways I’ve been taking on a lot more gardening work – teaching at the drama school or working on video shoots has been a no go for me since Covid broke out, so having plenty of outdoor, socially distanced work has been great. As a lot more people have been stuck at home, having a pleasant garden to enjoy has evidently become a higher priority for some. I told last year’s clients I’d be starting back in March so I would be calling to arrange visits then – but many of them could not wait for the end of Feb before they were calling me. It’s nice to be wanted!

I did the CELTA in the autumn/winter of 2020 – due to the pandemic, some providers began temporarily offering a fully online version of the course so, given that I had more free time than usual and I had been thinking about doing it for a while, I figured there was never going to be a better time to go for it. For those who don’t know (and didn’t click the link above), CELTA is an internationally recognised qualification for those seeking to teach English as a second/foreign language. I did my training with Stafford House, a great bunch of folks – although the course is intense (even the part-time version!) I felt very supported and met some lovely teachers and students along the way. If anyone is considering doing the CELTA, I highly recommend them as a training provider.

Another development during the quarantimes was that I updated this site to reflect the different types of work I was doing, so there are now dedicated pages for my various professional hats. I had considered making different sites for the gardening, ESL teaching etc but then I thought ‘why on earth would I make all that extra work for myself when ultimately it’s still all me’. Maybe it’s not what the clever marketing bods would suggest, but I feel like this site does what I need it to; provides contact details and the necessary info for each service I offer, and reflects me accurately as a person who doesn’t just do one type of work – however, all and any feedback on this site is welcome so long as it’s constructive!

What’s on the menu?

Things are looking more positive on the plague front but as we aren’t out of the woods yet, here is the work I’m currently doing until I level up to fully vaccinated status:

  • Gardening work; I will not need to enter customer’s houses and payments can be made by bank transfer, so visits can be totally no-contact if required (we can chat on the phone when I’m there or we can talk through a window, I’m totally happy to look like a crazy person yelling through glass)
  • Video production; shoots if they’re outdoors and socially distanced, editing or conversion work if I can access and work on the files from home
  • Teaching work; online only, ESL or media-related tuition – we’re all pros at using Zoom and Skype now!

On a parting note, I hope everyone reading this has got through the last year and a bit okay, or at least as well as can be expected – don’t be too hard on yourself if like me, you had grand plans to finally do all the tasks you had ever put off during 2020 but ended up just being a bit of a potato for a lot of it. As someone or other once said, “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time” (and for me, a good chunk of that time was spent playing Animal Crossing – they really couldn’t have found a better time to release it!). Be safe out there, kids.

Decisions | /r/BikiniBottomTwitter | SpongeBob SquarePants | Know Your Meme
Actual footage of me in 2020

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Hello and goodbye 2018!

Yes, I am just going to waltz back in here as if I haven’t neglected to write a blog post for the last two years…

Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. ^_^ Just the usual documentation work for some of my regular/semi-regulars, and…

A Productive Year at PQA

…I’m still beavering away on our epic¬†PQA film projects – we should be having a film screening sometime next spring! At this point I have so much material I’m going to have some serious whittling down to do as we’ve been busy bees since the last one… I will post info about our latest films when the time comes but in the meantime if you want to take a look of some of our old school fare (which it is in a very literal sense since a lot of these films were shot in our old venue at the school!), you can check us out on PQA TV:

And you can see our more recent projects here on our Vimeo page. (Go on. There’s some really good stuff in there!)

Every Child is an Artist; Exploring the Environment at Oasis Academy Hobmoor

This autumn I have been working at Oasis Academy Hobmoor again with years 1 and 2 for the Every Child is an Artist project, creating digital images and animations on the iPads for this year’s theme of ‘the environment’. However, I cheated on this blog to write a blog post over on Hobmoor’s page, so rather than spill the beans again here I direct you to follow this handy link¬†to see what we got up to!

And now, an intermission

I’m going to wrap up the year by clearing out some of my poor cluttered hard drives if I can find time between the seasonal sloth and gluttony… happy holidays guys!

Image result for christmas gif

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Stations of the Cross project – update

Stations of the whatnow? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my original blog post here.¬†Don’t have time to read two whole¬†blog posts right now?¬†Well here’s a quick reminder:

Stations of the Cross¬†is an exhibition currently taking¬†place “across 14 iconic locations in London,¬†using¬†works of art to tell the story of the Passion in a new way,¬†for people of different¬†faiths”

As¬†I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I have been making a short series of videos documenting the progress of artist¬†Michael Takeo Magruder¬†in creating and installing his piece for the 13th Station, Lamentation for the Forsaken¬†(scroll down to ‘Station 13’ to read about it¬†and listen to a podcast where Michael talks about how he conceived and developed the work).

Originally I had planned to create seven videos altogether, but the first four seemed to capture the whole journey so nicely I felt that finishing with the work in situ was a good place to conclude the series .

You don’t have to be a church regular¬†to appreciate the interesting and provocative works of art currently on display, so if you haven’t caught it yet go and¬†take a peek before the exhibition ends on Easter Monday.

