Archive for March, 2013

Whilst looking at programming around Dave’s exhibition the ‘Thatcher Years‘, I have been keen to get events and ways for those coming to the Richmix to be involved. So far we have our ‘Radicals of the East End‘ Walk, ScriptReadEast themed around the ‘Thatcher Years’, my Union branch workshop on alternatives to the Housing Crisis and of course our film, ‘Don’t mention the 47. 

At Sophies’ last ScriptReadEast event I met with (Echo Projects) Claire MacNeill, and she was interested in what we were doing and working with with us in some way. I am really pleased that she has agreed to run 2 workshops with us. One on the 2nd of May, at the opening and the second on the 12th of May. Here is a little more about Claire & her work: 

(Echo Projects) Claire MacNeill –  a participatory artist and film maker Claire is interested in designing workshops that provoke thought and inspire audience-participants to represent their own ideas and responses. Claire will be facilitating two activities:

 1) A mixed media extravaganza on Sunday 12th of May: Get involved with creating a mini world as a microcosm of causes and voices and play with plasticine!! Suitable for all ages, particularly eternal children!

 2) Mouth-to-mouth on Thursday 2nd of May – record your critiques and reflect on this events’ significance to you. This activity will involve video diary making using fake moustaches and word association games. (This will then be shown on the 12th of May).

Both workshops are FREE. 

 

 

We were up in Liverpool this week, a short few days, to get a few of the shots which were missing from the documentary. Fingers crossed, they came out ok.

Caught up with Tony Mulhearn (one of the Liverpool 47, who is also in our documentary) and was at the preview of Spirt of 45, Ken Loachs’ new film. Tony was also with Dave Walsh, a Unite Convener for Liverpool City Council. Dave was one of the 100 apprentices who had got a permanent job when the Liverpool 47 campaign took place in the 80’s. They pledged to challenge unemployement and cheap labour, and Dave is an articulate example of this policy into practice.

 

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We queued to get into the film, after a short interview with both Tony & Dave, but sadly too late for any return tickets. We had had a break earlier and had a cuppa in the Casa (now owned and run by the sacked Liverpool Dockers) and whilst reviewing what we needed to do, Ken Loach walked in with his team. I turned groupie and anxious, not ‘cos he was after us but knew that he would be interested in this project, perhaps would want to do the 47 campaign full justice. But as they were all involved in discussions it seemed rude to wander over and take up space then. Perhaps an other time, perhaps. 

Three of us sat there, myself, Mike Luff (who is collaborating on this stage of the project) & Janet. Janet, we didn’t know, but as you do, you get chatting. Why did you come here? Janet told us and each time she spoke, she brought more insight and relevance to what is happening and what could happen. 

I plucked up courage and asked if she’d be interviewed and after doing what many women do, ‘Not me, but I know other people who would be great’, we convinced her to speak. I said that most of the women in the film were generally less keen to speak, or didn’t feel their voice was good enough.

I wanted women as key parts of this project, not for the sake of it but as people who took the ideas of socialism and worked together to practically apply that and that is often how women articulate ideas. Less likely to quote a historical date or time or person but what an idea means now and how that is or is not playing out. Accessible and engaging, well I think so anyway! (And no, not suggesting its only women, but it often is and often working class women will say they are not political but have so much experience of what that means day to day and ideas to make changes, that its made me believe that women they (us) think we have nothing of value to say as we can not speak like ‘them’. Them being men? Or them being the ruling class and the academia that suggests we articulate ourselves in words of wordnessness and exclude the majority. 

Back to our interview with Janet, and it could have been longer as each set of ideas opened up another idea or challenge. We finished and said goodbye after talking about the lobby of the city council, that was going on and what alternatives there could be.  

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We then off to do a few more shots of the city at night, our film holds together with words and mainly head and shoulder shots. We didn’t (don’t ) have time or money to shoot much more so we looked to try and get images that represented something of the past and present. How they look or work edited in, we’ll have to see, but we wanted the film to ‘look’ better. Not just images for the sake or shiny well structured frames, but the visual language we are more used to, to add layers to the project.

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On tuesday morning Lyne (ex Council Housing worker in the 80’s) who is also in the film, kindly took us round some of the local houses built under the 47 council in Broadgreen. Just as we went down the first road, a woman came out asking us what we were doing. We then had a long conversation about when the houses had been built and that this city council, 30 years ago, built 5000 houses, more than any other council put together under the Thatcher government. Felt proud of being able to share that and the conversation carried on. We found out a mother living there, had brought up her children there and they had moved out now. And then we were told, she would probably have to move from her home for years because of the Bedroom tax. The past and the present collide. 

This project was never meant to be about creating a visual archive of the Liverpool 47 campaign, though that needs to be thought about and done properly. It was about the relevance now, and that example cried out for the need for an alternative to austerity (the con word of this government). It screams out the unfairness and insecurity more and more people are beginging to feel under this government. 

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Sadly, I can’t say this would change under Labour, that party isn’t the party of the 80’s. Socialism has been ripped out of the Labour Party and ideas of sharing our resources, our ideas, our ways to make things better, stolen by (mostly) smug self serving careerists. I took part in the protest at the City council the following day with dozens of others. More millions were stolen from the local community without any real debate or fight from the Labour councillors. There was another £32 million of cuts on top of the £141 million already made.  These new cuts propose job cuts, and disgracefully charging for alarms in sheltered housing plus cutting funds for sheltered housing wardens.  Two homeless hostels are also at risk. Having a home or support to manage your home when things become difficult is essential. These cuts will make more people feel insecure and those who have lost their homes, unable to find safe spaces to go to.  I know there are lots of things and campaigns I should be involved in and do more but I know we also need to do this. Its just one small part of the process to open up alternatives to this crisis. 

But before this rambles on, just a few Thank you’s for those days away. Thanks to Lisa L (& wee Joe) who put me up. Lisa had the original idea to do a film about the 47 some years back and we filmed the majority of the interviews together just a month before Joe was born. Thanks to Tony Aitman & Lynne Wilde for letting Mike Luff stay over and Lynne for talking us round the houses (quite literally) and Everton park.  And to Tina & Ruth for taking me to the water before I travelled back. The water moves me too. 

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