Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Stand-up and music at our garden festival!

Here are two more of the wonderful women who will be appearing at our garden festival:

Singer Phoebe Robinson and stand-up Louisa Theobald.

Louisa is a comedian and actress who enjoys spinning her trials and tribulations into anecdotes worthy of an audience. She has been a semi finalist in the 'So you think you're funny' and 'Funny Women' national competitions and won the 'Guardian Reader's Stand-up' award.
'Lovable daftness' - The Guardian
'Buoyantly likeable...inspired' - Spoonfed

Phoebe is a 16-year-old musician from North Walsham, who combines a traditional folk guitar style with captivating lyrics and a warm alto voice. After falling in love with the style of singer-songwriter Laura Marling, Phoebe taught herself the guitar and began recording herself singing and playing covers of her favourite songs, which she uploaded onto her Soundcloud page to share with her friends. Having recently started writing her own material, Phoebe takes inspiration from Bob Dylan, the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the angry feminists of the seventies, and explores themes such as femininity, love, nature, and good old-fashioned teenage angst in her music. Phoebe will be releasing her debut EP of her original music this summer. 

For more details about the festival please see our garden page.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Studio of One’s Own: music production, the music industry and gender.

Paula Wolfe is a wonderful singer-songwriter and music producer who will be performing at our members’ event in May. She also has a PHD, which documents the work of women artists, producers and music industry professionals, from The Institute of Popular Music, University of Liverpool. 

Here is a short article which Paula’s written especially for our blog about A Studio of One’s Own:

‘Music production is the technical and creative process that helps form an identifiable ‘sound’ of an artist and contributes significantly to the creation of a career.  Subsequently, music production is regarded as one of the most powerful areas of practice within the music industry - it is also a sector overwhelmingly male dominated.

Music production is a gendered field of practice, the commercial recording studio a gendered working environment. A woman artist who produces her own ‘sound’ by developing music production skills at home challenges the gendering that has taken place. A question arises however: to what extent does an artist’s creative control aid the navigation of a career in a music industry fraught with contradiction for the woman musician and performer? Apparently women artists dominate the market place and yet they form the minority at every major music festival, are assumed to be ‘just the singer’ until they state their case as otherwise, and their bodies remain the primary marketing tool for major record labels.

When positioned in a historical and cultural context, the situation of the female artist-producer invites comparisons with readings that have been awarded creative women in other fields, in particular in literature. In her essay A Room of One’s Own (1929 in 1985 ed.) Virginia Woolf established connections between the historical challenges women encountered in their efforts to pursue careers as novelists and as classical composers observing, ‘So accurately does history repeat itself’. Music critic Lucy O’Brien referenced Woolf to suggest that women started to excel as singer-songwriters in the 1960s, in the way that women excelled as novelists at the turn of the nineteenth century, because they could access a guitar or piano in much the same way that women could access pen and paper (2002 ed., p.179). In the digital era the woman artist-producer not only accesses pen, paper, guitar and piano, but a digital audio workstation (DAW) on her laptop to get her work done.

Over ninety years after Woolf’s comments, however, history continues to ‘repeat itself’. For example, in a recent conversation on Radio 2 Lily Allen and the editor of Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, discussed the role the music producer plays in the perception of today’s women artists. Allen commented, ‘you’ll notice that of those big successful female artists there’s always a “man behind the woman” – you never get that with men…it’s never a conversation that’s brought up’.

The gendered associations of music production have been used to undermine the contributions of women performers but the art and craft of music production offers much potential. From young women experimenting with songwriting and production in their bedrooms to high-profile women artists sustaining and developing their careers, A Room of One’s Own has been transfigured into A Studio of One’s Own from which creative women, empowered by their own sound, are entering the marketplace and marketspace in increasing numbers.’

To read more, click here 

Paula Wolfe is an artist-producer who has been described as ‘a splendid songwriter’ (Uncut), and her production ‘the work’ of a ‘genie’ (New-Noise.net). Her last album Lemon was received as ‘a mood-shifting, musically inventive piece of work’ (Mojo). Her live work has been described as ‘Mesmeric’ (The Guardian Hay Festival) and ‘Brilliant’ (Sky Arts 1).

