Thursday, June 4, 2020

Blog Award Winners

Rob Turner Beach Creative

As the lockdown is relaxed and things have shifted a little for many of us, it feels the right time to let this blog come to a natural conclusion. So we have identified three Blog Award Winners for their contributions and certificates have been sent to:

Veronica Tongue
The Bomb Site House 1940 Interior

This blog follows the progress of the restoration of a Dolls House originally built from debris found on bombsites during the blitz in the 1940's. Build by a fireman and a policeman living in North London for the local Doctors two young daughters.
Veronica takes this back from the 1960's make over, returning things to the 1940's.

'Contributing to the blog made me continue with the restoration'  

Dan Harding
The Virtual Music Project at the University of Kent Music Dept.
 Dan has reflected on the impact of isolation on the creative arts, musicians particularly and has searched for new ways of working together yet individually in isolation. Dan has mastered new sound cloud software to present their work recreating large ensemble works with choral singers, instrumentalists and soloists. The blog explores ways of making and presenting that work, but the spine to the blog is Vivaldi's Gloria made by layering each individual recording into a symphony.

Sylvia Mckean
Sylvia has taken us on a magical mystery tour of events, people and places, all with a very local theme.

 A local historian who has had time to watch, research and reflect going onto then share her local knowledge and personal stories. What is going on outside through her window and in her garden. Knitting and the contents of her book cases, to describe just a few of the entries. 
Sylvia mentions what she has made for her grand children an emotional subject highlighted on the news and ends by celebrating the birth of a new baby boy into her family.

Thank you to all that have contributed something on here, over 2050 page views to date I hope there was something there you enjoyed. This blog may be resting, or replaced with another idea, who knows what is ahead?
But I can say there are plans to create virtual exhibitions with Beach Creative while the galleries remain closed. I hope readers become viewers of these new displays.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Final Diary Entry

McKean       Final Blog  May 24 2020
No one has told me that Isolation has ended? 

I mentioned in my last blog that the weather is one of my favourite topics, my garden and its birds and bees have also become a firm favourite. The pair of collared doves, the robin, the blackbirds, sparrows and numerous starlings that I mentioned in my first blog are all still here.  They are here of course because I feed them and here I must thank the special local shops who have delivered supplies at a day’s notice.   
April 7th I took this picture of Rosemary in bloom surrounded by many bees.  It has become very old and woody but I am loath to cut it down.  As I write this (end of May) I notice the starlings and sparrows are feeding on its seeds and in the same area there aremany bees on the Jasmine flowers. Early April there were several tortoiseshell and white cabbage butterflies; small blues have also been around.  When the buddleia flowers in August I know there will be many more visiting the garden.
April 22nd World Earth Day - started in the USA by Senator Gaylord Nelson after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara California, to take action against the destruction of the earth; it led to the set-up of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Most appropriate then that the earth and its nature were saviours to us in lockdown when those with gardens or access to green spaces were very grateful to use them as a refuge.
April 27th The collared dove is sitting on her nest in the cotoneaster arch beside the garage.  She comes out every day late afternoon for feeding and sometimes they both sit together on the garage roof looking like a cosy old couple.  Jim spots the egg has hatched and sees movement in the nest.  For a couple of days all is fine until a nasty crow appears on the garage roof.  I shoo him off with our bird scarer – a skull and crosssbones
flag which makes a loud swishing noise (we use it to scare off greedy seagulls). 

