AT EYE LEVEL / 30 Sep – 5 Oct 2020

‘At Eye Level’ / 30 Sep 2020 / Art book and art exhibition

At Eye Level is a book, it is also an exhibition, it is also a meeting place for four friends. The book opens dialogue and collaboration between poet, painter, printer and photographer which gravitates towards interdependent yet autonomous responses to each other’s particular focus within the political space.

The title At Eye Level references both measuring and aligning (theodolite eye) but also our unique human viewpoint with it’s near and far focus – both minutiae and overview.

The exhibition takes place at The Lansdown Art Gallery / Lansdown Hall, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1BB.

Opening times: Wed. 30 Sep: 9am – 8pm and Thu. 1st Oct – Mon. 5th Oct: 9am – 5pm. 

The art gallery is ‘COVID-safe’ and it has in place the current health and safety requirements to protect the public from spreading or contacting COVID-19. Hand sanitiser will be provided and please ensure that you wear a face mask or face covering if you visit the exhibition. Thank you.



 

Mark Mawer is a painter based in Goodwick, Pembrokeshire. Over the past forty years he has exhibited regularly in the UK and abroad, and has work in private collections. He worked as a lecturer at Stroud School of Art and on the BA Hons Visual Arts at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. He retired from teaching in 2013 but continues to work from his studio on the West Wales Coast.

 

Andrew Morrison is a book artist and letterpress printer who makes hand-made, limited edition books. His work is in many national collections including The British Library, the Tate, the Southbank and British Council special collections. He has lectured widely in the UK, most recently at the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham. His workshop is currently based near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Further information about his work can be accessed at www.andrewmorrisonbooks.uk.

John Stadnicki is a photographer and lecturer at SGS College (previously Stroud School of Art, Lansdown). He has been seriously involved in photography since 1981 and completed his MFA in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales in 2008. His photography reveals and reflects the human unease in the socio-political landscape. John still uses film in most of his work.

Maria Stadnicka is a writer, editor and freelance journalist based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. She is currently a PhD researcher at University of the West of England, Bristol. Her writing explores social identity, cultural theory and the ethics of memory. She is the author of Somnia (2020, KFS Press, UK), The Unmoving (2018, Broken Sleep Books, UK), Imperfect (2017, Yew Tree Press, UK) and the forthcoming poetry-documentary collection Buried Gods Metal Prophets (2021, Guillemot Press, UK). She recently performed her work at Edinburgh Festival, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Oxford University, Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival. Further information about her work can be accessed at http://www.mariastadnicka.com


Note: During opening times the gallery will follow the safety guidance on social distancing in public spaces.

 

Stroud Book Festival Poetry Night, 9th November, 7.30pm

The Stroud Book Festival is thrilled to once again be hosting an eclectic line-up of poets and poetry from Gloucestershire and beyond.

The first poet on the bill is multi-award-winning poet and broadcaster, Daljit Nagra, on Thursday 8th November at Wycliffe College, one of the festival’s splendid sponsors. Nagra, who was the first ever poet in residence at BBC Radio 4, will be reading from his latest book, ‘British Museum’, as well as earlier books, including the Forward Prize-winning ‘Yes We Have Coming to Dover!’

“He’s a marvellous reader of his work,” says Adam Horovitz, who will be introducing him on the night, “and his questing, questioning, witty and politically pertinent poems are well worth discovering aloud as well as on the page.”

On Friday 9th November, the Stroud Book festival Poetry Night offers up a wonderfully varied and immersive evening of readings, performance and music by a hand-picked bill of acclaimed poets, in two parts.

The first part brings together three poets with Gloucestershire connections: Kate Carruthers Thomas, Patrick Mackie and Maria Stadnicka. It closes with acclaimed Welsh poet and singer Paul Henry and will be compered by Adam Horovitz.

“On Saturday 10th November we’ll be celebrating the work of Gloucestershire poet and composer Ivor Gurney with a one-woman show starring writer and actor Jan Carey, to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One,” says the festival’s artistic director Caroline Sanderson. “Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-sort: The Life and Work of Ivor Gurney is fresh from an acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer and we are delighted to bring the show to Stroud.

“We round off our poetry programme on Sunday 11th November with a magical family event inspired by nature,” adds Caroline. “We hope that children of all ages will come and meet Frann Preston Gannon, illustrator of the poetry anthology I-am-the-seed-that-grew-the-tree.

“It’s a glorious new gift anthology of 365 nature poems for children, spanning over 400 years of poetry, and including the work of poets as diverse as William Blake, Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard, Eleanor Farjeon and William Wordsworth. As well as a chance to enjoy the poetry-telling, Frann will be encouraging children aged 6 and above to create and illustrate their very own nature poem.”

How to book tickets:

In person: at The Subscription Rooms, Stroud

By phone: by calling 01453 760900

Online at https://stroudbookfestival.org.uk

Political Valentine, Music and Poetry

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Poster Design: RCM Creative

 

Stroud’s Politics Kitchen presents a musical experience showcasing a new and exciting political paradigm whose time has come – the Politics of the Heart. This is Politics that recognises that we have more in common than that which divides – a more intelligent, courageous and compassionate politics.

The event, on 11th February 2017 at 19.30 – The Subscription Rooms Stroud, features music from the sensational Bristol-based Spiro who are described as “World Music that speaks directly to the soul” – this is a truly unmissable event.

“This is soulful, passionate music, and I love it”, says Peter Gabriel, speaking of Spiro (see links below). If there were a ‘Stroud Sound’, Spiro would surely be it.

