Catching Up

It has been quite some time since I last blogged here and I’m now ready to get back into it! So, what have I been doing since August 2014?!

Well, quite a lot has happily happened in my personal and professional life. So lets take a look at it all chronologically.

In the first week of September 2014, I went on a course run by the Independent Cinema Office  in Cambridge for a few days, to work on strategic audience development in my role as film programmer at JW3 Cinema. I learnt so much from this experience and am still implementing the successful project that was a result of this course.

Kate Ross presentation for Film Hub London Exhibitors Breakfast 28 April 2015_004

 

In the second week of September, I went to California for 3 weeks. I was working remotely from there for the first part, so that I could join my husband who was there for work and we stayed in Palo Alto during that time. We then took a holiday as we were in the area already and did a brilliant road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the famous Route 1, Pacific drive.

Route 1 Pacific Drive

Route 1 Pacific Drive

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of days after arriving back in London from California, I sang with Minim Singers at a special event to mark preparation for the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur at New North London Synagogue with a panel of speakers sharing their musings on the subject of sin.

 

minim singers

 

In September, I also took on another role at JW3 and have been working as Music Programmer since then, until July 2015, programming and managing music events across a range of genres.

Jive Aces - the UK's number 1 Jive & Swing band who I programmed to play at JW3

Jive Aces – the UK’s number 1 Jive & Swing band who I programmed to play at JW3

The next few months involved me doing a lot of wedding planning, as we decided to get married in the spring. I also sang a lot during that time including at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea with English Chamber Choir and in November with the Chelsea Arts Club Choir.

French Reflections concertjpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December saw all the regular seasonal festivities and a lot of singing in my other two choirs as is usual at that time of year.

My nephew was also born at the end of December which was the best gift ever!

February was taken up with wedding planning full steam ahead as our wedding took place on 8th March.

Kate & Itay - wedding

Kate & Itay – wedding

We went on honeymoon to the stunning Italian region of South Tyrol and on returning to London I sang at Chelsea Arts Club in another weekend of concerts.

South Tyrol

glitter and be gay concert

 

In April things were busy at my workplace, as JW3 merged with LJCC – the London Jewish Cultural Centre so there were new programmes to integrate and new staff to get to know and in May I was back in Israel to see family and to go to a wedding.

Haifa, Israel

Haifa, Israel

 

Back to now in June 2015, I’ve had a bit of a ‘life makeover’ and changed my hairdo, glasses and (sur)name.

 

new me

new me

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course a lot more has happened over these months than some of the highlights I picked out above but it gives you a taste.

 

Here’s to everything that’ll be happening next, including hopefully more blogging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Verona – città dell’amore (city of love)

Last month I was lucky enough to be in Verona, Italy for a few days city break. I used to live in Italy and have visited a lot of the county, self-confessed Italophile as I am! However, nothing could have prepared me for the picture postcard perfect beauty of Verona which I had never been to before.

 

view of Verona from above

view of Verona from above

The river runs through the centre of the city, the banks of which are lined with prettily coloured buildings while green trees provide shade to the hilly landscape above which stunning views can be found. Verona is the perfect sized city to explore in a few days on foot, whether you’re walking up its many hills to take in the panoramic vistas or if you’re walking along the river or in and out of cobbled streets and piazzas stopping off at a gelateria for ice cream.

riverside colourful buildings

riverside colourful buildings

We all know the city as ‘fair Verona’, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where the play’s star-crossed lovers meet. Verona certainly makes the most out of the story and it was fun to be a tourist and visit ‘Juliet’s house’ – the house which belonged to the “Dal Cappello” or “Cappelletti” – Capulet family. The building, dates back to the 13th and was renovated in the last century.  Inside the palazzo there are works of art by various Veronese artists and some costumes from the 1936 film of Romeo and Juliet. Italians have a strange modern custom of attaching padlocks often inscribed with couples’ names on them, to various romantic monuments and this has certainly happened in full force by Juliet’s house!

padlocks by Juliet's house

padlocks by Juliet’s house

 

Juliet's balcony

Juliet’s balcony

On one of our days exploring the city, we discovered the beautiful Giardino Giusti described by Lonely Planet as follows:

Across the river from the historic centre, these sculpted gardens, considered a masterpiece of Renaissance landscaping, are well worth seeking out. Named after the noble family that has tended them since opening them to the public in 1591, they have lost none of their charm. The vegetation is an Italianate mix of the manicured and natural, graced by soaring cypresses, one of which the German poet Goethe immortalised in his travel writings. entrance to Giardino Giusti

Giardino Giusti

at the bottom of the Giardino Giusti

Although close to a busy road, once we got into the garden we were in a tranquil and peaceful setting. Happily there weren’t many visitors around and we enjoyed walking up the windy path instead of the main route to reach the top. On the way we found a lovely spot which was a pagoda with a stunning look out view. My boyfriend of 4 years Itay, chose this moment to get down on one knee and propose! Of course I said yes and it made our visit to the garden and our whole trip to Verona even more memorable and special!