Watch the videos (yes I’m going to keep on politely insisting)

Don’t have time to get down to London? Or maybe you’ve checked out the exhibition and are dying to know about that awesome installation at St Stephens? Watch all four videos on the Coexist House website here.

 

More information

Find out more information about the artists, works and locations here¬†where you’ll also be able to listen to podcasts featuring conversations with the artists about their work, and find links to a map of all the venues¬†and¬†an app you can download to help you navigate the Stations trail. The exhibition opens tonight and will run for the duration of Lent (until 28 March) – more information about related events here.

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Analysing story structure with small folks today

Using Frozen as an example, I asked my youngest afternoon group at PQA what messages they thought the film was trying to send its audience:
“Don’t fall out with your sister”
“Don’t trust men” …then after some debate…
“Don’t trust bad men”
“Don’t trust someone you’ve only just met”
“Don’t hide who you really are”
“Love can thaw a frozen heart” (cue lots of ‘”aw”s)
“Don’t take snowmen outside in summer” (there’s always one)

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Stations of the Cross project

It’s always fun to have something new to get one’s teeth stuck into, and at the moment I am in the process of producing a series of short videos – vignettes if you will – to document the progress of artist Michael Takeo Magruder as he produces a new artwork for Coexist House‘s Stations of the Cross exhibition.¬†If you aren’t familiar with Coexist House:

“Coexist House will be a new global centre in the heart of London for transforming public understanding about the practices and perspectives of the world’s religions, promoting better, more peaceful, relationships across divides”
“…reaching out to people of all faiths and none

Stations of the Cross¬†is an exhibition that will take place “across 14 iconic locations in London,¬†using¬†works of art to tell the story of the Passion in a new way,¬†for people of different¬†faiths” (if¬†–¬†like mine did¬†–¬†your knowledge of the 14 stations needs brushing up a bit, brush away¬†here)

The artwork: Lamentation for the Forsaken

Michael¬†was commissioned to create an artwork for the 13th station, in which¬†Christ’s body is taken down from the cross. His work,¬†Lamentation for the Forsaken, “offers a lamentation not only for the forsaken Christ, but others who have felt his acute pain of abandonment. ¬†In particular, Takeo evokes the memory of Syrians who have passed away in the present conflict, weaving their names and images into a contemporary Shroud of Turin”

If you want to know more, you’re going to have to…

Watch the videos

In my video series, I am documenting the entire process of the creation and exhibition of this work. The first three videos, Context, Research and Production, are available to view here.

  1. Context – Michael’s ideas and inspiration for the work
  2. Research – gathering data to form the various elements of the work
  3. Production –¬†constructing the artwork
  4. Installation – installing the work at St Stephen Walbrook
  5. Curation – a conversation with curator Dr Aaron Rosen
  6. Conversation – conversations with other artists involved in the project
  7. Reflection – final thoughts on the exhibition

Don’t want to leave the cosy comfort of this blog? Here’s the first video to give you a taste:

Arriving at Station XIII – 1. Context from Emma Puente on Vimeo.

More information

Find out more information about the artists, works and locations here¬†where you’ll also be able to listen to podcasts featuring conversations with the artists about their work, and find links to a map of all the venues¬†and¬†an app you can download to help you navigate the Stations trail. The exhibition opens tonight and will run for the duration of Lent (until 28 March) – more information about related events here.

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Documentary – Every Child Is An Artist: Digital Arts

Every Child is an Artist

At the end of last year I was one of a group of artists taking part in Every Child Is An Artist, a project created by Mercurial Dance which aims to develop the skills, ability and imagination of all the children at Oasis Academy Hobmoor (check out this post about what I got up to).

Filmmaker Jamie Sergeant has made a video documenting the digital arts phase of the project, in which you can hear us talking about the kind of work we did with the children, and see some examples of what they made. Here it is for your viewing pleasure!

Every Child Is An Artist: Digital Arts from Mercurial Dance on Vimeo.

Visit our page on the Oasis Hobmoor Blog to see what the children have been making; this term they are focusing on visual arts.

Spring Term activities

This term I am continuing to work on a couple of projects at Oasis Hobmoor; I am still working with the Hobmoor TV crew, a small group who report on events and happenings at the school. See our broadcasts here!

I am also working with a group of year 3 and 4 students on Tuesday afternoons who are making some short films to document and promote learning activities at the school – their videos will be posted soon so watch this space!

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Every Child is an Artist project

This term I have been one of a small group of artists working with pupils at Oasis Hobmoor Academy, Birmingham as part of the Every Child is an Artist project, an initiative led by Oliver Scott of Mercurial Dance which seeks to uncover and nurture the innate creativity and potential¬†artist in every child. We have been exploring a variety of art forms including animation, dance, augmented reality and getting creative with electronics. The school has a really forward-thinking approach to arts and technology, housing¬†an ‘Innovation Studio’ complete with greenscreen capabilities as well as iPads for every year group.

I have been working with years 2, 3 and 4 using basic video and animation iPad apps to introduce them to some of the basic concepts and to learn by ‘doing’, giving them simple exercises and projects to help them on their learning journey. We started out using Vine as it’s a great introduction to making and sharing short videos (I’m sure you can imagine how happy they were to make a Vine of however many silly faces they could pull in six seconds!) We then got into some stop motion using I Can Animate, and just before half term we began our meanderings into Comic Life and iMovie. Here’s a blog post describing the first three weeks¬†of the project.

