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.

 


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


OPEN CALL – Short Films & material for projections for DOWNTOWN – SYNESTHESIA II at Notting Hill Arts Club

WhittyGordon Projects (artists Fiona Whitty, Jenny Gordon) and Kate Ross (curator – Notting Hill Arts Club)  are inviting submissions of short (under 5 minute) films on the theme of DOWNTOWN.

DOWNTOWN is inspired by the vibrant and bustling urban area of Kingston, Jamaica, where WhittyGordon have been initiating projects for the past three years.

We are looking for films by artist/filmmakers to respond to the theme of DOWNTOWN, which can cover all aspects of inner city life and urban subject matter. We are also looking for images (of artworks, stills from films or specially designed work – not moving images) that will work well as projections for the night at Notting Hill Arts Club to enhance the DOWNTOWN atmosphere.

The films along with other artworks, curated by Kate Ross (Curatorial Curiosities), will be shown at Notting Hill Arts Club on August 8th 2013 as part of a show reel at 8pm. DOWNTOWN is the theme for SYNESTHESIA II – the second in a new visual arts, sound and moving image series for Notting Hill Arts Club curated by Kate Ross. Wall based art works and the films will be accompanied by music from DJs and bands inspired by Jamaican, African urban sounds.

Information on the SYNESTHESIA series can be seen at http://www.nottinghillartsclub.com/exhibition

For more information on Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon who are WhittyGordon Projects, see http://www.whittygordon.tumblr.com

Please email curatorialcuriosities@gmail.com with your submission by Monday 15th July

The Curator Kate Ross (Curatorial Curiosities) is an independent curator who has worked extensively in art galleries, museums and higher education. Curating contemporary art, design, sound art exhibitions working with a particular interest in non-gallery spaces, she is currently curator at Notting Hill Arts Club and also works at CHELSEA space gallery. Kate is also a keen arts blogger and writes exhibition reviews. www.kateross.org

The final decision is that of the artists and curator. We regret that we will not be able to show all films as we have a limited time frame to screen the show reel. We look forward to hearing from you – Fiona, Jenny and Kate.


Photography, Film, Design & Soundart. PhD show Research in progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices, London College of Communication

Working at Chelsea College of Art & Design allows me to access activities which take place across the six colleges that make up University of the Arts, London. I made my first visit to London College of Communication (LCC) to see an exhibition of LCC PhD research student work in photography, film design and soundart. The show is called Research in progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices and the catalogue for the exhibition can be viewed online, here. One of the participants in the show is sound artist Tansy Spinks, who I worked with on a sound piece that I wrote about in this post.

Since the exhibition was spread around the college, seeing it was a great way for me to get to know the LCC site which is huge and made up of some interesting spaces like the Tower Block, the Well and the Atrium as shown below, which reminds me of the Guggenheim Museum building in New York.

the Atrium at London College of Communication

I was fascinated by the range of subjects that are being studied and researched into, in such depth and I was most interested in work that linked various media. Here are some of the pieces that I was most drawn to from the exhibition.

Magz Hall is a sound and radio artist conducting a practice based PhD in Radio Art. Her piece in the exhibition was shown in a small cupboard sized room, with a black curtain instead of a door to keep the light out. On a blank wall, images were projected with sound clips from radio transmissions. A leitmotif that returned throughout was the theme of The Radio of The Future. Magz considers radio art and explores the relationship between the artist and technology and the role of the artist as mediator between the broadcast institutions and the listening public. The artist also explores the idea of how radio has changed from a shared ‘live’ event to one consumed ‘on demand’ by a fragmented audience. An interactive touch to her piece, was the book left on the side, where visitors could leave feedback and write a radio message using the code she had left on the wall.

still shot from Magz Hall's film concerning radio art

still shot from Magz Hall's film concerning radio art

Magz Hall's book inviting viewers to write a radio message

Magz Hall's book inviting viewers to write a radio message

Magz Hall's table for radio message coding

Magz Hall's table for radio message coding

I was intrigued by Rob Mullender’s work and for the exhibition he had displayed what I would like to describe as ‘sound pictures’ which are both fascinating and beautiful to look at which definitely adds to their appeal. Rob is exploring the best way to record an object and has used a rubbing or frottage technique, allowing an object to write itself using itself, creating an exploratory imprint. The end result takes inspiration from drawing, mark making, photography and other media.

an example of Rob Mullender's exploratory imprints

an example of Rob Mullender's exploratory imprints

Finally, looking at work from Tansy Spinks that she included in the exhibition. Tansy is a skilled violin player and in the exhibition, she showed a film of her playing a violin that was given to her with the bridge piece missing. In this still shot from the film, she has replaced the bridge piece, with a mobile telephone and in the film it was replaces with a variety of other unexpected objects.

 

Tansy Spinks playing violin using a mobile phone as the missing bridge part

Tansy Spinks playing violin using a mobile phone as the missing bridge part

I also discovered the wonderful Special Collections connected to the library at London College of Communication, but that’s a story for another post soon…