Afterwards, in a heads in the clouds daze, walking on air happy feeling we went and had a celebratory lunch in a great traditional restaurant which was full of Italians so we knew it was a good one …

The main reason we had decided to visit Verona in the first place, was to go and see an opera in the open air arena. So as the grand finale to our stay, we had for months had tickets booked to see the opera Aida at the arena. We go to the opera in London quite often but seeing an opera at the arena in Verona is something else! We chose to reserve seats and to be near to the stage for an up close experience with the glitterati rather than queuing to sit in the Gods. The whole experience was so magical, to be watching opera in an ancient site in Italy – I felt that I couldn’t have more of a super Italian experience if I tried! We saw a modern interpretation production of Aida and the use of shadow puppets, fire displays and innovative props made for an amazing spectacle! It was a really fantastic end to a great to the perfect Italian city – Verona – città dell’amore (city of love).

me before the opera at the arena

me before the opera at the arena

 

All photographs in this post are by Itay Greenspon.

 

 

 


Advanced Style – the film, the fashion, the lifestyle

People often exclaim to me ‘oh you’re so dressed up!’ … which leads me to think, um am I – you ain’t seen nothing yet! Or rather, well, its all relative! I much prefer the attitude of one of the New Yorker ladies featured in Advanced Style the film (Lynn Dell) who says ‘I’m dressed for the theatre of my life‘! …

Last night I had the honour and pleasure of hosting and presenting a Q&A after a preview screening of the film Advanced Style at JW3 Cinema. To give you an idea what the film is about

Advanced Style examines the lives of seven unique New Yorkers whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided their approach to aging. Based on Ari Seth Cohen’s famed blog of the same name, this film paints intimate and colourful portraits of independent, stylish women aged 62 to 95 who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, ageing, and Western’s culture’s increasing obsession with youth.

And here is the trailer, because you need to see these ladies, not just read about them!

I had actually been following Ari Seth Cohen’s blog – Advanced Style for a couple of years and so I was really delighted when I found out that the film was being released. You’ll see that I also love to style myself creatively using clothes and accessories which I have recorded on this blog here so I knew I was going to love this film. I also realised straight away that the film was sure to be a big hit at JW3 Cinema (in fact 4 of the ladies featured in the film – those who were at the Q&A event – are all Jewish) and so I decided to programme a run of screenings which then lead to the Q&A evening.

the ladies from Advanced Style - promotional image from Dogwoof  film distributor

the ladies from Advanced Style – promotional image from Dogwoof documentary distributor

I was lucky enough to meet four of the ladies featured in the film as well as Ari Seth Cohen and the film’s director Lina Plioplyte who were all at the Q&A. Of course, as soon as I had decided that I would host the Q&A, my main concern was … what will I wear?! I decided to go for a 1970s Jaeger dress and jacket suit that I got from a vintage shop in Aldeburgh, Suffolk in the UK. The outfit felt suitably smart but special and I’m really glad I wore it. I think I fitted in well with the Advanced Style team.

Kate Ross in 1970s Jaeger before the Advanced Style Q&A at JW3 Cinema on 7th May 2014

Kate Ross in 1970s Jaeger before the Advanced Style Q&A at JW3 Cinema on 7th May 2014

Kate Ross with Ari Seth Cohen

Kate Ross with Ari Seth Cohen

 

 

The Invisible Woman (whose work I love reading and have followed for some time) who writes about fashion for older women, wrote a wonderful piece about the film and I absolutely agree with her words that

I’ve seen the film six times now and could happily watch it six more because it truly is that much-abused term life-affirming.

The film really IS absolutely life affirming, uplifting and inspirational and the ladies themselves are all of these things. The film is just as much about a love of style as it is about a love of life. The characters of these strong women is something I admire as much as their unique styles.

What a wonderful and fascinating woman Joyce is, who trained as an opera singer in Milan and told us last night about how she was one of the first women to work in advertising with magazines. A real life Peggy of Mad Men! I so admire Joyce’s elegant style which she makes look so easy and I must say I envy her Chanel bag collection! I love how Joyce practically danced down the steps of the cinema last night when she arrived, singing out ’82, I’m 82!’ – Indeed, go Joyce! She was so friendly to chat to and has a really genuine manner in the way she was telling the audience her beauty and style tips.

 

Kate Ross with four of the Advanced Style ladies

Kate Ross with four of the Advanced Style ladies

Ilona Royce Smithkin from Advanced Style the film. Image from Dogwood documentary distributor

Ilona Royce Smithkin from Advanced Style the film. Image from Dogwood documentary distributor

 

Another of my favourite ladies from the film is Ilona Royce Smithkin who is 94 years old. She sings in nightclubs, teaches painting classes, is high spirited and makes her own false eyelashes out of her own fiery orange hair – just, wow!!

