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GOlive at Winchester University

Tipped by Dance Europe as one of 2014’s highlights on the Dance scene, GOlive made its way to Winchester for one night at Winchester University in what will be the first of many visits…

Imaginations Flowing: A Review of GOlive at Winchester University – September 16, 2014

GOlive
GOlive

Since the birth of the GOlive Dance and Performance Festival in September 2013 at the Giant Olive Theatre, Kentish Town, its topsy-turvy programme has provided a platform for both new and returning artists back-to-back with an average of five different ‘acts’ per night. This autumn the multi-disciplinary festival presented mixed bills on nine nights over a two-week period in London, plus an additional evening hosted by The University of Winchester on September 16.

The low-key, rough-and-ready nature of GOlive gives it an edge, with artists being showcased in a wonderfully intimate but exposing way. Each evening is entirely unique, presenting a lucky dip of works-in-progress, excerpts of longer shows or short and snappy finished pieces. But it’s the curation of twenty-minute or so works of all sorts that gives this festival its power. With such variety and juxtaposition in GOlive’s palm, its audiences are bombarded with enquiring and thinking pieces that allow for new ‘ways of seeing’ (to quote John Berger) via their order on the programme.

Mamoru Iriguchi
Mamoru Iriguchi

Mamoru Iriguchi introduced his semi-biographical work-in-progress [working title: Marlene Backwards] as a play on the three standard dimensions but with the addition of a fourth – time. Using spoken text and a series of video projections broken by time, space or Iriguchi’s own face as a centrepiece, he distorted the linear narrative of German actress/singer Marlene Dietrich’s life. In this manner Iriguchi exposed the facades created by technology – facades that are easily perceived as absolute through a camera lens. It was when his own technology failed him – and as he moved in and out of character – that Iriguchi’s clunky, awkwardly stop-start performance gained what I believe to be its ‘real’ extra dimension: the falling in and out of perceived reality.  As a recording of the same performance (given previously in Germany) was played in reverse, the piece’s formal and visual elements became the focus alongside a screaming sense of dislocation in time, place, and language. Iriguchi was effectively reminding us how fallible, changeable and interlinked our constructed realities and technologies are.

Debbie Lee Anthony
Debbie Lee Anthony

Debbie Lee-Anthony’s reworked autobiographical solo A nice little project (shown in Winchester Chapel at Every Word Hurts on June 26, 2014) returned for several nights at GOlive in London, plus this one-off in Winchester. After handing out biscuits, Lee-Anthony took the audience through a nostalgic sharing of all things nice whilst also exploring the psychological implications of ‘nice’ people. Honest recollection of negative responses to her actions and personality revealed undertones of suffocation and frustration. In other words, Lee-Anthony relived the emotions associated with these experiences whilst describing them through words and dance.  The audience was drawn into the dialogue by sharing mutual scenarios of ‘niceness,’ something that would strengthen the unsettling nature of the piece if it were to reoccur as Lee-Anthony’s themes became darker and yet more academic – thus creating possible moments of self-reflection for us.

Hayley Barker
Hayley Barker

Hayley Barker (an associate artist at The Point, Eastleigh) brought her second piece Venus to GOlive, a work-in-progress that casually invited the audience to observe closely this doll-like redhead as she grinned and grimaced, chewed, preened and agitated. Several times Barker snacked from a bag of nuts whilst accumulating a jolting movement vocabulary into a distorted, grotesque version of herself. Clear motions were repeated, building up a dynamic tension and a sense of expectation that remained unfulfilled due to this short work’s sudden finish. As Hutera later commented to Barker, ‘I wondered if we’d see you vomit those nuts over the stage.’ Plainly a massive explosion of some kind was anticipated, or possibly a handful of nuts greedily gobbled, dribbled and spat out; there was a mess to be made, or a purging of movement both ugly and cathartic and blurring the line between satisfaction and self-loathing. But the sudden stop to Barker’s piece was powerful in itself, and perhaps said more about the urges and longings that were left in the spectator’s imaginations. Was it not brave of Barker to end her work there and refuse to give the audience its climax? I think so.

Nuno Silva
Nuno Silva

Nuno Silva and Sabio Janiak are two other GOlive alumni imported from London to Winchester. In this piece Silva serenaded the audience, some of whom were invited to sit in the round onstage in close proximity to the performers and their instruments. The magnetising Silva quietly introduced each fado, illuminating the Portuguese national song just enough to set imaginations flowing as we reclined into a candlelit world of music at once soulful and comforting as a lullaby. Silva’s constantly circling choreography and intensity as a singer and dancer was trance-inducing.  Janiak’s complete concentration creating live music with voice and multi-instrumentals was equally mesmerising. Their collaboration created a whirlwind of emotion, transporting this spectator into another realm.

