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9 March 2018

‘Expect the Unexpected': Akeim Buck on PLAY

GCF Creative Associate Artist, Akeim Toussaint Buck, chatted to us about his upcoming interactive live creation, PLAY, coming to Seven Arts in Leeds on Friday 16th March.

Akeim makes up one half of Snakebox, an artistic collaboration between himself and Otis Jones. The duo met while studying at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, where they began exploring their interest in music and dance together. They spent time at the school dancing, writing songs, composing music and choreographing. Before graduating in July 2014, they created an audience participation show called PLAY.

Snakebox presents PLAY
Otis & Akeim, photo by Daniel Phung & Samuel Baxter

PLAY is an interactive live creation inspired by audiences’ response and input. Akeim and Otis guide a controlled participatory experience, gathering information from the audience through games, then transform this information into a performance in the moment.

I asked Akeim about this collaborative approach to making work with artists and audiences. “I love collaborating,” said Akeim. Wonderful things can happen when collaborators share a common passion or drive for an idea, and a pillar fundamental of collaboration is to create a space where “everyone’s ideas are valid.”

For both Akeim and Otis, the idea of playfulness lies at the heart of their collaboration together. For Otis, this passion comes from his love of video games and comedy. For Akeim, it comes from a desire to never really grown up. Akeim describes himself as a “big kid” and compares his art to the principles of Shamanism. A shaman is regarded as having one foot in this world and one foot in the next. An artist is similar; they have one foot in the ‘real world’ and one in another world entirely – a creative world where anything is possible.

I asked what audiences could expect from PLAY. “Audiences should expect the unexpected!” replied Akeim. “PLAY is a workout for the mind and soul, a chance to remind us how connected we can be to each other and the inner child in all of us – the part of us that doesn’t want to go to work on snow days but have snowball fights and make snowmen!”

Want to PLAY with Akeim and Otis? Their imaginative live creation comes to Seven Arts on Friday 16th March, 7:00 – 9.00 pm. Admission is £5 and can be brought here.

Snakeoc
Snakebox presents PLAY, photo by Daniel Phung & Samuel Baxter

 

1 March 2018

Windrush on World Book Day

Things have been pretty Windrush focussed at GCF HQ over the past couple of weeks, and the participants of our Windrush: an Influential Force on British Culture project have been hard at work developing their new production celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush.

As today is World Book Day, we thought that there’s no better time to take a step back and think about the books that have inspired this project. After all, this weather is perfect for wrapping up inside and enjoying a day of reading. So we’ve put together a list (with lots of help from our wonderful project partner, Peepal Tree Press) of books that have helped inform the project so far, shaped the new production, and generally inspired us.

Novels, Poetry & Plays

Small Island, Andrea Levy (Hachette UK) 

A delicately wrought and profoundly moving novel about empire, prejudice, war and love, Small Island was the unique winner of both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread book of the Year, in addition to the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and the Orange Prize ‘Best of the Best’.

Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents who came to Britain in 1948. After attending writing workshops when she was in her mid-thirties, Levy began to write the novels that she, as a young woman, had always wanted to read – entertaining novels that reflect the experiences of black Britons, which look at Britain and its changing population and at the intimacies that bind British history with that of the Caribbean.

In Praise of Love and Children, Beryl Gilroy (Peepal Tree Press)

After false starts in teaching and social work, Melda Hayley finds her mission in fostering the damaged children of the first generation of black settlers in a deeply racist Britain.

Born in what was then British Guiana, Beryl Gilroy moved to the UK in the1950s. She was the author of six novels, two autobiographical books, and she was a pioneering teacher and psychotherapist, becoming London’s first black headteacher. She is considered “one of Britain’s most significant post-war Caribbean migrants”.

The Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon (Penguin Modern Classics)

Both devastating and funny, The Lonely Londoners is an unforgettable account of immigrant experience – and one of the great twentieth-century London novels.

In 1950, Sam Selvon left Trinidad for the UK where, after several hard years, he established himself as a writer.

Eldorado West One, Sam Selvon (Peepal Tree Press)

These seven one act plays bring to dramatic life some of the characters who first appeared in Selvon’s classic novels of exile, The Lonely Londoners and Moses Ascending. Dreams, schemes, summer gaiety and winter disappointments: the experiences of the parents and grandparents of the Black British children of today are portrayed with Selvon’s characteristic humour and poignancy.

