Category Archives: art

A poetry treasure hunt

picture of a poem

Poem at large

Last year I invented a game. It’s a poetry treasure hunt, where poetry postcards are placed around a town and clues left on social media for people to follow. It is a game to celebrate National Poetry Day and to try to get people thinking about, and enjoying, some free poetry. I called it ‘Poetrymon’ as you have to find them all…

The players have been the hiders of the poems  (from the writing collective I run, ME4Writers), and the seekers of the poems, (in this case the people of Medway, where we have played the game for the last two years).

Is it an immersive game? Is it theatre? Is it performance? An art installation? Is it some strange hybrid?

The Hiders are playing the role of covert operative, the Seekers the role of sleuth.

The journey is for the most part unscripted – though we have a plan of where we want to put poems, plans have to change on the fly as we encounter obstacles, such as locked gates and the approach of night.

The game takes the whole day and we document it as we go. The hiders’ increasing tiredness is part of the performance… if it is a performance… We welcome feedback and place a QR code on a poem as the only identifier of the project, so the finder needs to have access to a smart phone in order to find out more. Part of the project is that we do not expect every poem to be found, and not everyone who finds them will have a smart phone, so where and when they are found, sometimes they are a sweet mystery. We hid 28 poems across 5 towns this year. The cards are individually crafted and each one unique. Sometimes it is hard to leave them, but we hope that if they are found, they give a little joy.

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Folly for a Flyover and The Floating Cinema

Graffiti or street art

Graffiti or street art on the Lea

This weekend we made a visit to an enchanted world under the A12…

In what seems to be the latest in the trend for temporary ‘pop-up’ interventions in food and art, Folly for a Flyover is an amazing handbuilt wooden structure residing underneath the two carriageways of the A12 in Hackney Wick. Approaching the structure from the train, we get completely lost and find ourselves one bridge too far down, in a scantly populated mixed sprawl of older houses and shiny new Olympics regeneration. We spy something going on further back up the canal the way we’d come, so retrace our steps. We are glad we didn’t give up.

Folly for a Flyover picture

Folly for a Flyover

 After walking down into the space under the overpass  into what at first you could mistake for some sort of alternative encampment, you are confronted by the otherworldy wood and scaffolding construction of the Folly. Its wooden bricks give it a golden glow. Its rough hewn higgledy piggledy construction is strangely beautiful. Its roof pokes up between the carriageways, so who knows what the unsuspecting driver must think it is.

Inside the Folly and around is a hive of activity, people are still working on constructing bits of it, in the few hours we are there, peoeple begin construction of a strange artwork made out of the remaining construction materials. Maybe they are part of Assemble, the group responsible for the Folly, or maybe they are visitors inspired to get involved.  There is the feeling that pretty much anything is allowed here; in this truly public space reclamation.

A chalk board gives the line-up for the day’s family friendly activities, starting with yoga early in the morning, workshops in art, film-making and sound, and performance and film later into the evening. There is a cinema/theatre area to the side of the Folly. We were sorry to have missed the original Tron the evening before! There is also a cafe in the Folly, and the bacon rolls smelled very good.  

The play being performed that day was called Goblin Market and this is exactly the feeling the space evokes – a kind of magical Goblin Market, where anything might happen.

The Folly is there for six weeks from the end of June, and will host a programme of waterside cinema, performance and play. Most of it is free. For more information, see the Folly for Flyover website.

The Floating Cinema

On the day we went to the Folly, we were lucky enough to also be able to get on board the Floating Cinema, which was moored up there for the day. The Floating Cinema is a customised narrowboat that is cruising east London’s waterways over the summer; created by Studio Weave and Somewhere, it is one of the Portavilion project of temporary pavilions for London’s parks and public spaces.

The Floating Cinema has a programme of free talks, screening and canal tours over the summer.

On Saturday we were lucky enough to get on board (booking is essential as it’s a small space) for a graffiti tour of the canal – hosted by Cedar Lewisohn.

Fascinating and informative, we saw some amazing works of creativity in a small stretch of the canal – the walls of which have been used as a giant outdoor art space. It is a shame to think that a lot of the art will be painted over in the attempt to clean up the canal in time for the Olympics.

Two faces - Picasso-esque on the Lea photo

Two faces - Picasso-esque on the Lea

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