 

 

In the end, all I can say is that I very much hope that by time I’m their age, I’ll still be singing, dressing up as much as I like and having a wonderful time immersing myself in the cultural life of the best cities in the world just like the Advanced Style ladies do!


PROG ROCK ON! My Journey To The Centre of the Earth

I have spent two fun evenings this week singing at London’s magnificent Royal Albert Hall as part of the English Chamber Choir for performances of Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. We were part of a set up including full orchestra –  (strings, wind, brass, percussion sections), 2 solo singers, electric guitar, bass guitar, drum kit and Rick Wakeman – the glitteringly cloaked wizard in charge of us all playing on a variety of NINE keyboards! It was a brilliant experience to be part of such a big show with really incredible musicians. There was a  great atmosphere at the shows from the audience and the performers too.  It also made a nice change to sing different styles of music.

official poster for Journey to the Centre of the Earth 2014 tour

official poster for Journey to the Centre of the Earth 2014 tour

The shows celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the landmark concept album Journey to the Centre of the Earth and were part of a tour consisting of other show dates around the country.

For the performances I decided to wear my mum’s dress from 1969 (by KATI at Laura Phillips) which I thought was fitting for a 1970s revival show! The photo was taken in the dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall.

I decided to wear my mum's dress from 1969 (by KATI at Laura Phillips) which I thought was fitting for a 1970s revival show!

Based on the novel by Jules Verne, which also marks its 150th anniversary in 2014, the album is one of the rock era’s landmark achievements – a record that sold 15 million copies and rewrote the rules.

”This is the start of a new Journey” says Rick Wakeman, “the original score for the album had been lost for so many years, making any new performances impossible. but after it turned up without warning , we managed to restore it and add previously missing music that was not included in the original performances.  It has taken another half decade to develop it into this tour, but I can’t wait to take Jules Verne’s magnificent story on tour again.”

the chorus score running order

the chorus score running order

Rick Wakeman’s 15 million selling Journey To The Centre Of The Earth sits alongside the most successful concept albums of the rock era including The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell. Its release in 1974 was arguably the high watermark of the progressive rock genre.

my spot where I was singing from, by the big xylophone and you can see the amazing harp as well

my spot where I was singing from on stage, by the big xylophone and you can just about see the amazing harp as well to the right

had to get myself a tour t-shirt and English Chamber Choir is listed on it!

had to get myself a tour t-shirt and English Chamber Choir is listed on it!

Rick’s original album featured the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir, conducted by David Measham.

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was first performed and recorded live at London’s Royal Festival Hall in January 1974. Issued three months later, its success defied everyone’s expectations, including those of Wakeman’s label. The album went on to enjoy gold and platinum sales across the globe. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was also nominated for an Ivor Novello Award.

our dressing room

our dressing room

 

For many years, the original conductor’s score for Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was thought
to have been lost, making any attempt to revive this seminal work impossible. However, in 2008,
Wakeman took delivery of a box that arrived out of the blue from Australia. At the bottom, he
found the original Journey To The Centre Of The Earth conductor’s score that had suffered severe
water damage. With the help of conductor Guy Protheroe, (musical director of English Chamber Choir) he repaired and revisited the
compositions and put them in a form that enabled him to celebrate its anniversary in an appropriate manner.

Engaging the Orion Symphony Orchestra (whose members comprise The New
World Symphony Orchestra for the UK tour) and The English Chamber Choir as well as actor Peter
Egan (best known for both his Shakespearean work as well as his role as Paul in the British sitcom
Ever Decreasing Circles) he recorded a new studio version of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth at
London’s famed Abbey Road Studios. In November 2012, the expanded work was published as a
limited edition in a fan-pack, together with a copy of the 1974 Royal Festival Hall concert
programme, and has since became a collector’s item.

 

 


the sweetest cinema you ever saw

The other weekend I had the pleasure of being in Devon to celebrate the wedding of friends. We stayed in Kingsbridge, a market town in the South Hams district of Devon situated in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Kingsbridge sits on its own estuary and is surrounded by green rolling countryside.

We discovered an absolute gem in Kingsbridge which is the town’s cinema. The Reel Cinema is the only independent cinema in the South Hams area  of Devon, situated under the unusual three-sided town clock. The listed building was built in 1875 and was formerly the Town Hall housing the Town Council, Library, Police Station and Magistrates Court. The old prison cells can still be seen off the lower corridor.

The Reel Cinema, Kingsbridge

The Reel Cinema, Kingsbridge

 

There are three screens offering a wide range of films in Dolby stereo sound and each screen has an individual character.

The Premier Screen seats 54, is fitted with multiplex style seating and has luxurious fully curtained decor.

The Classic Screen seats 165 and is the original auditorium with proscenium arch and traditional features.