Wolfe has given papers at international popular music conferences on a wide range of issues that concern the female singer-songwriter working in a current music industry context, and has a chapter, discussing media representation of the woman singer-songwriter and artist-producer, included in a forthcoming edited volume on the European singer-songwriter (Ashgate Press). Wolfe is currently reworking her thesis - A Studio of One’s Own: Music Production, the Music Industry and Gender - for publication and is completing her third album, due for release 2015.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Words And Women are part of the Norfolk Storytelling Project

Holly J McDede and Isabelle King recently collaborated on  a  Norfolk Storytelling Project for Future Radio, creating a  ten minute podcast on Words And Women and  the subject of writing space. The podcast was first broadcast on Future Radio  on  April the 4th. To listen to it again please click here
Holly presents the podcast when Isabelle has written a piece about the venture which she’s kindly let us reproduce below:
‘Words and Women helps female writers build rooms of their own
By Isabelle King 

Virginia Woolf's prophesy 

 “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” – so says Virginia Woolf in her famous essay 'A Room of One's Own' . 

Still from Space
But that was 1929. Surely women have rooms, and money, of their own by now, right? But yet, women writers are still the minority in the literary world. Only 13 have won the Noble Prize for literature since 1909. Book reviews are still mostly by men, about men. With that in mind, Bel Greenwood and Lynne Bryan decided to make a film to explore Virginia Woolf's proposition. Their latest creative project, Space, is a film that focuses on, well, space. But not just any old space – all the spaces where women in the East of England like to write. 

A quiet International Women's Day 

This past International Women's Day, held on the 8th of March, the Lounge bar on St Benedicts Street was packed. The overflowing audience of men, women, and children pressed up against the door to get a glimpse of women reading their work. It would just be another energized literary reading in Norwich, except, one by one, women – and only women – took the centre stage. Inside the Lounge, it was loud, literary, and female. But up until 2011, International Women's Day quietly tiptoed past Norwich, unnoticed. It was a little too quiet for local writer Bel Greenwood. 

Still from Space
“I used to live in Italy and on International Women's Day in Italy, any strange man walking past would give you a bunch of flowers, I mean, International Women’s Day was celebrated, there was always something on and so,” Bel said, “when I was here in Norwich, I just thought that there was nothing that was actually marking the day and that lots of people didn’t even know that March 8th is International Women’s Day.” 

The rooms of writers 

Bel decided to organize a reading on International Women's Day that year. But, International Women’s Day is just one day in a year. Many of the problems women face are ongoing. Bel teamed up with fellow writer Lynne Bryan and launched Words and Women.  With the two forces combined, Words and Women has grown into much more than a single event to mark International Women’s Day. The organization brings local women writers together all year round through hosting literary and net-working events, running writing competitions and promoting the work of women in the region both socially and online. 

Still from Space
With the help of Unthank Books, they've even got their own anthology. The idea for making a film about women’s writing space was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own' where Virginia Woolf argues that women writers must have 500 pounds and a locked door. “We wanted to explore whether things had actually changed for women writers. Do they still need a room of their own in order to write? Do they still need a private income?” Lynne said. 

Lynne has a room of her own, but she knows she's very lucky. 

“My room is white, it’s quite big, I’m very lucky, it’s taken me a long time to get this room but it's my space,” she said. “I'm very privileged.”

As for Bel: “I usually write in the middle of kitchen chaos with a small yapping dog. I sit in bed and write very early in the morning sometimes and then I move to my kitchen, which really is a mess. So I don’t have a space in the house that is dedicated to writing.” 

So, what about women in the East of England? Lynne and Bel decided to investigate. 
“Where do they sit and write? Do they sit and write? Some writers stand at a lectern and write standing up. Do they, are they lucky enough to have an office? Do they write as they walk along the cliff tops?” Lynne asked. “Do they write in a field? Do they write in a cow shed? Do they write in a subway, you know, where do they like to write? Where can they write?” 

