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Poetography Exhibition – Najma Hush

13 Nov

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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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:

 

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.

Some Kind of Blue Exhibition Soiree

15 Oct
Opening of Exhibition evening, with Art, Poetry and Music

Opening of Exhibition evening, with Art, Poetry and Music

We have some exciting news!   Najma Hush is currently Artist in Residence at Fine Art Gallery, Arts 4 Art Sake at the Custard Factory in Birmingham.   Recently she opened her first exhibition called, Some kind of Blue,  a collection of fine art photography;

‘…concerned with the manifest content of our dreams (or to put it simply, elements of our dreams that we remember upon awakening).  Inspired by the work of psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, who in his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, suggests that the content of our dreams are related to wish fulfillment; as he believed that the manifest content of a dream, or the actual imagery and events of the dream, serve to disguise the latent content (or the unconscious wishes) of the dreamer.  Thus, the photography presented in Some Kind of Blue, is directly symbolic of the thoughts, desires and images which may manifest from (your own subconscious) within your own dreams, with the poetic emphasis  ingrained in every metaphoric title for each individual piece.’  ~ Najma Hush

For the open evening of the exhibition, Hush curated a night of art, poetry and music by hosting performances in line with the theme of ‘Dreams’,  in keeping with her exhibited collection.  In a nut shell, here is what happened:

Maqsood Qazi , the director of Arts 4 Art Sake, fine art gallery, sponsored the opening exhibition of,  Some Kind of Blue by this emerging artist. Held at their premises, Arts 4 Art Sake provided all the food and drink. There was enough time to admire Hush’s exhibited collection of Photography, Some Kind of Blue and view all of the other art work at the gallery (such as Jinxy Art, Javed Qamar, Tahir Bin-Qalandar and more), as the crowd gathered and mingled.   Unexpectedly, Mike Bongo, a local singer, song writer  requested he open the soiree with his songs written for Mental Health Awareness, although not fitting with our theme, it was allowed on an exceptional and friendly basis (because everybody deserves a chance to be heard).  It also gave us more time to welcome new guests, just before some wonderful live performances were given by a diverse amalgamation of urban voices, who put on such an entertaining show.

The real show opener was local Rapper Ali Mardi- aka- Da Wonderin Dragon, who got the crowd going with his passionate and humorous poem describing his, ‘Dream Girl’.  Following on, was a rather musical performance of poetry, by Walsall poet and performer, Al Barz who had composed his own music to crescendo his poetry. Usually and popularly known to be on keyboard,  Barz was upon this night, accompanied by an amp and his ipad.  Next up was poet, Gary Carr, who had come all the way from Burton-Upon-Trent to share some dreamy poetry from his very own, next collection of Dream poems that he had been working on.  Then there was local artist and writer, Shirley P Cooper, who came and shared her, ‘I have a Dream’ poems as well as some of her sweet, home baked cupcakes.  We were also proud to host the charismatic poet Laureate of Walsall, Ian Henery also graced the event with his presence and read some blooming great poetry too.  Next to follow was local poet,  James Walpole, who performed three brilliant poems he had written just for our ‘Dream’ themed event.   Then there was a very young and talented, Ester Turner, who sang songs from her debut album, ‘Dreams’ and blew the crowd away with her amazing voice, whilst a nice, handsome crowd, waved in and out throughout the evening to watch and support the event, which made the atmosphere very relaxed, friendly and inviting.  A special appearance from Marcia Calame added a great positive energy to the whole event – the same strong presence, that she carried into her enticing poetry performance on stage.  It was also great to introduce and announce, popular storyteller, Kate Walton had been nominated for outstanding newcomer at the BASE Awards (British Award for Storytelling Excellence), just before she shared some of her own profound poetic works.  Artist and poet, Kristina Vere-Gankaku Griffiths, came all the way from West Bromwhich to read her dreamy poems, from her debut poetry book, No Strings Attached.  Just before the final closing acts of the event which were, non other than two of Birmingham’s very own,  former poet laureates, the enigmatic  Roy Mcfarlen and the infamous  Giovanni Spoz Esposito, who closed the evenings event charmingly.   

You can see the pictures here and look out for the video promo by Pat the Bull Productions. And of-course, stay tuned to hear about more events like Some Kind of Blue when they come up again as hopefully, we look forward to exhibiting our next collection soon!
But in the meantime you can pop into Arts4ArtSake, fine art gallery at the custard factory anytime you like and check out our Art.

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