The Paradiso Screen seats 48 and is a cosy intimate space ideal for screening art-house films.

posing by the model of the Reel Cinema's logo built in as a feature of the interior by the box office

posing by the model of the Reel Cinema’s logo built in as a feature of the interior by the box office

We had the auditorium practically to ourselves on a Friday evening, where the box office doesn’t open until 15mins before the screening. Tickets were £6.80, popcorn was a couple of quid and a bottle of water was just 80p! Going to such a unique local cinema was a real treat. If a cinema like that was in my local area, I’d be there twice a week I think!

 

interior feature at The Reel Cinema

interior feature at The Reel Cinema

the entrance hall of The Reel Cinema

the entrance hall of The Reel Cinema

 


Oscars™ Warm-Up Night at JW3 London

Last Saturday night I was running an Oscars™ Warm-Up Night I had organised at JW3 London – the new Jewish Cultural Community and Arts Centre. For some time I had been planning an evening in celebration of the 86th Academy Awards and we decided that our pre awards event would take place the night before the awards ceremony itself. Here’s what the evening entailed:

JW3 is the place to be for the hottest warm up to the Oscars™! Not only will we be joined by a panel of film industry experts sharing their experiences of the Academy Awards™ and their predictions for awards winners, but we will have our own red carpet, cocktails and a real statuette! Dress in your finest award ceremony attire to create some of your own great photo opportunities. Producer and writer Simon Chinn (Man on WireProject Nim), director Roger Michell (Notting HillHyde Park On HudsonLe Week-End) and film journalist and presenter Nicola Christie are on the panel chaired by film critic Jason Solomons. Simon Chinn will introduce a special screening of Searching for Sugar Man on the final night of its status as winner of the Academy Award™ for Best Documentary Feature. The perfect night out before your perfect night in for the 2014 Oscars™ live coverage the following evening.

the panel of film industry speakers at JW3 London's Oscars Warm - Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography

the panel of film industry speakers at JW3 London’s Oscars Warm – Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography

 

I set about creating an event which would be one of the hottest warm ups to the Oscars in town! I knew it was important to establish a glam and glitzy atmosphere so the evening would feel special and would also build excitement with our audience and the press. Indeed Londonist website listed the night as the top event for their piece Sparkle And Fizz: Oscar Night Action In London and the Ham and High also included the event as one of their Top Five Things To Do In Hampstead and Highgate for that week.

my brother and I in the audience at JW3's Oscars Warm - Up Night. Photography by Blake Ezra Photography

my brother and I in the stylish audience enjoying JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night. Photography by Blake Ezra Photography

Londonist - Sparkle And Fizz: Oscar Night Action In London

Londonist lists JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night as their number one event for the piece ‘Sparkle And Fizz: Oscar Night Action In London’

So I worked with my colleagues to create a JW3 branded backdrop for a photo opp area with a red carpet so people could pose with the real Oscar statuette from two time Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn. We arranged for a professional photographer to be there on the night to take photographs of people with the statuette, dressed in their best awards ceremony attire. Plus we dressed up the event hall where the panel talk was taking place so it would look special and we also made sure there was popcorn in the cafe – bar area of the centre with an award themed soundtrack and image slideshow playing as guests enjoyed cocktails and canapés.

holding a real Oscar at JW3's Oscars Warm - Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography.

me holding a real Oscar at JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography.

panel of speakers at JW3's Oscars Warm - Up Night

panel of speakers at JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night. L-R film critic Jason Solomons, the panel’s chair, film presenter & journalist who is also a programmer for UK Jewish Film – Nicola Christie, film director Roger Michell and film producer and writer Simon Chinn. Photography by Blake Ezra Photography.

with my brother Alexander, holding a real Oscar at JW3's Oscars Warm - Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography.

with my brother Alexander, holding a real Oscar at JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography.

I was pleased to be able to put together a great range of film industry names (including a film critic, film presenter and journalist, film director and film producer) for panel who spoke about their past experiences of the awards and their predictions for the winners of the awards the next night, which were all absolutely correct! It was an honour and pleasure to meet and host Jason Solomons, Simon Chinn, for a fun and glamorous evening which was enjoyed by all.

It was also a wonderful opportunity to get all dressed up which if you see my writing on this blog about costumes and characters, you’ll know that’s something I love to do! Included in this post are some pictures of the evening dress I wore the evening, that I hadn’t worn since I went to Glyndebourne opera festival!

For for information about my role working at JW3 running London’s newest independent cinema, see the previous blog post here.

holding a real Oscar at JW3's Oscars Warm - Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography.

me holding a real Oscar at JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography.

me at  JW3's Oscars Warm - Up Night.

me at JW3’s Oscars Warm – Up Night.

