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Happy Birthday RVT

We’re proud to announce that Re-Dock has been awarded £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery to develop a creative research project around the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London.

project that celebrates the Royal Vauxhall Taverns’ historic importance as a site for LGBT culture, innovation in entertainment and influence on wider British popular culture.  Framed around the venue’s 151st birthday, it will enable participants to have the opportunity to share, reflect on and learn about the last 60 years of social change for LGBT people, and how this has affected attitudes and changed lives in the UK.

Through the project, we will be collecting oral histories from a wide range of people with connections to the RVT, making a short film, collaborating with Duckie’s Youth Group on a performance based on the research, and creating a pop-up exhibition mapping key events at the RVT, the Vauxhall community and LGBT history.

We’ll be posting regular updates here as well as on the project website which you can see here.



Community Filmmaking Conference

On the 22nd and 23rd Jan I attended a conference at the BFI on community filmmaking, part of a research study aiming to contribute to the debate around community filmmaking and cultural diversity by exploring how cultural diversity intersects with community filmmaking and the results of this intersection in terms of representations and identities as well as practices and innovation. The research is being undertaken by Brunel University, Kings College London and the University of London. It has been funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. The website for the project is here.

It was intense few days, and for me, interesting, looking at filmmaking practice from a more academic perspective. There were a lot of great speakers and debates and I think the best way to represent them here is for me to note some of the stand out ones that relate to Re-Dock and our work practice.

Taking time out to listen and think about community filmmaking practice in relation to filmmaking and the standard norms and expectations that this brings, was a really useful thing to do. In general, I do what I do, because its enjoyable, fun, creative, collaborative and facilitates learning and sharing. The process of community filmmaking for me is about finding an approach that works in relation to the subject matter. Collaborating on a variety of community stories, facilitates a certain amount of experimentation, which may or may not work, but has the chance to touch upon a spark of something unique, and there’s often a sense of freedom and energy that comes with that. This often conflicts with the standard filmmaking practices, but I don’t think these processes should be any less celebrated.

This thought process featured in many of the presentations, such as from Daniel Ashton who focused on diverse ways of storytelling, using the BBC’s ‘Britain in a Day‘ which offered possibilities of sharing, but not in terms of production expectation, using online tutorials to encourage people to follow established practices, highlighting a tension between the filmmakers and the editor. Where as, the ability the peruse different aesthetics should be celebrated.

David Buckingham, (Loughborough University) put forward an argument that questioned the media revolution, saying that actually what was happening was rather more mundane, asking questions such as who is participating? Is it just the usual suspects? And are there any digital divides? He suggested that everyday users tend to be ignored and that we should defend banality.

He also looked at community media in a broader context, looking at the overlaps between amateur professional community, semi professional and professional filmmaking.

Eileen Leahy (Trinity College,Dublin)
Looked at positives and negatives of community filmmaking and how although having positive aims, often causes of inequality are not addressed and social inclusion terms are ill defined and that films are often made looking through a middle class lense. However, there are some benefits, such as allowing commutes to reclaim physical spaces, bringing different people and communities together, and empowering people through sharing stories and looking at the world in a different way.

Elieen also raised Questions of authorship – films are made in complex ways ad who owns it when it is finished? The community rarely own the film or have a say in how it’s made. It’s the issue of power for community groups to own the films they produce, even if they are not bothered particularly about the end result.

Thinking back, I’ve seen community film projects that have (with all good intentions) been developed by committee, with the end result being worthy and failing to do justice to the subject matter. It’s always a balance, but if you think about something too much, you can always think of a reason not to do it, and in this line of work, there’s a lot to be said for spontaneity and surprise and we shouldn’t loose sight of that. I think the lessons to be learnt here are that many of these arguments are just part of the process of filmmaking and that our approach at Re-Dock should always to keep respect at the forefront of our work.



Knots in our heads

Concept Maps are ‘graphical tools for organising and representing knowledge’ They were developed by Joseph D Novak at Cornell University to help students visualise how their new learning could be assimilated with their existing ‘cognitive structure’. Sowa places them within the context of knowledge visualisation diagrams, alongside Semantic nets and Mind Maps. Read more…



On Libraries

Re-Dock intern, (and now librarian – edited 2014) Becky Mulvaney discusses the her research through own relationship to libraries, developed early on thanks to her Grandmother’s weekly trips. Read more…



On Chapbooks

Becky Mulvaney (Liverpool University English student,  work placement and Re-Docker) introduces us to the world of Chapbooks

Read more…



Graham House Project

Last month, I did a three weeks research in London working with artists Mark Whitelaw and Robin Whitmore on a potential Duckie project with Graham House, a homeless hostel for chronic alcoholics in Vauxhall, London, looking at residents lives and looking at routes into recovery.

