Tuesday, 28 August 2012

BIOSKOP: the drifting cinema settles for an evening of film

From the Cube Cinema listings
On Sunday evening, I had a feeling that Bristol would be alive with a thousand dancing feet, shared drinks and raucous screeches, but a night on the tiles wasn't really what I had in mind for my bank holiday eve. By chance, I happened upon a tweet by the Cube Cinema, announcing that their drifting cinema, the Bioskop, would be putting down its roots for the night in Riverside Park, an area I'd been warned was a little on the shadier side. On their blog, the Bioskop admit that they chose the location for this screening with this in mind:  at night, it "isn't somewhere you feel comfortable hanging around in, it's somewhere you pass through to get somewhere else."

As it would happen, this was an apt setting for a screening of Agnes Varda's "Vagabond" (1985). Not for those who begrudge a subtitled film, Vagabond paints a picture of Mona, a young, homeless woman on the road through the French winter, from only the glimpses strangers have had into the last few weeks of her life.
Personally, I love French films (if they're good!) because I'm somewhat of a Francophile and enjoy picking up snippets that are lost in translation with the French that I know (I studied it to A level so I'm far from bilingual but I try to keep it up with the odd French magazine or holiday).

The Bioskop is a wonderful project and was a lovely way to spend an evening: my friend and I huddled on a blanket beneath the trees with the other viewers, clutching plastic cups and shop-bought snacks. Most people arrived for about 7.30pm and then we sat and chattered until the sun set and it was dark enough to clearly see the film projected on a tightly-stretched sheet in the trees.

Vagabond (1985)

The Bioskop is a free event and is kept under close wraps until the very last minute! Keep up to date by checking back here from time to time, or follow @cubecinema on Twitter.

A bientôt!

Monday, 20 August 2012

ROBROS: the best of pals in all the galaxy

Last week, I mentioned Jim Billy Wheeler's exhibition ROBROS, which was on all last week at SHOP on Christmas Steps. I didn't think I'd get a chance to see it, but as luck would have it Jim held a closing party from around 7pm on Thursday so I scurried down there after work. I was the first to arrive, giving me a chance to get a good look at Jim's adorable renderings of C-3PO and R2-D2 doing best pal activities together: sharing a milkshake with two straws, relaxing in a hot tub and - my favourite - making shadow puppets (I'm dying to get my hands on that one to hang on my wall but sadly had no money at the time).

From Jim's Facebook
There was free cider from Tricky Cider and a rousing performance by the Beau Ties, a Bristol-based a capella quartet with the sweetest voices. I found myself toe-tapping amongst a sea of strangers. The atmosphere was merry as Jim's friends (and me!) all rallied round him. It can be a bit daunting to go along to these things by yourself, but I'm glad that I did.

You can find Jim's work over at his blog and listings of other exhibitions going on in the SHOP artspace at their website.

Making Things Club: broderie anglaise and Turkish apple tea

Whilst browsing various blogs and websites last week, I stumbled across the events listings on the Café Kino website. Kino is a non-profit workers' co-op and vegan paradise (I'd guess: I'm not vegan myself but I am lactose intolerant so it's always great to find tasty, dairy-free options when eating/drinking out) in Stokes Croft. A cute banner advertised Making Things Club, a monthly craft meet where, for a measly five pounds, you have access to all the craft materials you could dream of and can make things to your hearts content for a few hours with like-minded folk, and, this month, very lovely live music from the Weary Band.

 Delighted by the idea, I put a fiver to one side and went along to Café Kino for the very first time yesterday evening. The day was hot and sticky and the baking heat showed no signs of abating so I ordered a fresh orange juice, watched it being squeezed, then made my way downstairs to the basement where the club is held. On arrival, a friendship bracelet was knotted around my wrist and I was presented with a goody bag by Lori, one of the founding partners of Making Things Club. I joined a little round table and introduced myself to the women sitting at it, and soon we'd all drifted to the back of the room to rummage through fabrics, sequins, paper and other treasures, deciding on the spot what we were going to make of our finds.

I found a large swathe of broderie anglaise fabric and decided to sew myself a headband from it. I grabbed a heavy, pale blue cotton to line it and a couple of pipe cleaners to give it some structure and allow me to mould it and twist it around my head. Other people had turned up with their knitting, some people began to paint and we all clamoured to have a go on Steve, the badgemaking machine. An encyclopaedia of cats provided lots of cat badges (internet gold) but my favourite source of photos to make into badges was an old beauty magazine from 1979. I also made a broderie anglaise badge to match my headband.

The Weary Band, with Chris making badges in the foreground.

Once we'd all got into the swing of making things, the Weary Band took to the stage and filled the room with dreamy, soft folk music. The atmosphere was wonderful, tucked underground away from the unrelenting heat of the Bristol summer; quiet chatter and excited dashes to the table to find sequins whenever a new idea struck. The band paused for a brief interval and someone put a Field Music record on; I felt very much at home with familiar voices from Tyne and Wear making their way into my ears. I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't finish my headband in the three hours we had at the club- all my sewing things, sadly, had to stay in the Northeast without me- but I managed it! I sipped a Turkish apple tea as the band made their way back onstage. The evening stretched on deliciously and soon there were only a handful of us left, chatting away to Lori and Chris, the founders of the club.

