The ‘My Language’ Project – Young Norfolk Arts (2020)

By Ciéra Cree – Tuesday the 16th of June was when I first heard about the ‘My Language’ project and it really got me thinking. I was instantly intrigued and so many ideas raced…

By Ciéra Cree

Tuesday the 16th of June was when I first heard about the ‘My Language’ project and it really got me thinking. I was instantly intrigued and so many ideas raced into my mind; so many so that I thought that the best way for me to (ironically) use my language to convey them to you would be through the means of just writing things down.

The project is being launched by the Young Norfolk Arts Trust, as a follow-up from last year’s ‘Creative Multilingualism’ Project. In regards to what the project entails:

‘We’re inviting young artists aged 5-25 to respond to the question; what does my language mean to you? This could be your own language, or that of your family, friends and community. You can respond as part of your school group, individually or with members of your household.’


Participants are able to submit their responses to this in whichever medium that they wish. From photography or a short film to poetry or artwork, this opportunity really allows people to get creative!

Although the Young Norfolk Arts Festival exhibition has now passed, it remains as the intention of YNA to work further on this project and to have work displayed from it on the ‘My Language’ website. For more details about the project I recommend that you watch the introductory video provided by Young Norfolk Arts and to check out their page regarding the project.

You can upload a photograph of your artwork, a film, recordings, poetry or stories to or email them to

My Response – What does language mean to me?

I have always been a creative, quote-unquote “articulate” person, so in that more singular sense language appears everywhere. It appears in the books that I read, in my ears after hearing the speech of the people and wildlife around me, and in the poems and songs that I write. It radiates from me in the ways that it radiates from all of us – both overtly as well as silently.

My language is more than just what I say or what you see. It comes in many forms, from the ways in which I choose to visually present myself and the things that I choose to say, to the ways that my mind begins its processes of internalising and perceiving the world. 

A language, in my view, is constructed of many layers, meaning that although people may share a language of speech, our own personal languages still stand as being unique. Body language, boundaries and how we choose to self express. What we dislike, what we like, what media we consume with its influences and how we act. These are all aspects that, collectively, serve to assemble pieces of who we are.

My language is my identity. Well, at least a part of it. It’s my way of communicating myself as well as my thoughts and ideas to the world. Or even just the way that I have to communicate thoughts and ideas to myself, internally.

My language is as much referring to what I don’t say as to what it is that’s being said, and it also refers to the filtering that I go through to decide what will be said or left to remain as unsaid. What can be read between the lines of who I am? Does the world know who I am? Are the languages we communicate within the internal world largely different to that of the external world? To the latter question here I would say yes, although answering that is relatively subjective.

What are your thoughts on these matters? What does “your language” mean to you?

Image: Engin Yapici on Unsplash


Participate in Your Weekly AHSS Newsletter!

By Ciéra Cree – After recent discussions with our lovely new Vice President of AHSS, Fatima Lakhani, I discovered that the redesigned weekly newsletter includes two sections…

By Ciéra Cree

After recent discussions with our lovely new Vice President of AHSS, Fatima Lakhani, I discovered that the redesigned weekly newsletter (released on Mondays) includes two sections for students and ex-students to discuss their experiences as well as to potentially share their work.

Since this opportunity is new, it isn’t particularly well known, so it would be amazing to see word of its existence shared around the faculty, and to have some submissions for the sections come in via the relevant email contacts (see end of article). 

To follow below are details about the two sections, as well as examples and information regarding how you could get involved.


The first section that students can contribute to is the ‘Spotlight’ segment. The intention for this is for it to be a weekly feature starring someone within the AHSS Faculty alongside either a blog post detailing a bit about the person, their ARU experience and why they chose to be on the course which they are on or, alternatively, it can be used to showcase some of their creative work.

If writing a blog post sounds appealing to you, the newsletter is seeking text of around half a page in length which shall be accompanied by a head shot and details of what course you are taking (as well as your year of study).

However, if you would prefer to contribute an open studio/stage concept to showcase your work, the length that the newsletter organisers are looking for is a video with the duration of 5-8 minutes. The video would be hyperlinked in the segment, accompanying your head shot and a short written bio.


The second section available for AHSS students to submit to is the ‘Inspire’ segment. Unlike the ‘Spotlight’ segment, this feature won’t necessarily make an appearance every week.

This is a space for ex-students of the faculty to blog their experience about life after graduating, opportunities that have come their way beyond studies and to talk about how they got to be where they are now. Current students are also welcome to provide content for this segment too which could mention topics such as obstacles that they have overcome and if they have gained awards or commissioned work while studying.

For this section, the newsletter is seeking 3-4 short paragraphs of text to be published with your course information and a head shot.

I would personally encourage anyone to contribute to these sections. As part of AHSS myself (Media (BA Hons), Year 2), I know that we work hard and that hard work and talent more than deserves to be recognised! These are two great opportunities to do just that; they are quick, simple, easy to share and would make a great addition to your CV.

If you would like to be featured in one of these sections please email Nicola Maxwell ( or Fatima Lakhani ( with the email subject ‘Submission for the AHSS Newsletter – Spotlight (or) Inspire’.

Images: Examples provided by Fatima Lakhani. Featured image by Ian Schneider on Unsplash.

ARU’s Creative Response to COVID-19

By Ciéra Cree – The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care (FHEMS) Arts and Well-Being Research Interest Group are seeking to learn more about how staff and students…

By Ciéra Cree

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care (FHEMS) Arts and Well-Being Research Interest Group are seeking to learn more about how staff and students have been engaging with arts, cultural and creative activities during the lockdown period caused by COVID-19. The idea stemmed from the creative approach of the public displaying rainbows for the NHS in their windows, but in terms of this research the umbrella of “creativity” reaches far further out.

By “engaging” in these areas the research is not only referring to actively creating, for example, by drawing, writing, painting and playing instruments, but also engaging with the arts virtually through the likes of Zoom groups, watching gigs online and by taking digital gallery tours.

In regards to becoming involved, if you so wish, it is simple. There is a three-part survey available for staff and students to fill out which takes only around ten minutes to complete in total. The first part of the survey asks participants via multiple choice to select which creative activities, from a list, that they have engaged with over the lockdown period both within their households as well as online. The second part asks for some details about you such as which faculty, age group ect that you fall under as well as whether any specific COVID-19 circumstances applied to you (e.g – shielding, assisting a vulnerable person ect). And lastly there is a short set of multiple choice questions about your wellbeing.

