Tag Archives: Hackney

INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR ANNA BIRCH

As we remember Mary Wollstonecraft throughout September here is a wonderful interview with Professor Anna Birch about the life and legacy of the author of A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman.

Professor Anna Birch Interview

Anna has been a great supporter of Unity Arts and here she was in  April on Newington Green last year giving a talk at our Hackney Dissent event which was celebrating Wollstonecraft’s 260th Birthday.

 

As she mentions during the film her company Fragments & Monuments created WOLLSTONECRAFT WALKS APP  a great outside research activity during these strange times.

The interview was conducted by Ellen Gage one the researchers from the Heritage Team who is currently working on a paper looking at the travel writing of Wollstonecraft.

Ellen wrote a blog about the research, filming an interview process for us here Behind The Scenes With Anna Birch

The film was shot and edited by Neil Webster with the support of the Unity Arts Digital Outputs Team, including Christian Mahier-Smith and is part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project BLUE CIRCLE OF DISSENT.

BLUE CIRCLE OF DISSENT – Update

We are continuing to implement the online research, activities and events measure until September.

We have been busy however.

There have been submissions of responses to the An Essay on The Writings and Genius of Shakespear by Elizabeth Montagu

Here is an example from Priscilla Olympio

Phoebe Monologue – AS YOU LIKE IT

For more info in how to submit these outputs follow this link

Show Us The Genius Of Shakespeare – Elizabeth Montagu Study

We are continuing work on the preparation of STEWY installation at home and delivered paints, felt-tips, and hard copies.

You can download the PDF and we will collect the coloured in sheets after lockdown has been lifted and deliver workshops to complete the piece for exhibition.

Some of our participants made personal solo visits to Wollstonecraft sites on her birthday including laying flowers at her monument at St Pancras Old Church

We partnered with Newington Green Meeting House in their online Wollstonecraft birthday events and supported the launch of the new WOLLSTONECRAFT WALKS APP  by one of our heritage partners,  Fragments & Monuments, in collaboration with Scary Little Girls

We are continuing work on our digital outputs including the edit of the interview with Professor Anna Birch – supported by Neil Webster from Edwin Louis Fear Films. We have started the edit of the book of community produced poetry Hackney Dissent and the heritage booklet Blue Circle Of Dissent.

In addition we are building a YouTube channel containing ALL our filmed outputs over the last 10 years.

Unity Arts YouTube channel

If you need materials or support with your at home research or are new and would like to know more about this project, please contact us via the form below.

Newington Green Online Pandemic Memorial

From our neighbours at New Unity

A participatory online community memorial event to mourn losses from coronavirus in Newington Green will be held on
Sunday 31st May at 4pm
At this event, community members will be able to mourn individuals close to them and those from the wider community who have died from the virus. In addition, other losses and uncertainty caused by the pandemic will also be marked, including job losses and mental health problems.
To attend, register at bit.ly/NewingtonGreenMemorial
The link to join the online video event (through Zoom) will be sent the day before. Up to 500 people may attend and participate.
There will be readings, live music and more.
Bereaved people are invited to get in touch to arrange for the memorial to include a moment of remembrance specifically for their lost loved ones.
The memorial will be hosted by New Unity, a non-religious congregation in Newington Green.
All are welcome.

Urban  Bird  in – Covid 19 by Billy Colvill

From our at home activities, here is a response to where we all find ourselves during lockdown by one of the poets from  Hackney Dissent, Billy Colvill.

Urban  Bird  in- Covid 19

“ Ring-a-ring  of  roses

A  pocketful  of  posies

Atishoo, a tissue?

We  all  full  down.”

This  is  purdah.

Just  spent  my  daily  allowance  of

Essential  journey  time.

I  loiter  at  the  cross-roads

To  my  room

Full  of  possible  intent

But  know  it`s  lockdown  facing  me,

Splendid  isolation.

Have  to  keep  slapping  myself,

“ Wake  up  and  smell  the  coffee.”

I  must  have  been  asleep

When  my  carnival  of  people  passed  on  by.

I  want  my  bumping, bustling, sweaty, shoving,

Rude,  insulting  crowd

Back.

 

Everyone  has  become, “so  kind,”

So  loving,  so  polite.

And  when  those  people

Who  wouldn`t  ordinarily  give  me  the  time  of  day

Say  they  want  to  befriend  me,

It`s  been  my  experience they  want  to  shamelessly  exploit

My  singular  native  English  nostalgic  sentimentality.

Then  there`s  that  class  of  people who

In  the  blink  of  an  eye

Voted  your  wage  rise  down, voted  to

Leave  you  homeless,

They  in  one  voice  speak  through  antiseptic,

Praising  heroes  who  work  a  twelve

And  a  half-hour  shift   at  their  bidding

Without  a  paid  break  or  proper  equipment.

As  if  the  “ heroes”  weren’t  in  danger  enough.

How  our  leaders bang  on  how  much

They  love  and  care  for  the  people,

Stop  it,   my  ears are bleeding

Where`s  your  London  mob  when  you  need  them?

The  riot  of  colour?  The  noise?