Top: a few of the badges I made; Above: my headband.

Lori runs Tenderfoot, a gift shop and gallery in Brislington (a part of Bristol I have yet to venture to) and Chris is better known as Lazy Crafternoons, providing workshops and craft parties throughout and around Bristol. They make a wonderful team and I for one cannot wait for the next meet, on September 9th!

Perhaps I'll see some of you there!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Foraging and foraying: exploring Bristol

Having yet to complete my first month of work, I'm in that frustrating period of working full-time and having nothing to show for it- and no disposable income to play with! But that couldn't keep me indoors on my days off and I have set out to find a chain of treasure troves where I might spend a little of my wages when I finally receive them. I'm a sucker for a well-set-out vintage shop: but only one holding homeware as well as oversized sweatshirts and angry-seeming knitted jumpers. Along Gloucester Road there are many vintage boutiques and charity shops, which I intend to explore with vigour once I have a bit of change in my pocket.

However, I couldn't resist peeking in a couple of places and one has already become a firm favourite, a place to pore over old tobacco tins, vintage lights and suitcases and let myself drift off to bygone times when telly was in black and white and wallpaper was never understated. This is RePsycho, the "retro superstore" in Bishopston. On my first visit, fresh from the Northeast and reeling from the distance to my loved ones, I thumbed through the vintage postcard rack by the shop entrance and found a postcard commemorating the West Stanley pit disaster. It seems a bit of a morbid card to affix above your bed but it feels like a tiny slice of home and now has pride of place next to a photo I took of the Tyne Bridge only a couple of months ago.

RePsycho on Gloucester Road
Tin treasures at RePsycho
A postcard of home: 50p from RePsycho's collection of vintage postcards

 My next find is right in the heart of Bristol: SHOP on Christmas Steps, the arts quarter. I'd peered in the window before but yesterday I ventured over the threshold to gasp in wonder. SHOP are a self-proclaimed "vintage lounge and arts venue" and non-profit company: all the money made in the space (because it is more than just a shop!) is channelled back into community arts. One thing that really delighted me was the little corner they have transformed into a zine library, but I'm cursing myself now for not stopping to sit and read awhile (my excuse? I wanted to get back up Gloucester Road before the greengrocer's shut - I love having access to free, fresh produce once more). On sale in the shop are men's and women's vintage clothes, scarves, jewellery and all sorts of other bits and pieces including old film and television photographs. Through  a door to your left (as you're standing, having just entered the shop) is the dedicated arts space, currently home to Robros (see poster below), although not for long. Catch it if you can, because, sadly, it looks like I won't!

SHOP on Christmas Steps

Robros @ SHOP until 16th August
Christmas Steps

It certainly looks like Bristol has a lot to offer me- or anyone! For now, I'll be prowling the streets taking note of posters and looking for things and places to attend. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


After announcing my arrival, I've been somewhat absent. I faced perhaps the hardest part of my journey: finding it in me to accept change and free myself. I have been swallowed whole by this beautiful city and its balmy evenings, whizzing cyclists, "funny accents" and bars spilling out cider, laughter and live music onto the streets.

A week ago, I struggled to think of change as a good thing, a new chapter of my adventure. My pillow became salty and streaked with make-up and I turned to a friend for help. And she gave me it. She rushed in from the wings (London) to hold me and remind me I'm here and I'm alive and I'm going to make this city my own story.

The Bear Pit

Bristol is its own paradise and I have tasted only a moment of that paradise. Stokes Croft is overflowing with bars and cafés and possibilities. On my pressing list of things I simply must do in Bristol: Café Kino, which comes highly recommended by a new friend of mine; Cox and Baloney's Vintage Boutique and Tearoom, which is only open on the days that I work but doesn't shut until 6pm so might get a flying visit from me; an evening stroll along the harbourside and perhaps a trip to the Apple; a day in one of the many lush parks, with a book and some time; anything and everything this city has to offer me.

It can be easy to curl up in the groove you've worn for yourself and mourn the places and people you've left behind, and the people you can't hold onto after all. This past week I've unpeeled myself from that rut and hurled myself into Bristol face-first. I've not been too shy or proud to tell people: "I'm new here, I need help." I've been lucky and people have been friendly. I ambled into a party held by some colleagues I'd never actually met, hair wired up into "Pippi Longstocking" pigtails (fancy dress, beginning with 'p'), merrily befriended all the night-shifters, lost my shoes and laughed and danced and found the person with amaretto (a talent of mine, I feel). I broke the ice and, in the last week, I've been to the cinema and to restaurants and to explore the Park Street charity shops. I'm feeling more at home. I'm feeling like I will have friends. I'm feeling like anything could happen.

I'm feeling on the cusp of rebirth.