Kitch, Anthony Joseph (June 2018) (Peepal Tree Press)

Born into colonial Trinidad in 1922 as Aldwyn Roberts, ‘Kitch’ emerged in the 1950s, at the forefront of multicultural Britain, acting as an intermediary between the growing Caribbean community, the islands they had left behind, and the often hostile conditions of life in post War Britain. In the process, Kitch, as he was affectionally called, single-handedly popularised the calypso in Britain, with recordings such as ‘London is the Place for Me’, ‘The Underground Train’ and ‘Ghana’.

Anthony Joseph is a musician and writer. He is the author of four poetry collections: Desafinado, Teragaton, Bird Head Son and Rubber Orchestras, and a novel, The African Origins of UFOs.

Escape to An Autumn Pavement, Andrew Salkey (Peepal Tree Press)

Johnnie Sobert is a brown Jamaican who earns his living as a barman in a Soho club. Sobert is a man divided: between Black and White; between class identities; between heterosexual and homosexual desires; between being an exiled Jamaican and an incipient Black Londoner.

Andrew Salkey was born in Colon, Panama in 1928 of Jamaican parents. He was brought up in Jamaica by his mother and grandparents. He left to attend the University of London in 1952, where he did a BA in English. He taught in school and worked as a broadcaster for the BBC on the Caribbean Voices programme. He was deeply involved in the Caribbean Artists Movement.

Another Crossing, Khadijah Ibrahiim (Peepal Tree Press)

Another Crossing is a marvellous collection of poems that tell the stories of an individual life, of a family, of the communities of Chapeltown and Harehills, and of crucial moments in the making of Leeds as a place where cultures meet.

Khadijah was born in Leeds of Jamaican parentage. She is a poet and theatre maker, and a GCF Creative Associate Artist. She is also a project producer on this project.

Non Fiction

Windrush, Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips (HarperCollins)

Broadcaster Trevor Phillips and his novelist brother Mike retell the very human story of Britain’s first West Indian immigrants and their descendants from the first wave of immigration in 1948 to the present day.

Don’t Stop The Carnival, Kevin Le Gendre (May 2018) (Peepal Tree Press)

Telling the story of Black British Music and the people who made it, from Tudor times to the mid ‘60s.

Kevin Le Gendre is a journalist and broadcaster and writer with a special interest in black music.

Against the Grain: A 1950s memoir, E.A. Markham (Peepal Tree Press)

The memoir of poet, playwright, novelist and academic, E.A. (Archie)  Markham. When he came to London in 1956 from his native Montserrat, Markham’s ambitions were to make it as a writer or pop singer, and at the same time, fulfil family expectations to become a scholar and academic. Unfortunately the young Archie’s attempts to combine elements of Little Richard and the now forgotten Jim Dale never found the success he was convinced they deserved and it has been in less lucrative fields that Markham established his reputation as a ‘nimble-footed, silver-tongued’ poet, critic and fiction writer.

The Front Room, Michael McMillan

The Front Room is a unique study by author Michael McMillan of the position of the home in different migrant groups. McMillan draws upon memories of his relatives’ homes in the 1960s and 1970s to show a representation of his vision of the traditional West Indian front room and the symbolism of particular objects.

 

Do you have any book recommendations on Windrush? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at info@gcfoundation.co.uk

More details on our Windrush production coming very soon! Keep your eyes peeled on our social media pages and website.

19 January 2018

Our 2017 – What a Year!

2017 was a big year for us at GCF and, to celebrate, we’ve created this very handy infographic that shows you all the amazing things we got up to. A massive thank you to everyone who helped make our projects, events, partnerships and goals a reality – we couldn’t have done it without your support. Here’s to another action-packed and creative year! To view the infographic full size, click here.

GCF AR Infographic FINAL

Please explore our Projects Page to find out more about what we’ve got planned in the coming months.

13 March 2017

5 Minutes with an Associate Artist: Claudio Kron Do Brazil

We interviewed our Creative Associate Claudio Kron about his career so far and what to expect from his Creative Café on ‘Rhythm and Percussion’ on Thursday 16th March 2017.
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How did you become an artist?

C: I become an artist by curiosity and the urge and need to entertain myself and others subsequently.

Who and what inspires you?

C: People, nature, politics, history, geography, sounds, innovation, arts as an educational source

What was the proudest moment of your career?

