Student section writer
Change is Laura’s passion and it controls all she does. As a fine art student at NUA, Laura is aiming to awaken a new consciousness within society to allow progression and positive change. She holds great importance upon conscious living and collectively working against injustices within the society we find ourselves in.
(18.02.19) – Review – Katherine Osborne, Descansos
There is an obvious mythical essence to a number of the poems in Descansos, the new collection of poetry from Katherine Osborne, published by Salò Press, coupled with a flowing connection of the surreal which makes its way through each of the works, treading lightly on some and firmly on others. Throughout the poems, there is an unexpectedness of themes and figures, from God to Buffalo. This shift is sudden, like a stream of consciousness or a narrative story. Moreover, the pieces throughout this book seem to have been produced in a more automatic manner: repetition in titles, along with numbers and extended use of brackets. These automatic devices are sporadic and run parallel to themes of loss and nostalgia; both of which lead to a noticeable automatic writing style.
(07.02.19) – Review – Anna Cathenka, they are really molluscs
A real literary personality runs through the poems Anna Cathenka has cleverly curated and carefully linked in her new book they are really molluscs, recently published by Salò Press. In producing this collection, Cathenka notes that she drew on three Observer’s Pocket Books, and as a result each poem stands as if it could belong to a passage from a textbook, with references to strange organisms and a scientific rigidity of structure. We are offered an insight into the world of the Anna Cathenka, and a number of other strange worlds, through the unfamiliar and occasionally confusing lens of biological ocean life.
(06.10.18) – Facing Up To The Challenge Of Climate Change Communication
Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
(05.09.18) – Happy Daze – The Revival of Norwich Drag
Take The Weight Off Your Mascara is Norwich’s up-and-coming drag night, run through The House of Daze drag house. I was lucky enough to interview four key members of The House of Daze: Sylvia Daze, Liv, Bishy Barnabeeand Devil Child. Consisting of both regular performers and occasional guests, such as Dolores Deepthroat, The House of Daze are following in the footsteps of previous Norwich drag collectives like The Rose Bud Club and such local drag legends as Luna Howl.
(27.06.18) – A Century of Solidarity: Processions 2018
This year I was determined to make the most of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, taking place from the beginning of May. Last year I found myself reading about projects and events that had already taken place. However, this year I was aware of a project early on that was just getting underway: ‘Processions’, in association with Artichoke and 14-18 NOW. This idea saw a number of women gather together with local textile artist Fiona Kay Muller to create a banner. This banner, with all its laboured hours very much part of its fibres, would then be part of a nationwide procession in London, also taking place in Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.
(03.05.18) – No Praise For ‘Hymn’
In recent weeks, Damien Hirst’s anatomical sculpture Hymn (1999–2005) has been installed outside of my university, Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), where it will be on show until July 29th as part of his exhibition at Houghton Hall. Although the term ‘hymn’ refers to a form of praise, there are a number of reasons why neither Damien Hirst nor the institutions choosing to associate with his work should be praised.
(02.05.18) – Review – SAVORR ANTIsocial Social
SAVORR, a non-profit arts organisation based in Norwich, recently started a series of events called SAVORR Social, to showcase interesting new ideas and concepts in local art. These events aim to inclusively welcome a number of groups into a socially and artistically fertile space, a space that harbours diverse ideas, conversations and considerations. On Thursday April 19th I attended the ‘NUA Open ANTIsocial Social’, the fifth event in the series, which showcased experimental work from four Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) students.
(31.03.18) – The Vitality of Indie & Student Exhibitions
The noteworthy Norwich art scene is home to many small gallery-like spaces that have a fast and frequent turnover of shows. Spaces such as Yallops, Nunns Yard and Studio 20 are home to a diverse spectrum of work, and as we enter the spring months they have become hives of activity swarming with artists and viewers. These spaces are important, vital – the work and people they house are integral to cultural independence in the city.
(13.02.18) – Into The TARDIS – Chapel Break School’s Philosophical Creative Programme
The TARDIS programme at Chapel Break Infant School is an exemplary example of creative education and an inspirational learning environment. For 10 years, the programme has transformed classrooms into imaginative environments for young minds to explore and develop in. TARDIS stands for ‘Thinking Arts Reflective Dialogue Imagination Studio’. The aim of its resourceful staff is to immerse the children in philosophical and creative enquiry:
‘The learning consists of the development of a range of skills, including speaking and listening, debate and discussion, a variety of thinking skills, social skills, independence of thought and action and persistence. It builds a knowledge and experience of the visual arts beyond those that can be offered within the usual classroom setting.’