Sarah Kent
Sarah Kent

Sarah Kent, a familiar face in GOlive, brought the house down as she always does. Engaging in a performance ‘conversation’ with her is unpredictable and chancy. Kent’s stream-of-consciousnessis structured and knowing but risks being never-ending. Batty as ever, funny, naughty and completely unabashed, her improvised form of ‘action theatre’ drew in this instance on features of the theatrical and architectural space as she evoked memories and stories from her past. From high-pitched wails to car engines to on-the-spot singing, her use of voice in Winchester was powerful and solidly dependable.

To sum up, GOlive never fails to intrigue and catch you unawares. There’s an oddness of character about this festival which makes each outing – whether in Kentish Town or Winchester – so interesting. Wherever you see GOlive, and on whatever night, you’re guaranteed to laugh, question your own assumptions and be surprised. Hosted by the University, the ‘one-night stand’ in Winchester occurred at what is only the beginning of the festival’s second year of existence. What a treat it was to view both London and local artists together. Curator Donald Hutera’s ‘troupe’ was honest and humble during a post-show talk where the works we’d just seen were dissected and unpicked. Each artist was passionate and eloquent about his or her intentions and process, valuing the dialogue with the audience. With any luck GOlive’s visit to Winchester will turn out to be the first of many to the city…

By Rebecca JS Nice

GOlive is coming to Winchester!

GOlive
GOlive

The name GOlive is derived from the place of origin of the first festival:  the Giant Olive Theatre in London, located in the heart of Kentish Town at the Lion and Unicorn. GOlive was launched there a year ago this month as a 21-day marathon showcasing the work of 57 individuals or companies (or, tabulated another way, 98 artists altogether). The festival then returned this past spring in a more selective ‘headliners plus special guests’ format. Now it’s back in yet another guise as GOlive/GOlab. The emphasis during this current laboratorial version is on works-in-progress, which means the presence of anyone in the room can potentially influence a show’s future development.  [For the record, the remaining London performance dates are September 13, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 21 at 7.30pm. Admission is by donation (£5 suggested) but all are welcome. Full details available at www.giantolive.com or via Twitter: @GiantOlive and Facebook]

Enough about London! What’s up with GOlive in Winchester? Thanks to a nascent association with the good people at Winchester University, the festival is happily going ‘on the road’ for one night only. The plan is to present five ‘acts’ in two different black box theatre spaces on campus starting at 7pm on September 16. The evening is part of a roster of activities for new students, but anyone who’s interested will be warmly welcome – and, from my perspective, positively encouraged – to attend. I’m both tickled and thrilled that GOlive is, in effect, now on tour (and this without benefit of government or any other form of subsidy aside from the in-kind generosity of the University’s Faculty of Arts).

I’ll close with a thumbnail description of each of the works on offer that evening, and the gifted people who created them. Enjoy reading and, ideally, venturing out to the University campus to actually see the entire show. It’s likely to be a most scintillating night…

Hayley Barker
Hayley Barker

Hayley Barker

Independent movement artist Hayley Barker (also an associate artist at The Point, Eastleigh) creates structured improvisations built imaginatively from real and fictional people/stories.  In the work-in-progress ‘Venus’ (working title) she considers the history of human exhibitions, voyeurism and contemporary pop culture’s obsession with the body. (10 mins approx.)

Mamoru Iriguchi
Mamoru Iriguchi

Mamoru Iriguchi

The designer/performer Mamoru Iriguchi likes using lo-fi, DIY technology to blur actual and virtual realities, usually with an inventively droll sense of humour.  For this edition of GOlive he’ll be testing out nascent ideas, asking what’s live and what (if anything) is eternally fixed… (20 mins)

Twitter:@mamoru_iriguchi

Sarah Kent
Sarah Kent

Sarah Kent

The highly-regarded ex-Time Out visual arts critic turned fearlessly frank and funny soloist Sarah Kent (aka Degenerate 15) lays herself on the line in a defiant piece of action-theatre called ‘No Holds Barred.’ (15-20 mins max)

 

 

Debbie Lee Anthony
Debbie Lee Anthony

Debbie Lee-Anthony

A dancer and choreographer who trained at The Place, Debbie Lee-Anthony is a senior lecturer at the University of Winchester.  Her current focus is solo autobiographical performance.  Taking notions of niceness as a theme, ‘A nice little project’ is a series of intimate danced and spoken vignettes designed to engage, provoke and entertain.  (20 mins)

Nuno Silva
Nuno Silva

Nuno Silva and Sabio Janiak

Multi-talented Nuno Silva (singer, dancer, actor and the fulcrum of Nu Music and Dance) and multi-instrumentalist/composer Sabio Janiak develop further a fusion of contemporary dance, fado (Portugal’s national song style) and electronic/live music first unveiled at GOlive 2013. (15-20 mins)  Twitter: @nnunoev

 

 

 

by Donald Hutera

Ode To Autumn

Keats Walk leaflet, Winchester City Council
Keats Walk leaflet, Winchester City Council

It’s feeling a bit fresh outside, not to mention the cascading downpours of rain that edged their way into the ‘summer’ bank holiday. This can mean only one thing: summer is on its way out and autumn is making a comeback.  The good news is that Winchester knows how to do autumn. Keats made us famous for it with his Ode ‘To Autumn,’ composed whilst walking in Winchester as documented in a letter to J H Reynolds dated the 22nd of September, 1819: “How beautiful the season is now. How fine the air — a temperate sharpness about it… This struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it.” ~ Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman, Crowell publ. 1895. You can follow in Keats’ footsteps on this 2-mile walk in what the Telegraph describes as a “win-win stroll”.