Read more…



Hello Chici

This is my first blog post, as part of the Child Computer Interaction at the Chici Lab in the University of central Lancaster. There aren’t many other artists at the ChiCI Lab, so thought I’d spend this first post explaining why I’m doing an Mres in this subject area and not in digital art.

Read more…



SYNTAX: Coding for Writers

At the end of June Mercy will deliver a new iteration of “Syntax: Coding for Writers” in the form of a two-day intensive skills-based workshop, which will be presented as part of FACT’s Open Curate It programme.  SYNTAX was originally devised in 2011 by John O’Shea and Nathan Jones as a framework for writers and coders to work together.  The SYNTAX experiment was the first time that our different collectives (Re-Dock and Mercy) had formally collaborated – it’s really great to see this initiative moving forward!

Read more…



Visiting Octopus in Cumbria

At the beginning of March I made a trip up to Barrow-in-Furness to meet with Glenn Boulter and the rest of the team at Octopus Collective in Barrow-in-Furness to discuss our shared challenges of running a small art organisation.

Re-Dock worked with Octopus last August when they commissioned “Swan Pedalo Broadcasts” (a new collaboration between myself and fellow artist and tinkerer Dave Lynch.)  We had amazing few days, building and operating a pirate radio station from the lake in Barrow Park and creating a temporary space for dialogue and performance within the FON (Full of Noises) festival.  That week was also the beginning of Rebecca Mulvaney’s “two week” residency with Re-Dock – a baptism of fire!  Since Becky is still working with us it was fitting she should come along too.  Also present were Hwa Young Yung (Director of MadLab Manchester) and Ross Dalziel (Soundnetwork).

Read more…



A Small Cinema Recipe

Well, the bow-ties are off and the posters are taken down after our latest manifestation of “A Small Cinema” If you missed it then you can watch a video all about the event over on our Small Cinema blog (where you’ll also be able to view some of the films and read all about the progress of the project.)

“A Small Cinema” has now been through several incarnations and we are now asking ourselves the question:

What makes “A Successful Small Cinema”? Read more…



3D Thought Shapes

I am working with a group of young people at Weatherhead high school, on a project exploring what our thoughts might look like if we could see them all around us.

The group have been sculpting 3D models representing different breeds of ideas, memories and emotions using Blender.

Read more…



Read, Write, Re-Imagine

In the last week before Christmas John, Sophie Bower and I, delivered a new course in Hume Manchester called ‘Read, Write, Re-imagine’ . The course focused on developing the facilitation skills of creative new media practitioners, so that they would be able to deliver top quality creative new media activities in Schools across the North West.

The course commissioned by Curious Minds, brought together a mixture of classic connection making exercises, introductions to young people friendly software, and live ‘mini’ projects for which the participants developed their own activities to test run on one  another.


One great example of the kinds of curriculum splicing activities invented by participants was “Go Ballistic with Pythagoras Theorum” which used the theme of the Second World War, and in particular the trajectory of mortars, to explore Pythagoras. If you were to take part in this activity you would create a simple mortar, using cardboard and elastic bands, and then use Pythagorus Theorum to predict where your ammo would hit the wall – Genius!

Just briefly here are a few of my favorites of the ideas that came out of the rest of the course.

– Encourage young people to develop speaking and listening skills by filming interviews with one another.
– Link young peoples interest in War and artillery with trigonometry.
– Use computer game planning documents as a format to explore creative writing.
– Use tools like SketchUp & Scratch as a tool for young people to visualize and pitch their ideas to the rest of their class.
– Use the behind the scenes debate with which the Wikipedia community decides on what is and isn’t of publishable quality, as a way to bring debates about different readings of history to life.

I could go on but I am running out of space….

What felt like the biggest jump in my learning was the way we recruited the group.

We were asked to gather together an eclectic group of people who worked in creative new media, but not in schools. This was tricky, as the people we were looking for were not part of the existing Curious Minds promotional networks.

We decided to apply a scattergun approach, advertising the course across as many networks as possible with flyers that pointed back to a Ning site, which we kept as open as possible up until the day before the course.

In the build up to the course we were able to set up a dialogue amongst this impromptu community. People could find out more what the course was about, tell us a bit more about themselves, from that point the people who were going to get the most out of the course effectively selected themselves.If we had recruited in a more conventional way, I don’t think we would been able to bring together such an interesting group of musicians, inventors, film-makers, software developers, artists, designers and educators.

I think this method of recruitment has great potential for future projects, as it could prove a great way to contact and bring together eclectic groups of people based on their interests, rather than them being lumped into one demographic or another.