Participants are additionally offered the opportunity to write a haiku about their lockdown experiences or feelings, and to provide an email address for contact in relation to sharing some of the projects that they have been working on in an online exhibition space.

‘We aim to capture the range of activities [that] staff and students have engaged in, the motivations behind this engagement, and the perceived impact it has had. We are also inviting photos of your artwork/creations to be put into a virtual exhibition as well as an exhibition on campus when it is safe to do so.’

ARU Researchers

The research group intends to send out a follow-up survey in six months time in order to track shifts in the creative engagement of people after this time has (hopefully) passed or, at least, progressed. If participants would like to elaborate on their responses to anything within the survey via an interview, or if you have any further questions about the project in general, please get in touch with Dr Ceri Wilson at for more information.

Click here to access the survey.

*Deadline for survey responses is August 16th, 2020*

Who are the researchers? : Dr Hilary Bungay, Dr Ceri Wilson, Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, Anna Dadswell and Dr Sally-Anne Francis. The wider FHEMS Arts and Well-Being Research Interest group are also advertising on the project.

Image: Rhondak on Unsplash

Identity: The ‘Who Am I’ Project (BBC Voices, 2020)

By Ciéra Cree – In May, BBC Radio Norfolk, together with Taryn Everdeen, launched an Instagram project on the theme of ‘identity’. The project entailed taking a photo of…

By Ciéra Cree

In May, BBC Radio Norfolk, together with Taryn Everdeen, launched an Instagram project on the theme of ‘identity’. The project entailed taking a photo of yourself surrounded by items that link to who you are. This photo would then be posted onto their social media along with a one minute voice over discussing the photo.

As soon as I heard about this project I was keen to get involved. I enjoy participating in projects anyway but there was something particularly intriguing about trying to capture an identity within a single image. It was also interesting to see a project like this taking to Instagram and I really liked how the one minute length would perfectly suit the platform.

Quite a few ideas raced around my head initially before taking any photographs. I wanted to make my photo visually appealing and clever but at the same time I didn’t want to make it seem overly constructed to the point that it would detract from the main point of the task itself. This project isn’t about taking a perfect photo, it’s about taking one that captures your identity, and as humans we are all flawed.

Eventually I decided to take my photo laying down to reflect my “grounded” nature as well as the fact that I often dream. I surrounded myself with a number of items including some of my favourite novels, an anthology of love poetry that I’ve been published in, some philosophy books, a camera, a pair of binoculars, a scented candle, and some handwritten letters.

When shooting photos for this it took a little while to figure out the best way to go about it and the right way to space the items within the frame. At first I placed objects around my entire body but this proved to work less effectively than placing them closer together. In my final version the image is more zoomed in and I decided to add in a thought bubble which says the word ‘dreams’ to more fluently connect to the fact that my eyes are shut as I’m laying there dreaming.

After the photoshoot was over I went home to record the one minute audio accompaniment for the image. I scripted up what I planned to say before taking the photos as writing it prior to the shoot helped me to visualise how I wanted my identity portrayal to look. In a way a minute is a long time in regards to how many words you can script but, when undertaking this project, I quickly realised that I had to be somewhat concise as there’s so much that can be said about ‘identity’. My final dialogue came out as follows:

‘Hi, I’m Ciéra. I’m 20 years old and live in a quiet little village called Beeston. I’m a person with unapologetic passion and an unending trail of ideas. From poetry and photography to singing, songwriting and writing articles, the desire to create within me will never die. I think a lot, especially philosophically, and I feel a lot too. At times these depths are my enemy but as I’ve grown older I have started to learn how to embrace them as my own. I have an affinity for old fashioned things such as handwritten letters and vintage dresses, and an incredible sense of adoration for the sky. I do my best to be a grateful person and appreciate each moment as much as possible, although it isn’t always easy. My heart is soft, I love hugs and giggle way too much, and I dream nearly every night. Who knows, maybe you will appear in one someday.’

I did my best to think about small details within the piece. For example, the blue book next to me called ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ is not only a favourite book of mine, but it also linked well to where my audio accompaniment mentioned that I have ‘an incredible sense of adoration for the sky’

My advice to anyone who is potentially interested in a project like this is to think about what you’re going to do but to simultaneously try not to overthink it. When you ponder your identity what are the first thoughts and ideas that come to mind? What resonates with you?

For more details on the project and to view people’s submissions visit @norfolkthesocial

Images: Ciéra Cree, Aidan Drury and K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

ARU Unity Zine Launch

By Ciéra Cree – Shortly after returning home on the 29th of March, I came up with an idea to create a zine. At first, I reached out for submissions on the ARU Together…

By Ciéra Cree

Shortly after returning home on the 29th of March, I came up with an idea to create a zine.

At first, I reached out for submissions on the ARU Together Facebook group without thinking too much about it. The intention was to gauge the interest of students who would like to see their poetry, photographs, and artwork, published in a small, one-time community zine, and then to proceed to gather the content.

A few months later, I launched the #ARUnity hashtag asking students and staff members to share their memorable moments from university this year. And while I thought that these would both prove to be positive initiatives, the idea of incorporating the hashtag into the zine fell into place shortly thereafter.

“This year at ARU, I loved The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society’s Open Mic Night. It was so lovely to see everyone come together and we all had so much fun! #ARUnity”

Gabs Bennington (2019/20 Treasurer – The Ruskin Journal)

You may have seen the #ARUnity hashtag floating around on the Journal’s social media, or you may have messaged me a moment yourself – many of you did! I’ve included some examples at the end of this post.

The ARU Unity Zine contains a wide assortment of creative pieces from a variety of talented people, as well as all of the hashtag moments from the #ARUnity campaign. From poetry and photography to paintings and more, the zine features little bursts of thought-provoking material that I feel privileged to have chosen for this project.

I have never made a zine before, I am not a graphic designer, and due to the pandemic, I had limited resources. It was tricky at times, and I don’t recommend that you use Google Docs for things like this, but in a way, the difficulties I encountered made doing this feel all the more rewarding to me.

One of my favourite parts about this project, aside from seeing everything come together, was the fact that it wasn’t just students from ARU that got involved. Among its many contributors we have friends, friends-of-friends, people from other universities including Fine Art student Loti Armstrong from London’s Central Saint Martins, and even writers living in other countries such as Anushka Dey from India, and Tiago Ramos from Portugal! I am proud to have done my bit to further encapsulate the theme of unity in this way.

