What is a Poet? – #14SecondPoem Movement

15 Mar

Poetry in Motion

competition poster

What is a Poet?

#14SecondPoem Competition

Think, Shoot, Contribute!

Answer the question above to take part and open up a global discussion about the role of a Poet in Society. 

On Twitter

1) Shoot a 14-second poetry film in Black and White (shot with a plain white or black background)

2) Upload it to Youtube.

3) Tweet us to enter the competition, including @NajmaHush and the hashtags #14SecondPoem #WhatisaPoet?

E.g.: Hey @NajmaHush, here’s my contribution to the #14SecondPoem for #WhatisaPoet?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obj_SyM7yS4 

On Instagram

1) Shoot a 14-second poetry film.

2) Upload it and tag us: @photogiraffelive, hashtag #WhatisaPoet? and  #14SecondPoem

E.g.: Hey @PhotoGiraffe,  here’s my contribution to the #14SecondPoem for #WhatisaPoet?

 

Rules

Submissions close at midnight on Wed 1st June 2016. All entries must be in by this time.

One entry per person.

We’ll announce the winner on Monday 6th June 2016.

What you’ll win

  • All entries will be contributing towards the ‘What is a Poet? Project, opening up a global debate, to provide a wider community of artists to get seen and heard.

 

  • 21 winners will be selected to be included in the short film, What is Poet?, to be exhibited at Poetry Festivals in the UK and abroad (locations and release dates to be announced soon).
What is a Poet? movie poster

What is a Poet? movie poster

What is a Poet? – A Film Dedicated to Poets

14 Mar

PhotoGiraffe Production are very pleased to announce the forth coming release of our debut short film.  Written in poetic verse, ‘What is a Poet?’  has been created to celebrate poetry as an inclusive form of art that is currently thriving with people rich in diversity, dedicated to sharing their experience with anyone human enough to contemplate, the bitter sweet complexities of life.

 

What is a Poet? - Film poster

What is a Poet? – Film poster

 

 ‘What is a Poet?’ seeks to highlight how poetry can be found in a variety of people, places, methods and practices; from musicians to painters and supermarkets to mountain tops.  This film has been created as a beacon of inspiration to remind all those who appreciate and create poetry, that what they do is a significant and powerful contribution towards the understanding of human nature and thus can affect the evolution of humankind.

Written, produced and directed by Najma Hush as a collaborative performance piece.  Starring Femi Abidogun, Glyn Phillips, Kate Walton, Leah Atherton and Marcia Calame, who have all contributed individually to the film by writing their own introduction, representing the large minority of a great number of Spoken Word Artists from the West Midlands, UK and sending out a message of love to all the poets around the world, this film is simply poetry in motion.

Read our questions and answers from Najma Hush about the film and learn more about the exciting news on how you can also contribute towards this on-going project to promote Poets and Poetry.

Behind the Scene: Najma Hush, Byrone Nicholson & Leah Atherton

Q & A with Najma Hush 

 

What was your inspiration for the film?

On National Poetry Day (Nov’2014), I couldn’t see the point of going out to celebrate, because at the time it seemed to me that the only people who went to poetry performance events were poets who wanted to perform their own poems and whom also made up the majority of the audience.  In this respect, I felt quite disillusioned by my role in society as a poet and wanted to explore why human beings wrote poetry and its function in arts and humanity.  Despite my more sombre mood at the time, the first draft of the poem was far more inspirational than I had anticipated and the idea to use the work as a collaborative piece was born.

 

How did the film get off the ground? What was the process of getting the film made?

After completing the final version of the poem, the driving force dependent on turning this script into a short film, was gaining the support of other poets whom I was already acquainted with and had either collaborated or worked alongside before, because although the film has been created to promote poets and poetry, effectively the script is a poem which has been written by a poet who is approaching other poets to memorise and recite her words, when they have their own which they would naturally prioritise.   Also, the film has been created on shoe string budget and therefore the performers were called to star in the film for the love of poetry alone, with an earnest promise to feast heartily upon my mother’s delicious home cooking whilst on the job.

 

 

Behind the Scene: Najma Hush, Byrone Nicholson & Marcia Calame

 

 How long was the shoot and where was it?

I was lucky enough to be affiliated with a young publishing house with their own art studio and art gallery (Mapseeker Publishing Ltd), where I was formally a poet in residence.  They kindly allowed me to use their space and I also hired locally upon occasion.  As the shooting of the film took 4 days to complete, it was spread out over the course of 4 months.  Initially having accumulated the support of 16 poets, near the end this number whittled down to 5 professional actors who were passionate about the cause and dedicated to the same vision despite their own busy schedules and various work commitments.

 

What have you learnt since completing your first short film and how will it help you to improve and make more? 

I learnt a lot about the preparation that goes into pre-production in order to co-ordinate and organise the shooting of a film.  And also about how a director must have precise vision for every single scene from start to finish, paying great attention to detail.  As well as how a good producer should execute every task in fine detail at the event of each shoot.   I am pleased to have learnt how to plan each shot using storyboards, just by making this very simple film.  I have also learnt the value of clearly communicating aims, objectives and roles with all parties involved, as well as the great importance of covering all legal issues with well documented agreements.

I loved directing the performances and coming from a background in dance and fashion photography, I found shooting film , very similar to photography only with equal attention to sound and movement, as well as the visuals.  I believe that this will help me create more cinematic poetry films which will improve the cinematography of any forthcoming poetography videos.  Up-till-date, my work has been more reliant on my photography and videography skills with an emphasis in the quality of the spoken word and therefore may be lacking cinematic attention.

The second biggest challenge and the largest asset I have gained whilst making this film, is sound and visual editing skills, prior to which I had little knowledge and learnt at a reasonable rate through practice, post production.  This has given me more confidence to consider making more dynamic and ambitious poetography films in the near future, which I am already passionate about creating.

 

Behind the Scene - Byrone Nicholson & Najma Hush

Behind the Scene – Byrone Nicholson & Najma Hush

 

Tell us about the soundtrack for this short film and the reasons behind your choice?

