Month: July 2010

If you don’t know Sheffield, watch this…

One of the great things about being a councillor is that you get a chance to find out about things going on in Sheffield that you might never have seen otherwise.  Today was one of those opportunities, when all councillors were shown a film produced by film studies students at High Storrs School.  The film is their take on why Sheffield is great.

Anyone who knows me will know how much I love the city, and I often eulogise about why I think the city is great.  But what Sheffield is pretty poor at is trying to sell itself to people outside.  Most people I meet who have never been either have a non-image of the city, (i.e. don’t know anything about what it’s like), or they think it’s a rundown, dirty industrial city.  This video answers all those criticisms and it’s done by children who genuinely love the place, not by people paid to produce a promotional film.  As the school pupils themselves said, this is how they would want the city to be sold.

So if you don’t know Sheffield and want to know more, or if you already love the city, then sit back and watch the film below.  Then tell others about it too.  Sheffield is currently bidding to be the UK’s First City of Culture in 2013.  The winner is announced next week, and I just wish we’d had this video when the final presentation was given.  I also love the final summing up of the city – “Sheffield isn’t defined by certain attractions, I think it’s defined by its people and their hearts.”

Watch the film here on Vimeo.  I would have embedded it, but unfortunately Vimeo never lets me do that for some reason.

The Lost Estate by Delays

A song I can’t get out of my mind at the moment is The Lost Estate by Delays.  I’ve been a fan of Delays since their first album, and I’m still astonished they haven’t reached proper commercial success even though their songs are not unknown and have often been played on television.

Delays have just released their fourth studio album – Star Tiger, Star Ariel – which is more rock than indie-pop if you compare it to their previous albums and if I’m honest I’m not as keen on this album as their earlier ones although it may grow.  Despite this, it is still a good album and the best tracks on it are, in my opinion Unsung and The Lost Estate, with the latter to me a typical catchy Delays song best played as loud as possible.

My favourite Delays tracks of all time remain This Town’s Religion, You and Me, One More Lie In, Lost in a Melody, Wanderlust and Nearer than Heaven.  However, The Lost Estate may join that list, with a video available to view here:

See my previous review of a Delays gig at The Leadmill in Sheffield

Martin Parr

Ever since I started to take an interest in photography a few years ago, Martin Parr has been one of my favourite photographers.  So when I had the chance to go and see him talk about his photographs and his career on Tuesday at the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival I jumped at the chance, and I wasn’t disappointed.

What I’ve always loved about Martin Parr is that his photographs show real life.  A slightly exaggerated version of it perhaps, but real life nonetheless.  Just as I find people-watching fascinating, likewise I find photographs that observe what people do day to day and what happens in daily life, also to be interesting.

Martin Parr is occasionally accused of exploiting people to get a good photo and perhaps making money out of what ordinary people are doing is exploiting them, but at the end of the day people clearly do appreciate his “exploitation” otherwise he wouldn’t be such a success.  And I would far rather that we take photos for art than continually film people’s every move on CCTV.

What made Tuesday night even more fascinating though is that Martin Parr started off his career in Hebden Bridge.  His early photography was in an area stretching from Halifax to Todmorden, and so although he now lives in Bristol this talk was in effect his “hometown gig”.  It is also unusual to go to a talk by one of the world’s most famous photographers and to find the subject of some his photographs in the audience.

The talk at the Hebden Bridge Picture House started with Martin Parr showing and talking about the photography that he did in Calderdale in the 1970s.  The images from this period were taken in black and white and showed a time when Calderdale was still dominated by the mills and the chapels.  It was incredibly atmospheric and showed a lifestyle that has now passed.  Martin Parr then went on to a run through of his career to date which was a mixture of a record of daily life to a quirky ironic depiction of what goes on around the country and the rest of the world.  In particular I enjoyed his “The Last Resort” and “Parking Spaces.”

The talk was followed by questions that ranged from the pretentious to the straightforward.  All however were interesting, and I came away from the night feeling incredibly positive and cheerful and really inspired to try and do more photography of my own.  What the night also did was persuade me that I should visit the National Media Museum in Bradford, the Brighton Photo Biennial and that I should encourage Calderdale Council to republish their collection of Martin Parr’s early photographs in a photobook.