There’s plenty going on in September to tempt city-folk out of the post-sunshine blues. Here’s a selection from the Win Guide

Winchester College War Cloister
Winchester College War Cloister

Presumably as a nod to Keats’ ‘seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness,’ Winchester is offering its inaugural Poetry Festival 12th-14th September.  Predominantly based at the Discovery Centre, but with events happening at the United Church (Jewry St) and Winchester College, the poetry festival will feature the likes of Patience Agbabi, David Constantine and Brian Patten, among many others. The Wilfred Owen Association is sponsoring a commemorative reading event in Winchester College War Cloister, in which Michael Longley is taking part. Fans of Owen will be delighted to hear they can follow this up by visiting the Theatre Royal for the Blackeyed Theatre tour of Stephen MacDonald’s celebrated ‘Not About Heroes’ 11-14th September.

 

NTlive Medea, National Theatre
NTlive Medea, National Theatre

The Theatre Royal is holding its Centenary Gala on 28th September at 7.30pm with an evening of variety and film.  The event is free, courtesy of the generous support of Lady Jennie Bland and the returning performers and creative team who will be offering their time voluntarily. Donations are welcome at the box office. And the National Theatre is coming to the Everyman cinema in Southgate Street on 4th September with the NTlive streaming of Euripides’ Medea, featuring Helen McCrory and directed by Carrie Cracknell.  If Greek infanticide tragedy isn’t your thing, NTlive will also be streaming the Young Vic’s fastest-selling production to date ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ later in the month on 16th September featuring Gillian Anderson and directed by Benedict Andrews. Win Guide editor Donald Hutera saw the latter show live in London last month and tells us it’s “a steamy and emotionally stinging sensation”!

SC4M Festival 2014
SC4M Festival 2014

To get you in an Americana mood don’t miss the SC4M 2014 Music Festival at the Railway Tavern on Sunday 7th September, 2-11pm.  The line-up includes Danny And The Champions Of The World,
 The Rails, 
The Travelling Band and 
Peter Bruntnell, with many more treats in store.

Be sure to catch the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition running at the Discovery Centre until 21st September.  And, if you’re inspired to get snapping yourself, the Winchester Photographic Society’s new season commences on the 2nd of September 2014.  One of the largest societies in the South, members meet on Tuesday evenings 7:30-10:00pm from September to May at the Performance Hall ( again in the Discovery Centre).

If you’re feeling in a back-to-school mind-set, why not take some French or Spanish classes with Language for Fun? Visit their free taster session in Hyde Parish Hall on 2nd September 8-9pm for a chance to try out a class and meet fellow students over a glass of vino or cup of coffee.

Winchester 100
Action Winchester 100

Finally, for those of you who’ve already doused yourselves in iced water and are still craving more action for charity, why not join the Winchester Memory Walk at the North Walls Recreation Ground on September 13th at 10am? The event is in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, and participants can choose between a one-mile walk around the park or a more challenging six-mile stretch; both are pushchair and wheelchair-friendly. There’s a Zumba warm-up and also post-walk live music, entertainment, homemade cakes, tea, coffee and games. Later in the month get pedaling with Winchester 100, in aid of Action Medical Research for Children. Taking place on 21st September, this event offers an organized opportunity to experience a ride in the New Forest that passes through three counties and a number of stunning hamlets.

Given all of the above, it’s obvious that there’s no dearth of splendid and sometimes blood-stirring activities to keep us busy as we make the gradual transition to cooler weather. Enjoy!

A right Royal fuss: The Hunt for King Alfred

 King Alfred
King Alfred

His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester, visited the University of Winchester in June 2014 to hear about the discovery of remains in the current Alfred campaign. And, as you are about to read, with good reason…

Winchester has long associated itself with the legendary King Alfred (846-899), described as “The Greatest Englishman” by Winston Churchill. Alfred’s statue, situated at the bottom of the high street in line with the Westgate, marks the layout of the city’s streets under his design. Winchester’s historic patriotism is reflected in this iconic figure, referred to as “King of the English” by his contemporaries. The image of royalty triumphant in war, and yet also functioning as a peacekeeper, is manifest in the statue’s composition. Alfred’s victory over the Vikings, his large-scale street planning, the building of churches and a Royal Palace formed the structure of Winchester and the notion of a capital city of Wessex. The design of “Old Minster,” meaning old church in Anglo-Saxon, can still be detected as marked by cobbles in the Cathedral close. Anglo-Saxon history, however, which spans the 5th-11th centuries, isn’t as visible in our lives today as the Norman-Romanesque castles, cathedrals and medieval street designs. Being harder to uncover makes the mystery of King Alfred’s remains even more enticing.