As there are two sections to this film, there are only two sound tracks, both of which are licensed under Creative Commons, Attribution (3.0).  For the first half, the music is an uplifting, contemporary piece called, SunBirds by CoCrew (http://ccmixter.org/  (2012)).  With its relaxing hip-hop beat, Sunbirds gives the introduction a modern, urban feel, separating it from the second half which features  Fredrick Chopin’s, Nocturnes no. 1 Op. 9 by Florence Robineau, (https://commons.wikimedia.org/ 2013)),  a  timeless classic,  picked in direct contrast to the introductory piece as I felt that the tone and texture of this composition complimented the emotional dynamics of the poem well.

Ever since I began to appreciate Chopin’s music I noted the varying intonations in his compositions imitating the phonetic aspects of human speech and after further research I was delighted to learn that Chopin was in fact, a sound poet who magnificently composed ‘verse without words’ in his arrangements.   Thereafter, my mind had been made up to use his work alone and set myself the challenge of listening to various playbacks of the film’s audio accompanied by his symphonies; in terms of its mood, I felt that Nocturnes no. 1 Op. 9 matched the verbal intonation of the poem best.  With its focus upon sound as much as visuals, simplicity has been the main prerogative of this film to draw emphasis on the richness of its discourse.

 

Where should we expect to see your short film?

‘ What is a Poet?’ will be screened at Literature and Poetry festivals all over the UK and similar festivals abroad with release dates to be announced soon.  I have also created an online #WhatisaPoet?  campaign, inviting poets from all around the world to contribute globally towards this film by submitting their own black and white short film a #14SecondPoem in response to the question ‘What is a Poet?’ This will expand the spirit of the whole project by giving poets a chance to think and respond to this question, opening up a global debate to provide a wider community of artists to get seen and heard.  In this way I anticipate the project will expand and the film will also progress as the best 21 clips from the campaign will be compiled to make an extra 5min feature to be screened as part of the short film (#WhatisaPoet?  #14secondpoem @Twitter, Instagram).

Think Shoot Contribute

#WhatisaPoet? #14Second Poem

 

As you may have already noted, this is a very interdependent project, with a communal objective, which has been and still is dependant upon other Poets taking part and would not have been possible without the people who have contributed towards the making of this film.  Here’s a bit more about the incredible Spoken Word Artists as well as members of the crew, who have already dedicated their time and effort – all for the love of Poetry with the same view to promote the Poet’s job as an important role within our society.

 

 About the Cast

 

Femi Abidogun Femi Abidogun (Poet, Performer):  A West Midlands-based poet and writer, who has two published collections of poetry –That Long Walk (2015) and Blonde Grass (2012) both originally published by Thynks Publications Ltd, Nottingham.  His writings have also been showcased in a number of anthologies and publications.

He has performed to a variety of audiences including literary events and festivals, as well as on radio.  He is a member of literary groups such as Writers Without Borders and The Poetry Society.

Apart from writing, he enjoys reading, travelling, music and sports.  Femi believes poetry is all about expression and as such, the opportunity presented by the production of “What is A Poet” was just one further great way to do just that.  He says he thoroughly enjoyed every minute of its filming which he describes as a “unique experience worthy of being proud of”.

 

Glyn PhillipsGlyn Phillips (Poet, Performer):  A Poet / Musician / Radio Presenter / DJ.  Surprisingly, Glyn Phillips only came out of his literary shell about two years ago after decades as a percussionist and DJ – and latterly a world music radio presenter. Tired of being ‘in the dark at the back of the band’, Glyn decided to finally get centre stage with his own joyful yet anarchic wordplay and exuberant yet meticulous wordsmithery. Glyn’s theatrical delivery and desire to engage an audience means that each performance is just that: a true performance!

Glyn works in a bewildering array of subjects and styles from heart-rending social observations and political rants to comic vignettes and whimsical tales. An acute social conscience, a love of words, an ear for sounds and an eye for the ridiculous has led him to produce poetry, songs and spoken word pieces that have taken audiences on a journey from emotionally painful recognition to raucous laughter in just one session.

Whatever you do, watch out for his ‘chap-hopping’ alter ego, Mr Armitage Spode, who is likely to jump up (at entirely inappropriate moments) and indulge himself in more ribald innuendo than you could squeeze into a burlesque dancer’s corset…

Glyn has written a 190 page book of poems, Still Life (2015), and a short story, The Tale of the Magic Soup Stone (2015), published by Food for Thought (2016).

 

Kate WaltonKate Walton (Poet, Performer)Performance poet, lyrical true life storyteller, workshop facilitator and StoryTramp, ‘One woman’s poetical mission’ to unravel the mysteries and create legends through the art of sharing stories and reconnecting with the people and poetics of life.

Slam winning poet and shortlisted by BASE as Outstanding Newcomer to Storytelling in 2013, Kate has enjoyed success with ‘I Am Blackbird’, her transformational one woman show and is currently working on her second solo show ready for 2017.

Taking inspiration from her own adventures and the people she meets along the way, Kate mixes light with shade to combine her well-crafted lines and natural performance style to engage with audiences and offer a gentle reflection through her journey of life.

Kate is currently involved in a number of projects throughout the UK, from performing with the itinerant troupe, Flashlight True-life Storytellers in Birmingham, a regular teller at Natural Born Storytellers in London, one of many Tribal Voices that keep the green field festival fires burning brightly and Co-founder and host of Wild Words and Wisdom, an intimate evening of poetry, story and song for women in Hertfordshire.

Kate is passionate about the sharing of wisdom and as such her ongoing project StoryTramp often takes her out on the road in search of stories, people and the ultimate of human experience.

 

Leah AthertonLeah Atherton (Poet, Performer):   A linguist, poet and spoken word artist, hailing from the windswept Devon coast, Leah blew ashore in red brick country in 2006 and has been actively involved with the local spoken word circuit for the last 2 years.

Having spent her formative years scribbling stories and poems in the back of school exercise books and old envelopes, Leah’s love of poetry caught up to her as a postgraduate student at Oxford, where she began honing her craft in earnest.