Jewish Chronicle includes pictures from JW3's Oscars Warm-Up Night

Jewish Chronicle newspaper includes pictures from JW3’s Oscars Warm-Up Night, including a photograph of my brother and I. Photographs by Blake Ezra Photography.


my new role managing & programming for London’s newest independent cinema at JW3 – Jewish Cultural Community Centre for London

As it’s a new year and 2014 has just started, I thought it was about time I got back into blogging and wrote about what I’ve been up to over the end of last year and from when I last posted.

I completed my fellowship tenure working at CHELSEA space thanks to the Chelsea Arts Club Trust at the end of the summer and was then busy as curator at Notting Hill Arts Club, having curated a successful event in August. Whilst taking a short summer break, happily it didn’t take me long to secure a new role as an Arts & Culture Programmer at JW3, specifically as film programmer also managing London’s newest independent cinema there.

JW3 - london's new Jewish Cultural Community Arts Centre

JW3 – london’s new Jewish Cultural Community Arts Centre

The centre has been around 10 years in the making and it is thanks to Dame Vivien Duffield’s foundation – the Clore Duffield Foundation that JW3 has a stunning multi floor venue on the Finchley Road in London. The organisation JCC (Jewish Community Centre London) operated for many years on a smaller level without its own building, offering a range of cultural events in a range of venues throughout London. In the United States, Jewish Community Centres are very common and can be found in most major cities as well as in other cities in Europe. So it was about time we had one in London! JW3 is not a religious centre, it is cultural – summed up by the CEO Raymond Simonson’s words

 “I want to talk about Curb Your Enthusiasm instead, and the paintings of Chagall, the music of Amy Winehouse and Woody Allen films.”

– JW3’s CEO Raymond Simonson

So JW3 (a play on the centre’s postcode NW3, which has the tagline the new postcode for Jewish life) opened on the last weekend of September and so far, thousands and thousands have visited for a range of activities. The centre houses the critically acclaimed restaurant Zest, has a demonstration kitchen, fitness/ dance and drama studios and classrooms offering an impressive programme of classes and courses from languages to art studio sessions to krav maga and more. The multi purpose hall has been used for specially commissioned theatre productions, music concerts and gigs as well as in conversation talks from leading cultural figures such as Kevin Spacey.

Here’s a video made over the launch weekend of the centre to give you an idea what its all about and you’ll even see me for a few seconds, introducing the opening night for JW3’s cinema.

JW3 is an exciting, creative, innovative and fresh place to work. I feel very lucky to be part of something which is changing London’s cultural and Jewish landscape and to be here right at the start of the centre’s life is a great opportunity. It has been a steep learning curve for me, jumping in at the deep end of discovering everything about running an independent cinema and I love it! I’ve certainly been kept busy with the day to day organisation – dealing with film distributors and setting up bonds with them, working with our projectionist team and the wonderful organisation that is the Independent Cinema Office who JW3 cinema is a client of.

JW3 Cinema. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography for JW3

JW3 Cinema. Photograph by Blake Ezra Photography for JW3

UK Jewish Film Festival at JW3 – screening of ‘Let’s Dance’ and dancing traditional Israeli folk dancing afterwards in the JW3 Hall. Photograph by UK Jewish Film

17th UK Jewish Film Festival Pears Short Film Event at JW3. Screening of the winning films for Pears Short Film Fund at UK Jewish Film – ‘Happy New Year’ & ‘The Funeral’. Photograph by UK Jewish Film includes Judy Ironside, Founder and Executive Director of UK Jewish Film, film critic Jason Solomons & directors and cast of the winning Pears Short Film Fund films

JW3 Cinema which is a boutique, intimate 60 seater cinema has around 19 screenings a week which range from indie new releases to 6 screenings a week of Jewish and Israeli film with our partner UK Jewish Film as well as family films and our Monday evening film clubs plus other special screenings. I organise everything from the programming of which films to screen, with assistance from ICO (Independent Cinema Office) for the new releases for example, to timetabling the screenings as well as organising Q&As, in conversations and other events in the cinema and hall for the film programme. I’ve also had to learn a lot about the technicalities of projection and so on for the technical side of the cinema operation! You can see my profile on the ICO website here  and a page on JW3 Cinema here as well as my top 10 films.

LOCO London Comedy Film Festival has partnered with JW3 Cinema for a Comedy Film Club screening the films that changed comedy...