What  was  I  moaning  about?

 

Dragging  my  feet  back  to  my  room,

right  now, if  I  had  the  chance

I`d Jump  in   and   join my  herd

For  the  company  and  banter

Even  though  by  all  accounts

My  government  is  leading  the  herd  to  the  abattoir.

The  instruction,

Writ  large  by  the  invisible  hand  of  Capital

For  only  the  privileged  to  see

Based  on  the  witty  professors

Statistical  probability,

The  instruction  is,

That  for  us  the  masses,

The  question, who  lives or dies,

Is  for  us  the  masses,

A  charitable  post-code lottery.

The  invisible  hand  of  Capital

Signs  off;

“ England  is  now  one  big  Grenfell Tower.”

I  swear  on  the  Roman  London  god  of  birds, Janus,

Fuck  it,

Even  after  all  what  my  families  been  through

There  is  still  no  science  for  us,  so  it`s

still  down  to  more

luck  than  judgement.

Back  in  my  room

The  weight  of  the  world  wears  heavy  on  me.

I  think  of  someone,  I  wonder,

Have  they  been  tested  yet?

Billy  Colvill ( One  is  A  Bird. 2020. Billy  Colvill.)

STEWY Installation At Home Activity

Unity Arts have been invited to contribute their installation piece based on the STEWY graffiti art portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft as part of the re-opening of New Unity at Newington Green (where she ran a school for girls).

Originally the artwork was to be installed in New Unity for April and also form part of our event this April 27 on Wollstonecraft’s birthday.

We have had to cancel our Easter workshops when we were to finish the work on the installation but everyone who enjoys colouring in can still do some of the work at home. Especially children. (Colouring in will also lower your blood pressure).

Our work on this piece started on Wollstonecraft’s birthday last year and has since seen contributions from the Dissenter’s Choir,  Hoxton Hall Youth Group, during the Summer Workshops at the Diorama Arts studio and by pupils from William Patten school.

All levels welcome.

                      Newington Green Autumn 2019

Download the Wollstonecraft Timeline with illustrations to learn about why Wollstonecraft is a subject for this project

And the STEWY A4 Colouring in Sheet

Please contact us via the form below and we can keep you posted about the progress of the piece, organise the collection of artwork and of course invite all artists to the opening in September!

 

Show Us The Genius of Shakespeare! ELIZABETH MONTAGU STUDY –

For those of you researching Elizabeth Montagu during lockdown why not make a film of a Shakespeare excerpt!

Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800) was famous in her lifetime as a Shakespeare critic, salon hostess and champion of women’s writing. She is largely attributed for contributing to the veneration of Shakespeare and his subsequent honouring as our National Bard.

Christened “Queen of the Bluestockings” by Samuel Johnson, Montagu attracted the leading writers, politicians and artists of her day to her sparkling London assemblies, where she placed a new emphasis on conversation as a pleasurable and enlightened pursuit.

In response to reading An Essay On The Writings And Genius Of Shakespear

  • Intro yourself and add “This is a contribution to the Unity Arts Project – BLUE CIRCLE OF DISSENT”
  • Select your favourite quote from the  Montagu essay and open with that
  • Follow with a recitation of your favourite Shakespeare piece. (2 mins).
  • If you have the tech include this logo in your credits
  • Send us via a vimeo or you tube link in the form below and we will put on our website and youtube channel!

For additional background research you can also read her letters  here at Elizabeth Montagu Letters

Looking forward to hearing and seeing you!

STEWY Installation Workshops – Easter

New Unity at Newington Green is re-opening later this month.

On April 24 and 25 they will be holding various events called

Mary Wollstonecraft and Dissent: A Celebration

and Unity Arts have been invited to contribute their installation piece based on the STEWY graffiti art portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Our work on this piece started on Wollstonecraft’s birthday last year and has since also been worked on by the Dissenter’s Choir,  Hoxton Hall Youth Group, during the Summer Workshops at the Diorama Arts studio and by pupils from William Patten school.

In order to complete the work earlier than initially planned (October) we will be holding some Open House art workshops over the Easter break in St Mary’s Community Centre in Hackney. 

All levels welcome.

Please register interest in the form below

 

ABNEY PARK RECEIVES £4.4M GRANT

There is fantastic news for one of our long standing  heritage partners!

Hackney Council have announced the successful bid for funds. Abney Park’s historic chapel will be brought back into use as a venue after Hackney Council was awarded £4.4m by the National Lottery to improve the park.

The funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund will also see major work to the rest of the gothic cemetery – one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ – including a new cafe and classroom at the park’s main entrance and a new accessible entrance on Church Street, which will encourage more visitors to the park to enjoy its history and biodiversity.


As part of the improvements, an environmentally friendly heat pump will be installed in the park to provide heat and hot water to the park’s new buildings.

This local gem has seen us research Music Hall stars like Nelly Power and George Leybourne and most recently Abney Park created the Mary Hays Tour to support our project  BLUE CIRCLE OF DISSENT

More info at  Hackney Council

and at Abney Park

CONGRATULATIONS!