The hunt for our Royal ancestors has taken a more feverish turn. It all began with the mass hysteria created by the Richard III Society over the latter’s possible remains beneath a Leicester car park. Similar events in Winchester, however, have in recent months taken a more serious tone. Previously an unsuccessful search involved the radio-carbon dating of a set of six skeletons, including five skulls excavated from St Bartholomew’s Church exhumed from the site of Hyde abbey in 19th century. This sparked interest in uncovering the remains of King Alfred, but was subsequently dated as too late to be identified with him. And yet all was not lost to history forever as this investigation paved the way for a wider hunt. It seems that these were not the only remains with links to the King’s burial, said to have been at the High Altar of Hyde Abbey.

Winchester Museum
Winchester Museum

Some remains already excavated from Hyde Abbey for safekeeping sat quietly in two boxes in The Museum of Winchester’s storage, patiently awaiting a well-funded and high-profile research project to come their way. It did, under the direction of Dr Katie Tucker, a researcher in human osteology at the University of Winchester. Last year these boxes of bones from Hyde Abbey were carefully transferred from storage to their next hiding place, deeply ensconced in the warren of corridors in the University’s archaeology department. Dr Tucker has paid particular attention to a section of hip bone separated from the collection and found at the location of the Abbey’s high altar – a position reserved for the most important and high-ranking individuals.

Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder

Although deeply hush-hush, it became common knowledge in the history department that King Alfred was secretly hidden away in our university buildings. This created an exciting rush as we went to lectures knowing that something – or someone – magical was in our midst. The results, however. are slightly more vague. Dating and analysis placed the bone between AD 895-1017, and belonging to a man between 26 and 45 or over. King Alfred died in his early fifties in 899. There are, however, more possible identities such as King Edward the Elder or his brother, Ethelweard, who were also buried at the abbey.

Alfred, King of the Anglo-Saxons. (Cambridge University Library, Ee.3.59: fol. 3v)
Alfred, King of the Anglo-Saxons. (Cambridge University Library, Ee.3.59: fol. 3v)

Now that the novelty has worn off, especially after the broadcast of a BBC2 documentary in January 2014, I ask Professor Barbara Yorke (Emeritus Professor in Early Medieval History, University of Winchester) what all the hype was really about. Is this King Alfred or not? And what does the project mean for the future? Professor Yorke stresses that radio-carbon dating is not precise. “The bone, if it is a royal one, could just as easily be that of one of Alfred’s sons who were also buried there,” she explains. “There were also quite likely other significant Anglo-Saxons moved from New Minster to Hyde, such as abbots.” Although one bone can reveal information about diet, perhaps, if it were to actually lead to the discovery of more bones then the state of play would get much more interesting. “Personally I would love to know what Alfred looked like,” Professor Yorke remarks, “and whether he did suffer from a serious illness, as his biographer suggests”. Bringing these ancient characters to life would certainly generate interest in the Anglo-Saxon past. “I would like people to be as interested in Alfred’s son Edward the Elder, as he was also a remarkable king who ruled more of England and was more of a patron in Winchester. A verified tangible relic would act as a focus of interest in him, but we are not there yet, and more finds would be necessary to distinguish him from Edward (and, potentially, another son) – though I’m not sure if one could ever certainly do so.”

Rumour has it that a hunt is on for Alfred’s ancestors in order to help identify the bone. As Professor Yorke clarifies, “The potential of DNA and other scientific analyses is very exciting, but it’s still being developed. A few years ago the remains of a granddaughter of Alfred, named Eadgith, were excavated in Magdeburg cathedral. (She married a German emperor). Water residue in her teeth confirmed that she was likely to have been brought up in southern England – quite different from those of other people in Magdeburg cathedral – and really was Eadgith. However, although they had most of her bones, it was not possible because of their condition to extract DNA from them. The radio-carbon dates were way out for her lifetime, possibly to do with her diet. Eating fish can skew the results.”

Mortuary Chests, Winchester Cathedral
Mortuary Chests, Winchester Cathedral

So although the Alfred campaign has not bought the great King back to life through a tangible and identifiable body, it has sparked interest in his sons and granddaughter. All of this is incredibly important to Anglo-Saxon history. Meanwhile the excitement of DNA testing, and the thought of identifying real Royal figures with remains, is far from fading. The mortuary chests that belong in Winchester Cathedral are said to hold the bones of Anglo-Saxon kings and their Danish successors, including King Cnut. They’re being conserved, and it’s no secret that future aspirations lie in re-articulating the skeletons and DNA-testing. The bones, it seems, were unfortunately mixed up when the Civil War soldiers threw them through the Cathedral’s stained-glass windows to break the images of saints. “The kings and bishops in the mortuary chests would pose major problems,” cautions Professor Yorke, “as the bones have moved around a lot. This could affect radio-carbon dating and other scientific tests, and it would be very expensive to do other than take samples. There is much of potential interest in them, but it may need to be further away in the future. Detailed study may have to wait for further scientific advances.”