So here it is, the ARU Unity Zine! Thanks to everybody who took part and I hope that those who pick it up will enjoy it too.

Download the zine here.

Images: Ciéra Cree & Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash

Ashley Potter: My Art Teaching Career – A Conversation

By Ciéra Cree – Ashley Potter is a 29-year-old art teacher of two years living in Rhode Island, USA. She teaches Kindergarten through to the fifth grade…

By Ciéra Cree

Ashley Potter is a 29-year-old art teacher living in Rhode Island, USA. She teaches students from Kindergarten through to the fifth grade, which would equate to teaching children between the ages of five and eleven in the UK.

She and I have been friends for many years; initially conversing as pen pals, and then as friends through social media as it meant we could talk on a more frequent basis. Recently, I decided to hold a conversation with her about her teaching career so far, including some of the highs, the lows, and the funniest moments along the way.

Today, I will be sharing some of that conversation with you.

Was becoming an art teacher always something you planned or wanted to do?

“Eight-year-old Ashley wanted desperately to be an art teacher, and somewhere along the line, I decided to get my bachelor’s degree in just Studio Art, rather than Art Education.”

“When I realized I actually wanted to be an art teacher in 2013, after graduating with my Bachelor’s, I started to see that decision as a mistake, because I felt like I wasted time working at a big box retail store, doing work I hated. I was living in this apartment far away from home, working 40-hour weeks in a management position, doing inventory and stocking shelves.”

“In my mind at the time, I was wasting time, but after I went back to school to pursue my Master’s in Teaching in Art Education, I realized that a lot of the skills I learned as a manager translated into skills I needed in the classroom that needed developing.”

“I think it’s interesting how we end up on these journeys that we don’t think are helping us, that end up connecting in the end. I had major problems with classroom management at first, because teaching is a lot harder than it looks, and in my second year of pursuing my Master’s, I had so much doubt about what I was doing that I didn’t even know if I should continue. There was a moment right after that, where things started to click, and I realized this was a job I was built for, I just needed to press on.”

What are the best parts of your job?

“What’s cool about doing what you love is every day when I wake up, I am able to go to do something that I love. It doesn’t feel like work at all. I get to make jokes and be silly, and still help kids think critically about the world around them and help them build skills I know they’ll use as adults. It’s not just about building art skills, it’s about helping small people grow and learn social skills they need to be successful.”

“It is almost impossible for me to have a bad day at work, and if I do, it’s always counteracted by a student doing something that warms my heart. I remember one day I went into school and my anxiety was through the roof for whatever reason. I sat at my desk and took out my computer to check my plans for the day and a first grader cautiously knocked on my door because I think they could tell I wasn’t in a great mood from my body language. I tried to grin, and I asked the student if they needed anything, and they came up to me and told me they made me something over the weekend. They handed me a plastic bag with a paper snowflake in it. After expressing my enthusiasm, I thanked them, and they left the art room beaming. I remembered thinking ‘okay, universe, I got the message.’ And I was able to let my anxiety go by breathing through it.”

What are your least favourite parts about your job?

“I hate learning that a child is suffering or doesn’t have things they need. It genuinely bothers me, but I have no control over the situation as their art teacher. I have to just be there for them however I can.”

Any particularly funny memorable moments? Any disasters?

“There was a moment I mentioned to someone recently, about meeting a new student from another country who was an English Language Learner. I have never seen a child look more terrified and confused because this child literally knew no English.”

“I remember I took note of it, and I practised a bit to learn some Spanish so I could help. The next class, I was able to tell the student to get more water on their paintbrush in the language they knew best, and their face lit up. It was one of my favourite moments.”

“I had a bit of a disaster once while letting kids use drawing chalk. The art room looked horrific. I had warned students against blowing chalk dust at others, and I had to tell one student to get in line and end their art class early because they kept doing it anyway. What is funny about teaching situations like that is that sometimes certain lessons work with certain groups of students and not with others.”

An example of Ashley’s artwork

What would you say to anyone out there wanting to work with kids?

“All children really need is patience. I think it’s best to remember that sometimes children’s problems seem small to an adult, but they may be the largest problem a child has had to deal with in their life so far.”

“I’ve had students get anxiety about things I thought were silly, or argued about crayons, but they need to be able to work through these small problems so they can deal with larger problems when they’re older.”

Any final comments, thoughts or messages?

“Teaching is a very rewarding job and I highly recommend it to anyone looking into it.”

You can find more examples of Ashley’s work on her Instagram feed.

Images: Ashley Potter & NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Ruskin Journal ft. Creative Writing Society Open Mic Night

By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding – On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month…

By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding

On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month. For those of you that couldn’t attend, the event took place between 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock in The Academy hall on Cambridge campus.

The theme for this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month was ‘poetry, prose and playwrights’ – something that both of our societies know something about and saw as an opportunity to work together to bring an event to life.

“The open mic was open to all, it felt really inclusive to the diverse students that were able to showcase their talent in a safe space with safe people.”

Gabs Bennington, The Ruskin Journal & Attendee

Creating a space where people could share their passions, and feel accepted for who they are, was very important to us. The Students’ Union had decorated The Academy with various flags and accoutrements baring the symbols of the movement we sought to represent. And all throughout the planning stages of the event, something about this night felt special to us.

Each table a copy of The Ruskin Journal’s latest annual, as well as an assortment of snacks, and a variety of sexual health packs put together by Amanda Campbell, AHSS Vice President, as part of her ‘Best Night Out’ campaign. We’re told at least a few of them went!

“It’s a safe space, a small nook in Cambridge which attracted vibrant diverse people and reminded them that they have a place in the world.”

Shania Perera, Performer

At 7 o’clock, people started to fill the room. While some mingled, others took their seats. It was exciting to watch the event slowly come to life as more and more people turned up at the doors, poking their heads in first before their bodies joined them shortly after. And before too long, The Academy was nearly full – incredible, we thought. If only we’d started on time!

It took until around quarter to 8 before the flow of people began to ease and the audience took their seats. But eventually, Merika and Ciera took to the stage to kick off the night in earnest with a short speech that went like this:

Thank you for coming along to our event, since planning for this started, we’ve all been very excited to see it unfold. We’re proud to be showing a unity not only between our two societies tonight but also one between us here together, supporting and accepting each other.