Animating drawings with I Can Animate on iOS

Animating drawings with I Can Animate on iOS

Extra curricular funtimes

We are also running after school clubs for those who are interested in doing more with the art forms on offer during the school day. I run the after school film and animation club on Wednesdays for year 5, and two weeks ago Oliver and I began training a small group to become Hobmoor’s own TV crew who will be reporting on events around the school – looking forward to seeing their reports!

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Documenting the Apocalypse

Even if threatened with an impending apocalypse I don’t think I’d get it together to get these blog posts out in a more timely fashion…¬†still, better to be doing than writing about doing eh?

Late last year artist extraordinaire¬†Michael Takeo Magruder had an awesome solo show entitled De/coding the Apocalypse¬†at Somerset House, Kings College London. The exhibition¬†was a fascinating look at our continued fascination with the idea of the apocalypse and exploring¬†the Book of Revelations’ prophecies in the context of¬†a modern, science and technology-driven society. There’s a good interview about it here.

For those who weren’t able to make the show, fear not!¬†I recently started putting together some¬†short videos¬†documenting¬†each of the installations, the first two of which are available to view below – they feature video footage from myself and a few snippets from a short documentary piece by Crane.tv, as well as photographs by Jana Chiellino and David Steele. Enjoy, more coming soon…

A New Jerusalem from Michael Takeo Magruder on Vimeo.

The Horse as Technology from Michael Takeo Magruder on Vimeo.

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Still here!

So I went off the grid for a while¬†there, sorry about that… a few weeks ago I hooked up with my pal (and far superior blogger) Stu, the mind behind London street art blog¬†Inspiring City, and he quite rightly gave me some grief for not updating this page more often. So here I is!

Video doings

PQA¬†¬†recently had red carpet events for both the AM and PM academies in January – these events are screenings of all of the video work that the students had produced over¬†the past year (I mostly spent the Christmas break editing furiously) and so we got dressed up for the ‘premiere’ and the kids got to show their friends and families all their hard work. I also produced DVDs for both screenings (it was going to be blu-rays, but I guess most people still don’t have the tech yet), so that they will always have a memento of the time that they harassed bemused parents with vox pops, or got killed by ghosts/zombies. ¬†It’s not always easy putting projects together with these guys but I’m often impressed by their knowledge, instincts and abilities, especially among the younger groups – I reckon there are a few stars in the making there!

In the autumn half term I also did another wave¬†with NCS The Challenge, who are always really fun to work with and do great projects with young people – hopefully I’ll be doing some more with them in the summer.

Non-video doings

I haven’t been very active on here lately because recently I’ve been putting more of my energies into non-video projects – I’m currently living in the movie ‘The Money Pit’ and have been renovating a house for a year (look I’m rubbish at DIY and I can’t get over there very often alright), thankfully on the home stretch with this now (I hope? Please?) and¬†I am looking forward to having some semblance of my life back… So yeah. Video producer, gardener, painter and decorator, many strings to my bow.

I’ve also started getting back into writing. I’d had an idea for a novel in my head for the longest time – to the point where I started dreaming about the characters – so although it may never leave my hard drive let alone make me a fortune, I’ve had to get it from brain to page for the sake of my sanity. There’s still a long way to go with it, but I’m enjoying writing it even though I don’t really know if I’m going about it the right way… Like Bruce Lee, mine is ‘the style of no style’. I’ve done a few other short stories and poems (with the exception of Blake I hated poetry at school, go figure) so another blog is in the works for my literary ramblings; will post the link when I deem it sufficiently presentable!

 

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Peace Through Unity

This year I did a couple of days’ filming with jam-av for the Normandy Day UK Peace Through Unity project:

Normandy Day UK (Peace Through Unity) is about young people and veterans working together to celebrate peace and remember the sacrifices made by ‘the few’ to attain that peace.

We aim to create art that will pay tribute to the fallen and spread the message of peace.
We hope to foster and build inter-generational and inter-cultural relationships through the process and create an individual and unique experience for everyone involved.

This project has been a long time in the making and a number of schools have taken part. I went with the jam-av team to two different schools in Coventry where the students had visits from war veterans who came to answer questions and share their stories with them. The young people then worked with creative artists and practitioners to produce something expressing their thoughts and ideas on war and peace based; the activities I was involved in were filmmaking at Barrs Hill and poetry at Cardinal Wiseman (which I documented; I wasn’t there for my poetry skills!)

I was glad even just to have a small involvement in such a worthwhile and fascinating project, it really was moving to hear the veterans’ stories and gratifying to see the level of respect and interest from the young participants. Here is the final film (compiled from many hours of footage so I’m told!)

If you want to see this on a bigger screen and meet other people involved/interested in the project, there will be small screenings of the film in the pop up shop in West Orchards, Smithford Way, Coventry on Saturday 30th August at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm – pop in to book your place. The shop also has information about related events in September that will bring the project to a close.

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