Creative Mornings Cardiff

It’s probably been about a year since I started working with the awesome team at Creative Mornings Cardiff. We’ve covered themes like Revolution, Ink Art and loads more and heard from some incredible people in the  process. Check out the Creative Mornings Cardiff page and see what we’re up to on Twitter @CM_Cardiff.

Here’s my latest article exploring Shock:

shock 2

Shock, like sex, sells. In a world where clickbait headings and tabloid extremism are used to peddle beauty products, lifestyles and dubious political affiliations it is becoming harder and harder to shock people. We’re now wary of articles telling us we’ll ‘never believe what happened next’, or lists that assure us that number six will astonish us. We grow desensitised, apathetic, mistrustful.

In art shock is used to the opposite effect; to jolt us out of our comfort zones and make us consider our own situations from another perspective, or to demonstrate the full impact of someone else’s story. Shocking an audience captures their attention and focuses it on what you want to say, which is why it’s employed by advertisers and tabloid journalists as a cheap sales tool. For the artist there is no commercial gain, and this is the difference between shock and the crudity of sensationalism.

Shocks to the system can do us good; they shake up our thoughts, they breed creativity and open new perspectives and they challenge us so that we don’t just accept and submit and trudge along day after day. Sensationalism keeps us wrapped in our comfort blanket of procured idealism and distances us from a reality we don’t want to engage with, and therefore cannot change.

Through art we are able to visualise and actually experience a reality other than our own. Art that can shock is a powerful and emotive tool – used well it can change the world; used cheaply and it may or may not sell a new line of diet pills.

It’s tough to see where we go next. What will shock the next generation? What will be ‘too much’? What will make us stop?… What do you think?

Thanks @me_tweeets for the artwork!

 

South Indian Music and Me

Jenny in India

A Podcast from the wonderful New Welsh Review: Me talking all about our Wales Arts International trip to South India to learn about Carnatic art music with Dr Robert Smith. Never realised quite how often I use the word  ’incredibly’ before!

Working with Divakar Subramanium at the School of Indian Film Music we learned about Carnatic music, met some incredible musicians and created our own piece, fusing the traditions of Welsh and Indian music.

I have documented the experience thoroughly – you can check out my writing  in the Wales Arts Review publication here . I’ll be uploading the educational video I filmed, too, so keep a weather eye out for that.

You can hear our fusion piece here, if you fancy giving your lugholes a treat!

Venu

Sarah Waters

I’m terribly excited, I must confess. It isn’t every day, even working as a journalist,  that you’re offered the chance to interview one of your literary heroes.

This week I chatted to novelist Sarah Waters for Cardiff’s Buzz Magazine. We chatted on all manner of topics; from lesbian sex to British social history; from feminism to Welsh patriotism and of course about her new play, The Frozen Scream, which will be on in the WMC in Cardiff this December.

Stay tuned, you lovely people, for more on this. As soon as I’ve had the chance to write everything up (and erased the sound of my over-excited, slightly fawning voice from my memory) I’ll share our wonderful chat with you all.

Haiku for Yu!

I’ve recently been seized with a dramatic enthusiasm the Japanese poetry for Haiku. I’ve been trying to write one a day for 100 days with the wonderful Beth Giles’ artwork. Check out www.100daysofhaik.tumblr.com for haiku sillyness, puns, nonsense and artwork!

Shadow Dance – Angela Carter

Reading anything by Angela Carter is like being seduced into an inescapable and highly sensual love affair. Her words reach inside to the most intimate parts of you; touching you, moving you so that you are hers forever.Shadow Dance is one of the most disturbing and enchanting things I have ever read. It is utterly captivating and horrifying and not simply because of what happens in the story. Each of the characters is, in one way or another, recognisable; we each of us know a vain, ill-fated Ghislaine or a weak, indecisive Morris almost wilfully pinned down by his own frustrated creativity. But what makes Angela’s writing so resonant is that we can identify elements of these characters very strongly, very clearly within ourselves. She plays on our own secret insecurities, and, though she’s never met us, she seems to know us better than we know ourselves.And there are parts of us all who long for a destructively sweet-tongued Honeybuzzard to dance us away from ourselves, our responsibilities. To play the bad guy for us and vindicate us in our passivity. Shadow Dance acts as a microscope on these semi-realised feelings. We see them, and ourselves, more profoundly within it; we can see what happens when the destructive sides of ourselves can allow to happen. How far they can go, if we let them. We can empathise with Morris pretending to himself that his weakness is his strength, becoming a pseudo-hero in his own eyes. We find ourselves fascinated by Honeybuzzard’s compulsion to take things to their extremes, swept along with his charisma. Perhaps we secretly wish we could feel so little for other people as he does, so long as the game goes on. What should revolt, instead captivates.

The book is wonderful. It is gripping, absorbing and chilling and I’ll see it play out behind my eyes when I try to sleep for days. Her way of creating a dichotomy between intensely believable realism and beautifully crafted fantasy lets you identify totally with the narrative, whilst acting as complete escapism, making for an experience rather than a novel.