Imagining a line-up of Anglo-Saxon Kings buried here at Winchester, fortifies its historic legacy even more. Let’s hope that successful DNA testing is not that far off, as the opportunity to find out what each king looked like and who they were makes a mysterious other world suddenly become human, tangible and almost living.

By Rebecca J S Nice

Writer, dance critic, history geek and Winchy lover. Rebecca is a mature student at The University of Winchester studying Choreography and Dance combined with History. After teaching for eight years, she now writes for various publications and blogs about dance and all things arty-farty, whilst drinking copious amounts of tea and day dreaming in Winchester’s many café windows. @rebeccajsnice

It’s lunchtime. Why don’t we pop down to Winchester?

Chesil Rectory
Chesil Rectory

The newspapers tell us that Rebekah Brooks and hubby Charlie are fond of flying to Venice for lunch at Harry’s Bar on the Grand Canal before flitting back to Chipping Norton for supper. Or used to, when she had a job. Many lesser mortals take the day trip Eurostar tour to Paris for lunch in the Eiffel Tower. So why not train down from London to Winchester to lunch at what the newspapers (The Times) tell us is the third most romantic restaurant in Britain? (How do they measure that – does the Most Romantic Restaurant wheel out a four-poster bed with the pudding wine?)

The journey takes just an hour and, if you’ve got enough grey hair to qualify for a rail travel card, a return ticket costs £15. A stunning two course lunch at the Chesil Rectory is only 95p more than that. And though it may not be the Grand Canal, a leafy stroll along the adjacent Itchen river will nourish the post-prandial spirit, so who needs Harry’s Bar?

Winchester is stuffed with charming restaurants and cosy pubs whose soot-blackened timbers groan with antiquity, but the Chesil Rectory, built between 1425 and 1450, is the oldest commercial building in the city and one of the best preserved. The passing centuries have sunk it well below street level and the low oak doorway was originally used by livestock. So if you’re taller than a cow, duck! Keep your head down when climbing the stairs to the bar, too.

Chesil Rectory
Chesil Rectory

Inside, you are swaddled in comfort. Contemporary button-back banquettes and armchairs don’t break the historic spell cast by the ancient beams and the two 16th century fireplaces. The cuisine though is thoroughly up-to-date. Head chef Damian Brown does wonderful creative things with local Hampshire ingredients.

We were offered a selection of four wholesome artisan breads, with butter, rapeseed oil and crunchy dukkah seeds to dip it in. I said that if we had thought to bring some Marmite we wouldn’t have to order anything else and the waitress, I think, smiled. Maybe she’d heard that before.

The carnivore in our party (me) chose a starter of venison carpaccio so thin it was melting, garnished with a tarragon pesto, capers and horseradish. You could eat it with a spoon. And I only needed a fork to pry open the spicy confit of pork shoulder tottering on a crusty fondant potato harbouring a rich and creamy inside and contrasted with cabbage and bacon bits.

My wife delighted in the fresh oven-roasted trout with celeriac and apple slaw, warm potato salad and sweet dill dressing. Afterwards we decided to lash out another £4 and asked for two spoons and a portion of homemade carrot cake partnered with cream cheese ice-cream. Decadent!

For some reason the expert and gracious staff gave us coffee and petit fours on the house. Possibly they liked that wheeze about the marmite after all?

By Chuck Anderson

Chuck Anderson’s TV plays have been produced by CBS Television , New York and MGM-TV, Hollywood. In the UK he has authored fiction and non-fiction books. Plays include the premiere of Warehouse of Dreams at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in November 2014 and a production fostered by the British Council in Hamburg of the one-act black farce Who’s Afraid of Edward Albee?

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition

Matt Denton's Mantis Robot, part of the Winchester Science Festival 2014
Matt Denton’s Mantis Robot, part of the Winchester Science Festival 2014

As I made my way to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, currently showing in the gallery of the Winchester Discovery Centre, I was startled to come across a mantis. Not an insect, but rather a massive, six-legged robotic walking machine designed by Matt Denton, founder and chief designer of Micromagic Systems. This unexpected encounter seemed like an appropriately fitting preface to an exhibition exploring how we attempt to capture nature.

The images in the exhibition have been selected from 43,000 entries by an international jury chaired by Jim Brandenburg. The quality is, not surprisingly, extremely high.  Each photograph on display in the large, well-lit and air-conditioned space is captioned with information detailing not just how each picture was taken but also the wildlife caught by the lens.  A lovely way of engaging with the varying interests of viewers.