Behind the Scenes: Filming an Interview with Professor Anna Birch

Having graduated from university in 2018, I thought my research days were behind me. However, an exciting opportunity to dust off my research skills arose when Lil Warren, Heritage Outcomes Manager at Unity Arts, told me of their latest project Blue Circle of Dissent. This National Lottery Funded project focusses on the lives, work, and circles around Mary Wollstonecraft and Blue Stockings Society leader Elizabeth Montagu.

My first independent assignment was to interview Wollstonecraft expert Professor Anna Birch for a short documentary film. Anna is the director of Fragments & Monuments, a company which creates performance and film work about the life and legacy of Wollstonecraft.

As I discovered, most of the work for producing a filmed interview takes place off-camera; this blog is to give you a behind-the-scenes insight into the process.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
I began by asking myself a question: what did I already know about Mary Wollstonecraft? Answer: that she was Mary Shelley’s mother, and that she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), marking her as the first British feminist. There was a lot more to discover…
I read about Wollstonecraft and made notes on what I wanted to know more about. I became particularly intrigued by her travels: she went to live in France in 1792 – when the turbulent revolution was well underway – and travelled to Scandinavia in 1795 to recover a stolen ship in an attempt to win back her former lover.

In a series of meetings with Lil and the Digital Outputs Team, we decided that the interview with Anna would focus on Wollstonecraft as the pioneering female travel writer. I had also learnt three tips for filming day: don’t wear stripes, wear make-up, and wear bright colours. My monochromatic wardrobe struggled with this third tip, but as a wise man once said: two out of three ain’t bad.

When turning my research into questions, I wanted to create a narrative structure to help the interview flow. The questions would begin by setting the scene, asking Anna about her work and involvement with Wollstonecraft. Then we would turn to Wollstonecraft’s travels to France and Scandinavia, and finally her personal life and legacy, concluding with my favourite question: ‘what do you think Wollstonecraft would make of society today?’. With the questions finalised on paper, it was now time to bring them to life.

Lights, Camera…
Of course, I wasn’t working on this interview day alone. Lil was directing, Neil Webster from Edwin Louis Fear Films and Christian Smith were filming, and Sarah Warren was Production Assistant. On filming day, we met for a briefing before walking to Anna’s house (where we would have arrived earlier if my walking pace could match a Londoner’s!).

While Neil and Christian set up the filming equipment, Anna took Lil, Sarah and me up to her library for coffee. Although set-up took longer than anticipated (about an hour), it gave Anna and I valuable time to get to know each other off-screen. We had been to the same university, so we talked about its theatre scene and the lack of female writers on the reading lists, before moving on to Anna’s work with Fragments and Monuments. Anna and the company challenge the traditionally held definition of a monument as something static: they create living, dynamic ‘monuments’ to Wollstonecraft, such as walks that enable participants to trace Wollstonecraft’s footsteps in Stoke Newington. It struck me that our short film would also be a moving monument to the writer.

…Action!
With the all-clear from the crew, Anna and I took our seats at her kitchen table, under two fabulous STEWY prints of Wollstonecraft. Neil and Christian had set up two cameras ‘Parky style’: one at the front of the table with both of us in shot, and one behind my left shoulder for close-up shots of Anna – shots that I kept ‘dirtying’ by inadvertently moving into view!
We wanted the conversation to feel natural, so I listened carefully to Anna’s answers and would pick up on something she had said to link to the following question. Our time spent chatting beforehand really helped during the interview as it felt like a continuation of our conversation upstairs. This rapport translated onto the screen: Sarah said that we looked like we had known each other for years!

We filmed the interview in one take, pausing only once for Neil to reset his camera.  After wrapping, we had a post-interview debrief at the Luminary Bakery, and I then walked with Sarah to Newington Green to visit Wollstonecraft’s former stomping ground (and future site of her memorial sculpture).

“That’s a wrap” doesn’t signal the end of working on the film, as the editing process is just beginning.

Taking part in the interview was a wonderful experience that combined independent research with working as part of a team, all to create a work that will be shared with a wider audience. It was inspiring to meet passionate and knowledgeable creatives, and intellectually stimulating to research and discuss such a fascinating female figure.

I’m greatly looking forward to seeing the finished film, and to working with Unity Arts further on Blue Circle Of Dissent.

Ellen Gage

Location Photos by Christian Maier Smith

HERITAGE FILM TRAINING

Unity Arts are creating a series of short documentaries for the National Lottery Funded BLUE CIRCLE OF DISSENT.

 

Following workshops and training in the spring and summer The Digital Outputs team, with professional support and mentoring from Edwin Louis Fear Films and Meddle Films, were part of the crew that produced HACKNEY DISSENT

During the coming months we will be training, writing and shooting more footage for these documentaries including interviewing experts like Professor Anna Birch.

with an eventual project output of an installation film for our exhibition in Hackney in November 2020.

Please contact us via the form below if you would like to learn more about interviewing experts, writing scripts for documentaries, how to choose relevant underscoring, helping the edit when shooting.

There will be opportunities to be part of the crew and gain credits and work for portfolios.

All levels of experience welcome!!!!