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  • Writer's pictureJean Hogg

Project Round-Up #8


Back in January 2024, I took part in the Original Projects South East Coast Research Trip. 

It was a jam-packed four-day trip, taking in Margate, Dover, Hastings, Eastbourne, Charleston, and Lewes before returning home to Great Yarmouth on a Sunday evening completely shattered - but in a good way! 

We visited art galleries, artist studios, sculpture trails and heritage sites. 

In Dover, we visited an organisation called Strange Cargo, which produced many participatory projects working with the most deprived areas of its community. For one of their projects, they invited community members to apply with an idea for an installation for their front window and then organised an artist trail around the sites. What I liked about the project was that they selected the briefs and then worked with artists and homeowners to realise the installations. 

Another Strange Cargo project was a photography guidebook inviting community members to apply with a photograph and a memory. It’s such a simple idea but personal and poignant. I remember flicking through one of the books and finding a beautiful tale about a man saving a dog by the water’s edge. 

Strange Cargo have also created four guidebooks for sale via their website and are producing a book titled ‘Everywhere Means Something to Someone’, a people’s guidebook to the Romney Marsh

One of the main things I took away from the trip, after hearing many founders of community arts organisations speak about setting up their organisations and the projects they had run, was that there are many ways to engage the community in art and film. 

In Eastbourne, we visited the Towner Gallery and saw the Turner Prize. There was so much to see! I enjoyed Rory Pilgrim in that he took community arts and put it centre stage. But for me, Barbara Walker’s work ‘Burden of Proof’, depicting monochromatic portraits of people impacted by the Windrush scandal, stayed with me and moved me. The exhibition at the Towner featured large-scale charcoal figures drawn directly onto the gallery wall. This is what the gallery said about her work: 

Barbara Walker’s monumental wall drawings are demanding physical works. They represent individuals who have shared their stories with the artist; their powerful presence in the gallery is important. At the end of the exhibition, the artist will wash away these drawings in a gesture, signifying erasure and disappearance. Walker invites the viewer to consider the time consequences of political decision-making, the complexities of diaspora identity, and the struggle for legitimacy. 

Reading the artists’ statements and looking at their exhibitions was fascinating. It was interesting to see how they examined themes through their practice and how they translated them into text to inform the ever-difficult Artist Statement. 

What will I do as a result?

It gave me the confidence to think of my practice in a particular gallery space and how to speak and write about my work. The research trip made me consider my art more physically within a particular gallery space. Walking around spaces, absorbing the exhibition, and thinking about my work felt extremely valuable.  

We also got to step inside artist studios and listen to them speak about their practices with humility and honesty. Which I was grateful for.

There was so much more! Such as Charleston House, the modernist home of artists and painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and the Charleston in Lewes Exhibition. Which reimagined some of the Bloomsbury Group artist works. 

Kim Jones -Hand-knit Sweater with a Safety Curtain Pattern, 2022, for Dior Men

My highlight was Duncan Grant’s Design for a Fire Curtain, Sadler Wells Theatre, 1930, reimagined by artist Kim Jones as a Hand-knit Sweater with a Safety Curtain Pattern, 2022, for Dior Men. 

We had a great four days away, socialising and discussing art in the evenings. I think we all needed to sleep for a week afterwards! Thank you, Jules Devonshire & Kaavous Clayton and Arts Council England, for supporting their Lifting the Horizon 18-month development programme in Great Yarmouth. 

Childhood Contained & Visual Poems

Last month, I made a new paper dress from an archive newspaper from when my mother was born, on the 5th of February 1935. The paper was so delicate that I used Bondaweb to reinforce and double-side the paper. I love making these dresses, partly because of the time it takes, and it was often amusing and strange to read the old-fashioned stories and advertisements that filled the paper of the 1930s. The dress has become an interesting sculpture that I will use for installation, projection, and photography work. 

I have also been coding from digital reproductions of slides. Visiting my father’s house earlier in the year, I found many slides of my mother, sisters and me as children. Many of which I had not seen before. It was lovely to digitise them, share them with my father and sisters, and then take some of them into coding. 

I worked on a series of paintings, most of which didn’t work or aren’t working presently, so I addressed some of the themes I had explored in the painting in code. Such as time and how we remember, which can be investigated visually. 

The image above is of the house I grew up in. We moved there when I was four and stayed until I was nineteen when my parents split up. My mother moved to her new home on Glebe Road, which is the subject of my artwork called visual poems. By layering the images, I could work between two identical images of the house and manipulate the photograph to bring pixels forward or backwards or rotate them left or right. Using the Processing programme becomes like orchestrating, and the images can be left to move independently. This can be when some lovely connections happen often randomly, and I like this aspect of the work. I enjoy the unplanned aspect that can happen - a bit like directing - you can set everything up and see what happens. 

Identical - Sheffield Documentary Festival & John Smith Tutorial

Lucy and I have been busy with the documentary. We have applied to the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival and the Meet Market Industry part of the festival (Held in an old Meat Market - hence the name). For this, I put together a short introduction to the film. 

Lucy and I have been putting aside one day a month to go through the footage and plan the documentary. For this, we have talked and processed a lot about our past.

I always knew I would need Lucy to finish the film.

Central to the documentary is my experience of being a twin and how this most formative of relationships has shaped my art and film work. My award-winning film ‘Into The Silent Land’ produced over the period of separation from my twin sister, was a creative response to the loss I felt. It has only been through rebuilding my relationship with my twin sister that I have been able to start to complete this film; I couldn’t tell my story without telling our story. 

