‘A Year to Inspire’ inspiring others

I always love finding new blogs as you enter into other people’s worlds as they share parts of their life with you. One blog in particular that has really stood out for me this year is A Year To Inspire. The premise is to keep a journal for a year and that on each day you have a prompt, an idea, that you explore.

Stephanie and Annetta decided to go on this journey and it’s been really fascinating gaining an insight into their lives, thoughts, aspirations and creativity.

One of the things that really strikes me about their blog is just how creative they are and how beautiful each page of their journals are. Each page is stunningly crafted, unique and portrays a new part of their personality every day. It seems like such a creative outlet, a chance to try new techniques and challenge yourself to be creative every single day.

From the silly prompts such as ‘which fairytale character or Disney princess would you be?‘ to the more serious ‘what are your aspirations?‘ each day is intriguing. The care and attention these two women put into the journals is impressive… and it sort of makes you want to join in too!

Prompt: Write a list of books on your 'to read' list.

Prompt: Write a list of books on your ‘to read’ list.

We will remember them

For anyone not in the UK who has not heard,Poppies in remembrance of the centenary of the start of World War I a huge installation has been growing over the past two months in the moat of the Tower of London, a sea of poppies, 888,246, one for each of the British soldiers lost in the war. The poppies were created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and the setting designed by stage designer Tom Piper.

On Friday evening I made the journey to the Tower to see the poppies. By the time I arrived the sun had set, so it was under floodlights that I saw them. The scale of the installation is what is so astounding as the entire tower is surrounded, flooding the area in a sea of red. The differing heights of the poppies adds another element as they form waves as you walk past, and the tears that spill out from the tower itself is a very moving touch.

The tears

The good news is that they have decided to keep these sections intact until the end of November, allowing more people to see them, rather than take down the installation on Wednesday as originally planned. It was astonishing how many people crammed into the small walkways to see the poppies and I can only imagine how many thousands of people have made a special trip to the site since the poppies were first planted.

There has been a lot of debate recently, brought about by the publicity given the poppies of the tower, as to how the symbol of a poppy is now perceived. For me, and many others, the poppy is a symbol of remembrance. It reminds us of all those who lost their lives in service to their country, in the world wars and in every war. It is a reminder of everything we lost, and everything we maintained, and that there are still soldiers and their families who need help and support. To think it as anything else is, I think, to miss the point entirely.

Unknown Soldier

Unknown soldier3Also on Friday a brass statue of the Unknown Soldier was unveiled in Trafalgar Square as part of the Every Man Remembered campaign, commemorating the 1,117,077 men and women of the Commonwealth who fell during World War I. The figure stands tall with poppies fluttering and falling around him, a very poignant display. I was particularly struck by the soldier having his eyes closed as it seems to invoke a sense of self reflection and remembrance. The sculpture, a collaboration with artist Mark Humphrey, will be in place until 16th November before going on tour around the UK for the next four years.

Both the poppies at the Tower of London and the Every Man Remembered sculpture are remarkable reminders of all those lost in the First World War, and mark the centenary with understated poignancy.

IFMK:2014 Casus & The Iron Man

Casus are an Australian contemporary circus company whose acrobatics are simply sensational. Their show Knee Deep has you sitting on the edge of your seat, holding your breath and breathing deep sighs of relief every three seconds. It’s a thrilling show.

Set in the Spiegeltent, the stage was a plain square in the centre of the tent with the audience seated all around the stage. Being so close to the action was incredible as every tiny movement could be seen in detail. I can not tell you how many times the audience gasped at the feats unfolding before their eyes because I was too busy gasping with them…

There are no sets, no complex costumes, no speech. The performers are all extremely expressive both through their movements and their faces, telling a story beautifully. I won’t attempt to describe the incredible aerial feats and acrobatics. I will only encourage you to take a look at their website and to go see one of their shows. You won’t be disappointed… but you may think you’ve having heart failure at moments… it’s not for the faint-hearted but go see them anyway!Iron Man

The second show I’d like to talk about is Graeae Theatre Company‘s adaptation of the classic children’s tale, The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. A cast of deaf and disabled actors and musicians introduce the characters initially, teaching the audience the signs for them. Then through a combination of music, signing and audio description the story unfolds.Iron Man Hand

The wonderful Iron Man is a 5 metre tall moving giant, operated by two actors, that helps to save the world! Children absolutely love this show and it works perfectly as an outdoor event. The festival had placed the show in the bowl at Willen Lake, forming a wonderful performance space that enabled MKPA Iron Maneveryone to have a good view. The cast also allowed children to meet the giant afterwards and this went down an absolute storm.

