Snow Q Crow Goes to Lewes Live Literature – Rita

Snow Q is continuing. Snow Q is branching out. Here is Snow Q’s actor Rita Suszek talking about her recent performance of Maria Jastrzębska’s Crow poems. These poems were written for our collaborative project and inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story in which the heroine Gerda meets a Crow on her quest.
On Thursday, 23rd of May I got to board the train from London to Eastbourne after work. I was excited – I was to bring Snow Q’s Crow poems to Lewes Live Literature! The event was part of their Outside Season and created in support of CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably. While suicide – its results, prevention and suffering – was the main theme of the evening, the guiding quote was the one by Munia Khan: “Nothing is unreal as long as you can imagine like a crow”.Untitled
Having arrived and conferred with Mark Hewitt, who had directed Snow Q last December and was one of the organisers, I spiked my hair and put some black lipstick on, the better to emulate the Crow. Crows are strange creatures – scavengers by nature, symbolically guarding the border between life and death, tellers of stories. In the case of Snow Q, the Crow is the one who has the answers, who has lived long enough to tell stories. The poems we chose to perform speak for themselves, evoking the cold snow communist Poland, the border between Polish and English language, the walls between families and their children. They speak of loneliness and connection both, and punctuate every poignant moment with indignant caw-ing, which I was more than happy to demonstrate.
I was honoured to recite alongside the wonderful pieces that were on that night. “This is always the result”, a live narrative over a film piece, written and performed by Gus Watcham, directed by Mark Hewitt with video sequence by Abigail Norris – the piece shows a suicide attempt and its impact on one family’s life in incredible detail, unrelenting, poetic and touching at the same time. There was also poetry performed by Imo Carr and Ellie Long, Arts Award students from Eastbourne College: the poems were diverse and thoughtful, delivered beautifully. Finally, we listened to a series of music tracks by an award-winning songwriter, Elsa Hewitt: they were hypnotic, conveying both a sense of quiet and a frisson of unrest, worry, questioning; some of the songs were also layered over a video, showcasing how mental health problems can creep on us all.
To learn more about the event, take a look at this link: http://www.leweslivelit.co.uk/?location_id=110

Cover image by Dagmara Rudkin

You can read Maria Jastrzębska’s The Subsongs of Crow poems in the current issue of Poetry Wales magazine. 

The Flower Garden in May and June at the Phoenix Brighton

What better time to think about a garden? Even one connected to Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen which was the original starting point for our collaborative Winter Solstice project which is beginning to grow again.

Two Women Who Knew Magic from our Visual Team, Dagmara Rudkin and Wendy Pye will be opening their studios this coming weekend, 18th and 19th of May as a part of Open Studios at the Phoenix Brighton. They will be showing their own work as well as work that either inspired or was directly produced for our Snow Q event. They both have their studios on a third floor so please do come and visit them.

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Gerda’s chandelier and textile installations developed and produced for the Snow Q will also be displayed throughout June in the Phoenix Brighton Window Gallery. Watch out for a new piece which Dagmara will add to the exhibition on the Summer Solstice.

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‘Afterka’ (is Polish for after-party)

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An immense thank you to everybody who came to experience Snow Q our collaborative installation at the Regency Town House Annexe on December 21, 2018!  We were thrilled to share our work with you.  Thank you also for writing your thoughtful and very encouraging feedback on the backs of ‘fish’ – the way that in Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story the old woman of Lapland and the Finnish woman communicate with one another, writing on fish and then, having read the message, add the fish to a stew. We are still processing everything at the moment but hope to share some fish with you before long.

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Is it all over? We certainly hope not! We are delighted to have freelance documentary film-maker Rosie Powell putting together a short film of highlights from the installation which we will be posting soon. Meanwhile Dagmara and Wendy, our visual team extraordinaire, will be giving an artists’ talk about Snow Q at the Phoenix Gallery in Brighton on Monday January 14th. All welcome!

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Are we nearly there? Happy Solstice/ thank you!

WEP_0338At this time of year, far away at the North Pole, elves – some people believe – are frantically working to wrap gifts ready for Santa Claus to deliver around the world. Who can say if that is true, but here in the U.K, while people have been lighting Chanukah candles and others are preparing for Christmas, shopping, baking, carol-singing or not…a team of artists are working their socks off to get ready for a collaborative installation on Winter Solstice, Friday Dec 21st at the Regency Town House Annexe Basement. Our research and development project Snow Q – a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story along contemporary themes – began at Summer Solstice six whole months ago. And now we are almost ready to show you – for one day only – what we’ve been up to! We hope you’ve booked tickets (free) and can come along. Wear woollies! It will be zimno zimno/ccccccold. For those who can’t, we’re making a documentary about it and will be uploading that and some sound recordings after the project next year.