As an identical twin growing up, I felt like half a person. I conceived ‘Identical: A Twin Story’ at a time when my identical twin sister and I were estranged. Although, at the time, this was a word I never used. It felt crippling not to have my sister in my life, and the documentary was a way to reach out to other twins and challenge the stereotypes and narratives that exist around us.  Interviewing other sets of twins was a comfort; I felt I was searching for clues as to why my sister and I were no longer close. 

While making this film and getting to know the twins interviewed, I noticed how much I wanted to have a conversation with them and how important my voice became in this inquiry process. I wanted to talk about my experience of being a twin as I was missing my twin sister.

I was lucky to have recently had a tutorial with the film artist John Smith at Primeyarc

His 1976 film ‘The Girl with the Chewing Gum’ explores voice-over and the role of the director. What I loved about the work, a twelve-minute 16mm black and white film made up of two shots, and the filmmaker’s voice-over is that at first, you are unsure if he is directing the action. The voice-over remarks on the scene unfolding in front of the camera; at first, it seems to direct the scene, cueing action. But as time goes on, this becomes less likely. 

I attended a talk and screening of four of his films the evening before the tutorial. I showed John the intro video I had made for Sheffield Doc Fest of Identical: A Twin Story, and we talked about structure, using our voice and the confessional style of filmmaking. 

As my film has developed over the years, my voice has become central to the film, and so it was so helpful to talk with John about how this could work and when to use text instead, who has used his voice throughout his films. 

John was wonderfully warm, kind, and supportive of my work, and it was so helpful to talk about some of my concerns and discuss creative solutions. 

Story of Campbell Cloud Films CIC 

Over the past few months, I have had coaching from Norfolk ProHelp, which matches charities & CICs with professionals from local businesses. 

Therefore, over the past month, I have been thinking long and hard about why I set up the CIC and our mission. One of the exercises the coach set for me was to write the story of the CIC to remind myself of everything I have achieved since I set it up, and I thought I’d share some of it here: 

I set up Campbell Cloud Films during my MA in film at Goldsmiths University in 2003; the name was a combination of my Scottish clan, Campbell and my first film, ‘Then a cloud passed’ which is a line from T.S. Elliots Four Quartets Burnt Norton. I decided on the name over a glass of wine with my colleague and friend Val Hanson, who was the Production Manager during my graduation short. Val and I worked together on many shorts, and she co-produced Into the Silent Land, which we sold at the Cannes Short Film Market in 2012.

From 2006 to 2011, I worked predominantly for an organisation which sadly no longer exists called Community Music East (CME). They also ran film projects. I had taught community filmmaking before leaving London, over in Westbourne Park, West London. Although I learnt a lot in a very short space of time, working with children often called ‘hard to reach’, it wasn’t until I started to work for CME in Norwich that I felt I had found my place in using film as a tool for social engagement, skills building and raising self-esteem in participants. I went on to work on numerous projects over the five years, which I loved, often working with a co-tutor. It really felt like a supportive environment and an important part of my career. 

Not that I Remember

During that time, I was the lead filmmaker on a film working with Norfolk Children’s Services and The Matthew Project called ‘Not that I Remember’. At the same time, I was offered a 2nd Assistant Director role on a feature film that was shooting locally called The Reeds. I had to make a choice and decided to stick with ‘Not that I Remember’. The film was a mix of documentary and drama and was shot over a one-week film school where participants learnt about the roles behind the camera and shared their experiences of the pressures of drinking on young people. These same young people then went on to act in the film. A lot of the spoken discussion was used as a type of voice-over. I think combining the young participants’/actors’ voices against the dramatic scenes made the film so powerful. It went on to be distributed in schools around the region and was widely used as part of a discussion about Citizenship. 

Between 2015 and 2018, Campbell Cloud Films made three films for UNISON East of England Ambulance Branch, of which I am very proud. Each film brought about changes in policy for the working conditions of frontline staff. Each film’s starting point was interviews with paramedics talking about their experiences and the impact of Late Finishes and, later, the impact of PTSD. 

Campbell Cloud Films became a Community Interest Company (CIC) while I was a School of Social Entrepreneurs East student in 2016. I applied to run a project called ‘In Your Shoes’ modelled on ‘Not that I Remember’. 

Between 2018 and 2020, whilst still a trustee of the Sir John Hurt Film Trust, I organised training courses through the CIC for the Norwich Film Workshop project. We ran two summer schools in filmmaking for young people 14 to 18 years and 18+ years. Both courses involved working with a freelance scriptwriter, actor, composer, and me, and we made short films together. After this, I set up two masterclasses of directing for local filmmakers, which were more of an intermediate level. I worked with local film director Richard Bracewell who had been a mentor of mine and gave invaluable advice on breaking down scenes, blocking the script and directing actors. 

Positive Cinema, which used the power of film to build character strengths and values in disadvantaged young people in Norfolk. 

It ran from January to October 2020. However, due to the pandemic, we had to move it online. We decided to increase the sessions from biweekly to weekly as it was such a strange time for everyone and direct all filmmaking virtually. Socially distanced filmmaking and Zoom classrooms - we learnt very quickly!

I took a break from the CIC, and since 2023, I have been developing the organisation. 

For the past six months, I have been working with a great team of creatives on our Advisory Board to grow the organisation further. 

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