We hope that you leave this room feeling happy, comfortable and most importantly like you belong. No one should be made to feel that they aren’t accepted or allowed to be who they are.

We, first before anything, would like to thank you for taking the time to be here in support of your fellow friends and students. Our university holds such a beautiful diversity of cultures, ideas and beliefs, some of which we’re here to celebrate right now.

The night saw a total of 19 performances take place ranging from beautiful spoken word to poetry, from music to rap, and even some acapella performances to boot. Pieces like Shania Perera’s ‘A Distracted Physicist’, to Freddy’s infamous bars that got everyone joining in, to a glorious rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ by Ronnie to cap off the evening in style.

For the record, we have included a complete list of the night’s performances below:

  1. Merika – 19:49 PM – Poem
  2. Pavlov & Antony – 19:53 PM – Music (‘Heart-Shaped Box’ – Nirvana)
  3. Pavlov & Antony – 19:58 PM – Music (‘Come As You Are’ – Nirvana)
  4. Bee – 20:06 PM – Poem (featured at Desperate Fleas)
  5. Ciera – 20:17 PM – Poem
  6. Ciera – 20:18 PM – Poem
  7. Gabs – 20:25 PM – Poem
  8. Shania – 20:29 PM – Poem
  9. Georgie & Greg – 20:38 PM – Music (‘Vienna’ – Billy Joel)
  10. Georgie & Greg – 20:42 PM – Music (‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’)
  11. Greg (Solo) – 20:45 PM – Music (‘Bleeding Sky’ – upcoming album)
  12. Daryl – 20:55 PM – Poem (‘Gaps’)
  13. Daryl – 21:01 PM – Poem
  14. Daryl – 21:11 PM – Poem
  15. Freddy – 21:14 PM – Music (“hell yeah!”)
  16. Pavlov & Antony – 21:22 PM – Music (‘Creep’ – Radiohead)
  17. Shania – 21:33 PM – Poem
  18. (we’re sorry, we didn’t catch your name!) – 21:45 PM – Poem
  19. Ronnie – 21:54 PM – Music (‘Hallelujah’ – Jeff Buckley)

After all was said and done, Merika Tencati took to the stage once again to thank everyone for making the event a night to remember. Sentiment was expressed, events were plugged, and the night drew neatly to a close – and what an incredible night it was.

“It was a great collaboration between Creative Writing, Ruskin Journal and the Students Union. I had a lot of fun and was happy to see so many students and staff supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

Merika Tencati, Creative Writing Society & Co-Host

We would like to thank everyone who came to this, our inaugural open mic event, and thank you to the people who helped us make it all possible. We’ll see you at the next one!

Media Exhibitions in London – Trip Report

By Ciéra Cree – On Wednesday 4th of December, first-year students taking the Media Studies course were invited on their first university field trip – a day that played out to be both exciting and memorable for many reasons…

By Ciéra Cree

On Wednesday 4th of December, first-year students taking the Media Studies course were invited on their first university field trip – a day that played out to be both exciting and memorable for many reasons.

During class when the trip was announced, we were told where to collect our train tickets and what the trip would entail. The plan was to visit two exhibitions in London – one by Nam June Paik held at the Tate Modern, and the other being a ‘multimedia show’ taking place at the Store in Temple. We agreed to meet-up by the train station’s Christmas Tree before setting off on our journey.

The fact that it was the festive season made this little adventure all the more enticing to me – who wouldn’t want to see the pretty lights adorning London streets? I was excited to see the exhibitions too! ‘Media’ covers such a wide spectrum of topics, so it’s difficult to gauge what to expect from an exhibition about a subject so broad. Because of this, I was very interested to see what was yet to unfold.

At 10:15 AM, our train started up and we were on our way to London. Our journey there was relatively quiet and the train itself wasn’t too busy, at least not around where I was sitting. There was a low hum of chatter, some people reading, others on their laptops working, and the occasional person addictively looking down at their phone. Coming from a small village without public transport meant I hadn’t actually been on that many trains before. This was something rather amusing to think about while looking out of the window. I don’t mind trains, not particularly, but the ones that go really fast can be a bit…disconcerting.

Our first stop was Kings Cross to meet with Neil, Deputy Head for Film and Media, so he could join us on the final leg of the ride. After that, we all boarded another train bound for central London. The journey from Cambridge wasn’t excessively long – it’s a doable trip that’s definitely worth taking for students who want to go exploring in the city.

Nam June Paik Exhibition

At 12:30 PM, we arrived in London and made our way over to the Tate together to have a look around. It was exciting to see the doorway into the exhibition without knowing what was next. We could see a bit through the entrance while we waited, but there was so much more to follow.

The walls of the exhibition space were both a pale cream and white partnered with wooden flooring. It really helped to enhance the space of the room – the minimalistic choice ensured that the pieces remained a viewer’s undistracted focus throughout their stay.

Something I quickly noticed and appreciated, was the range of exhibits on show – evident due to Media’s broad nature. There were metaphorical pieces, symbolic pieces and literal pieces. Pieces that worked on their own and others that worked collectively. Pieces which were physically there in front of us and others that were both digital and interactive. Some rooms had screens with the lights out, while others were standing out in the open. There was something here to cater to everyone’s tastes.

One of the more popular exhibits in the Nam June Paik exhibition was the silhouette screen which projected coloured images of the subject in front of it onto the adjacent wall. It was fun to move around, experiment with the projection, layer colours on top of one another, and to see how the projections changed depending on the proximity of the screen to the subject.

In the same room, there were some other thought-provoking exhibits: the first of which being two life-sized humanoid figures made out of old radios and TVs. Visually they were appealing regardless of further inferences, they were well-produced and very innovative, but it’s always interesting to delve into the thoughts of what something could symbolise beyond the surface. Could they be representative of how television or the media, in general, infiltrate people’s minds and become an inescapable part of them? Could they be a way of showing how people’s thoughts and lives, similarly to that of a TV or radio show, are something that others can “tune into” at their leisure? Or perhaps it may be a metaphorical way of showing how we broadcast certain aspects of ourselves – only the aspects that we want others to see.

When I looked closer at the expressions of the two characters, on the female figure I noticed some marks that looked like tears under their eye, and that the mouth is notably sadder than that of it’s smug, male looking counterpart. Perhaps this signifies something deeper about gender disparity within the media industry?