Despite being a children’s show, adults loved it as well! The tale is so well told and the Iron Man so engaging that the performance flew past! The show  inspired kids to make their own Iron Man at the MK Play Association workshop!

It was truly wonderful to see people inspired by the performances they saw, particularly seeing children engaged with theatre, taking the story away with them and allowing their imaginations to take over. The festival catered to so many different people of all ages with varying interests which was wonderful to see!

IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2014 – The Introduction

This wonderful festival takes place in Milton Keynes every two years. It started in 2010, so it’s not been running for a huge amount of time, and yet it is achieving spectacular results! I was fortunate enough to be involved in 2012 when I stumbled across the volunteer shout out and thought what the heck? I might as well give it a go.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The catch line is 10 Amazing Days and I can tell you they spoke the truth. I was lucky enough to be a steward on several different projects, performances and installations. The one I spent the most time on was The Boat Project, part of the 2012 cultural olympiad. This was a boat, named Collective Spirit, built of of memories. People from across the country, including Milton Keynes, have donated wooden objects and every piece had been used in some way in the boat. It was incredible and the crew and the stories they told were inspirational. I had caught the festival bug and I wasn’t letting go.

Fast forward 2 years and I was suddenly working on the festival having joined The Stables, who produce the festival, as their Marketing Intern.

Milton Keynes International Festival just keeps going from strength to strength, and the range of events on offer this year was incredibly special. From the beautiful dance sequence of Under The Vaulted Sky, to the eerie beds of The Lock Shift Songs, to the wonderful acts livening up the evenings in the Spiegeltent, everything seemed to buzz with energy.

I was very fortunate in that I was able to see so many of the artists and projects throughout the 10 days, and now that the summer is over and my internship is creeping closer to it’s end, I’d like to reflect on the festival and share some of my favourite moments with you guys. So that’s what I’m going to go. Over the next 2 or 3 days (depending on how much I rant and rave about things) I hope I can share with you some of the magic of the festival.

From volunteering on the festival 2 years ago, to working on it this time, I have learnt so much and been so inspired. I would urge everyone to take an hour or so out of their schedules and research your local areas for arts events going on and get involved. It can be so rewarding and you never know what will crop up or what it will lead to. You won’t regret it.

Ambition, Goals and OYAP

A few months ago my mum and I were talking about being ambitious when she asked me,

“Do you think you’re ambitious?”

And I of course said,

“Errrrrr…”

Nice one Charlotte.

It’s a difficult question to answer because you have to really think about whether you are actively ambitious. I think there’s quite a difference between dreaming whimsically about what you’d like to do, and actively pursuing your goals. After a little more thought I decided that yes, I do think I’m ambitious, I’m just not certain about how I’m going to achieve my goals.

What are your goals?

Where do you aspire to be?

What dreams do you have?

It all comes back to ambition and how big you let yourself dream…

I am now most of the way through my internship at The Stables and yet the question “What will you do next?” STILL stumps me as I just don’t know yet. There are so many directions I could take, it’s just finding the right one.

My Audacious Goal

This is something Pete Mosley asked us to consider in our final OYAP Young Leaders’ session.

Three little words.

My audacious goal.

Not just ‘my goal’. ‘Audacious’ adds a whole other element. It asked us to think further, rather than just play it safe. Pete is great at getting us to stretch our thinking and quantify it, give it a time frame for example.

The concept of a comfort zone is something we are all familiar with and for a lot of people stick to it. It’s easy, reliable and safe. However Pete spoke about working outside our comfort zone every day. This in turn becomes your comfort zone so take another step, and another…

John Pepin also spent part of the day with us talking through some social enterprise ideas. This definitely tied in with Pete’s session as it gave us all confidence to voice our ideas to eachother and discuss them critically, therefore giving us more confidence to take that away and build on it, maybe actually launching it.

Ambition vs. Confidence vs. Procrastination

We have to define what we want to achieve, have the confidence to go for it, and conquer procrastination in order to really stand a chance at reaching our audacious goals.

There is so much that I will take away from the sessions we’ve had over the course of the Stepping Up programme. It’s not just the sessions though, it’s the people!

OYAP Young Leaders

It has been wonderful working with such a talented group of young artists. We are all so different and will travel in different directions. However I feel like we’ve built a strong connection since January, a network of like-minded young people in the arts sector and that is invaluable. I still have a few things to achieve for OYAP Stepping Up so in the words of C.S. Lewis,

“Courage, dear heart.”