She has since headlined at poetry and music nights including Sunplugged, Howl and Stirchley Speaks. A vocal advocate on social justice issues, her work has been featured at a number of events combining art and activism, including the Amo: LoveISexhibition at Birmingham Art Gallery; Amnesty International’s satellite event 16 Days of Activism: Women Unplugged; and the Critical Conditions: Calais photo exhibition launch at Impact Hub Birmingham.

Bringing her unique brand of quiet observation and raw honesty to her poetry, she weaves together the wildness of the landscapes she calls home with the joy and heartache of the everyday. She is a firm believer that magic is never lost, only forgotten.

 

Marcia CalameMarcia Calame (Poet, Performer):  Poet and Spoken Word Artist who has performed in places such as: Glastonbury Poetry and Words, International Women’s Day, Black History Month, Youth Theatre and Education and is also a mentor for aspiring youths.

 

Marcia is a diverse and dynamic Poet, both on stage and on page, for all ages; with poems included in many anthologies. Such poems like, ‘A sense of touch’ representing the Midlands-Poetry for the people by the people; and ‘Rippled Splendour,’ which received the Editors choice Award. Marcia is part of the ten writers collaboration of the Midlands, which is included in the Anthology, Celebrate Wha (Smokestack 2011), where you will find her poems such like: Speak English and Going Dutch.   Living in Birmingham, UK, Marcia is currently working on the completion of her new book.

 

Najma HushNajma Hush (Writer, Director, Producer): Master of Media and Creative Arts; a published poet and photographer who also combines the two mediums to create an emerging genre of art, which she terms ‘Poetography’, a concept which she has developed over the course of time since 2013.  With her first exhibition as a Poetographer at Walsall Arts Festival (Dec, 2014), Hush has considerably evolved her practice from creating silent photographic animations in combination with poetic texts to short poetic films, heavily featuring performing artists using videographic images, alongside spoken word all synchronised harmoniously to music.

Former Artist in residence at Arts4ArtSake (Custard Factory, 2013) and former Poet in Residence at Mapseeker Publishing Studio & Art Gallery (Aldridge, 2014), she has had her fine Art Photographic works exhibiting in various locations around the West Midlands, whilst also organising her own monthly Exhibition for Exhibitionists events (2013/2014) providing a platform for other Poets and Musicians to perform at the opening for her art exhibitions.  Presently whilst expanding upon her Poetography experiments to contribute to an emerging genre of moving digital literature, (watch Youtube @ Najma Hush) she is working on her debut Poetography book as well the release of her first short film ‘What is a Poet’ starring five other Spoken Word Artists.

About the Crew

Byrone Nicholson

Byrone Nicholson (Lighting, Sound and Camera Operator):  Video editor and camera operator with a BA Honours in Media Productions, his background stems from creating films within the format of documentary and the making of music videos. Producer of his own film, ‘Born to Fish’ (released, 2014), a short documentary summarizing how one man’s passion for a sport can influence, not only his own life, but the lives of those whom he teaches.

Previously the official camera and sound operator for Walsall Arts Festival (2014) Nicholson’s already enjoys the diversity in art and has worked with many live spoken word and street artists.  The, ‘What is a Poet’ project further enhanced his opportunity to apply the skills he’s learnt, but also show his greater fondness of poetry.

Nicholson is currently working with the Sikh channel and wishes to continue learning and working with diverse cultures, whilst also creating or collaborating on unique projects that bring forth positivity and knowledge.

 

Studio Management Team

Soombul Rafique (Floor Manager):  Usually an executive legal clerk by day, Soombul worked as a volunteer on set responsible for passing on cues to the director communicating with all cast and crew to ensure timings were met and filming went smoothly so that shooting went according to the set plan

 Rhi Rhi Khanum (Sound Supervisor):  Usually working behind the camera as a model on several projects with photographers, stylists and makeup artist, Rhi Rhi worked for the first time on a film set as a volunteer to provide assistance, working closely alongside Nicholson and following his instructions regarding sound.

Reshma Khunum (Script Supervisor): An undergraduate student of Media, Reshma worked on set as a volunteer Script Supervisor making sure that all lines were covered during the filming process.

 

So there you have it,  we will be posting more information regarding this continuing project and the exact details about how you can take part and contribute with your 14 second poem as well as news and more information about where the film will be released and exhibited, so follow this blog to stay tuned, share this article and check out the hashtags online.

social media

Hashtags:  #WhatisaPoet?  #14SecondPoem

Poetography Exhibition – Najma Hush

13 Nov Walsall Arts Fest '14, Wheatsheaf Pub, Walsall.

So your first ever exhibition as a Visual Literary Artist was a complete and utter disaster and here’s why….

Walsall Arts Fest '14, Wheatsheaf Pub, Walsall.

Walsall Arts Fest ’14, Wheatsheaf Pub, Walsall.

Where was this exhibition?

Organised and curated by Carolyn Bayliss, as part of the Walsall Arts Fest 2014, I was given two slots over, ‘3 days in November’ at an artistic venture held at The Wheatsheaf Pub in Walsall, which I completed last weekend just gone (7th, 8th,9th’ November),  representing a novel  form of art that I have been experimenting with for around  two and a half years to date; a genre termed, ‘Poetography’, as this is the  word that I use to describe the process of creating an audio/visual experience , when combining poetry with photography and/or videography.

What on earth were you exhibiting?

Please note that the form of art that I am referring to as Poetography, is by no means new or unique solely to myself, as the first ever photographically illustrated book with prose was called, ‘The Pencil of Nature’  by William Henry Fox Talbot, which was published in six instalments, dating as far back as 1844 to 1846.  To name countless others photographic books published with text, Firths, Egypt and the Holy Land (1857) Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War (1856), Annan’s, The Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow, (1872).  Though specific to this particular topic, these historical works might not be deemed as Poetography as they do not combine Poetry with Photography.