 I’m just dishing up dinner and see him return and fly off again.  After dinner Jim goes into the garden – the baby dove chick has gone!  Mother dove is sitting on next-doors roof looking at our windows, as if she believes we are guilty.  She stays around on the ground below the nest for some time.  Jim and I feel very sad, almost like it was one of our offspring.  Collared doves are monogamous, and after several days they appear again feeding late afternoon. Perhaps they have made another nest away from the marauding crows?
Early May the birds are still busy nesting; the sparrows take up their usual residence in gaps between next-doors velux roof windows – they’re very wise, it’s west facing with their food table in sight.  
May 3rd was International Dawn Chorus day when everyone was encouraged to rise early and listen to the birds melodious starting of their day. I confess I didn’t get up early to hear it. However, I quote cautious words from the RSPB;  
With fewer cars on the roads and a reduction in the noise all around us, it seems as if bird song is louder than ever. Sadly, the opposite is true… the last 50 yearsthe UK has lost 40 million birds!   Our reserves may be closed, but nature is always open and lifting our spirits like never before….. and the greatest symphony of all – the dawn chorus – leading the charge. But for how much longer?”

More diary extracts for May;
Tuesday May 5th Sat in a sheltered spot in the garden in the afternoon - still cold easterly wind, did some knitting and watching (and talking to) birds – my ‘green-time’ therapy; the robin still visiting the garden. 
Wednesday May 6th   Fed birds as usual, Robin and blackbird there to greet me.  A starling is raiding the garden for nesting materials – tugging at the lavender and other shrubs! 
May 19th – For the first time since early March the weather vane is pointing south – no easterly wind, the last two days have been positively summerlike and the sunset is looking promising.  The time is 8.30 pm and I’ve just come in from the garden, it smells fragrant and wholesome and the birds are still singing.  I say a little prayer of thanks for living in such a lovely place.
For the last two days the sparrows have been chirping all day long teaching their fledglings to feed and fly. The 
robin now only comes into the garden occasionally. The blackbirds – now called Mr & Mrs, appear daily but
 separately. Mr is looking very straggly as he tucks into his favourite food of cut up grapes.  Mrs looks better 
 they’re obviously nest sharing but no sign of junior yet.  In the evening he sings loudly from the top of a nearby tree.  A lone starling is madly collecting food in his beak – he too must be feeding young.  

Throughout my diary I have mentioned some of my time sitting in the garden has been spent knitting.  I started knitting over a year ago after a break of about forty years.  I’ve found it both therapeutic and compulsive.  I restrict my knitting to smaller creative items – mainly based around rectangles which I create into colourful designs.  I’ve made shoulder bags and doll’s blankets for my grand-daughters, flower decorated lavender bagsand an assortment of cushion covers – suitable Christmas presents perhaps? 
I’ve also referred to my observation of bookcases becoming a popular background for people on media video links.  I’ve noticed that most of these bookshelves look tidy although with great respect, those belonging to Professors and similar Academics are not always so neat – my fingers itch to sort them, but strangely these are my favourites.  
So I’ve set to and tidied my own bookcases; but more importantly what do they contain? Many are on aspects of Kent’s history; some county topographical; and other of architectural and buildings interest particularly churches and windmills. Tidying the shelves has been a voyage of re-discovery, unearthing some of my forgotten favourites. I highlight one in particular,  received as a gift. “I Never Knew That About England” by Christopher Winn is a lavishly illustrated compendium of facts and stories about England presented in county order.  My favourite illustrations are the 1930s travel posters luring people to travel by train or motor-car to coast and countryside.   Curiously a page fell open at a picture of John Bunyan sitting at a table with quill pen in hand.  

Bunyan who was born in 1628 in Elstow Bedfordshire,is depicted writing his famous Pilgrim’s Progress published nearly 350 years ago – described as a symbolic vision of the good man's pilgrimage through life. It is regarded as a 

piece of inspirational 17thcentury classic literature and has never been out of print.  Ironically it was written whilst Bunyan was in isolation in prison for holding assemblies of more than five people without a licence – sounds familiar!  I wonder if anyone today has written such a classic masterpiece whilst in isolation? 
I’ve set aside time in isolation to work on my book on Herne’s Homefront in the First World War and have completed research on two women whose origins proved to be quite elusive.  Only ever referred to by the vicar at the time as Miss Shackleton and Miss Oldfield, just identifying their full names was a challenge. 