LOCO London Comedy Film Festival has partnered with JW3 Cinema for a Comedy Film Club screening the films that changed comedy…

One of my favourite parts of the JW3 Cinema programme that I work on are the film club evenings on Monday nights. We have a Foodies Film Club which involves screening a film all about food (we’ve had Babette’s FeastI Am LoveWhat’s Cooking) and the team at Zest restaurant prepare a relevant edible item connected to the film that the audience can eat whilst watching the foodies film. I run our Comedy Film Club in partnership with the wonderful LOCO – London Comedy Film Festival. Each film is introduced by a comedy / film expert who is passionate about that film. I love having a laugh on those evenings and happily the list of excellent comedy films, many with Jewish connections seems to be never ending! In our first season we screened Harold and Maude, Coming To America and Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Our Misogynist Film Club (the only one in the UK!) is an opportunity for a feminist celebration of the terrible portrayal of women in film and we have had speakers including Isy Suttie, Caroline Quentin and Henrietta Foster talk about these films they love to hate. In 2014 our film clubs have been re imagined and we will have an Edible Cinema experience as a Foodies Film Club special, more great comedy films and excellent speakers as well as a new film club – the Artists’ Film Salon for filmmakers and film fans. I’ll be sharing more about these soon.

I’ve also organised some very exciting crossover special events taking place in the JW3 hall which unite film and music. I’ve invited Kasper Holten, director of opera at the Royal Opera House, London and cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht for an in conversation and Q&A after a screening of the feature film Don Giovanni (JUAN) directed by Kasper Holten. You can find out more about the event here  . I’m also organising an Oscars™ Warm-Up Night and screening of Searching For Sugar Man introduced by the producer Simon Chinn complete with red carpet, cocktails and real statuette from the awards! To add to the excellent events of the season, I have organised for my choir the English Chamber Choir to perform at JW3 and I will be singing Handel’s Israel In Egypt with them plus the English Players on period instruments in concert! You can see more information about the concert here.

 


IKTA – my involvement with this pioneering, creative, collaborative, experimental sound group

The coming weeks are hard work for artist and educator Victoria Trinder who is officially launching IKTA (which stands for I Keep Thinking About) the creative, collaborative experimental sound network she founded in 2012. Victoria has been busy all year while on her MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Art & Design where she has been exploring her sound art practice through collaborating with other creatives including designers, musicians, curators and technicians. Victoria will launch IKTA at a VIP party during the private view for the Chelsea College of Art & Design end of course show on 6th September. Below is an introductory film documentary, during which IKTA members including myself talk about the organisation.

Victoria has been building interactive sound objects, sound sculptures, listening posts and instruments to use in recording and manipulating sound ranging from an underwater microphone to a percussive mechanism housed inside an emptied food jar! Victoria uses traditional modes of composition together with experimental improvisation and she also hosts IKTA as an Internet Radio station that acts as a platform for emerging creative voices regardless of age, gender and cultural backgrounds.

IKTA manifesto

IKTA manifesto

IKTA frequently broadcasts experimental sound sessions online and IKTA is active across all the online social media platforms as well as Sound Cloud where tracks are posted for listeners around the world to comment on.

For the IKTA launch, Victoria has been working on creating a special VIP area on the Cookhouse building balcony which will only be accessible to people that IKTA has collaborated with over the past year. It is a celebration of the work of the organisation but the event will also become a performance piece itself, as the VIP party is watched by onlookers in the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground below at Chelsea College of Art & Design during the MA show private view.

IKTA launch for MA show private view at Chelsea College of Art & Design, on the Cookhouse building balcony

IKTA launch for MA show private view at Chelsea College of Art & Design, on the Cookhouse building balcony

There will be special sound performances and recordings being played on the night by IKTA members and throughout the show run and the lead up to it, the space will operate as an open creative, collaborative sound lab for sound experiments, recordings and rehearsals. Victoria has been preparing the area by doing everything from sewing together sails for a canopy in case of rain, putting together hanging baskets of flowers and even a red carpet!

I was lucky enough yesterday to host a live IKTA broadcast and live sound lab in my home where Victoria and I created a sound scape of the IKTA manifesto using saxophone, clarinet and our voices to interpret the text of the manifesto and you can listen to the results below.


I have found being involved in IKTA to be an extremely rewarding experience as IKTA has an open to all policy, meaning that anyone wherever they are based can be involved online or in person and there is no need for any traditional musical training or previous experience of working with experimental sound. IKTA members range from age 17 to those whose practice is based in spatial and technology design or musical education, but all these skills and different backgrounds are united to experiment with sounds together.

Victoria Trinder & Kate Ross during their IKTA live sound lab session

Victoria Trinder & Kate Ross during their IKTA live sound lab session

For me, in my own curatorial practice, I have always been fascinated by the alternative side of music, leading to sound art. So when I met Victoria and months later, when I became curator at Notting Hill Arts Club, I was thrilled to be able to invite IKTA to perform a live sound lab session at the launch of my multi arts series at the venue, which you can read about here.

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Although I am a classically trained singer, IKTA has allowed me to explore a different side to music making which is less rigid and prescribed. I was even convinced to play clarinet which I haven’t done for years and I have also tried experimenting with spoken word! Click here to see a Vine Video of me rediscovering my clarinet and its thanks to IKTA that I’ve started to use Vine too, which is a mobile app owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short video clips.

Here’s to the official launch of IKTA and its future!