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More specific and closest to the term ‘Poetography‘, are latest poetry books such as Thom Gunn’s Poems in Positives, accompanied by photographs by his brother Andres Gunn, as well as the highly avant garde, Distance and Proximity with poems by Thomas A Clarke, photographs by Owlen Shone, which are presently the only poetry and photography art books available online or in leading bookstores – the most prominent being, Paul MuldoonPlan-B.  In great contrast to these literary works stands the first ever self proclaimed Poetographer, Ron L Zheng, who combines Tanka poetry with Monochrome photography of nature and with such aesthetic perfection that, as well as having toured exhibitions internationally, he has had a printed publication of his entire collection called ‘Leaving my found Eden’.   Furthermore, although there appears to be only a few self published ‘Poetography’ books available online, various other experimental forms of poetry (particularly as visual literature) are being thoroughly researched by the school of humanities at Dundee University; the programme led by Professor Andrew Michael Roberts, is called ‘Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition‘ and has been funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council since 2009.

With a fair few facts and brief outline of some history into what I refer to as being Poetography, when touching upon its avant garde status up till the present date, one would have some profound cheek to proclaim oneself as the first ever Poetographer, however ‘Poetography’ is still not a term that is widely used, which is probably why it also sounds odd.  However, I insist and without any pretentions that ‘Poetography’ is the natural phenomenal result occurring when poetry is combined with photography or videography to create a narrative.

During the past couple of years, I @YouTubehave been practicing how best to combine my poems with photographs I have acquired working as a photographer.  What I intend to achieve by combining poetry with photography, is to create subliminal narratives between poetic verse and symbolic imagery which is understood by its audience through a cognitive process that is unquantifiable – but which, as a creator, I am able to experience in the works produced.

Now that might sound rather illusive, however if  put it into simple terms, you would understand that my primary goal, when creating Poetography, is to use psychology to induce mind altering states and hit home the narrative on a subconscious level.  To describe some of the ways I attempt to do this is through the use of symbolic imagery, preferring to create videos in which I can animate and flash the imagery along with the words, then fuse the two together with ambient music by underground artists. I have also dubbed a few even further with subliminal voiceovers.  I am particularly interested in combining the Poetographs with Binaural Beats which are scientifically known to induce alternate brainwave activity depending on the varying right and left hemisphere frequency pitch that the beat omits (i.e Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, Gamma brainwaves are induced when listening with headphones).  Some of these videos must come with a warning as they could induce not only brainwaves but also seizures, if the participant was epileptic or labour if the participant was pregnant.

So what the hell happened?

The works thus produced has been created to cause a deep cognitive impact and I believe that these video’s have the potential to be rather powerful.   Having used my own research, I have created a visual literary art form to be experienced at a sensory level, including audio.   Regardless of this, it is sufficient to say that my first exhibition as a Visual Literary Artist failed miserably.  There are several colliding factors for this, which I have mainly put down to my own deficiency of experience exhibiting such works, the location and the event’s setting.

Wheatsheaf PubAlthough The Wheatsheaf Walsall is a lovely pub, which has apparently been home to a whole host of celebrity musicians, in terms of my own work, the videos were played at the end of the bar on a television screen, despite there having been an isolated room allocated kindly by the manager of the pub, this room had not been utilised during the festival by the curator, upon the grounds of poor audience participation at the overall event. Initially given three, thirty minute slots across three days in an isolated room, I was instead permitted play the videos in the pub, within a 10 minute slot and give a short presentation, filmed for the Walsall Arts Fest youtube channel explaining my work, whilst it played behind me on a 36” TV screen at the end of the bar.   By the day two, it became evident to me that my work was not appropriate in this setting and environment and very obvious that it was neither appreciated under these circumstances.  However the best thing about this festival was learning about about the other participatory artist  work as well as realising through the experience, exactly what type of setting would be more appropriate.

Where will you go from here with Poetography?

What I have also learnt is that the work I am producing  is distinctly sensory, with it’s audio and visual properties and therefore requires its showcasing to be in a solitary area where it can be projected on either a small screen in a booth with headphones or upon a large wall in a blacked out room whilst playing at full volume in order for the viewer to have a totally immersive experience.  Had it not been for this event I might not have learnt how important this was and this is how I intend to have my work screened in the future.

How has this experience helped you evolve your concept?

The mere experience of how disengaged this exhibition was and the lack of support I gained at this festival has made me realise how important finding the right  audience is.   No matter how old this art form may seem, it is still relatively very new.  Poetry Beyond Text is an area still under development and with an intention to push an arts movement in the direction of Poetography, it is not to say that Poetography is the future of poetry but that such Visual Literary Art is still under negotiation with its experimenting creators and with the marginal few who are closely examining its development.   This opportunity however disastrous on the outset gave me great motivation to revisit my entire videographic collection which has up till now been shared on and through my youtube channel (@Najma Hush)  taking on board all the constructive criticism I had obtained from various viewers and improve upon any future endeavours.  This experience has given me much clearer ideas of how the work should be displayed and of its primary function; therefore, I would say that being part of the Walsall Arts Fest has contributed towards the improvement of an art form, I am passionately working towards establishing.

What else did you learn?

Najma HushI learned that the most important trait for any emerging artist is to develop such a strong internal point of reference that there is not any kind of criticism, good nor bad that will detract you from your goals.  If you are clear upon your goals but detached from the outcome, you will learn more from each and every experience that will help you to develop not only your work, but also your primary asset, which is yourself!

Furthermore I would stress that the most interesting people are always the ones with most varied interests and the people with most varied interests are the ones who listen more to others, with an open mind, than they do talk about themselves.  Therefore it is important to meet as many other artists, who are working in a variety of mediums albeit different from yourself and listen to them about what they do, with an open mind.

Upon that note, why not check out the brief photo documentary about the people I met during my short  journey at the Walsall Arts Fest 2014 and what I learned about them?

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Najma Hush’ Exhibition at the Artwork Cafe

18 Aug

Here is the short promotional video filmed by Nu:Bi Magazine at the Artwork Cafe for their Arts and Culture section on the Nu:Bi Hub, youtube channel, covering a short feature on my latest exhibition.  Check it out!

