Exams are why you haven’t heard much from me yet in 2017. I’ve paused my film, writing and creative work for six months, to study for five IGCSE’s which I’m about to be examined in this May and June. So here’s a quick blogpost full of updates of what I’ve been doing behind the scenes. This will give me a year before 6th form to focus on developing my creative work. I have lots of plans for next year-more about those later. People often want to know about how you can take GCSE’s if you aren’t at school, so before I tell you what exams I’m taking and why, here is a link that can answer those questions HE Exams
I’m taking Law, Spanish, English Literature, English Language and Maths exams. I have an Art qualification already, my Gold Arts Award which is an AS level equivalent. Although I’ve not been making films while I’m studying I’ve still been going to lots of Art exhibitions, theatre shows, doing gymnastics, wrote some articles for publication and rehearsed for and performed in a musical with YFC.
I visited the Moomintroll experience and exhibition at the Southbank, it was fascinating learning about Tove Jansen’s life by whilst in a living stage set of episodes from the Moomintroll series. The exhibition brought the characters, themes and settings to life by stimulating all the senses along with a tour guide who led us through. This series of books greatly influenced me as they were the first books that I remember my mum reading to me, all the characters seemed so real to me when I was small, and the exhibition was like stepping into the books with the added dimension of learning about the writer’s life. It was inspiring to hear how she had created the characters and some of the political background to the times. For me though, the highlight was seeing some of her original sketches.
I spent some time at Gee Vaucher’s introspective at Firstsite in Colchester, spanning forty years of her work. I particularly liked her haunting large scale paintings of ‘Children who have seen too much too soon’.
I enjoyed seeing how diverse her work has been through the years, as she responded to different ideas and used different media to express them. It was interesting to see the originals of the album covers and posters which had looked like they were collaged, when in fact they had been painted in fine detail.
There was a lot to think about with lots of her work being idea based or thought provoking. It made me think also about how images are used once they are made and take on their own life, like the ‘Oh America’ image which keeps resurfacing to be used in different ways. I saw the exhibition the weekend after Trump became inaugurated as president and the ‘Oh America’ image was everywhere in response to this, just like been given a different meaning after 9/11. Vaucher’s invitation to involve everyone in making their own collage about the family, inspired by her recent print series ‘The Family’ with her ‘community collage’ was fun- I’m still to finish mine as I didn’t have time to complete mine there.
I’m taking Law GCSE as I am very interested in Law and Politics, and more so since taking part in a mock trial, at The Royal Courts of Justice last year. It was a fascinating experience, we were all given our roles to act out a month beforehand and when we arrived before starting the mock trial, we had a tour and introduction to how the law courts work. This made it so real and was a great way to understand something that affects all of us but seem so abstract.
English Literature is a huge love of mine, so taking the IGCSE has been really interesting giving me the opportunity to explore texts in depth. And to bring the texts to life further I’ve been lucky enough to see some brilliant productions of some of the texts I’ve been studying as well as film versions. I was so inspired with the brilliant acting and innovative staging of The Pantaloons dramatisation of Jane Austin’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (Review here) I could not believe how clever they were to create such an entertaining, fast paced true to the novel play (and with just five cast members), I want to see the company acting again they were so impressive. I loved Shropshire Youth Theatre ‘s witty production of Oscar Wilde’s play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’ (Review here) Especially the portrayal of Lady Bracknell with the handbag scene being hilarious! I’ve also been enjoying singing, dancing and acting myself in a musical with YFC in the Montgomery County Drama Festival, which we were lucky enough to perform at Theatre Hafren.
Spanish is spoken in so many different countries, including Latin America with all of it’s rich literary heritage. I love the sound of the language and have mainly been teaching myself through online programmes like Memrise and Babbel and also text books. I also have Spanish friends and we skype together and chat in Spanish and have had some lessons with a Spanish tutor.
I went to a visual Art Exhibition of Conflict Textiles -Stitched Voices a few weeks ago at Aberystwth Arts Centre. The textiles were from around the world where women had made them in response to violence as a way to make their cry for peace heard. It was the pictures quilted by groups of Chilean women that struck me the most, the political background to these made very real by watching a heartbreaking documentary in Spanish (with subtitles) about the background to the making of these ‘Apilleras.’ The women who made these had had their loved ones murdered under the Pinochet regime, the authorities would often attempt to remove all evidence of existence of those ‘missing’ persons. The Aperillos depicted scenes such as the arrests amidst everyday life during this frightening time. The exhibition guide explained to us how the women would stitch these quilted collages from scraps of their ‘missing’ loved ones and would place them in the landscape of the mountains to show their existence and belonging to the land. This was a huge statement and way of retaining a voice when the state was attempting to wipe out all evidence of their loved one’s existence.