Michael 'Nick' Nichols, The President's Crown
Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, The President’s Crown

Technically speaking there is some astonishing work here, like Michael Nichols‘ award-winning The President’s Crown. This giant from California’s Sequoia National Park carries a load of some two billion leaves. Nichols’ photograph of it digitally combines 126 images. It took a year to plan and seven months to shoot – an impressive undertaking, yes, but then the tree itself is 3,200 years old! Also remarkable are the contributions of various young photographers, including in the 10 years and under section.

Jasper Doest, The Netherlands, 'Snow moment'
Jasper Doest, The Netherlands, ‘Snow moment’

Among some really striking and beautiful images are Snow Moment, winner of the Creative Visions prize.  Jasper Doerst has captured a Japanese macaque jumping in a mysterious swirl of snowflakes or Richard Packwood’s ‘The greeting’ (Nature in Black and White) which could almost be a line drawing.

The exhibition isn’t sugar-coated. Some categories encourage us to think more deeply about our relationship with the environment. There are moving and serious images like, for instance, one of a shark with a hook in its jaw or Brent Stirton’s powerful and upsetting view of the ivory trade.

You don’t discover the over-all winners until the end of the exhibition. This is as it should be. Each photograph deserves to be enjoyed in its own right and, really, the idea of choosing the ‘best’ from such a wonderfully varied, sometimes touching selection must have been quite a task. Do go and immerse yourself before 21st September, when the exhibition closes. The images, however, will linger long after that in the mind’s eye.

Cost: free

Helen Paskins is a Winchester-based professional orchestral and chamber musician who has worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BSO and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. 

Anyone for tennis?

Jonathan Edgington talks us through tennis in Winchester.

Winchester Racquets and Fitness
Winchester Racquets and Fitness

You can’t, in my view, beat a social game of tennis with friends on a summer’s evening followed by a beer (or two) on the club terrace – provided, of course, you don’t have to drive anywhere afterwards. I certainly enjoy playing team tennis for my clubs in the Salisbury-based Sarum League and the Southampton’s Apsley League.

If you’re looking to play tennis in the Winchester area you’re really spoilt for choice. Among the local clubs are Winchester, Kingsgate, Osman (River Park Centre), Twyford, Compton & Shawford, Littleton. I’ve hedged my bets and am a member of two: Winchester and Littleton. Both are friendly with lots to offer. I’ve also heard good reports of the other clubs.

As a seasoned player I’m often asked, “What sort of tennis would I play if I were to join a club?” The short answer is that social, ‘mix-in,’ box league, tournament and team tennis are usually available at most locations.Another question that frequently comes my way is, “How do I start playing tennis if I’m an absolute beginner?” Either that or, “How can I get back into playing tennis if haven’t for years?”

A tip for novices: the thing not to do is to join a club and turn up at their weekly club night – or ‘mix-in,’ as they’re sometimes called –  completely unprepared. Although ‘mix-ins’ are meant to be organised evenings of social tennis for club members of any ability, they rarely are that. The reality is that you should possess some basic skills before heading onto such a potential minefield. Being able to hit the ball back when someone hits it to you, for instance. Or being able to serve with only the occasional dreaded double fault thrown in.

So if you are thinking about joining a club, please first contact the coach and book a lesson. He or she will then be able to assess your form and advise you of your best playing strategy.

As someone once wisely remarked, “The secret of enjoyable tennis is the careful selection of opponents.” Or words to that effect. There are, however, satisfying ways of taking off the competitive edge. A long-standing ‘Middle England‘ tradition in the Sarum and Apsley leagues is for both teams to sit down together to enjoy a formal post-match tea. It doesn’t matter what day of the week or time of day we’ve played. It might, for instance, be a Saturday afternoon match that finishes in the evening at a club in the depths of the New Forest (and you’re going out to dinner later that night). Regardless, etiquette demands that you sit down for tea provided by the home team.

CakeJust for the record, tea normally involves copious plates of sandwiches (egg & cress and/or salmon & cucumber), sausage rolls, scotch eggs and the most fabulous of fabulous homemade cakes. It’s considered the height of rudeness to refuse a slice, and ruder still to turn down the inevitable offer of a second. This is why, despite having taken part in a long afternoon of strenuous physical exercise, I usually return home from matches with a calorie count considerably higher than at the start of the day.

Tennis is a wonderful and amply rewarding game to play, and great way to make new friendships or sustain those you already have. I’ve known players who continue well into their eighties…by which time they’re probably long past caring how many slices of cake they consume! So whether you’re a tennis newbie or a returnee, now might be just the time to get out on the courts and start a racket.

Jonathan Edgington is a Winchester based writer and member of the Chesil Theatre where several of his plays have been performed by their Youth Theatre. 

Walking to Winchester

Chuck Anderson walks us through the South Downs.

South Downs Way
South Downs Way

After wandering 100 miles westward along the south coast of England, the South Downs Way terminates at Winchester. It’s an easy walk along the top of the downs, though you have to cross four steep river valleys. A determined young walker could do it in four or five days. My wife and I both carry bus passes and there was the British weather to contend with. It took us four months.

The Monk's House Garden
The Monk’s House Garden

From Eastbourne we bent into a stiff, wet westerly over a series of chalk slopes called the Seven Sisters. Our legs counted eight, or perhaps seven plus a half-sister. It was cold enough in April to wear gloves. Rape was in bloom in the fields, lambs skipped about, larks sung and orchids, cowslips and harebells bobbed in the short grass. We crossed the river Ouse at Southease, where Virginia Woolf walked into the water and visited her weekend hideaway, the Monk’s House, with its enchanting garden of magnolias and masses of waving tulips.

WalkDitchling Beacon is famous for its views, but leaden cloud obscured all except landmarks as close as the Jack and Jill windmills. Heavy rain pursued us up to the rim of Devil’s Dyke, an impressive dry valley. Chanctonbury Ring is where, in 1760, a naturalist planted a ring of trees on top of an Iron Age fort. Many of them blew down in the 1987 gales, but it is still an impressive and allegedly haunted site.

A proposal
A proposal

In the charming village of Amberley our room at a pub offered a view of the Wild Brooks, a protected grazing marshland. The next day we trudged into a force eight gale which knocked us sideways. The path through the woods was littered with stout branches, so we kept a wary eye on the twisting limbs overhead. While we sheltered in the lee of a string of three tumuli called ‘The Devil’s Jump’  a crash in the forest started the cattle. A tree had blown down.

A 16th Century B&B South Harting
A 16th Century B&B South Harting

We deferred the final stretch to Winchester – two 13-mile days – till the weather forecast was more encouraging, but summer was running out: we were too late for swifts, and the swallows were ominously collecting on the power lines. The fields were golden with stubble and some blackberries were already sweet. Partridges startled us, whirring up at our feet.

South Downs Walk
South Downs Walk

Old Winchester Hill is a spur of the downs which was used for burials in the Bronze Age and fortified in the Iron Age. Now it was a mass of wild flowers. The views were fantastic, even on a cloud-chased day. We lay back in the sun for the first time, not as we had hoped dozing on sheep-bitten grass sprinkled with cowslips, but on flints among groundsel and ragwort.

Reward - Wykeham Arms
Reward – Wykeham Arms

Long before we reached Winchester we could hear the traffic on the M3. One hundred miles in four months. Possibly a record for dilly-dallying; traversing the gentle South Downs way had turned into an epic of endurance. We rewarded ourselves with an overnight stay at the delightful Wykeham Arms. As we poured our tea it started to rain outside.

 

For more information, visit www.randomthoughtslimited.co.uk/departure-lounge

Chuck Anderson is a writer of books, plays and television.

 

School’s out for summer!

Winchester Cathedral workshops
Cathedral workshops

What’s on in Winchester for kids this summer? It’s officially here and the excitement is palpable.  Hampshire schools break up on the 24th July meaning only one thing: summer holiday time! No more school until September.  Bright mornings, long days and balmy evenings. Here’s a non-exhaustive flavour of what Winchester has on offer to keep the kids educated and entertained this July and August.

Firefly Theatre School
Firefly Theatre School

For budding thespians, the Firefly Theatre School is offering two weeks of summer schools suitable for 6-16 year olds at the Tower Arts Centre (Kings School) and in the Winchester College QEII Theatre. Week one (11 – 15 August) will culminate in an all-singing, all-dancing and all-acting version of Treasure Island and week two (18 – 22 August) will take inspiration from the Brothers Grimm to devise fairy-tales. It’s £150 for a week, £250 for two and there’s a 10% sibling discount available. Alternatively, Winchester Stagecoach will be running morning musical theatre workshops at Westgate School for children and teenagers 4 – 8 August, 10am – 12pm for £130.

Matt Denton's - Mantis Robot
Winchester Science Festival

Junior Einsteins will be pleased to hear that from 24 July to 1 September, Winchester Science Centre is open 10am-5pm at weekends and 9am-5pm on weekdays (including the bank holiday) offering bonus science shows and special, live planetarium shows. The science shows are at no extra cost to Science centre visitors and, running at 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm, will explore  oceans, space, the weather, flight and nature. 5-12 year – olds can pack their lab coats for Mad Science camp at Prince’s Mead School, 18 – 22 August at £35/child per day or £150 for the week. Activities include safe-cracking, yucky yeast and the slime Olympics. And don’t forget, science fans can also indulge in the Winchester Science Festival this weekend, 25-27 July.

RAW Adventure Camps
RAW Adventure Camps

Meanwhile, outdoor and sporty treats abound this summer in the city. Super Camps will be running at Winchester College for 4-14 year olds, combining sport, art and play at £42 per day or £170 per week. 7-14 year old kids can go tribal with Raw Adventure, leaving iPhones and tablets behind to reconnect with nature and learn how to survive in the great outdoors. Tennis camp is on in Littleton (21 July – 29 August) for Andy Murray’s in the making, with half-days available for the mini-Wimbledon champs (4-7yrs) and full days for junior versions (8-14yrs). The ‘Players Camp’ for 11-15 year – old serious competitors is running 11 – 15 August.  Prices range between £12/day and £80/week and prizes and certificates will be on offer for children attending full – week camps. Limited places are available for the Winchester Rugby Football Club summer academy for under 9s and under 12s with medals to be won each day (12 – 15 August).