These ladies came to Herne and Broomfield at the beginning of the war and supported the Broomfield mothers and children; they ran the Sunday school,mother’s club, raised funds for charities and organised outings.  When the war was over they quietlydisappeared. My late aunt, Christiana Port who lived  all her life in Broomfield remembered them with affection.  Discovering that they both came from distinguished 
families has assisted me greatly in creating their stories.  Herne’ Homefront in the First World War now has another interesting chapter highlighting two middle class 19th century women who created vocational lives for themselves.  (Pictured above mothers and children group Broomfield House c1917 Misss Oldfield & Shackleton far left middle and second row)
I’ve also done some more detective work on the RAF pilot who at the height of the Battle of Britain in 1940 crash landed his Hurricane aircraft in a farmer’s field near the Share and Coulter and miraculously walked away with just a few bruises.  I’ve uncovered an account from his diaries how he guided his stricken plane away from Herne Bay’s town to avoid a catastrophic loss of life.  I hope to include this in Herne & Broomfield History Group’s August newsletter.
Finally, following all the talk of the birds and bees and new arrivals, I am verypleased to welcome a new addition to our extended family; a bonny baby boy, born on Friday May 15 and weighing in at 81bs 4oz.  Welcome to this New Brave World.

At the beginning of the lockdown on March 23rd those people with underlying health conditions (around 2.5 million) were deemed as shielded – not to go out for 12 weeks.  The 12 weeks ends on June 14th.  On Sunday May  11th  lockdown rules were changed and everyone in England can now go out where they wish – the beach and the countryside for example, still observing social distancing,  although still staying at home as much as possible.  No mention has been made of the future of those of us deemed as shielded  - are we the forgotten few?
Sylvia McKean
May 24th 2020

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Only Connect - lessons from the current crisis and the consolation of Mozart

By Dan Harding
At the Vitual Music Project University of Kent 

As this series for the Beach Creative blog charting the progress of the Virtual Music Project draws to a close (although the project itself will continue), it’s an opportunity for me to reflect on what’s transpired. The process of building pieces of repertoire in unusual fashion, forced upon us by lockdown, has necessitated a different way of working in response, and thrown up some questions not just about the process, but about wider issues too.
Is the online musical project a suitable replacement for the real thing ?
Connecting is vital
The one constant aspect of the emails and messages filling up my Inbox as the recordings have been arriving is the use of the word ‘connected.’ Variations on a theme – ‘thanks for helping me stay connected;’ ‘it’s great to feel connected to Canterbury;’ ‘it’s a lovely way to still feel connected with others.’ Continuing to make music – albeit in a drastically altered form – has provided a much-needed element of continuity for people, and a way of keeping in touch during lockdown and enforced separation from family and friends.
Whilst people are making art in solitary situations, the ability to feel that what they are producing is part of a larger context has been an important aspect of their creativity. Online art exhibitions, virtual tours, online ‘Meet the Artist’ sessions; it’s not simply been about producing art in isolation, it’s also been about finding different, new ways in which to share it, to make it available. Livestreamed concerts from people’s living-rooms have shown that artists need to feel their work is reaching people, that what they have to say is reaching those who are willing to see and hear it
We need the arts
The arts has been a real lifeline for people’s mental health and wellbeing under lockdown. We’ve seen the surge in people watching online performances from theatres, concert-halls, living-rooms, kitchens as artists move online to keep engaged with audiences. We’ve been watching films and bingeing on boxed sets on Netflix and Amazon Prime; we’ve been reading books. Art educates, informs, entertains, distracts, poses questions, challenges, reassures – and we need it to keep doing all those things even in a time of great uncertainty.

So the last extract with which to leave you, Gentle Reader, is a strings-instrument mix from Mozart’s anthem ‘Ave verum corpus,’ one of his best-loved works, that we are putting together for an online virtual performance next week. Listening to the warmth of the accompaniment which unfolds beneath the voices, it’s difficult not to be moved by hearing musicians overcome the situations in which they find themselves in order to continue, somehow, to make music together.