DOWNTOWN – SYNESTHESIA II at Notting Hill Arts Club

Announcing DOWNTOWN – the second in the SYNESTHESIA series of visual arts exhibitions with live sounds, moving image and projections, curated by me – Kate Ross.

digital flyer for DOWNTOWN at Notting Hill Arts Club 8th August 2013

digital flyer for DOWNTOWN at Notting Hill Arts Club 8th August 2013

This exhibition brings together work from artists who explore the urban, particularly as realised by the idea of Downtown – the core of a city and its creative heart. However, the artwork in this show is further unified as it relates to an African and specifically Jamaican Downtown of Kingston. The artists whose work is shown in DOWNTOWN have been influenced by Jamaican music, the presence of Jamaican culture in London and its vibrant history which has been brought over from one urban hub to create another.

This exhibition brings together reproduced images of new collages created by Jenny Gordon, photographs and film stills by WhittyGordon Projects from their work in Downtown Kingston, Jamaica and a collection of material collated by Winstan Whitter including flyers, posters and photographs illustrating the story of The Four Aces Club, Dalston.

Artist Jenny Gordon has created new collages for DOWNTOWN which were inspired by sources including nature and found objects such as photographs. Gordon examines concepts of identity, isolation and alienation. Her practice  asks questions about how we inhabit the world both physically and emotionally, by drawing upon her own experiences as a woman of mixed race origin. The resulting negotiations of cultural positioning form the foundation of her enquiry into the dislocations of personal identity and physical belonging. In making these collages, Gordon has enjoyed drawing on her personal memories of visiting the Notting Hill area as a child with her parents and she has also reflected on stories she has been told by them of their experiences of the area during the 1950s when Notting Hill was a hotbed of Jamaican culture.

Clarence - Jenny Gordon, 2013

Clarence – Jenny Gordon, 2013

Whitty Gordon Projects (artists Fiona Whitty & Jenny Gordon) have spent plenty of time exploring the vibrant and bustling urban area that is Downtown Kingston, Jamaica for the past three years. In Kingston, Downtown is the heart of the city where the action happens and creative activity is buzzing on the streets. Downtown is a melting pot of diverse communities – pouring out onto the pavements from dilapidated buildings and all walks of life are seen including carpenters, young artists, street hair dressers, barbers, musicians, nail technicians and street food merchants who artists Whitty and Gordon have met and filmed.

Street side hairdressers in Downtown Kingston, Jamaica. Photograph by WhittyGordon Projects.

Street side hairdressers in Downtown Kingston, Jamaica. Photograph by WhittyGordon Projects.

Printed stills taken from short films and photographs by Whitty Gordon Projects are being displayed in the exhibition DOWNTOWN to evoke something of the Jamaican urban hub that artists Fiona and Jenny experienced and are fascinated by. The gap between Downtown and Uptown is large in many terms and both artists have worked hard with local communities to bridge it through collaborative creative projects.

The Honeys In Traditional African outfits. Straight out of Ben E King’s show at the Four Aces Club in 1969, timeless. Collection of Newton Dunbar, photographer unknown. Image from Winstan Whitter

The Honeys In Traditional African outfits. Straight out of Ben E King’s show at the Four Aces Club in 1969, timeless. Collection of Newton Dunbar, photographer unknown. Image from Winstan Whitter

Film maker and Director of Photography Winstan Whitter started out making skateboarding films in the ‘90s and has since worked on short films, commercials, documentary feature films and music promos for artists including Echo & The Bunny men, Scissor Sisters, Lionel Ritchie and Paul McCartney. In 2008 Whitter shot “Legacy In The Dust: The Four Aces Story’’ which tells the story of one of the first Reggae-oriented music venues – ‘The Four Aces Club’. For some 33 years it was home to the most influential black music and musicians to date. DOWNTOWN exhibition at Notting Hill Arts Club is proud to display a number of printed reproduction images of Whitter’s ‘Four Aces Club’ screen-prints therefore linking shared histories of London nightclubs and Jamaican music.

The exhibition DOWNTOWN tells the story of DOWNTOWN through the eyes of the artists and curator with their joint enriching blend of Jamaican, British, Irish, Ghanaian and Jewish cultures.

Live on the Night – DOWNTOWN

Continuing with the SYNESTHESIA series theme of creating a multi sensory experience, as well as the visual arts exhibition, DOWNTOWN will also feature film, moving image, projections, live music and DJ sets.

A curated selection of short films will be shown on the night of 8th August by a range of artist film makers who respond to the theme of DOWNTOWN whether this is in the sense of urban subject matter or other connected identities. Whitty Gordon Projects will also screen a film they made after collecting material when undertaking In-Between Spaces, a film project based in Kingston Jamaica in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

films by

Conor O’ Grady
Eddie Saint-Jean
Fraser Watson
Gabriel Bisset-Smith
Janina Samoles
Laura Arten
Leona Clinton & Mary Caffrey
Patrick Corcoran
WhittyGordon Projects
Winstan Whitter

Sounds

Integral to the atmosphere of downtown Kingston, Jamaica are the sounds on the streets, produced by musicians and those who organise music nights in the area which artists Fiona Whitty & Jenny Gordon have done there themselves. So, DOWNTOWN exhibition too will be accompanied by music from DJs and bands inspired by Jamaican, African urban sounds.

