Articles for One&Other, York

In March 2013, I was a writer for One&Other York, a free culture magazine with a city-wide publication. I quickly learnt interview techniques, time-management and honed my writing skills. I wrote mostly for their blog which led to writing a feature for their print issue in 2014. The print article is a list of recommended climbing spots in and around York for their ‘Outdoors issue’. Below is a selection of my work for One&Other.

Read below or follow these links:

Arts Prizes–Are They Important?
The Apocalypse that will put York on the Map
Working in Parallel
Interview: Fossil Collective

Finding a Foothold: the Rise of Climbing

Arts Prizes – Are They Important?

With cuts to arts funding becoming a nationwide chorus, Aesthetica Arts Prize host talks at their York St Marys exhibition to expel any notions of art’s waning importance. Julia Vogl orates short insightful talks to small groups, discussing the role of the competition, the relevance of the artist, and offers a chance to listen to Julia’s personal history.

© Abby Lanes
© Abby Lanes

Like Aesthetica itself, the talk steers away from the idea of a competition, which is all too easily implied with the title of an ‘Arts Prize’. Instead the Prize is explained as part of a wider evaluative process. ‘I never thought of myself as competitive, that’s why I’m in the arts; you can’t compare one student’s still-life works to another who does performances with a cardboard box. The question is: do you have something to say?’.

Julia notes the instability of being an artist, and the sense of value that comes with a nomination. ‘Arts Prizes are not like winning an election. They do not guarantee you income and a job for 2 – 4 years afterward. But they give you a great boost of confidence’. Julia specialises in Social Sculpture, so the analogy is apt. Her work makes data, such as one thousand opinions on where the London budget should be spent, aesthetically pleasing, while gesturing to the larger issue. The former example was turned into a bar chart that adorned the vast classical portico of University College London. ‘Winning something may buy you another year in the profession. It gives great press but it also introduces artists as serious candidates’.

As an industry the arts must function as a cooperative. This is as true now as it ever has been. The Arts Prize is not as much about the winner, as it is about the common goal. ‘A prize is just as important to the person who won it, as it is to the people who gave it to them, as it is to the future patrons who invest in that art’. The enabling process of exhibitions is all important, not just to art-lovers but to everyone whose voice is reflected by that art, whether it is Julia’s surveyed one thousand, or the millions whom they represent.

In true artistic style Julia ends her gambit with a provocative paradox summarising the Aesthetica appeal. ‘For those of you who have never come in second place, or been shortlisted, it is the most wonderful disappointment’.

Vogl speaks with a narration as emblematically witty as her American articulacy is clear. A rare opportunity to discourse with the artist behind the work.

Original article here.

Fionn Coughlan-Wills


The Apocalypse that will put York on the Map

© Jamie McKeller

Zom-blog-alypse. It is all in the name. Zombies, blogging, and an increasingly likely apocalypse.

An idea is dawning that has been the creative ambition of MilesTone Films’ Miles Watts and Tony Hipwell and Zomblogalypse’s Hannah Bungard since their web series began attracting a worldwide cult following in 2008: a Zomblog movie. Thanks to the support of fans and admirers, this dream is on the cusp of realisation.

Having crowd sourced a pre-production budget of over £1500 in five days from funding platform IndieGoGo, the Zombloggers plan to take the film script to this year’s Cannes Film Festival to drum up some attention and international backing. In an update on their IndieGoGo page, Watts has thanked all donators telling them that he has made entire films for less… with room for many more donations.

Like no other zombie epic before it, Zomblogalypse  – in its web series incarnation – shows the world as a functioning, web-based, zombie-splatter free-for-all. And like no other before it, is set in the historic town of York, usually associated with Vikings and Romans and now adding zombies to its pantheon of invaders.

One&Other have it on good authority that several key York landmarks will form the setting to major plot points in the film. Watts admitted a cryptic clue: ‘one of the top five attractions is crucial to the film’. And once the comedy makes you laugh until you cry and is put on the back-burner, the film takes on a significant message.

York is no stranger to the creativity of filmmaking. The energy is distinctive. Yorkers are proud of their city’s heritage yet habitually reject concrete thinking, so what could celebrate York better than a film where the city battles an unthinking horde of comical undead?

As such, Watts reveals his love of the classic, shuffling, cinematic zombie; not rehashing your average Romero mulatto shuffler and not necessarily embracing the more modern ‘rage infected’ running zombie but creating a new monster to spearhead the zeitgeist of a unique generation.

Watts emphasises: ‘York is oozing with talent. The film would create jobs, but it is the lasting impact of Zomblogalypse that will help further develop York as a creative centre for film makers.’ Perhaps he’s right; a halo effect from one amazing movie will generate more opportunity in an already artistic but under-represented metropolis.

Zomblogalypse is an opportunity for every individual involved; either as a potential zombie, an extra, a donator or filmmaker. But it needs you – the followers – to break the local bounds, gain an international budget and serve up a pièce de résistance of undead-vanquishing mayhem.

Zomblogalypse is a big fish looking for a little (but perfectly formed) pond. This is a project for York and Zomblogalypse needs you.

Donate and get involved here.

Check out the story so far with every episode of the web series here.

Original article here.