Music reaches out not only across distance, but across time as well. Mozart’s music speaks to us across the centuries, and reassures us, in its continuing familiarity, that there is the possibility of renewal. The quiet authority of Mozart's message, written in the last year of his tragically short life, rings through the years with its message of consolation. There is hope, it seems to say. I’m looking forward to the time when theatres, libraries, galleries and concert-halls can throw open their doors once more; when we can return to places like Beach Creative, and experience the wonder, the magic and the excitement of the unknown that the arts offer us, time and time again.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

On the record: tracking the creative process - literally

By Dan Harding at the University of Kent.

As those of you who have been following the unfolding of this project will know, the opportunity to plot the progress of the virtual performances as they are being constructed can offer a fascinating aural insight into the evolutionary process. In place of the formative process of rehearsing, instead the project has afforded the chance to track the slow creation of the recordings – literally to track them, as the various recorded tracks are added.

Last week, we glimpsed two virtual moments that never were – two mixes of various upper-voice recordings – and this week is the opportunity to hear an extract from a first combining of all the voices with some of the string instruments – another step in the gradual creation of the finished piece.

Not all the instrumental recordings are in yet, but, combined with the two incarnations we listened to last week, the combination of all three tracks starts to provide an aural sense of the piece’s coming together. The solitary soprano section recording – the combined upper-voices mix – and now this, bringing the tenors and basses into the virtual choir and introducing some of the instruments providing the supportive harmonic landscape operating beneath.

For the full sense of this unfolding process, listen to all three in sequence, starting from the virtual soprano sectional recording on the playlist and moving upwards – it’s like a sonic flower gradually blossoming.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Weekly walks

Take Off Charity 

Take Off are a Mental Health charity who run a creative group at Beachcreative. 

Connection Online

I do the social media for Take Off Charity. On a Sunday evening I asked our followers on twitter and Facebook to post pictures of their isolation walks- I’ve had some fantastic responses, we’ve been doing it weekly... I look forward to seeing how people are connecting with nature. This is my favourite bit of my working week.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Bomb Site House 1940 Interior Part Eight

By Veronica Tonge

Creativity will have to go on hold as Veronica has to focus on others of life. Work on the restoration will be ongoing from here. 

Before and after shots included in this the final post. 

BOMB SITE HOUSE in 2013, as it was collected from a hospice charity shop near London. This is the view from the back, which had push on cover. Roof flap detached and the 1940 light switches sprouting a party successful 1960s rewire (the downstairs lights only worked).

Several doors and one sliding wall were missing, and the front of the base was detached, making the whole house, in spite of it being made or oak salvaged from a bomb site, very structurally unstable. The bathroom walls were covered in 1960s sticky back plastic. Red felt 'fitted carpet', dirty and mouldy, was in all rooms - and a thick coat of white gloss paint obscured the original 1940s decor. It was going to be a proper job getting it back to something like its original look. 

The push-on back of BOMB SITE HOUSE,
also with protective anti-blast wire and shellac windows, which were fitted all round by the policeman and fireman who made the house in 1940, during the London blitz.


BOMB SITE HOUSE Partly Restored 13 May. All the missing doors were remade, the sliding doors to the sitting/room library downstairs left reconstructed from the owner’s remembered description. Original mustard yellow decor to the right either revealed by careful scraping and chipping off or repainted in a similar colour. Bedrooms and sitting room repapered in a version 1930s/40s hand stippled wallpaper in period tones of blues, pinks and greeny gold. The bedroom floors were papered in soft blue and brownish textured paper imitating linoleum and the sitting room floor, still in its original dark varnished wood, was cleaned of white gloss splodges and revarnished where necessary. My vision for this house is to return it to as near original look and atmosphere as possible and the restoration will be continued as and when.

Bomb Site House packed nice and safe until there is time to work on it again