(20.12.17) – Review: Sphinx By Cat Woodward
The most recent iteration of Volta, Salo Press’ regular Norwich poetry and prose night, drew a willing and eager crowd for the launch of ‘Sphinx’ by Cat Woodward. After a short open mic session, which saw a number of talented poets sharing their words to warm up the audience, Cat took to the front to read from her fascinating book.
(09.12.17) – Review: MILK – An Anthology of Eroticism, By Salò Press
Salò Press is a Norwich-based independent publisher of poetry, prose and experimental writing. The surreal nature of much of the work by the imprint allows a new ground for experimental writing, and the eventual outcomes that follow. Their most recent book – MILK: an anthology of eroticism – has just been published and I have the pleasure of reviewing the work.
The first thing evident within MILK is the importance of independent publishing as an arena to allow a multitude of voices, as there is a very broad range of writers with varied backgrounds and circumstances included. It shows a much wider cross section of society, and the creative work embodies that greatly: we find a freedom to pen emotions so strong that you wouldn’t initially think literary testimony could do them justice. Writers such as Jessica Rhodes, Rosie Quattromini, and Jane Jacobs have done just that.
(29.11.17) – Documenting Disappointment – Education in the Autumn Budget
Last week saw the government’s Autumn budget released for public scrutiny. The report starts by stating that the United Kingdom has “a bright future”, with talk of an independent economy forging new relationships with the EU. This long term plan is meant to give voters the belief to take the long road with the government for a better Britain, but their sweeping statements do not at all sit in line with what I and many others would see as a ‘brighter future’. This is as true in the field of education as any other.
(15.11.17) – Alternative Arts Education – A Brief History
Education is amazing. It encourages the growth of passion for any number of subjects, and opens doors for many to enter into the field that that passion leads them towards, where their research work is often vital to the discovery of all sorts of new and exciting things.
However, the modern system that has emerged as society has ‘advanced’ does not always prioritise the curiosity and growth that education cultivates over more material concerns such as financial gain. The increases in the various fees and costs associated with higher educational institutions and the shrinking of the creative curriculum at earlier levels often means that a passion for a subject is no longer enough. But as with any monolithic trend, alternatives have sprung up down the years.
(27.10.17) – Going Backwards – Oxford and the University Class Problem
I was shocked to see in recent news that Oxford university has been accused of ‘social apartheid’ after their student intake was analysed. This story joins the long standing and highly complicated debate around the wider concept of university equality and educational fairness, revealing some worrying patterns that have begun to emerge in recent years.
(18.10.17) – The Undercroft – Art, Space and Power
Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.
(04.10.17) – The Tuition Fee Freeze – Too Little Too Late
As the country continues to languish in the grasp of a Conservative government, and the shadows of brexit and the snap election continue to lengthen, many are left questioning the political standing of this country’s future. This year’s extraordinary general election has made many people feel alienated from their government, especially among the younger generation. Hardly surprising, as the ultimate outcome reflected the voting preferences of their elders, with 58% of 60-69 yr old’s voting conservative while 62% of 20-24 year olds voted labour.
(26.09.17) – Self Education, New Solutions
Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.
(23.08.17) – Review: Bridges @ Space Studios Norwich
‘If anything, art is…about morals, about our belief in humanity.
Without that, there simply is no art’
Norwich’s own Space Studios hosted Bridges, a fascinating exhibition by artists Marcia X and Karis Upton, earlier this month. Entering through a small alley, I climb stairs up to the first few works, which I find in a dark setting, immersing me in the exhibition. Up another staircase, long enough for me to begin reflecting on what I’ve seen, is a much lighter space, with works hung from the sloped ceiling. Afterward, I’ll go on reflecting for some time – the themes and issues that Bridges explores are of such magnitude that every viewer is forced to sit up and listen.
(08.08.17) – Review: Two Little Ducks Edinburgh Fringe Preview
CW: Mentions violence against children
More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.
(21.07.17) – The Depths of Communication – NUA Degree Show 2017
This year’s degree show was of striking magnitude. The work in all departments was of a very professional standard, with the textiles department in particular showing great craft and display skills with their breathtaking exhibition. These high standards were maintained throughout, even into the degree show shop, which housed snippets of work for sale.
