Uk Feminista hijack Birmingham uni

A horde of feminists take over Birmingham University!

 Very last minute I found out about Ukfeminista Where have you been hiding and how have I only just discovered you? More to the point though I am damn glad I didn't miss out this year. Due to my fabulous job I managed to swing some tickets to this fully booked weekend.I stumbled in after getting lost in the maze that is Birmingham University. After seeing how much they have at their campus I am starting to realise my university had nothing and I probably made the wrong choice way back when I went myself. This was all forgotten when I was greeted with lots of friendly smiles. Sadly I missed the chance to mingle with other people before workshops but there was so much to chose from. I only wish I could have cloned myself to attend a bit of everything.

 The first workshop that caught my eye was 'Words are not enough but they're a good place to start'. The ever witty and charming Bim Adewunmi was the fountain of knowledge for this session. In fact she would probably slap my wrist if she read this blog post but I have definitely taken on board everything she taught us. In fact I felt like a geeky schoolgirl scribbling my notes in my notebook as she gave us insight on how to become better writers. The message she engraved in the eager minds of the packed room was to read, read and read. Even sending us packing with a reading list to empower and inspire us. I will be jumping straight on that, as a huge reader hearing someone encourage others to read as much as possible is something that always wins me over. Enough of my gushing about how fabulous Bim was if you don't already read the guardian grab a copy and you will see yourself how funny and clever this woman is in her own words "read good writers that inspire you to write well"

 In the break time people seemed busy with their friends or looking shiftily anti social. Come on ladies we are empowered women I am sure we can talk to each other. I had a chat with a lady from Wales, another from Manchester and London. Nice to know that people will travel to attend these kind of events. There were some great stalls up promoting women's services from around Birmingham like women's networking hub and even an awesome book stall which I avoided as I was feeling super poor and didn't want to see loads of amazing books I couldn't have. There were lots of things to buy or sign up to. I grabbed lots of leaflets and signed up to women's networking hub which was being powered by the always smiling Amreeta. Watch out for this lady she has a lot of creativity and words to offer to the world.

Rosie Rogers from UKUNCUT lead the next workshop I picked out "Beautiful Trouble; Making Protest Creative, Fun & Powerful". Another jam packed workshop of eager passionate ladies and gentlemen. I will hang my head in shame and admit that before this workshop I had not heard of the amazing work ukuncut have been doing and was probably the only person in the room. I was very impressed with all the varied protests Rosie was able to tell us about. Street parties outside Nick Clegg's house to celebrate all the amazing services that are being cut by the government. Knowing there are people out there trying to make a difference instead of just moaning in an office about how they have to pay for their own coffee now really inspires and motivates me. Rosie was really creative in getting us to think outside the box on the important factors of not only getting people to understand your campaign but for it to also be a success. Reminding us of the power of the hashtag, that pictures can say more than a thousand words and the importance of being prepared and organised. Get involved in what they are doing either on the front line or behind the scenes.

There was so much more to see at the event. It went on for a whole weekend but I had to go see the lovely Salma. Next year hopefully I will  be there representing work and running our own workshop. Thank you for the inspiration and surrounding me with lots of like minded individuals.

Panique Au Village

By pure chance I was having a bit of a twitter morning and noticed that Film 4 were showing a stop animation. Since I am off work today and any excuse to watch something new and drink tea, I figured I would check it out.

A Town Called Panic (Panique Au Village) is a delightfully hilarious French/Belgian stop animation. A tale of a cowboy, Indian and horse who are housemates in a small town. After forgetting horses birthday cowboy and Indian's attempt to muster up a birthday present hugely backfire. Despite the help of their screaming neighbour Steven and his wife Janine the events that follow will have you crying with laughter.

The weird and the wonderful unfold introducing insane and diverse characters that will bring a smile to even the most miserable face. Pigs that go to bed with blankets, donkeys that brush their teeth and a world where horses drive cars. If you don't fear subtitles and like getting lost in silly humour then you need to see this film. Not to be put off by the length as it is not the average animation and even managed to keep my terrible attention span satisfied. Packed full of action and unusual twists that can be enjoyed by both adults and children.

Before this was a film it was a 20 part series which I will definitely be hunting down. However you may be familiar with the work from the recent Cravendale adverts. If you enjoyed these small comedy gems then you will not be disappointed. If not check it out here for a sample of what you are in for.

I have always been a sucker for stop animation and am dying to make one myself. Help keep this art form alive and support work like this. If any one else has any other animation recommendations comment away. Good call Film 4 for getting me smiling this morning.

The Public

I hadn't been to The Public  for a while and then suddenly I went twice in one week. If you have not been lucky enough to go The Public is an interactive gallery in West Bromwich. Entry is free so no excuses not to pop in and have a look.

Initially the big pink building seemed out of place when it arrived in West Bromwich but now there is a redevelopment going on I think it would have been a bit more appreciated. Lets face it West Bromwich needs more creative places to inspire the community.  Sadly since starting this post I have heard that The Public will be closing down and taken over by Sandwell college. despite the brilliant staff and loyal audience working hard on a petition. I know it will be sadly missed by many including me. So i will just tell you a little about the kind of things you will be missing out on.