They are supported by Jennifer Maidman Music, stellar singer-songwriter and ex-member of the legendary Penguin Café Orchestra, 1984–2007.
Spiro are also supported by Hattie Briggs another wonderful singer-songwriter, inspired by the likes of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor Hattie recorded her debut album, ‘Red and Gold’ with Peter Waterman (Joss Stone/Uriah Heep/Emma Ballantine), as was her second album, ‘Young Runaway’, in 2016.

The event is supported by and features poetry readings with Gabriel Millar, Maria Stadnicka and JoJo Mehta.

Tickets available at Stroud Subscription Rooms: http://www.subscriptionrooms.org.uk/whats-on/politics-of-the-heart-with-spiro/

http://www.spiromusic.com/

http://jennifermaidman.weebly.com/

http://www.hattiebriggs.co.uk/

https://mariastadnicka.com/

Exile

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Witness to a repeated history

in exile I learn a new language

facing the border control

at Heathrow Airport I wear my mother’s coat

ready for a winter of politics

when I need to

I keep my mouth shut I change my name

to look just like her

white and uncomfortable

the blinding sun has been washed and

smells of violets

people are happy

in such a beautiful land

nobody minds me

amongst

wrapped-well-packed boxes

brushing the dust off velvet cutlery

the only remains

of life before baptism.

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photographs: copyright@John Stadnicki, 2016

No Other Survivors

I sit by the emergency exit

at a neat desk

in the office with

neat plastic flowers.

 

Freshly baked people buzz

empty in black and white.

A typed frozen password on my screen: bonjours tristesse number eleven.

It keeps snowing in Russian.

 

A nest arrives.

Hollow roundness.

At my window, a kneeled motionless pigeon

is picking and picking at my praying crumbs.

No other survivors.

 

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Photography: @John Stadnicki, ‘Cimitero Monumentale’ 2016

Bad Luck

The other day I had a fall in the bathroom

and cracked two ribs.

I have a black eye and a swollen knee.

 

Google says I should end up with a persistent cough and

the doctor recommends to avoid

laughter, hic-ups, children, smiling people.

 

Yesterday, I burnt my left hand with boiling steam,

I cursed and dropped the kettle on the floor,

then smashed the kitchen window with my fist.

 

Today I am definitely going to die so

I have now set fire to the house

ready to lie in bed wrapped up in wet blankets.

 

My next door neighbour pops by to say that

winter is about to settle in and

he ran out of tea bags.

Soldiers

The dreadful day we had feared

arrived at last. Possibly March the first.

At the picket line.

We held hands with the same familiar tenderness

maybe shared the same memories witnessing

the course of events as the revolution unravelled.

With a kind of regret my fist hit

the walls of a prison surrounded by weaved carpets.

With photographs stored in books

different directions awaited.

Never to see each other again.

mm

The Reality of Lines

I am the best like this
with nothing left
hanging
dried purple tulips
at each door handle.
With no audience
I face the blackness of each line
to learn what remains of reality.
The hope that all could be new
when everything is
already gone.

image

@Maria Stadnicka

About Skin

WESTGATE STREET 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo: John Stadnicki)

 

 

 

Here I watch the day.

The storm over. A memory on glasses, on broken shoes.

My shadow reflected

on the opposite wall

sits still.

Borders? I have seen one.

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Photo: ‘Border’, Maria Stadnicka, 12-September-2015

As the refugees’ crisis is widening across Europe, the public opinion becomes more polarised, with people supporting the Schengen agreement for settlement whilst others oppose the migration from the Middle East and Africa. In England, my decision to collect and deliver donations to Calais has been welcomed and facilitated by family, friends and work colleagues on one side, and criticised on another side on social media by a few online acquaintances which disagree with the idea of personal intervention in a problem that should be left to the international political factors. And this is how, on the way to Calais, the concept of ‘border’ started to emerge in my mind as my new British passport was scanned at Dover. Watching the ferry depart I thought of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer which summarised a valid point on this matter. ‘Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.’

With this is mind, I entered the refugees’ camp in Calais on Saturday and observed the difficult living conditions of thousands of mostly young men, lucky enough to have walked or travelled for weeks in search of stability and peace. Dreaming maybe to be accepted in Britain whilst waiting for help from a country which they see a promoter of fairness and humanity. Some have been there for months, others just weeks.

Thousands of tents were spread across the camp but there were people still living in cardboard shelters, in flip-flops and T-shirts with autumn coming and the rain slowly settling in during the next months. People I met looked at me with curiosity and friendliness. One welcomed me and asked if I had a good night on the way there. Another asked for a pair of shoes or trousers. And more and more slowly surrounded the van. But having just fifty boxes of supplies in the van made the distribution impossible. What about the people in need of supplies, which could not communicate in English, nor French, could not ask, could not arrive at the van, could not reach for my help?

People living in the camp need help and support, and donations are slowly going and are being distributed by very few charities and private companies as well as volunteers and locals. Packing and then safely and equally distributing food, clothing and other necessary materials to thousands of people is a process which takes time and logistics. This positive action can only be successfully delivered before winter comes with more help from volunteers and strong support from the international community. As the European budget is spent on numerous emergency summits, the conflict between decisional factors becomes apparent and the people involved in helping the refugees in Calais get a sense that the governments have no real understanding of what needs to be done on the ground.

The governments do not have understanding. But governments, with their complicated power structures, are not people. They are, at this point, the borders. Those volunteers spending their time and resources, dedicated night and day to help the refugees are my example of humanity as well as my hope. I have heard their names (Riaz, Maya, Christiane, Vincent, Clare, Toby) and their voices on the phone helping me help others. I have not seen their faces, nor their colour, but I have seen their actions, their beliefs and values, which made me write this to ask for yours.

 

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Photo: Volunteers receiving donations for Calais refugees, John Stadnicki