C: In terms of grand performances and achievements!  When I took part in REFLECTIONS 200 years of abolition of the slavery trade in Ghana, alongside great artists including Geraldine Connor, Mustapha Tettey Addy, Hugh Massekela, London Gospel Choir in the presence of Ghana’s president John Kufuor
Also when I performed to the Brazilian president Lula da Silva in London and Accra.
Other times when I see people who somehow I know I had contributed.
My children engaging in my music passion, Not just for the sake for them been performance artist but to know something about music and arts

What do you think are the challenges for young artists?

C: Many challenges, however the challenges are what make us a better artist! Not suffering

What can we expect from your Creative Café workshop?

C: My passion to aspect of the art I see it as a whole!  Wanting to be part of it somehow!
In this one off workshop I want to show many things that affect the arts direct and indirectly! Links between Bahia the place I come from Brasil and Africa.
Demonstration of: Percussion, interactive songs, techniques, stories

Where can we find out more?

To find out more about the Creative Café and register for updates CLICK HERE!

You can discover more about Claudio and his work at his websites:

www.claudiokron.com

www.papajaca.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHJsaZEKDPe96pQx0T6wdmw

Or contact him for a chat via
Twitter: @claudiokron

 

7 March 2017

5 Minutes with an Associate Artist: Khadijah Ibrahiim

We interviewed our Creative Associate Khadijah Ibrahiim about her career so far and what to expect from her Creative Café on ‘Writing for Performance’ on Thursday 9th March 2017.

Khadijah Ibrahiim
Khadijah Ibrahiim

How did you become an artist?

K: I was introduced to the arts from a young age as I was involved in dance and theatre in and outside of school. I attended Intake school of performing arts so it was a natural progression to go into the arts. My mother, attended a writing group at Roseville art centre, and had her short story published. This inspired me, since I enjoyed writing stories, painting and drawing, and convinced my siblings or friends to be in my plays, or productions at school (and then later on in college and university). My grandparents were activists and were part of many campaigns in Chapeltown where artists often featured, and the basement of their home sometimes acted as a rehearsal space for musicians.

Who and what inspires you?

K: One of my early inspirations for poetry was the revolutionary Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, his poetry contained the social commentary of the 70s and 80s. Louise Bennett, another Jamaican poet and storyteller and singer-songwriter David Bowie were also key influences at the time. Other artists such as Jonzi D inspire me, and that of the works of Brazilian theatre maker Augusto Boal and his ‘theatre of the oppressed’. Everyday life inspires me, it is theatre in itself, especially the communities in which people live. I like the fact that an audience can be more than just ‘spectators’ they can be and should be spect-actors.

What was the proudest moment of your career?

K: When I finished my first full poetry collection ‘Another Crossing’ and launched as a one-woman show at the West Yorkshire playhouse. Writing the collection was extremely personal and it was a lesson in trusting myself and the quality of my work. One of my writing mentors Jacob Ross once said ‘these stories are not yours to keep, they belongs to the people’ in others words I needed to let go, so other people could enjoy the collection of poems.

What do you think are the challenges for young artists?

K: Being confident enough to engage in activities available to them, there are far more things now than there was at the beginning of my career. Having said that, opportunities can be geographically based and sporadic or inconsistent so more than often, young people may lack the courage and drive to go further afield and step out of their comfort zone to track them down. Many young people may feel, they don’t belong in certain art spaces or buildings, It’s up to, those arts organisations to find ways to make those changes.

What can we expect from your Creative Café workshop?

K: You should expect the excitement of writing and performing and the chance to explore your imagination through the use of visuals and text. You’ll have the freedom to experiment because there is no right or wrong in this workshop, here one can put any fear aside and put your creative mind and heart out there.

Where can we find out more?

 

To find out more about the Creative Café and register for updates CLICK HERE!

You can read more about Khadijah’s work ‘Another Crossing’ here:

http://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/another-crossing

British Council South Africa exchange http://badilishapoetry.com/khadijah-ibrahim/

Tedx Woman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUbiul6hduM

 

Don’t forget to check out Leeds Young Authors, established by Khadijah, which has received international acclaim and are the subject of the Multi award-winning documentary ‘We Are Poets’ which recently featured on the BBC

https://leedsyoungauthors.org/

https://www.youtube.com/user/LeedYoungAuthors 

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