The Artists

WhittyGordon Projects are Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon. Fiona and Jenny met during their MA  Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 2009. Fiona is Irish and Jenny is British/Jamaican. They received funding to undertake In-Between Spaces, a film project based in Kingston Jamaica in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when made several short films including Yabba Pot, Vincent and Downtown. They formed WhittyGordon Projects in 2011 and have participated in numerous shows in London, Ireland, Jamaica and are currently based in London.

Film maker and Director of Photography Winstan Whitter started out making skateboarding films in the ‘90s and has since worked on short films, commercials, documentary feature films and music promos for artists including Echo & The Bunny men, Scissor Sisters, Lionel Ritchie and Paul McCartney. Whitter also works as a mentor/facilitator on many film making workshops within the educational sector.

Whitty Gordon Projects http://whittygordonprojects.tumblr.com

Jenny Gordon http://jennygordon20.tumblr.com/

Winstan Whitter http://www.winstanwhitter.net/

Please join the Facebook event for the night by clicking here


Brook Green Artists 1890-1940. Exhibition at Hammersmith Library

As I’m lucky enough to live on Brook Green in West London and I’ve been interested in the artistic history of the area, I was very pleased to discover that an exhibition focussing on Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 would be on show at the local Hammersmith Library.

Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 exhibition at Hammersmith Library flyer

Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 exhibition at Hammersmith Library flyer

Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 exhibition at Hammersmith Library flyer (second side)

Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 exhibition at Hammersmith Library flyer (second side)

                              the exhibition organiser, local resident Gilia Slocock explained her motivation behind the exhibition –

 The idea that Brook Green was home to a number of artists and designers at different times, many of whom must have known each other, is a really fascinating one, and one I’ve long been meaning to research further myself.  There are other parts of London (such as Holland Park, or Camden) which are better known as artists’ enclaves, but this area was home to a thriving artistic community too.

When I spoke to Gilia at the exhibition, she said that she decided to see her idea through when she was walking around on Cork Street and saw that there was a Cyril Power print in the window of the Redfern Gallery and so she was inspired by seeing that there is interest in Brook Green artists

Silver Studio Plaque, 84 Brook Green

Silver Studio Plaque, 84 Brook Green

The exhibition displays prints of work by  artists Cyril Power, Sybil Andrews, Leon Underwood and work by Silver Studio. Silver Studio was located at number 84 Brook Green, just a few doors down from where I live and there is a blue plaque up on the wall of the building stating: THE SILVER STUDIO Established here in 1880 ARTHUR SILVER 1853-1896 REX SILVER 1879-1965 HARRY SILVER 1881-1971 Designers lived here.

Silver Studio was an important textile design studio in the UK from 1880 until the middle of the twentieth century. Founded by Arthur Silver, the studio designed some of the most famous fabric, wallpaper, carpet and metalwork designs for companies such as Liberty’s, Turnbull and Stockdale, Sanderson and Warner and Sons Ltd. Below you can see a selection of the Hero design which was designed by Arthur Silver in 1895. It was then sold to Liberty’s of Regent Street who still use it today! These four colourways are for furnishings fabric.

Hero - Silver Studio Design

Hero – Silver Studio Design

In 1901 Silver’s son Reginald (Rex) Silver took over the studio and ran it until 1963. At its most productive, the studio created more than 800 designs per year. The studio was renowned for its distinctive Art Nouveau style, although over the years they produced a wide variety of different designs and styles, including many of the famous “Liberty”-styles. The Silver Studio collection is now housed at Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (MODA) Middlesex University.

Cyril Power - Tube Train c.1934

My favourite images from the exhibition are those  from the 1930s that depict movement, ranging from tube trains and escalators to dancers and skaters. I was reminded of the portrayals of dynamism by Italian Futurists in the early 1900s such as Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà which I love and enjoy encountering at the Estorick Collection in North London.

Cyril Power - The Tube Station c.1932

Cyril Power – The Tube Station c.1932

IMG_20130703_175408

I really enjoyed seeing more Silver Studio designs and felt that the artistic feel of the Brook Green neighbourhood came to life in this exhibition.

Silver Studio designs

Silver Studio designs

There are a couple of days left to see the exhibition at Hammersmith Library which I highly recommend

a view of a section of the Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 exhibition

a view of a section of the Brook Green Artists 1890-1940 exhibition

  • Friday, July 5 – 11am to 4.30pm
  • Saturday, July 6 – 11am to 4.30pm