(14.07.17) – The Damage Done by Gendered School Uniforms
The long standing debate regarding gendered school uniform has been raised once more in the news recently, when a number of students at Isca academy in Exeter chose the much cooler option of wearing a school skirt in the recent high temperatures. They were protesting the fact that students are not allowed to wear shorts.
This is not an isolated case, but one of several in recent months. One call centre worker in Buckinghamshire, for example, also chose to question his firm’s anti-shorts rules by wearing a dress, and his tweets about this act of defiance went viral. Protests like these partly reveal the rigidity that gendered uniform creates – but, contrary to what most coverage suggests, the issue goes much deeper than just whether schools allow shorts and skirts in hot weather.
(30.06.17) – Dirty Money – How Ethical Are Our Universities’ Investments?
Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.
(28.06.17) – Who Deserves TEF Gold? And Does It Matter?
Last week, the first set of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings were released for 2017. The TEF is fairly complicated and students are rarely informed of how it works, or the possible implications it holds for the future of education. In short, it is a framework of metrics or measures introduced by the Tory government, ostensibly to assess teaching in higher education institutions in England. These metrics categorise two areas: student satisfaction and graduate earnings / employability. A lot of the data comes from the National Student Survey that final year students are often pressured to take part in. This years’ rankings gave some unexpected results for some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes, with many not doing as well as expected – only 8 of the 21 elite Russell Group universities were awarded ‘Gold’. This suggests that we should be cautious about taking the TEF results as accurate representations of institutions.
(08.06.17) – Our Leaders are Dragging us Back to the Coal Age
We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.
(24.05.17) – Creative & Progressive Voices – Students and the Election #3
The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.
(03.05.17) – Is Creativity Dying?
As a fine art student, I spend my time surrounded by others engaged in creative practices or on creative career paths. However, as I’ve progressed through the first year of my degree I’ve noticed a major stigma attached to these paths. Even within my own arts university there is a perception that fine art students are less ‘realistic’ than those on other creative courses in the university, like graphic design or fashion. This perception, usually held by people who haven’t taken the time to ask fine art students and other creatives about our work, has spread widely through society. Modern artists do not warrant the same level of interest and respect as the great painter-philosophers of previous centuries.
(05.04.17) – Easter Eggs and the Campus Convenience Consumerism Conundrum
As spring approaches, so do the grasping hands of Easter and the shelves full of egg-shaped chocolate treats, in a hundred sizes and colours. But the main thing I notice as I walk through the supermarket is the quantity of packaging that comes with them. Each egg is sealed in plastic and stored in a cardboard box, and most come with other individually wrapped chocolates. The brightly coloured decorations upon the eggs and boxes are reminiscent of nature and the beautiful colours of spring. The great irony, of course, is that the packaging boasting this decoration directly contributes to the destruction of that natural beauty. Through this attitude to resources, companies are investing in a ‘throw away society’, and future generations will have to carry the burden.
(24.03.17) – Review: The Alternative to Capitalism, Adam Buick and John Crump
On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.
(12.03.17) – International Students and Reclaiming Globalisation
More than 43 000 people come every year from overseas to study in the UK; a vast spectrum of people with differing backgrounds, cultures and interests/abilities. An international student’s experience of learning abroad goes further than just their degree. They encounter a different way of life that may enrich and enhance their own. They each bring with them a unique set of capacities, a wealth of ideas and innovative potential solutions that create a stimulating multicultural academic environment for all. But adapting in this way is often difficult, as I’ve learned recently speaking to international students at my university.
(22.02.17) – The Many Costs of Student Poverty
Maintenance grants are a thing of the past and student accommodation costs are rising by the year. Is it any wonder that 80% of students worry about having enough money to get by? As a student myself I am surrounded by people whose rent is higher than their student loan, leading them to make sacrifices on important aspects of their lives, such as their diet. In many cases, students must choose to let their own health suffer as a result of lack of funds.
(08.02.17) – The Failings of Modern Schools and the Importance of Creative Education
Forget statistics, results and score tables – how much does the modern school system genuinely guide young minds toward a progressive and fulfilling future?
John Dewey, often called the father of modern western education, argued that raising children as obedient conformists, rather than individuals who think for themselves, is very dangerous for democratic society. In recent decades, generations of people have been brought up at a midpoint between these two extremes, raised to conform to individualism. This has provided support for dangerous social, environmental and political power structures which do not provide for the vital collectivist needs of our ever-more-globalised world.