I had heard that there was some Tracey Emin work up so I figured I would go check it out. I am still undecided how I feel about Mz Emin. I have seen some of her work before and really liked it. I love her embroidered flags but I have also seen some not so great stuff. The piece they are currently displaying is a short video. I wasn't blown away but it was pretty much what I expected from Emin and for free it is worth having a watch. What did improve for me was that on the top floor you can grab some headphones and a stool and watch an interview where she talks about her past and her work. I love hearing the history behind artists work so for me this was a highlight to the visit.

There are lots of interactive things for children to use around the gallery such as circus mirrors and video playback tools. There are a few games that you can stand on and a crazy alien type clown comes up and you have to keep him flying around the gallery by standing on the pads. Although this was fun a lot of the machines didn't wok so it almost seems as though they may have been a bit of a waste of money. I do love that just by walking past certain points of the gallery it can produce sounds or activity. I may not have children but as an adult i still get a thrill stepping on musical panels or making things fly.

For you fashionistas out there there is some work in the gallery at the moment by Vivan Sundaram. I was fascinated by these off the wall outfits made of unusual materials. I wont be rushing off to wear them but on an artistic level they are made by a talented artist. I almost expected Bjork to roll out of one of them  The outfits are on display as well as a chance to watch the cat walk show on a small screen. Each outfit was amde from rubbish items as this is an artist from India who is very politically and socially aware. In India so many people lives in slums and garbage can be reused and recycled in the world. I really look forward to learning more about this guys great work.

There was also a big folk archive. This was a lot of fun to look around lots of colours and people enjoying themselves. Big banners and costumes the only thing that could have improved this was playing some sounds or music to make it almost feel as though you were there in the moment. As part of this display they had a creepy Micheal Jackson complete with bubbles.

 Although he is a bit creepy it is an example of the individualist and  creativity festivals bring out in people which I personally think is awesome. Something that made me smile was the painted eggs took me back to school when it was Easter. I am still pretty bitter about not winning with my Mr t egg when some other girl had stuck hers in one of them swirly egg machines my brother did come second with his ultimate warrior though so sticking it to the man there ;)

I really liked the banners.

The black queen is a huge queens head covered in plastic toys. Take from that what you will but for me it was just nice to look at I have to admit I wasn't wearing my glasses and just thought they were flowers so I clearly missed the message there.

Death of the joke shop?

There are lots of other cool bits to check out around the gallery and including a wall full of random pictures which I loved. I have to say I am really sad to see it go. Both times I went that week there were lots of people. You only have to look at the petition or comment books to see how much people love it there. Packed full of entertainment from plays to music to burlesque shows. I am not sure when they will closing but I am hoping they at least let the shows that are planned run so I can squeeze in as many visits as I can. My heart goes out to all the lovely staff and I hope they go on to bigger and better things. Your loss West Bromwich!

Birmingham Street Art

Birmingham seems to be going very quiet lately. Bands skip us on tours and people seem to have lost excitement for the second biggest city. I just wanted to remind people that it is a creative, inspiring place to be. We have an inspiring underground music scene where true independence oozes from bands. More in particular though we have a thriving art scene. The many galleries are full of a diverse range of art and history but galleries are not just in buildings but also on them.  A great example of that can be seen just walking a round the streets of Digbeth in the city centre.

I personally love graffiti as you will soon learn when I bombard my blog with recent spots I see out and about. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Equally if anyone knows the artists comment away so we can learn more about the talent behind the work.Enjoy...

Monkey Business

About a month ago my lovely bestie asked if I wanted to join her and the little one for a trip to Monkey Forest. Never one to turn down the opportunity to see animals and hang with them I jumped on the offer. I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I had never heard of it before.

It is actually a really cute place. I think i expected to see lots of different monkeys but they just had one kind which i guess makes sense if they are just wandering around. They were Barbary Macaques and at the monkey forest they are committed to protecting their species by raising awareness about them to the general public and allowing them to live in a place similar to their natural habitats.That has got to be better than being in a zoo and they all seemed happy enough. Plus they work on releasing them back into the wild so you have to appreciate the work they are doing. It was really strange seeing a monkey sitting next to a squirrel or chasing a duck.

The staff are really friendly and help make sure you don't miss out on seeing the baby monkey as well as giving you a bit more information about the species.

 It is a lovely little learning experience with little facts dotted around. The actual forest area is really pretty as well but a bit steep for pushchairs and little feet. It is only a little place but when you come out the forest there is a cafe, playground and a little picnic area.

There was also a really cool little bug mansion where there was some information about how they also breed the bugs to feed the monkeys. We thought that was a pretty cool feature to have.

We had a lovely vegan friendly picnic check out this lovely ladies blog if you want vegan recipes her food is yummy! Was a really sweet day out so but you get round the forest really quick so take your time and bring a picnic!