 

Najma Hush’s exhibition is on at Artwork Cafe, (4 Temple Square, Edbaston, Birmingham. UK) from 4 th August – 24th September.  Currently showing five pieces from Female Force and three from Abstract Elements for a limited period only; this exhibition is due to change after only three weeks, when the exhibiting artist, Najma Hush will change the showcase displaying further works from various other collections.

Exhibition at Art Work Cafe

10 Aug

Many thanks to Nu:Bi Magazine, who came down to the ArtWork Cafe in Edgbaston last week to take a look and find out more about my latest exhibition there and who also filmed a short promotional video about the exhibition for their youtube channel, The Nu:Bi Hub to be released very soon …so excited and can’t wait to share it.  In the meantime check out these photographs :

Images courtesy of NU:BI Magazine who filmed a short promotional feature on my latest exhibition @ Artwork Cafe. Photography by Shahid Chohan.

Najma Hush’s exhibition is on at Artwork Cafe, (4 Temple Square, Edbaston, Birmingham. UK) from 4 th August – 24th September.  Currently showing five pieces from Female Force and three from Abstract Elements for a limited period only; this exhibition is due to change after only three weeks, when the exhibiting artist, Najma Hush will change the showcase displaying further works from various other collections.  Stay tuned for the promotional video by Nu:Bi Magazine to be released on The Nu:Bi Hub youtube channel, within just a few days…

 

Abstract Elements: The Exhibition Opening Event  

9 May

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth.

Najma Hush Abstract Elements Exhibition Opening Evening

Spot the Freudian slip…

Today, we would like to do something, a little bit different. By ‘we’, I mean me – Najma Hush, one woman, who is going it alone, like so many other creative people, determined to make that critical transformation from an emerging artist, to an established artist.  Usually writing about my projects upon this blog in third person –  PhotoGiraffe – bragging about how wonderful the exhibition openings have been.  Although, they have been rather fabulous, upon reflection, I now feel that there are certain drawbacks when not openly addressing certain faults with such ‘experiments’, when perhaps if disclosed openly, it could help many other emerging artists who might be scratching there heads, wondering how to make themselves stand out from all the other wee-little chicks in this birds nest, all screaming for attention to get that juicy worm, dangling from the mouth of the giant (i.e. established galleries).  But how much honesty can I display here at the detriment of my own reputation and personal liability?  The only way to find out is by reading on and I’m kind of curious myself, as to what this write up will be like…

  The more mistakes you make, the more you learn, the more you progress.

Abstract Elements is a collection of five photographic images, currently exhibiting at The Warehouse Cafe (Please see previous post for details).  With its  exhibition opening held last Monday (5th May’14), I hosted my very own launch event inviting Poets and Musicians to platform their own skills and celebrate my latest exhibition at the Warehouse Cafe.   An award winning restaurant, located in the Friends of the Earth building (Birmingham, Digbeth), The Warehouse Cafe are a non-profit, community interest company and provide local artists, a space to exhibit.  They were interested in exhibiting a selection which would compliment their ‘Green’ ethos.  This is how we reached the mutual decision to exhibit Abstract Elements due to its connection with natureHowever, due to the small number of works and their size, this collection was not big enough to fill their walls, which is why a last minute decision was made to exhibit, Some Kind of Blue too.

Poet Performer Carys Matic Performing at the exhibition opening

Poet Performer Carys Matic Performing at the exhibition opening

Without any disillusionment about motivation, the main reasons for inviting poets and performers has always been to collaborate for cross-promotional purposes.  As a creative writer my main circle of associates have mainly been other poets.   As an emerging artist, I have little contact with buyers and in all honesty as someone who is quite new to this business, I don’t really know who they are.   As a poet I like poetry performances and this is how I generally spend my spare time.  Inviting poets to these events to perform, gives me a little more to talk about on online social platforms, other than just saying, ‘Hello world, I have an exhibition and this is the concepts behind this collection’.  The performers benefit from this collaboration, due to the platform I provide for them to showcase their talents as well as all the promotional write ups I usually do on this blog and the pictures I post on my facebook page which promote their skills by positively  reviewing their input.  Futhermore, because of their involvement, they help me spread the word about the exhibition opening events.  Sounds like a good idea in theory and here is how it is works in practice.

 Advantages:

1. It contributes to a more lively atmosphere for the exhibition opening events and adds a varying dynamic to the overall occasion.

2. It gives the (emerging artist) an opportunity to practice standing in front of an (otherwise larger) audience to host and talk to about their work publicly. 

 

Disadvantage:

1. The majority of people who will come to your exhibition opening will be the people performing who will be more keen to perform than view or provide feedback on the images you’ve displayed.

2. Your exhibition opening might be at risk of becoming more about performing art rather than the exhibited  fine art.

 

There are no failures only unexpected outcomes.

Seems like a fairly balanced assessment of advantages and disadvantage, however, the latter is what became most prominent the morning after the night before.  Post-exhibition opening, when reviewing the responses from almost all parties involved, I noticed that the main feedback I was  getting that the event that I had organised was a poetry performance event.  Other than reading performance reviews  from peoples ‘ facebook status updates’ I noticed, there was little commentary about the exhibiting images.  Furthermore, there seemed to be little mention of the fact that there was any art work displayed at all, which they the performers had initially been invited to come and respond to.  Although most performing artists (bar two), did perform along the theme of the ‘natural elements’ to tie in with the collection of the photographs, this fact became even more protruding when I noticed that even The Warehouse Cafe had posted a thank you note on their fan page to all those who came to their ‘first ever open mic night’.  (Lucky for me, I have a great sense of humor.)

 

Exhibition Opening Night of Najma Hush's  Abstract Elements:  A photography exhibition.

Exhibition Opening Night of Najma Hush’s Abstract Elements: A photography exhibition.

 Conclusion

What I have learnt from my experiences and reconfirmed in recent articles I have read about exhibiting in cafe’s and  restaurants, that they are ‘ not looking at this as an opportunity to make a commission on sales and increase their revenue – consequently, they aren’t going to have much motivation to actively promote or sell the work  (http://www.reddotblog.com/wordpress/index.php/showing-your-art-in-cafes-restaurants-banks-and-other-venues/) and as this article points out  that more than often the artist using these venues just become a commodity promoting their venue.