A few paces away from the figures was a rather peculiar table. On the table was an egg sat under a lamp and by this egg were two projections of the egg. What could this be saying to us about life? How could this be applied to Media? My initial interpretation of it was that it could be displaying the simplicity of life in its beginning. The world is stagnant when nothing has occurred. We aren’t aware of others or our surroundings, and for all that we know, we could be alone. That feeling, in relation to the projected eggs, is illusionary.

As for my thoughts on this in regards to Media, the lamp was the key to deciphering my meaning. Media so often puts people under the spotlight, presenting them to us as being “real” and “perfect” (what Richard Dyer would deem as “stars”). We idolise them and put them under our own spotlights, causing ourselves to feel faded and unable to shine as bright, like the projections, in comparison. We forget that these people aren’t real, they themselves may forget that the persona they show isn’t who they are, so the projected illusionary eggs around them could also be interpreted as versions of their former selves, to whom they have grown detached.

My favourite piece from Nam June Paik, however, had to be the Television Garden which, as the title suggests, was a garden filled with TVs. The television screens were synchronised, sat in a dark room, showing the same images simultaneously in a loop among the leaves. It was one of the first things I approached when walking into the exhibition as it immediately intrigued me and appealed to my love of metaphors.

‘The Nam June Paik exhibition was an interesting walk through another person’s view on TV, audio and Media. His artwork maybe didn’t make sense at times, but it was more about our interpretation of his thoughts, work and presentation. My favourite was the TV garden.’ – Elizabete Sipko

What could a garden filled with televisions mean? Well, it can mean a number of things, whatever your heart desires in fact. Off the bat it serves as a great juxtaposition between nature and technology – it could be showing how the natural world today has become less appealing to people, and how instead of being surrounded by greenery that people would rather be immersed in a TV show. Or perhaps it could be illustrating how media sources demand our attention regardless of where we are, making it difficult to disconnect and be present in the real world. Or maybe there’s a more ecological message being pushed, and it’s a cry out for the environment. Some food for thought – does the garden have to mean a literal garden, or could it be representative of something else?

Nam June Paik, as I’ve mentioned, was presented to us in a minimal style. Artefacts were well spaced out under their natural lighting for us to see or from within their darkroom. The second exhibition we attended however carried an entirely different, more modernised vibe.

‘I thought the trip was really fun and I liked that we were shown different exhibitions. I was able to learn about different artists that I’ll definitely look more into. The Nam June Paik exhibition especially made me think about the ways you can mix different mediums as an artist, and I think this is something that could inspire my work in the future.’ – Sara Roberto

Store in Temple Exhibition

After a lunch break on the South Bank, we made our way to the multimedia show at the Store in Temple. This exhibition was divided by corridors and curtains which not only helped to build up a sort of anticipation for each exhibit, but to also give our minds a moment to clear before heading on to see what was next.

Each room seemed to have a predominant colour theme that starkly contrasted with the ones immediately before it. There were lots of coloured lights and screens flickering through montages of images. My favourite place inside this exhibition was in a room where the walls were made up entirely of mirrors and screens playing videos. These videos varied: some were just patterns whereas others had narrators speaking profound messages. One of these profound messages was spoken while a man was shown on a beach looking out to the sea, which, to me, really stood out among the rest of the exhibition.

The multimedia show was a colourful and fun experience, but to me, it wasn’t as impactful or thought-provoking as Nam June Paik. The artwork was appealing and trendy, which I appreciated, but as someone who likes to think, the first exhibition was preferred. However, I would still definitely go back to this exhibition again given the chance – it was visually spectacular.

‘I really enjoyed the trip and thought that the artwork was really interesting and unique. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting! I liked the second exhibition especially as it seemed the most experimental and abstract.’ – Lorenzo Barba

Marian Goodwin Gallery

To our surprise, we ended up going to a third exhibition – Nan Goldin at the Marian Goodwin Gallery – which was free and not too far away. This third one seemed to be very ‘people focused’ and often over-sexualising, though I feel it was trying to communicate something about femininity or the concept of beauty itself. Wall displays showed photos of people in drag attire, people attending pageants, and others that were entirely naked. There were also some rooms showing videos, one of which I remember was rather vivacious, and another where a woman was shown celebrating her birthday and reflecting on her younger years. The link between age and beauty can be made here, as well as the fact that women are often sexualised within the media.

Among all this upstairs was a room made up of pastel landscape paintings which I thought were beautiful despite seeming out of place. The room was so calm and spacious, and the paintings held an enormity of depth to them. They were by far my favourite part of the exhibition.

As we made our way out of the building, down Oxford Street and back to the packed train station where we struggled back on board our train, I sat and thought about the day gone by. It had been lovely, not just as an experience, but as an opportunity to spend time with people from the course without being in a classroom environment.

‘The trip to London was not only great fun but also a great insight into different types of art that is shown within multiple galleries. Also, who could forget about the guy on the tannoy in the underground during rush hour – that man deserves his own sold-out show.’ – Johnny Knoll

Overall it was fun, interesting, and a day that I am grateful for.

Dada or Dadon’t? An Exploration of Dadaism

By Ciéra Cree & Adam Clarke – Artists are breaking conventions more than ever before, so it’s no wonder that alternative art forms such as ‘Dada’ have risen in popularity in recent years. Prizing itself on its nonsense and irrationality…

By Ciéra Cree & Adam Clarke

Artists are breaking conventions more than ever before, so it’s no wonder that alternative art forms such as ‘Dada’ have risen in popularity in recent years. Prizing itself on its nonsense and irrationality, the art movement that’s said to have risen from the ashes of the First World War is as sporadic in its appearance as it is in its methods.

Extending across various artistic mediums, this form of self-expression seems to have no boundaries. So I’m here today to see whether I can derive any sense or logic from this eccentric art form, and I want to try to form my own artistic opinion of the movement overall by creating my own example of a ‘Dada’ art piece.

This piece was created using words and images cut out of an old newspaper. These words you see were picked out of a bag at random, hence it’s nonsensical appearance. I, alongside Adam Clarke – an art student, and the person who first introduced me to ‘Dada’ – are going to attempt to analyse the piece and provide a general overview of what we think about the art form as a whole.


Upon initial introduction to ‘Dada’, what did you think of the movement?