Local women were encouraged to send in photographs and text about their writing space – from kitchens, studies, libraries to garden sheds. Each space highlighted just how personal a writing space can be. As Bel points out, a room of one’s own isn’t necessarily a room. “It’s not just about physical space, it’s also about a sort of mental freedom to concentrate on your writing,” Bel said. “That can be quite difficult to achieve sometimes, especially for women because you are juggling so many different things.” 

“Space” – the film 

The film is an eclectic mix of visuals and voices, layering in and out of one another, depicting the many different sorts of spaces women writers occupy. After the film was shown, it sparked a lot of conversation about the varying spaces where the women in the room liked to write. Writers Kim Sherwood and Lily Meyer, for instance, are housemates, but that doesn't mean they write in the same space. Kim writes wherever she can. 

“I tend to write anywhere that I can where it’s not too strange, mainly my bedroom because that’s the least strange place but I suppose trains, rivers, not in the river that would be difficult, fields, cities, anywhere that I can get away with it really,” Kim said. 

But Lily is much pickier. 

“ I write in one specific chair at our kitchen table, Kim and I are housemates, and one specific seat on the couch in our living room and sometimes in my bed but never at my desk and I do not like writing in public, I don’t like people watching me and making noises,” Lily said. 

Rooms without space 

But, despite their focus on space, Words and Women doesn't have a room of their own. Not yet, anyway. But that doesn't mean they can't create space for others. For two hours at the Lounge, they've created a world where women writers can read their work and be applauded for it. 

“I think it's a lovely way to come together as a community. Writing can be a very solitary activity and being a part of something like Words And Women or the University of East Anglia lets you know there are other people around who have the same passions as you and are possibly just as odd as you and it’s really nice to support each other and to hear other works and be inspired by other people,” Kim said. 

After the reading, the women writers slowly trickled home. Perhaps, when they got there, they picked up their pens. Or sat on their computers. Or maybe they didn't go home at all – but to browse through the library, or shut themselves up in an office, or run through a field. Or pet their dear house rabbit for inspiration. 

If you're a writer, whatever it is you like to do, or wherever it is you like to go, or whether you're male or female, the important thing is to sit down, and write.’ 

Isabelle King is an actress whose first voice over job involved making cat noises for an animation film about cats and dogs, alongside Alex Zane- there began a strange love for all things audio. She is the founder of Books Talk Back, a literary event in London and Norwich, supporting the work of new writers, which she is developing into an audio project. She also writes and produces for the Norfolk Storytelling Project on Future Radio.  

Holly J. McDede is a second year Creative Writing and Literature student at the University of East Anglia who became obsessed with radio in the public radio wonderland that is San Francisco. Nowadays, she runs the Norfolk Storytelling Project through Future Radio and hops around with a fancy Zoom recorder talking to strangers about their feelings on sports and the weather. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Art, Gardens And Words is part of the Chelsea Fringe!

The Plantation Garden

On May 24th we will be holding a garden festival at the beautiful Plantation Garden on Earlham Road, Norwich. Shortly we will be putting a page on this blog dedicated to this project so you can find out more. In the meantime we've received the exciting news that the garden festival is now part of the Chelsea Fringe, a first for this region!

Here’s a little bit about the Chelsea Fringe:

Now in its third year, the Chelsea Fringe is an alternative gardening festival based across the UK and beyond -- celebrating everything from guerilla gardeners, community projects, large-scale installations, performance art, food events, street happenings, performances and much more in between. It's an open-access fringe festival, which means that if it's about plants, gardens, flowers or landscape, and it's interesting or original and quirky -- then it's in. The Chelsea Fringe is fringe to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show -- but it’s different because it spreads far and wide, covering everything that could be conceivably linked with gardens, plants, landscape and environment. The three weeks of the 2013 Fringe covered more than 250 events and attracted more than 162, 000 visitors, and included a range of installations at iconic Battersea Power Station, a remarkable garden made out of a disused gents toilet in Peckham and a BBC Gardener's Question Time Fringe special from Hoxton Hall.

Click here for our page on their website: