The Battle of Camperdown House

camperdown house with SPK

There’s a report in today’s Dundee Courier that the A-listed, neo-classical Camperdown House, centrepiece to Camperdown Park, Dundee is not going to be accessible to the public anytime soon.

I understand the problems that this must bring to Dundee City Council (DCC). So often cultural projects are criticised for being a waste of money in the face of other, more pressing issues. In this particular case DCC are saying Camperdown House is not as important as other things they have planned and therefore not a priority.

camperdown house dome

You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes you can’t please any…

However, I have a little insight into why people would want this building accessible. In October 2013 I was one of a small group who were granted access to the building as part of a collaboration between the McManus Youth Action Group (YAG) and SmallPetitKlein (SPK) contemporary dance who were interpreting our contribution to the National Museum of Scotland’s ‘Sense of Place‘ project.

View more Instagram images from the day here (you will need an Instagram account)

The purpose of the day was for YAG to work on a dance sequence with SPK that would be performed at the opening night of the McManus ‘Sense of Place’ exhibition. I can’t remember why Camperdown House was chosen other than us ‘arty’ folk like to be inspired. Given that it has been closed for so long there was definitely a ‘haunted house’ vibe which also contributed to another SPK production ‘Cut’ – see more below.

The ‘Sense of Place‘ session in Camperdown House went so well that, at the end of the day, I was able to direct a piece of film that captured the dance as well as becoming a template for another film shown in the exhibition.

So, if you would like to see inside of Camperdown House I hope that, to some degree, you can be satisfied by what follows. First you will see the camper down film, followed by the final version filmed out-and-about in Dundee. That film is then followed by scenes from our opening night at McManus where the dance was performed live, leading our audience through the museum – a stunning building in its own right.

Links:

SmallPetitKlein’s production, Cut

Dundee Courier Camperdown House article

Advertisements

Instagram Victoriana

victorians - actors

Fun times were had at The McManus, Dundee’s Museum and Art Gallery last Saturday evening (17 May) as we presented Victoriana Dundee as part of the Festival of Museums.

The Museum, opened late for a special evening and, with the help of Artemis Scotland, brought Victorian Dundee to life once more as the various galleries were hosted by local Victorian celebrities – amongst them, Bessie Maxwell and Marie Imandt told us about their ground breaking journalism for DC Thomson seen here:

My job was to ‘channel’ the spirit of Peter Feathers Jnr who just over 100 years ago was a photographer an filmmaker in the city. The Youth Action Group at McManus had found a lot of inspiration through his work for their Sense of Place project (currently on display at The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh).

victoriana props

Above: Victoriana selfie with my Victoriana props. (I’m not quite that portly) This pic was taken with my GoPro super wide angle camera :/

Bringing some of our ideas from the project together for last Saturday’s event we decided to have a Victorian Photo Booth where our visitors could dress up and we would photograph them and post to Instagram. Given that Peter Feathers has been remembered for his films more than photographs I opted to use an app called Vintagio. Equipped with my authentic Victorian clockwork iPad I took 5 second shots – similar to the moving newspaper images seen in the Harry Potter films. You can see the results on the McManus Instagram page or arch a montage of snippets in the Youtube video below.

victoriana - dressing up

We were very busy for the solid two and half hours – the continual posting to twitter (check out the has tag #FoM2012) didn’t go unnoticed:

So, I heartily recommend any opportunity to encourage folks to dress up and have their picture/movie taken – adults and children alike, I’m sure we could have stayed open for another two hours!

Were you at McManus last weekend – or any other Festival of Museums events? Tell us all about it below…

Exhibition. Reflection. Snacks.

mcmanus feedback 5

Tonight (Thursday 6 February) was a reflection evening at the McManus. We were reflecting on the Sense of Place project with our young artists who range from 15 to 18 years old. We hadn’t seen most of them since the show opened so apart from anything else it was just great having them all together again. And there were snacks.

mcmanus feedback 1

I should point out that these young people come outside of school hours. While they have support from school and family, no one is required to come along – they come because they want to.
Tonight in particular demonstrated their enthusiasm because, let’s face it, tonight wasn’t about ‘making and creating’, it was the dull stuff – answering our questions. You could argue they came for the snacks – however, this is not your stereotypical group of 21st century teenagers and they dutifully told us some of what they had learned. The snacks were a mere perk.

Reflection is essential for us as we begin to prepare to think about new projects but it’s extremely rewarding to hear them articulate the impact it has had over the year.

mcmanus feedback 4

So part one of the evening was to answer a series of four questions:

1) What have you learned about your City?
2) What’s the most important thing you learned, or what had the biggest impact on you?
3) Describe a person you met in the City/through the project who made a strong impression on you? (positive or negative)
4) If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

Each question was written on a sheet of A2 paper. The young people divided themselves into four groups; each group sat at each question in turn for four minutes writing bullet-style answers. With the sheets mostly full to bursting (and the snacks already near consumed) we moved on to part two and the final question…

mcmanus feedback 2

Each group took turns to gather in our ‘Electric Theatre’ and spent about five minutes answering the question, “Because of Youth Action Group; Sense of Place, I am…”

These answers are posted here in full. They were aware that we were recording and that we would post them although they hadn’t seen the question until we started recording.

So it’s all here (minus snacks); and not so much an ending but, genuinely, it felt/feels like a new beginning; which is perfect because while everyone was very excited to see their work complete and presented, I don’t think any of us feel so precious that we can’t see past it for the next (BIG) thing. And lets not over look the possibility of more snacks in the future.

mcmanus feedback 3

So, if you live near Dundee, ‘Sense of Place’ at The McManus closes tomorrow at 5pm (Friday 7 February) – If you’ve not already been I suggest you hurry up.

 

 

 

Brian Cox (The Dundee Actor) talking about his experiences as a boy with the cinema as ‘child care’!

Bria Cox at The McManus

Storify, Storify Storify

Storify is fantastic. That’s all you need to know.

Storify exists simply for you to gather, or craft, a narrative from snippets of social media channels.

mcmanus-crawl

The likes of Twitter, Instagram, Faceook, etc, are already in the business of providing a means of telling a story but they are rigid streams of information and the story can be lost – at the very least it must be searched out. Storify puts you in hot seat as narrator/curator, however you like to look at it, and gather the relevant elements from a variety of channels including those mentioned above.

So, here’s an example: A couple of weeks ago I organised a QR Trail across Dundee for McManus Galleries Youth Action Group – a group of young people interested in the arts. We’re currently looking at digital and social media – what it’s all about and if it has any value.

The aim of the QR Trail was to deliver images of Dundee from 100 years ago (or more), in the spot where they were originally taken and the young people were tasked with capturing the same scene as it appears today and share it via Instagram.

McManus Crawl Players

Back at the museum I gathered their images live, as they appeared on the Instagram feed and put them into Storify along side links to the old photos that were to inspire them! (via Photopolis).

We Tweeted the Storify feed. This meant that, potentially, viewers could follow the young people’s progress live as I combined the Instagram pics with those from Photopolis (while adding a little narration). The Storify feed remains of course and you can view it here.

I’m noticing more and more sites, the Guardian for example, using Storify to gather stories that break on Twitter.

My only reservation is that I can’t yet export my completed project – they remain on the Storify site. I did have an experience last ear where I gathered a Storify for a conference I was working at and my 2 hours work coincided with a Storify server crash! I had no option but to start again. Presumably Storify learned from that experience!

That aside I love Storify! Do you?
What other sharing platforms do you love?

Digital Imaging on iPad (via AudioBoo)

iPad-photos_blog

The images above are on display at Perth Museum and Art Gallery. From left to right, the second, fourth and fifth displays were completed as part of an iPad workshop I led in November 2012 and are exhibited until the end of March.

This week some of the young people who took part in the project, (as part of the Living Communities programme) came back to view their exhibited work and I was able to talk to them about their experience and share those thoughts via AudioBoo which will also be tagged to the work on display via a QR Code.

The interesting thing for me is that the young people are enjoying using the touch screen for the same reasons as I do – immediate, responsive (interactive) and an enjoyable way of working – as opposed to a mouse and multiple clicks. Given the immediate responsive nature of the touch screen I would suggest that it holds more creative potential – see here.

In one of his last keynotes Steve Jobs talked about how the iPad was “people’s favourite device” – backed up only last month by this report. They were enjoying the experience of the web, gaming and even productivity much more on the iPad than they were on desktops or laptops. I’d already had that experience myself but noticed that my son losing interest in his Nintendo DS if the iPad was an option.

So, as exciting as it was to see this work on display it was equally as rewarding to hear that a new found interest was being kindled (no pun intended) through me introducing a touch screen in this context. And, you can hear for yourself in the clips below…

learning-ipad-4

Some of the images in their native form back in November.

learning-ipad-1

Guildtown Project (via AudioBoo)

Guildtown was founded in 1818 by the Guildry Incorporation of Perth.

The Primary School, through a series of interlinked projects (many of them delivered through the Living Communities Programme at Perth Museum and Art Gallery), explored the Guildsmen and the trades that they governed. They also made a mini-documentary including a recreation of how the village may have looked 200 years ago.

In this series of three clips some of the young people involved talk about their learning experience, the trades they learned about and tried out and how they got on making their short film.

My part in this was to capture these thoughts and share them through this AudioBoo which is tagged to artworks, related to the project, currently exhibited at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, via a QR Code.

romans2