C: To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of it. It just seemed confusing, chaotic and generally all over the place. I could see how as an art form it may appeal to some people though since there are no rules, meaning anyone can participate. At the time I was first shown it I wasn’t aware that it was something which extended past visuals and into the world of writing. Before researching deeper into its poetic elements, I really wasn’t sure what to expect as words jumbled on a page with no sense to me didn’t seem appealing.

A: Upon first introductions it seemed an understandable concept, to create art based solely on authority in the field, much like some fields of modern artistry. However, I felt as if it should be kept just like that; a concept and experiment. To find it had such a torrential response by the public shocked me as I believe all art should be respected, despite how void of talent it may seem at first. It did not seem to be a genre that applied to me or one that I’d want to pursue.

What can you interpret from this piece?

C: It almost felt wrong in a way when I was putting this piece together. As a person who writes frequently, I’m so used to placing words in an order which is designed to flow well, which is the complete opposite to how this was. Upon looking closer at this piece I feel it could possibly be negotiated as one stressing the fast-paced nature of society and consumerism within it. Words such as ‘tomorrow’, ‘today’, ‘what’ and ‘news’ communicate this desire people seem to hold where they want to instantaneously know the goings-on of the likes of celebrities all the time. ‘Want’, ‘more’ and ‘catastrophic’ could be further communicating this in the way that people are greedy and always wanting more and more, in terms of materialistic possessions as well as media information. This greed people hold could possibly be linked back to animalistic traits, illustrated by the dog covered by articles of news.

A: At first glance, the simple collage is consistent with the movement but is nothing personally noteworthy style-wise. The segments used however do show a world where headlines are full of pessimism and greed-based profit. Also, the only section that mentions ‘family’ being upside down is paramount to our society, however, only the artist would know whether it was designed to be that way or followed Dadaist logic and sheer luck.

As a premise, it seems admirable to me but only for the selection of words used. I feel it would have had an equal or more impactful effect in the style of one of many other movements.


Have your feelings changed towards the movement?

C: Yes, I feel they definitely have. After further research and involvement in the movement I’ve come to realise that although what’s created may not necessarily be made with any intention, each and every person looking at a piece can draw some form of interpretation from it. It may not be “rational” per se, but it’s multidimensional, defying the rules of what society deems are the right ways to self-express.

However, it’s not a style I’m particularly fond of in regards to poetry. As a lover of metaphors, I do enjoy the interpretation aspects and the visuals can look quirky and abstract, but as a whole, I prefer poetry with a more structured relatable feel to it.

A: Well first I didn’t hold it in such a light, it was just another movement in a style I wasn’t keen on. However, more research done into the originator’s direction and then Dadaist pieces of my own made me quickly feel as if what artistic talent I possess is being wasted on it. I felt as if any shred of creativity, that wasn’t held in contempt of the art scene, drew my pieces and my method out of Dada territory and into something more surreal.

To invent Dada art is to forget and to go against years of practice and knowledge, and to me, it feels disingenuous for artists to abandon talent many wish they had and deliberately create a piece with zero deeper meaning or skills needed. I can’t lie, some of the pieces look attractive in their minimalism and contrast. However, say you’re given an option; two artists create their own art in their own styles. The first is a self-taught artist who has been painting for years and, even though they aren’t as good as they one day could be, they have put much effort into their piece. The second is a Dadaist who has exclusively created pieces in line with the movement for years. His piece resembles that which you showed me earlier, much like the rest of his work. To me, there’s no denying that they are both artists in their own right but it would feel wrong to what I understand about art to not hold the first to a slightly higher standard than the latter.

Art is something you can’t do if you don’t enjoy it so I can’t exclude Dada artists and poets from the mantle that I hold other successful artists and wordsmiths. However, their creations will not be in my mind when I look for inspiration and reassurance on my path to becoming a better artist.


I’m glad to have taken the time to research this as it has really shown how there is no linear method to writing or art. Although I’m not sure whether the likes of Dada poetry is particularly poetic, from this experience I can still take away many handy things as a writer such as:

  • Learning that I can afford to play with language a bit. In terms of development, the randomness may be useful for creating unique descriptions and metaphors
  • Gaining interest in and learning that such movements exist! I hadn’t heard of Dada before and initially, I wasn’t keen on the idea at all but upon researching further I began to admire the freedom it holds as well as how people created artwork from tragedy. This can be related to how in writing people often create pieces based on feelings. I often write from feeling but from this, in terms of development I think it may be beneficial to have a go at writing something based on opinion for a change

Overall, I’ve learnt that there really isn’t a limit when it comes to self-expression and creativity. This has opened my eyes to alternative art forms and encouraged me to experiment with my own work.

Why don’t you give it a go?

Featured photo by Ciéra Cree

Local Vagabond Max Bianco Impresses Cambridge by Nearly Selling Out His Art Exhibition

By Josh Robins – Max Bianco looks and sounds like a man born rather in the wrong decade. He seems about 50 years late to the party but always appears to be making the best of what he must assume to be god’s little typo with some humour…

By Josh Robins


Max Bianco looks and sounds like a man born rather in the wrong decade. He seems about 50 years late to the party but always appears to be making the best of what he must assume to be god’s little typo with some humour.  The Hartlepool born singer- songwriter, with his huge hair and 70’s New York fashion sense is one of those rare people who can wear sunglasses indoors without looking like they are trying too hard.

The choruses to his tunes are sung in the pubs, clubs and afterparties of the Cambridge music scene, whether he is present or not. Apparently not content with this, Max decided to paint an exhibition’s worth of impressionist and abstract art, for a month-long exhibition in the Six Bells. Late last year, I came to chat to him in his natural habitat, the corner of this ‘musicians pub’ over a pint of Guinness, to find out why he’d made the change from recording artist to, well, regular artist.

_ _ _

ROBINS: So obviously you’re known musically for the very successful Jar Family and the increasingly successful Max Bianco and the Bluehearts, but it is little known that you’re an actual artist, artist. With an almost sold out art display, is this your first step or have you done this kind of thing before?

BIANCO: Nahh this is the first first FIRST man. See, how it all started, I was busking around Europe recently, and my mate took me to see a Vincent Van Gogh display in Amsterdam. There was this display of his tree’s in bloom, from winter to spring, from when he was in France. This one picture struck me man. I was staring at it for ages, and the fireworks were going off in my head. It was magic man. I found out 10 minutes before I saw this that he’d shot himself. It added to how hard it struck me.

