Monday, 17 June 2013

Türkiye Yeşilay Cemiyeti

I have been thrilled to be a guest of the Turkish Green Crescent Society, Kütahya branch this last week. As part of the I AM: art as an agent for change, I’ve been part of a small team of people from the UK, Italy and Turkey who are working together to better understand recovery from addiction in different cultures and contexts, whilst developing an arts project with people in recovery, based on self-portraiture. We’ll be facilitating artists exchanges/residencies in all three countries over 2013/14 and having an exhibition in 2014 alongside a symposium in Manchester. For me one the the key parts of this work is around cultural exchange and its been an honour to meet and work with so many people in Kütahya who have made me welcome and shown me so much of their remarkable country: from the artisans and Türkiye Yeşilay Cemiyeti members, to the Governor of the region. The artists studios in Kütahya were particularly outstanding, and I made one or two lovely purchases. 

It was such a varied visit and included a visit to the untouched and beautiful Aizonai Temple. Thank you to Ali Osman Ozleblebici for arranging this - and with your colleagues - absolutely everything else. How do you photograph a Greek temple, or Roman amphitheatre? I chose to sit for a couple of hours (beautiful solitude). Here’s a small moment, sat under the loud-speakers that call people to prayer in the village in which the ruins are. 

It was a strange and exciting time to be in a country whose politics and culture are different and unknown to me. I was inevitably drawn into the seemingly carnival atmosphere of the demonstrations in Taksim Square and whilst I didn’t find myself in the firing line of the security services, it was exhilarating to be in such a huge area of the city that had no policing and was under the control of the people. Yes, the streets were barricaded, but it didn’t feel lawless - it seemed in fact, that it had developed its own rules and regulations pretty seamlessly. Artists had built all sorts of facilities and were engaging with families in lively debate. Political groups set out their turf, and a range of stunning banners, (that alas, I could’t bring myself to liberate - for they were things of beauty indeed) and groups of people took it in turns to street clean.

Whilst different political groups vied for attention to their cause, it was the passion that really hit me the hardest and made me acutely aware of how biased journalism is. The images I get from the television are of angry young men and are always of of ‘extremism’, not rational, articulate, inspirational people, eager to share what they see as inequity. That said, these same young men and women let out much of their frustrations through the most euphoric dancing and singing I have ever been part of in a public space. Forget your flash-mob - this is the real McCoy. Exhilarating. Like any demonstration, you’ll get people who want an excuse to fight and that’s a real shame for all those families that simply wanted to express themselves. Of course the ballot-box is preferable to riots - I only hope that those in power have listened to such a loud expression of frustration and the country doesn’t descend into a divisive civil conflict.

Ironic that Burger King seemed to be the busiest restaurant on the fringes of the Square and to be sure, Istanbul is certainly a city that is building and building like mad. It was a quiet moment of bliss for me to escape to the impossibly beautiful - and even more impossible to describe, film or photograph - Hagia Sophia. Forgive my little film which I hope, though a little oblique, gives some sense of the place. Museum, mosque and basilica and over 1000 years old...if anything gives me a feeling of the numinous, it’s this. With all my cynicism to monotheistic religions put to one side, the beauty and craftsmanship is a thing of wonder. The things humans can do eh? Just a shame about all the other stuff we do too.

So, the blog is a little add-hock whilst I am fulfilling commitments away from my desk, so bare with it over the next few weeks and normal service will resume as soon as possible.

A reminder of those free MORTALITY events
Dr Iona Heath at 3:00 on Friday 5th July. Details by clicking on MORTALITY.

Dr Sam Guglani, Molly Carlilie and Victoria Hume on Monday 8th July from 2:00 - 6:00. Click on MORTALITY for details.

The exhibition is open to the public from Monay the 8th July until 16th August at the Holden Gallery here at MMU. It features work by Ian Breakwell, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker, Bob and Roberta Smith and Sam Taylor Wood.

If you are a health professional, work in palliative care, or at in hospices - if you have been affected by bereavement, if you find conversations around death difficult or if you are an artist that works in end of life settings - these sessions and the exhibition are for you and offer a rare opportunity to hear from some truly original and inspirational thinkers.

If you’re curious, please get in touch by emailing
You can follow MORTALITY on twitter @mortality2013

This is important stuff! Our engagement in the arts is for the first time to be recognised as one of the factors that contributes to wellbeing in the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Measuring National Wellbeing Programme. I know a number of us have lobbied the ONS to include the arts, and this is our just-deserves.

 “...important contributors to well-being, for example, measures relating to arts and culture were excluded as there is no single UK measure. Classing the UK criterion as aspirational provides a more balanced approach. Every effort will still be made to include UK measures. Where this is not possible, flexibility exists to ensure that measures widely considered important for inclusion in the set of measures of national well-being can still be adopted.”

Furthermore, “ was agreed that a measure of mental well-being based on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale should be added to the personal well-being domain in order to provide a more holistic view of subjective well-being.”

Read the report by clicking on the’s short and it’s highly significant.

Do you work in any of the Creative Industries? Would you like the chance to research new and innovative ideas overseas? Have you thought of applying for a Churchill Travelling Fellowship? They send over 120 people each year, from all walks of life and every corner of the UK, on an overseas travel sabbatical. Would you or someone you know, benefit from this experience? The application deadline is 5.00pm on 24th Sept 2013. Click on the anarchists armchair for more details.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has announced that the next funding round of its Inspiring Women in Enterprise opened on the 3rd June 2013 and will close for applications on the 17th June 2013. Through the programme organisations that support women setting up their own business can apply for grants of up to £50,000.  This can include:
·  Delivering enterprise education
·  Innovative networking events
·  Developing entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, etc. 
The total fund available each year is £500,000. Click on the beautiful building above. 

Live, here and now from LT...C.P

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