Lampshade1Right now the visuals team Dagmara and Wendy are putting up the artwork with help from Regency Town House’s curator Phil Blume. (Dagmara is sewing as I type.. ) Amy Clark and David Manion from Glyndebourne have not only very generously lent us the most extraordinary light equipment but already installed it for us – bear in mind this is a historic building with no sockets! Simon Yapp our sound engineer is installing VGA cables and Rasberry Pi’s. Nevermind speaking Ponglish! They’re talking keystoning, video mapping…Plus there is lumens to take into account…obviously. (Others of us use notebooks, pencils – cut and paste is the pinnacle of our technical achievement …)
WEP_0340Rita mutters lines to herself and sleeps with poems under her pillow. Mark stays awake. Ellie dreams phrasing and tone. Emails fly back and forth non-stop. Phone calls, meetings. Apparently we’re still 1 projector short…WEP_0321WEP_033548394047_1013760298830722_4005019267937337344_n

Looking back at the last 6 months, we want to thank all of you who have been following us via this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey from tentative ‘what-are-we-doing?’ right through to: ‘well whatever it is, we’re doing it, NOW!’ And a huge thank you to those of you who talked to us and let us include your thoughts in our posts. You’ve enriched them and made this blog much more interesting.48389815_216460055956315_9018116249858605056_n

WEP_0353Please stay with us. Your support and any feedback you care to give make all the difference. Without you we’d be a sorry bunch of elves indeed. Enjoy the Rasberry Pi!

 

Photos at Regency Town House Annexe Basement by Wendy Pye

 

 

 

 

Wishes and memories, working with the Young Carers Group – Maria and Dagmara

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The title of our project, Snow Q, and of the original story that inspired our collaborative project, the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, could be misleading. Is the Snow Queen the main character? What about the two young people who lose and then find not only each other but also themselves. We’ve been talking about it as the story of a young person caring for someone else – going on a quest to rescue them – Gerda journeys to find her friend Kai who is missing in the snow – a story about selflessness and the determination of a young person in particular who meets and then overcomes obstacles that demand strength and courage beyond her age.

We’re working with different groups of people as part of the research and development of Snow Q. How do aspects of the story resonate with different people? We were keen to involve young people and we were delighted to have the opportunity of working with Brighton Young Carers Group and their Support Team from a wonderful organization at the Carers Centre in Brighton and Hove:

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Maria and Dagmara loved meeting them and were amazed at the response they got. The young people in the Brighton Young Carers Group all have someone in their family who needs their care whether through illness or disability. As a carer all too often you are trying to think about someone else and what their needs might be. We wanted the children and young people who came to our workshops to have the opportunity to think about themselves and explore their own creativity.

Here is a description of what we did and some images from our workshops held on a rainy Thursday at the Cornerstone Community Centre in Hove last month. The young carers, (aged 6 to late teens) were split into two groups and participated in two workshops: Creative Writing led by Maria and an Art workshop run by Dagmara. Many thanks to Tom Lambert, Brighton Young Carers’ Team Manager who welcomed us and arranged the workshops, to Ruth Sullivan and Paula Melis, Support and Outreach workers and all members of support staff but most of all to the shiny stars of that rainy and cold day – the Young Carers.

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Dagmara: In the Third Chapter ‘Of the Flower Garden’ young Gerda leaves everything that is safe and familiar and decides to go on a journey to save Kay. Quite soon into her quest, the river takes her to a house occupied by a mysterious woman who puts her under a spell. She brushes Gerda’s hair, feeds her cherries, enchants her with a smell of flowers and their exotic and peculiar stories. Although Gerda forgets about Kay, she is given an opportunity to rest, to be nurtured, to be spoiled.

In our art workshop, I asked Young Carers to imagine that they were about enter the Flower Garden and meet the Enchantress who would put them under the spell. All they knew and remembered, good and not so good, was to be forgotten, all, except what they could capture on a piece of paper or fabric. Young people used drawing, collage, transfer, sewing and printing techniques to create images representing happiest and most treasured moments in their lives they wanted to hold forever. Images of bike rides and trips to the beach were layered with pictures of pets and birthday cakes. Some children added words and objects that represented tools to help them with overcoming obstacles described in Maria’s workshop, for example a set of little keys to open all sort of locked doors.

Here are only a few examples of work by the Young Carers, however all work produced by them will become a part of our art installation at the Annex of the Regency Town House in Brighton. The Young Carers’ artwork will form a giant table cloth for a kitchen table in the spectacular kitchen which, with its glass roof, is not unlike a glass house or even the magical house of the Enchantress that put Gerda under the spell.

What better place to dedicate to the Young Carers but the magical Flower Garden where they can rest, grow and blossom.

Maria:  Every journey or quest begins with a wish, I told the young people. I asked each of them to speak and write about their wishes. We also played games speaking breakfast-speak – a language consisting solely of breakfast foods to get them into a novel kind of language. I was impressed by their perseverance and determination.  Even those for whom writing or spelling was challenging – everyone stuck with the tasks I set and responded imaginatively, in a lively way. Some of their words and recordings of their words will make their way into our installation.

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Wishes ranged from a new pet puppy/cat – or ferret for that matter – to travelling the world, a loved one getting better or someone who had died coming back ‘for a day’. The two groups also wrote and spoke about what gets in the way of us achieving our aims and what helps us –  the distractions of phones were acknowledged by all, adults and children alike, whilst other people could sometimes provide distraction as well as much vital support and encouragement.

The groups then went on a mythical journey creating their own quests, having looked at a storyboard of Gerda’s quest to find Kai.  Here all kinds of rivals, monsters, pirates – even a domestic cat who didn’t want its owner to leave – threw obstacles in their path, while all manner of friendly creatures and persons guided the intrepid travellers across oceans or to the summits of mountains and also helped them win important challenges (one involved caring for goats!) and of course to find happiness.

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