Naturally, nobody does anything for nothing and therefore it is the exhibiting artists responsibility to define their own outcomes from their opening events.  Also as the above referenced article points out, cafe’s and restaurants might have an interesting mailing list to attract people to the opening events, however even if The Warehouse Cafe did have this, they admitted later on that this was not a priority due to their busy schedule.  After all, to reiterate, for most cafes hosting exhibitions by local artists, their business is not art but will always primarily be food and drink with an agenda to gain more clients.

Expectation Versus Outcome

My expectations at this current stage of my career is not to make loads and loads of sales, but rather to gain exposure and a good reputation.  Reverting back to defined outcomes, I do not feel that event was a success because, I did not place enough emphasis upon the work that I had curated and exhibited.  I failed to attract a crowd of art lovers/buyers but instead curated a spectacular arts festival, which was truly magical and amazing and the hospitality shown by the venue was immaculate, however it has made me think more critically about exactly where I am at present, versus where I intend to go.  Nobody can predict or control the behavior and response of those who you collaborate with, after all we are all individuals and we all have our own expected outcomes, but what one can do, is learn from each experience by reflecting objectively and positively in order to progress.  

Najma Hush at the Exhibition opening event of Abstract Elements , courtasey of NuBi magazine who came to review the event.

Najma Hush at the exhibition opening of Abstract Elements , courtasey of NuBi magazine who came to review the nights event. (Photographed by Shahid Chohan)

How might you learn from my mistakes?

When selecting a cafe or restaurant to exhibit in:

* First and foremost, be proactive and go out to all exhibition openings so that you can gain the right contacts with people who really are interested in fine art and whom you can invite to your exhibitions.

* When choosing a restaurant or cafe, ask yourself, do you have similar values?  (i.e do they have a reputation for being a hub for the creative arts? Or will you have to compromise a great deal on what you want exhibited and also question why they are allowing you their space?)

* Ask the venue what kind of mailing list they have and how much will they can contribute to the promotion of your opening event.  If you are a proactive artist and good with social networking media, you might be doing more to promote the venue than your own work and unless you have a large network of buyers/clients this might not bother you, but otherwise I would say, choose a cafe that would promote your exhibition equally. 

 *  Find out from previous artists if they gained much feedback from the venue’s clients and if they made many sales in these spots.  Were their price margins the same as yours?

*  By all means invite performers to platform, but keep the slots short and simple, and make sure that number one: you are selective with quality performers only and number two you make it clear it’s not an open mic night which otherwise implies your events is just a-free-for-all.

*  On your opening event, make sure you rehearse a script of what you might want to say as an opening speech.  Prepare what you will say about yourself and then about the exhibiting works. Practice, practice, practice and then open up a panel discussion for questions and answers – if nobody has any questions – ask for feedback…

*  If you do not get the feedback ask for the feedback.  Don’t be shy, ask the questions. ‘What do you like about this collection?  Is there anything you do you not like about it?  What’s your most favourite and why?  What’s your least and why?’  If you find this intimidating, create anonymous feedback forms for honest criticism and advise.

 

Keep On Moving!

Whoever may be reading this article and no matter what you maybe doing with your life, I believe that if you got this far down reading this article, it’s probably because you are an artist.  Remember, no matter what genre of artist you maybe, if you are being proactive with your skills you are putting yourself out there to be judged.   Your work has to be judged and whether those judgement are a positive or negative reflection of your work, you must learn to accept the opinions of other, but still remain strong in what you believe in and let what you believe in, always be yourself!

 

Please do comment with any useful or contrary thoughts.  I am generally a student in life; I have an open mind and I’m always willing to learn.

After all that's said it was a very night and really well organised...

After all that’s said it was a really great night spent with amazing people and really well organised…

 

Abstract Elements: A Photography Exhibition

3 May

Abstract Elements, A Photography Exhibition  by Najma Hush.

 

Abstract Elements is a collection of five photographic images, representing the five most essential principles, believed in many philosophies to constitute the fundamental powers of everything.  Depending upon peoples cultural beliefs, these elements vary between fire, water, wind/air and aether, usually differing between four to five. However, no matter what you may believe these elements to be exactly, they possess different meanings for different people which can be either positive, negative, or neutral.  The images represented here have not emerged from any specific cultural philosophy, but rather are the Artist’s interpretation of such elements and are open to your personal reading.

 

Abstract Elements, a photography exhibition by Najma Hush.

Abstract Elements, a photography exhibition by Najma Hush.

Abstract Elements is currently on exhibition at, The Warehouse Cafe, (54-57 Allison St, Digbeth, Birmingham. B5 5TH. UK) from the 5th May – 1st June 2014, with a exhibition opening night dinner planned on the Bank Holiday Monday at the restaurant.  Check out the event’s page and if you are around come along and join the fun.  There will live performances from Poets and Musicians to fit in with the theme of the exhibition.  Here! Click on the link and check out the facebook events page to see who is going:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1472489166301598/ and also stay tuned for the next post and we’ll let you know all the gory details on  the opening of this exhibition.

Female Force – Exhibition Opening Day

14 Apr

Female Force is the title given to a selection of photographs taken of statues by Najma Hush. These images been manipulated by the process of multi-layering, to modernise and re-present, a few and various neoclassical and classical sculptures, from the fresh perspective of a digital age. Currently exhibiting at Urban Coffee Company (Church Street,  Birmingham, B3 2NP.  UK. ), from April 6th – May 3rd 2014). 

 

 

Urban Coffee Company is a rather sophisticated cafe in the metropolis of Birmingham.  Not only do they boast great coffee, good enough to sate any coffee snobs passion, but they also hold many different live events.  Furthermore, their cosy upstairs arena , consistently rotates fine art and photography by artist from the city, which is organised by Alexandria Art, who provide exhibiting platforms for emerging  artist in various location around the city.   weblink - exhibition details

With the exhibition open day for Female Force, held last Saturday (12th April’ 14), Najma Hush hosted her very own launch event, having invited Poets and Musicians to also platform their own skills and celebrate her latest solo exhibition. Here is a short review, recording the events proceedings, including photographs of the poets and musicians who came to support this event with further links to their works, to make it easier for you to find them.