One of the ‘Apilleras’ that was incredibly powerful, depicted women dancing the national dance, but with a difference-the costumes had changed from colourful to black and white and the women held a handkerchief on their finger which represented their lost love and grief with a photo of their son/father/husband/brother pinned to their chest. I saw the dance performed with acoustic instruments and singing in the documentary, it was so moving and so incredibly sad. Art really does communicate what can’t be said. I found this clip on youtube showing the dance ‘Cueca’
Film A few days later, I watched ‘Missing‘ bringing more understanding about what was happening in Chile at that time under Pinochet.
English language, the IGCSE that I’m studying has some great poetry and texts in it, I love the poetry which is so closely linked to song, I was really moved by the poem ‘Refugee Blues’ by W.H. Auden, so pertinent to now. I found on YouTube that someone had turned it into a Blues song and montaged modern images from the news to bring it right up to date, I discuss it in this article that I wrote for Voice where I’ve also embedded the video. There are so many great online tutorials on YouTube relevant to the texts I’m studying. Yesterday I found one which explained the origins of the Arabian Nights and talked about it in terms of feminism, I was fascinated and as always the more you scratch under the surface of something the more interesting it becomes and the more there is to discover.
Journalism I’ve become a Voice Reporter! Voice is an exciting and comprehensive online Youth Arts magazine. In January I attended the start of their journalist training in London for the weekend, alongside a team of youth reporters and started writing features, reviews and news articles for Voice. Check out this piece I wrote, Create The World We Want With Words and this one Where Is The Love?
After my exams are over, I’ll be back writing for Voice, reviewing Arts events, contributing to news items and writing features, I’m especially looking forward to working with the Voice team on reviewing the amazingly diverse Arts at Brighton Fringe Festival next year.
The Girl Project which aims to empower and inspire young girls, asked to interview me here . You can find out about this lovely project here and also read the spotlight they have given to My Little Sister… films here
In the spirit of Open Source Learning I was invited to write up my workshop on How To Vlog that I delivered at Mozilla Festival 2016 so that others could use the resource freely, Julie Neville from Arts Award added in the Arts Award criteria and design work to make it a great resource for Arts Award Advisers to use in Arts Award delivery. The workshop is now available here on the Mozilla Pulse site as well as on the Arts Award site. Please feel free to use my teaching resource to teach about vlogging and inspire others to report using this media.
Gymnastics, dance, performance I had a wonderful opportunity to develop skills picked up from Circus camps and workshops with a couple of terms of Aerial Dance classes in the Autumn, and started the year with being awed watching Cirque Du Soleil’s dress rehearsal of Amaluna at The Royal Albert Hall.
Last week I was so inspired by the brilliant choreography of ‘Run’ by 2faced Dance, I loved their original way in which they interpreted political and personal themes and the incredible synchronicity, agility and power of the dancers. I’m really interested in combining my gymnastic, tumbling and dance skills to communicate ideas in choreographed pieces and am working on combining these with music and song.
After my exams I’m looking forward to participating in an intensive dance week with Ballet Cymru and also to collaborating with Rufus Musafa whose work as a writer, spoken word artist and performer I admire.
Weekly gymnastics are a constant for me and I was chuffed to bits winning first place in tumble and vault in a recent interclub competition, and I’ve also obtained my ‘Sports Leadership Award‘ in coaching gymnastics.
Whats next? Well, lots of completing of projects as well as new ones…I have the footage ready to make Episode 10 and Episode 11 of My Little Sister (who happens to have Down’s syndrome), as well as some interesting creative collaborations in performance, poetry, song and film. I intend to take a lot of time to spend whole days sketching, painting and making art, and I have the My Little Sister book series to complete, our cookery book to complete and the children’s novel that I wrote and illustrated a few years ago to edit and get ready for publishing. And I have a feature film project that I’m scripting, ready to shoot. Then I’m going to go to school for the first time, which is pretty exciting, I’m going to choose a 6th form to study A levels at, I’m looking for a school with a strong Art and Drama department, as well as a strong appreciation for sports, academics and other extra curricular activities too, I’m looking forward to it!
Home Education…And here’s a couple of last things about home education until I emerge after my exams…My mum was approached and interviewed by the Mirror about home education last year, and they wrote up a very positive article which you can read here
I don’t go to school? And here is me talking about what it’s like! I get a lot of questions and astonished reactions when people ask what school I go to and I say: “well…I don’t actually go to school.” So I made a vlog to explain a bit about what my life without school is like!