ROBINS: So, from leaving the gallery that you decided- right, from now on, I need to do that, I am an artist.

BIANCO: (laughs) Course not, I had some busking to do. Nah I was always into art; it was the only thing I ever scored at in school. I remember my old art teacher, Sharon, she’d give the class the brief for the day, then after that I’d basically just hang out with her, she showed me the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, and got me into all the music I’m into now. And I would just doodle something that had nothing to do with class.

ROBINS: So, your musical education came from your art teacher?


BIANCO: Yeah, like the rest of the class are doing 3D sculptures and we’re just talking about how wasted Lou Reed used to get. I was never included in the class and I loved it because it grew me as a person. Her classes were a one-to-one tutoring on growing up, in the right way, finding what you really care about and just going with it. Her classes were the only classes I ever put a hundred percent into, when I did do the work (which wasn’t a lot). Seeing the Van Gogh reminded me of her and made me want to go back to that time, when art was really important to me.

ROBINS: How long would you say you’ve been painting for? Or how long since you started again since your days with your art teacher?

BIANCO: Well I left the country around May and got back in September. Now soon after seeing the Van Gough exhibition, I asked the owner of the Six Bells if I could have the art exhibition. Then I got back and was reminded I’d booked the exhibition for December.

ROBINS: So, when you booked the exhibition, you hadn’t actually made any artwork?

BIANCO: ‘laughs’ That’s pretty much it, yeah, was bit of a shock to come back to. Being reminded that everything was booked and I had two months and no work. Ronnie, a mate of mine who drinks here, gave me the kick up the arse I needed to get it all in on time, he was showing poems, loads of artists I’ve never heard of to get me going, he took me to a few galleries… Then he bought me this set of oil pastels and said- ‘crack on with them man’. And most of the pieces ended up being with them.

ROBINS: How did you find the creative process, was is at easy as writing songs?

BIANCO: Well it’s like when you first start writing, you have all these different idea’s to start that all branch off in different directions, and before you have time to finish that idea you get another idea that you’ll have to start or you’ll lose it, it’s just a mess. You get into this weird mind-set where everything’s on fire all of a sudden, you don’t know what you’re doing yourself. I remember being sat around my place with like, 15 pieces strewn around the floor, I’d be flitting around the room, doing a bit on this one in charcoal and a bit on that one in oil, it was madness to be honest.

ROBINS: Do you find it easy to finish work? As typically songwriters have trouble with that.

BIANCO: Not really man, when it comes to songs, I’ve always been good at concluding stuff, cos I always knew what I wanted to say when I started it. But, as you know, the trick with writing songs is to separate the ones that aren’t really working from the ones that are hard but really worth the effort and the ones you’ve just got to bin. I’m not as experienced in this medium so I found it a little harder to make that distinction.


‘The Archive and the Contested Landscape’ – Festival of Ideas

“This project exploring the dynamic material interplay between archives and contested landscapes was initiated by Kelcy Davenport and Nawrast Sabah Abd Alwahab as part of their ongoing art-geology research collaboration…

By Hannah Cox

“This project exploring the dynamic material interplay between archives and contested landscapes was initiated by Kelcy Davenport and Nawrast Sabah Abd Alwahab as part of their ongoing art-geology research collaboration.  The project was introduced via a symposium event in Cambridge on 22nd March 2018.  A related exhibition comprising of creative responses to the theme, by artists and non-artists inclusively, will take place in Cambridge and Basra from 22nd – 28th October 2018, as part of the Festival of Ideas.”

The first part of this exhibit took place in Cambridge whilst the second will be taking place in Basra, Iraq in 2019. The project looked interesting, an exhibit across three buildings beginning at Gallery 9 on Norfolk Street. Immediately upon entering, there were 26 copper figurines on the floor, Elizabeth’s Eade’s Net Realisable Value. After being told we could hold one, my son chose a pregnant figurine and she was placed carefully into his hands whilst I read about the piece. The 26 copper figurines have been ‘corrupted with sea water to produce startling green crystals’. Eerily reminiscent of Egyptian Shabti dolls found in the Pharaohs’ tombs, they are themselves symbols of slaves. The title relates to the calculation regarding the worth of water damaged goods, the figurines to a real life event:

“On the 3rd of November 2017, the bodies of 26 girls aged 14-18 were pulled from the sea off the South Coast of Italy. They were all of Nigerian origin. One wore a t-shirt with the words “I’m super happy”. It is believed that they were destined for the vociferous sex slave trade in Italy. The only two identified were named as Marian Shaka, who was married, and Osato Osaro. Both were pregnant.”

The power of this piece builds on you slowly. Drawing us unexpectedly into confronting the horrors of the sex slave trade still happening today. Tragedy, beauty and horror all rolled into 26 little figures, some slightly broken, and others slightly less human due to the crystal growth. We stand to move on, placing the pregnant figurine back on the floor where she longs.

The Gallery echoed with the sounds of Rosanna Greave’s film The Flaming Rage of the Sea (2018). Choreographed stilt performers represent the fens people whilst oral histories and the poem ‘The Powtes Complaint’ protest the draining of the fens and discuss the histories of the Cambridgeshire Fenland.


The harsh landscape contrasts with the images of the traditional folk festivals and the whole piece functions as a visual poem. A very stark piece highlighting the struggle and ‘precariousness of a landscape below sea level’.

Sarah Strachan spent the weeks prior to the exhibit preparing an incredible clay water filtering vessel in the fashion of the place where the clay was sourced: the Al-Hammar Marshes in Southern Iraq. The piece, Shared Water, Contested Water, provides an artefact linking the ‘paleoclimate archive and the future demand for water’. The quality of the vessel is proof of the time, care and skill of Strachan in preparing a complex material as a part of a series of clay objects.

Many of the pieces focus on war. My first impression of Artists Activists’ T.H. Elderton and Walter Yeo was of two beautiful sculptures. They are the ‘men with the Broken Faces’, a term which the artist disagrees with as ‘these men must not have their identities transformed and grouped into a terminology to be forgotten as individuals’. By the time we came to leave I knew not to consider them beautiful, only to leave understanding and knowing that individuals went through an unimaginable hell when they lost their faces.