Guests at Female Force by Najma Hush

As the guests gathered.

The event started off with a small crowd and moved at a slow pace, fairly early for any Saturday morning,  but as the event proceeded more and more people joined to contribute a buzz to the initial relaxed atmosphere.  The show commenced, with a brief introduction from the artist about herself and the concept behind the exhibition, before she passed over the duty of hosting to Andrea Shorrick, a local poet and performer herself, who introduced the first public speaker, Kathryn Day from Women’s Networking Hub.  This organisation had shown much support for Hush’s exhibition open day, by promoting it through a lot of their internal sources, due to the close work they do with all kind of women in enterprise, connecting women with other women and essentially building a strong network of associations.    They also work closely with Malala Yousafzai to gain funds for her projects to eradicate social/gender inequality and so  Hush invited them to  invite the women present, to join their network.

Najma Hush

Poet and Photographer, Najma Hush at the exhibition opening of Female Force.

 

The first poet to perform was Dani Papamaximou from Greece,  who recited her own touching poems, translated from her native tongue to English.  With some dark overtones, her work was mainly refreshing and  light sharing personal experiences as a women.

Next up, a very talented poet and artist from Walsall, Neth Brown who shared a melancholy poem about her mother and experiences on the theme of gender traditions and female sexuality from the point of view of a young lesbian.

Nina Lewis,  was the following act, a Worcestershire poet who had actually written poems especially to go with Hush’s images.  Her poems were as impressive as usual as showed her dexterous skill with language. 

Next up was Sammy Joe, who humorously insisted on taking her coffee on stage, swigging and spilling it in a sleepy haze. But even before she had finished reciting her very short, blunt and feisty poem, in a fashion that was no less than fierce, she had trotted off again, sleepily leaving the audience wide awake and hungry for more.

The crowd was then greeted by the colourful personality of Saleha Begum, a poet and artist decisively stating that she would be reading her most intense works, from her book, Raptures and Fragments, which she did!

As the crowd deserved ‘A Pick Me Up’ after such intensity, that’s exactly what they got with Aysha Begum’s poem, ‘Just a Little Pick Me Up’, a poem which is also an entry in this years round two of Pangaea Poetry Slam.  

And just before the interval, Andrea Shorrick  left the crowd holding their breath during her performance, when she began to undress, stripping away her clothes solemnly, wrapping herself up in a street no entry banners and smearing her face with yellow paint as she recited her poem on domestic abuse.   

Open day of Exhibition Female Force

Najma Hush – Meeting and Greeting Guests

During the interval it seemed that a lot more people had woken up and the place became more alive with people.  The atmosphere was buzzing as the crowd was led back into the second half, where Najma Hush opened the show, reciting her own epic poem on social equality for women, just before she introduced the musical act for the event a very talented young singer song writer,  Jane James.  Her voice is emotive and she can switch her pitch going from smooth to boom!   

Jaden Larker, otherwise known as   Seasick Fist, who was also a speaker for TEDxBrum on International Women’s day (2014), was the only man who had been brave enough to perform his views on women, with his confident delivery,  he certainly knows how to keep the crowds attention.

With a hard act to follow, next up was Andrea Shorrick, only this time as her ultra ego,  Swingerella, with stories from her bed, which included chocolate hearts, pink bunnies, vodka in a tea pot and box of sugar puffs, to name…just  a few things.  It was meant to be funny, but again, the audience were holding their breath…

It was also a great pleasure to see and hear, Jasmin Gardosi perform her poem sultry poem on lesbian love and love bites. Gardosi is also a TEDxBrum speaker (2014) and she runs the official Poets Place.

And to close the show in class one of the final special guest was, Charlie JordanBirmingham Poet Laureate (2007 ) – representing our city –  with some groping poetry, in a style, solely unique to her.  The event then came to a close with the first ever Female poet laureate of Birmingham, Julie Boden and current Poet in residence at Symphony Hall who wowed the crowed with 10 minutes of such beautiful poetic magic.

Here are the photographs of all the above performers:

 

Female Force

8 Apr

 

Female Force is the title given to a selection of photographs taken of statues. These images have been manipulated by the process of multi layering, to modernise and re-present a few and various neoclassical and classical sculptures, from the fresh perspective of a digital age.

Although this set has not been created in any attempt to be authentic in its artistic content, it appreciates beauty making accessible elite works in art, otherwise unobtainable as the ideological emphasis is upon ‘possession’ (based upon John Bergers theories in his book Way’s of Seeing (1972) ).

Each piece displays a keen interest to celebrate femininity and the female form, as Najma Hush offers a short interpretation on womanhood through the study of sculptures and in doing so, she presents the female archetypes that have inspired artists to create; images that have been repeated again and again and ones we still see and know in our society. What’s most interesting about Female Force is that these archetypes are still recognisable and ideals that we in society, still aspire to posses.

Female Force is only on exhibition at Urban Coffee Company from the 6th April to the 5th May 2014 in association with Alexandria Exhibitions.  All prints are limited editions, as no more than 25 will be produced of each one. Also, each piece comes with a unique certificate of authenticity signed, numbered and dated by the artist. For further info  or to purchase, please email Najma on photogiraffe@live.co.uk.

Female Force by Najma Hush

The official open day for the exhibition will be held at Urban Coffee Company on Saturday 12th April at 11am – 1.30 pm with live performances from poets and musicians, so stay tuned here to read more about that event …

 

 

Diverse Dancers – Exhibition Soiree

25 Feb

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Diverse Dancers is the title given to a large and still progressing compilation of photographs, primarily concerned with the multiplicity of varying dance traditions; a small and miscellaneous selection of which, is currently in exhibition at the ORT Cafe in Birmingham, UK (from 19th Feb – 5th Mar’14).