Lantern’s Children’s Centre in Bereweeke Road is offering a Kids Summer Play scheme for 4-11 year – old children with disabilities or additional needs from 28 July.  Activities/trips could include LEGOLAND, Longleat safari park, Marwell zoo, dance, arts and craft and swimming at a budget – friendly £12.50/day or £15 on trip days.

© Hannes Lochner (SOUTH AFRICA) Curiosity and the cat
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition © Hannes Lochner

Winchester Cathedral will be running activities and workshops for children 7 and upwards on 19th, 21st,  26th and 28th August, 10am – 12pm for £2 including a drink and a biscuit.  Adults are welcome to stay at no extra cost but booking is advised. Professional LEGO experts will be coaching children 5yrs and upwards at the Winchester Discover Centre in the art of building a castle on 12th August. The entry fee is £9 and includes £5 worth of LEGO to take home. Visitors might also like to take advantage of the free Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition on loan from the Natural History Museum and running until 21st September.

Art Start
Art Start

Finally, Art Start will be leading 6-11 year olds under the sea, into the carnival and off to the great outdoors with three weekly sessions at Henry Beaufort School.  Led by local artist Donna Vokes, children will be encouraged to explore their imaginations and create a masterpiece or two at their own pace. Prices vary according to the number of days booked and range between £30 and £230.

The Winchester Science Festival

Matt Denton's - Mantis Robot
Matt Denton’s – Mantis Robot

Fancy seeing Winchester engineer Matt Denton‘s two tonne Turbo Diesel-powered Mantis robot – the biggest all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world? Or how about deconstructing the Hat Fair with Dr Ken Farquhar as he explores the science behind juggling, circus and the like. Perhaps you’d like to launch into some rocket science with Lucy Rogers?  If you haven’t already guessed, Winchester is readying itself for a scintillating science-tastic take-over at the Discovery Centre 25-27 July, with the return of the annual Winchester Science Festival, launched in 2012. The festival will feature science, music, comedy and hands-on exhibits all weekend with plenty on offer for the whole family.

The Ugly Animal Preservation Society
The Ugly Animal Preservation Society

Friday’s programme is geared towards younger science fans. Terry Harvey-Chadwick’s Fire Show at 10am will feature some explosive demonstrations with his brand of ‘fun science’. At 11am, step-aside Superman, Channel 4’s Simon Watt will be taking a closer look at genetic mutations and revealing that we might be closer to the X-men than we thought with his talk ‘Mutants. What Are they Like?’. Winchester Science Centre’s Alex Boxley will be talking us through the universe at 3pm and at 5pm award winning Dr Mini Saaj will be exploring Nature-Inspired Robots For Science & Medicine. Adults can pop along in the evening to Frogs and Friends, a comedic talk with The Ugly Animal Preservation Society’s professor of comedy, Simon Watt. And its worth noting that all the festival evening events are for 15s and over.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Saturday’s programme starts at 10am when Dr Radu Sporea assisted by Andrew Pye will lead us in a participatory look at modern photography with hints and tips for practitioners. At midday, Dr Jock McOrist will be making the elusive String Theory accessible for everyone. After lunch there are two opportunities to listen to the extraordinary astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. To round off the day, Bright Club Guildford will present an evening of comedy, music, art, research, science and performance. On Sunday, budding Bear Grylls‘ can take a journey into the extremities with Prof Mike Tipton exploring physiological and psychological responses to harsh environments. Sally Le Page will be leading us on a lighthearted romp through the bizarre world of animal sex lives with Secrets of Sex. The festival reaches its climax with Being 747, where science meets music in a pop rock group inspired by the work of David Attenborough.

The Mobile Planetarium
The Mobile Planetarium

Various exhibits will be on offer on-site throughout the festival, including the Mini Professors, free group science sessions for pre-schoolers with songs and experiments. The Soton Astrodome c/o the University of Southampton will be running a mobile planetarium hourly all weekend from 11.15am. Shows are free but advanced booking is advised. The National Oceanography Centre will be bringing along the PufferSphere, a glowing 2m digital globe, which shows complex climate and weather systems.

Ticketed talks are available online with SEE Tickets  where you can book a full festival pass, daytime or evening passes or just for specific talks. Children accompanied by an adult go free all weekend and there are some free events in the programme. For full programme listings which may vary visit winchesterscifest.org.

Winchester Science Festival
Winchester Science Festival

Winchester Science Festival is run by the not-for-profit Winchester 
Science Foundation who aim to champion and celebrate science with the public, raise the profile of women in science, promote science education and science communication and raise the awareness of Hampshire science.