Fionn Coughlan-Wills


Interview: Working in Parallel

Creative design agency The Beautiful Meme are working with artist in residence Claire Nattress for the first time to host Parallel, an experimental art exhibition to showcase their work. In doing so, The Beautiful Meme have generated a new model to support upcoming artists: incorporating them into business, forming new ways to create inventive installations and challenging cuts to arts funding in the process. I spoke to Creative Director Tom Sharp and Claire Nattress at their York headquarters.

It is clear that working with a creative agency is a positive experience for Nattress, revitalising motivations to craft high-quality thought-provoking work. ‘It is about creative outlooks, about exploring potential ideas. That route between commercial and artistic feeds into the final work’. Though The Beautiful Meme is now a major part of Nattress’ work, she retains an artistic identity outside of the business. ‘My title is Conceptual Artist because ideas are paramount to any work I undertake’.

Like any business, commercially-viable ideas are vital but art is often profitless. A conflict of interest is the obvious obstacle that they face, so collaboration is the key to a relationship between artist and director. Sharp divulges, ‘The title Parallel refers to that – the two sets of creative people working together to a common end’.

The exhibition signifies a landmark in intersecting these communities. The aim of communicating with visual metaphor is a mutual asset of artists and designers. But what effect would The Beautiful Meme model of employing an artist in residence have on traditionally artless professions? And what kind of art would be produced?

These are just two questions that Parallel introduces to the arts and commercial industries.

Sharp clearly sees the link within his organisation. ‘A creative agency is about ideas, and art is about ideas. Seeing how different people work with ideas, in different ways, with different motivations, is fascinating because it all connects’. Also transparent is that The Beautiful Meme are testing a theory. ‘It is a bizarre experiment in a way: an invite-only exhibition featuring work influenced by clients, with those clients from multiple professions composing the main body of the audience’. Integrating people and businesses that would otherwise not meet is a feature unique to Parallel and one that is hoped will contribute to the health of all trades who invest.

‘What an agency brings to an art exhibition is a chance to mix disparate groups of people together. In the same room we will have the English National Ballet – a large cultural organisation – and a global company called Harkand that fix pipes under the world’s oceans. It’s fascinating to think the different spheres of engineering and dancing will form part of this project’

It is an innovative rubric that Sharp, Nattress and The Beautiful Meme are applying to their work. ‘The support of young artists should be the by-product of a good idea’, says Sharp. With Claire Nattress and Parallel the creative agency puts forward an inclusive approach that – when fostered by other businesses – promises a healthy reboot to the Arts.

Original article here.

Fionn Coughlan-Wills

Interview: Fossil Collective

Fossil Collective guitarist Dave Fendick sounds optimistic having promoted the band’s new album ‘Tell Where I Lie’ on BBC2 this morning. After today he will join drummer Jonny Hooker and the Collective on a month-long tour of the UK, gigging every worthy bar in every major city they can get their hands on. After that Canada and the USA await, for a two month taste of the state-side folk scene.

The adventure of the American road-trip echoes the freedom with which Fendick and Hooker formed Fossil Collective. When Leeds-based, the pair played with alternative outfit Vib Gyor, before becoming dissatisfied with the limitations of a traditional band line up.

‘We were constricted by the format of a normal band and wanted to work with more talented musicians. The Collective is just that, a collective of people that come and go through the line-up, with me and Jonny at the helm. When you are part of a traditional band you are restricted; the idea of the Collective was liberating.’

With an honesty that runs through his songs, Fendick admits: ‘the Fossil part we put on the front and it sounded good so it stuck.’ But the band was named five years ago; 2013 is the year that Fossil Collective make ‘Tell Where I Lie’ an international contender, while supporting The Boxer Rebellion.

‘We will promote the album like crazy, we all grew up listening to Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel so we are very much influenced by music of that era and place. It’s all rich harmonies, retro-sounding guitar and drums so we get a lot of comparisons to Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Midlake, but we write our own music and stay true to what we believe in.’

Asked what he is looking forward to about America, Fendick replies ‘Everything.’

Fendick and Hooker developed the album sound by releasing three sultry-sounding EPs, so Fossil Collective are acquainted with making a long journey. With the instilled wisdom of folk, Fendick advises: ‘Be Honest to yourself. Write music that you would like to listen to and don’t pander to a scene – that is the biggest mistake. As soon as you make something you think is commercial it is a downward spiral from there. Start low, stick to the right path, be honest and you will reach an audience.’

But for the journey that is not a metaphor? A journey that is 3500 miles from The Duchess in York (10th April) to the Webster Hall in New York City?

‘We can’t wait for Canada, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. All these places we have never been, like I’ve never played New York. That is going be my highlight.’ While they are this side of the pond, the band has a special affiliation with York. Hooker and their current bassist live in the city. The guitarist and vocalist confesses it to be their favourite place in the North.

Fossil Collective’s roamings from York to New York harken to the romance of traditional country guitar music that has seen a boost in recent years. But the unique formation of a band whose members can comprise guitar, ukulele and drums one minute and strings, brass and lap-steel the next, is either an evolution for the stage dynamics of clever song-smiths, or a rock-hard proof that the old ways of a folky open-mic remain the best.

Fossil Collective play The Duchess on Wednesday 10th April. For info and tickets, click here.

For more information, visit the Fossil Collective Website.

Original article here.
Fionn Coughlan-Wills

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