Housed in The Old Print Works, a grade II listed building; Ort is much more than just a cafe.  More importantly, it has become the community hub for creative art within just 2 years of being established, having gained the worthy reputation of supporting emerging artists, in the community of England’s second largest city!   With its friendly and approachable directors, Josephine Reichert and Ridhi Kalaria, who both actively assist the artists they support, Ort is the ideal place for an emerging artist, to host a first time solo exhibition.  And on Friday 21st Feb’14, that is exactly what Najma Hush did, having curated a night of art, poetry and music by hosting talented poets and musicians to share their work, which coincided with the dance theme of her exhibition.  She called this event, ‘An Exhibition for Exhibitionists’ and boy did it attract a handsome group.

Upon the night as the crowd gathered and mingled they were greeted by live music from the Jazz Pianist, Andrew Clayton, who played all original material from his Album, Bunch of Keys.  Quick to jump at an opportunity to jam, poetry performer, Carys Matic Jones joined in with her Cajón Drum, adding a beat to Clayton’s melody and giving all the guests, opportune moments to collectively convene a vibrant atmosphere.  

The show then commenced with the local poet, Adele – aka- Ddotti Bluebird, who also organises Birmingham’s much loved Word- Up.  She grabbed the crowd’s attention with her passionate urban style poetry.  However, rather surprisingly for the host, none of this Ddotti Bluebird’s songs conformed to the theme of dance.

Following on swiftly, was Adam Laws, a complete virgin to performance poetry, who nevertheless, won the crowd over with two poems that he had written especially for the theme of this event.

But the real crowd pleaser was a musical performance by Walsall’s poet, Al Barz who had composed his own music to choreograph a special dance for a totally interactive, audience precipitation and the best thing was, everyone could do his dance sitting down, except for Barz of course (who also organises his own monthly poetry events called Purple Penumbra at the Barlowe Theatre in Oldbury).

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Next up was what appeared to be Cinderella herself, sporting a broom and sweeping the stage, but it was in fact, Andrea Shorrick, with her own unique interpretation of dance, a delightful poem titled Prince Charming.

Also come to take part and show her support was Jude Ashworth, a long and withstanding member of Writer Without Borders as well as being the organiser of Erdington Writers held twice a month at Erdington Library, she swayed and swooned the audience with her dance poetry.

After that, the crowd was gregariously greeted by the enormous personality of  Ian Henery, the Mayor of Walsall’s Poet Laureate for three consecutive years and author of Batman (Thynk Publications).  Amongst a few other dance poems, Henery, performed his poem written especially for Diverse Dancers called….Diverse Dancers and also read Rudyard Kipling’s,  The Plea of the Simla Dancers. Not before however, he likened the talent of the first halves performers, to our Nation’s favourite poet, Kipling and was ignominiously heckled for it by an otherwise anonymous heckler, who rowdily disagreed.

Another member of Birmingham’s highly esteemed group, Writers Without Borders and author of Blonde Grass (Thynk Publications), Olufemi Abidogun also graced the stage with his own magical poetry on the subject of dance.

Just before the interval, the closing act for the first half was the third and final member of Writers Without Borders.    It was none other than, Tessa Lowe herself, who also hosts her own poetry events at Ort called Poets with Passion.  Lowe charmed the crowd with her charismatic, Maybe Baby dance poem, as well as sharing an enchanting poem, celebrating the ‘beauty’ of Birmingham’s, not-so-prevaliged, Balsall Heath (the location of Ort Cafe and hence the exhibition).

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To kick start the second half, Carys Matic Jones opened the proceedings with her musical act.  Normally performing with her band, Jones was joined with improvisations from Andrew Clayton on Keyboard, as she multi-tasked her rhythmic recitations to the beat of her new Cajón Drum, which proved to be a very delightful and an engaging experience indeed.

A hard act to follow, which certainly she did do and without any exceptions, it was Nina Lewis.  An ex-dancer herself, Lewis claimed that she had been directly inspired by the Photographs exhibited.  Her poems not only dealt with the beauty of the art form, but also explored the darker more painful side of dance, that we as voyeurs often forget when watching this graceful art form.  Needless to say, all three of her poems were very strong.

It was also a great pleasure to see, popular storyteller, Kate Walton – Aka – Story Tramp (nominated for outstanding newcomer at the BASE Awards, ((British Award for Storytelling Excellence)) 2013.  She captivated and simply mesmerised the audience, with her rhythmic tale of a Sufi whirling dervish’s.

Birmingham Poet Laureate 1999/2000, Simon Pitt also made a special guest appearance with his slightly eccentric performance. One act of which, he threw things at the audience in a fit of rage.  It was a rather convincing temper tantrum and nothing like I’ve ever seen in my life, so I’m glad to have finally had such a frightful experience, whilst in such a friendly environment. It wasn’t all gloom and doom of course as Pitt soon lightened the tone offering the crowd a brighter side to his sense of humor.

It was a pleasure to become acquainted with Lorna Meehan s work, especially as she had just come off her first poetry tour with England and Scotland’s leading poetry organisation, Apples and Snakes .  Her act was a real delight.  Rumour also has it, that Meehan is presently preparing to be the world’s first hula hooping performance poet…

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A local poet, Max Jalil who rarely ever shares his work, shyly decided to pluck up his courage and read his witty poems on the subject of his horrendous dance antics, which is something that he is rather notorious for on the clubbers scene.  After having seen both of his talents, one would probably suggest that Jalil gives up dance and takes up poetry instead – as his poem really was rather good.

Najma Hush also shared two short and sweet poems before passing on the mic to none other than yet another poet laureate.  It was Roy Mcfarlen (Birmingham, 2010/2011), who had come to show his support for Hush’s events once again.  The enigmatic Mcfarlen who never fails to delight a crowd of poetry lovers drew the perfect close to an almost perfect night, as the host called the show a rap and let the crowd loose to get closer to view her work and stay around to chat and indulge in a few more drinks.     

Here are some more photographs to get you better acquainted with all the performers who came along… and look out for the uploads from Pat the Bull Films who kindly filmed that night’s events to broadcast to the world … after all…these open exhibition soiree’s aren’t titled, ‘Exhibitions for Exhibitionists’ for nothing, you know.

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