The next part of the exhibit was on ARU’s main campus. Ian Moffat’s Lunette: A Deep History of Australian Climate shows us the ‘stark, craggy forms’ of the crescent shaped dunes attached to Salt Lakes are layered, ‘recording thousands of years of climate change driven by the natural wobbles in the Earth’s transit around the sun’. Not only do these images open our eyes to the beauty of lunettes, but they also show the deep history Australia has and stand as a testimony to man and other creature’s abilities to change and adapt to climate change.

The third building of the exhibit was the Zion Baptist Church Crypt. Walking into the crypt was a slightly unsettling experience. Most noticeable, perhaps because the crypt walls were reverberating with the sound, was William Crosby’s WHAILES. Speakers faced the centre of the unlit room, playing whale song, and whilst it is incredibly loud, it serves to educate us about noise pollution in the world’s oceans. This piece discusses the effects of human activity on the ocean – a contested landscape that not too long ago, existed without human interference.

Events were also arranged by Kelcy Davenport to further discuss and explore the theme of the contested landscape, such as the mid-week symposium. Here, contributors to the exhibit gave talks on their work. One piece which benefitted from the symposium was Sally Stenton’s and Nawrast Sabah Abd Alwahab’s If the Cloud Allows.They arranged for people in Cambridge and Basra to walk in a circle and look at the moon simultaneously. The pictures in the exhibit and the story were made more powerful after seeing the short film which shows the events as they happen at the same time on 26/10/18. I doubt one could truly view this piece, as it is an experience. The two acts explore a feeling of connectivity and the significance of the cyclical movement of the groups in line with the moon and the earth.

This exhibition was a huge undertaking and an even bigger success. Thank you to Kelcy Davenport and Nawrast Sabah Abd Alwahab for arranging this exhibit and curating these works and to all who contributed to the exhibit. I sincerely recommend visiting the website and social media pages, and if you can see any of the pieces, I entreat you to. This exhibit not only explored contested landscapes, but through them brought out the importance of human connections. Through these works we are linked to cultures, war zones and people who we are led to believe are ‘them’ or ‘other’. In exploring our connections, we experience the humanity of people we often dehumanise and challenge the ideas which can lead to contested landscapes.

All quotes taken from the exhibition catalogue.


35 years ago, I became a student at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT). I studied for a degree in English Literature and European philosophy and literature. I remember how nervous I was when I started…


Timeless challenge, but I’m only 54 ½.

“Hiraeth” is described by Reddit as “a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for lost places of your past.”

35 years ago, I became a student at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT). I studied for a degree in English Literature and European philosophy and literature. I remember how nervous I was when I started, not knowing anyone. The person I found myself standing next to for the start of the year group photo I am still in touch with and she became my son’s godmother.

Yesterday I went back to register to be a student again, this time on a Master’s degree course. CCAT has become Anglia Ruskin University. The site in Cambridge has changed. Shabby buildings and a covered walkway have been replaced with smart new buildings. The Mumford Theatre still exists in the middle of the site, this is where I used to go to lectures, volunteer and where my graduation ceremony was held.

Yesterday I saw vending machines and recycling bins and several cafes. 35 years ago, there was a choice of 2 places to eat: a canteen, or a smoky café called The Batman. I walked around unfamiliar buildings, then suddenly spotted a familiar view, the back or side of a building I remember from when I was 19.

“Today’s fashions are for hair that isn’t so big and curly. Some clothes have come back into fashion today, blue and white horizontally striped tops, yellow waterproof jackets, and light blue jeans.”   

I still have my old student cards from the 1980s, when I was slim but thought I was fat, when my hair was still bright ginger. I permed it in the 80’s, I had a spiral perm to give myself big hair. Today’s fashions are for hair that isn’t so big and curly. Some clothes have come back into fashion today, blue and white horizontally striped tops, yellow waterproof jackets, and light blue jeans.   


Technology simplifies life if you can use it, but I was struck by how much has changed. I wasn’t given a paper copy of a timetable, or a library card, everything was done electronically. I didn’t notice an obvious presence of librarians. I remembered the librarians from my student days, one was always very helpful, others liked to shush people. The library has moved location and is spread over several floors. The ground floor of the library had signs up reading “Where are all the books?” where you can talk, whilst other floors contain books and are silent. It was an odd feeling. Being somewhere that used to be so familiar and being somewhere different at the same time.

“We all talked about the past and laughed as the wine flowed and the sun shone in a cloudless sky, and for a moment we were all teenagers again.”

I met up with my friends from my student days in several reunions.  The last was on my 50th birthday.  I hired part of a café overlooking a lake, and we all sat out on a balcony on a hot sunny day in May. One of my friends from my student days didn’t know if she’d be able to go to the party. She was very ill. Then a few days before, she said she was going to come. Her husband drove her hundreds of miles. She was still very beautiful, slim, kind, and laughed a lot. We all talked about the past and laughed as the wine flowed and the sun shone in a cloudless sky, and for a moment we were all teenagers again. That was the last time I saw her.  Why do the best, kindest, most beautiful people die young? A few weeks later I was at her funeral, with other friends from my early student days, numb and shocked but I will never forget my kind, beautiful friend and her laughter. I won’t forget out student holidays cycling to Amsterdam one year and interrailing around Europe for a month the following year.

I had bitter-sweet memories yesterday, of the happy times from my student days and of the loss of a friend. I have confidence that I didn’t have at 19, but my body is ageing. I have a house, but when I was young, I enjoyed living in a house with friends.  We learned how to cook, how to manage our money, but we didn’t have to borrow to be students.  It was easy to live cheaply. I had a black and white TV to reduce my license fee and used coins in the phone box nearby if I wanted to ring someone. I wasn’t tied into an expensive mobile phone contract; people didn’t have mobile phones.  You had to pre-arrange to meet someone at a pre-arranged place, like under the big lion in Lion Yard and waited for them if they were late. I hand wrote my essays in my first year and bought an electric type writer in my second year, with a red and black ribbon so I could type in two colours. To look up information I had to go to the library, I couldn’t quickly look things up on a mobile phone or laptop.  There is a smart bookshop on campus. 35 years ago, there wasn’t. There used to be an excellent bookshop, Browns, on Mill Road nearby but that has gone. The shop used to stock my course books. Mill Road is smart and trendy, a very popular street in Cambridge now with a collection of individual shops, cafes and restaurants. In the 80’s it was a little shabby and you could buy a terraced house for under £20,000. Today’s prices would be worth at least 40 times more.

After I got my student card yesterday I went to look at charity shops nearby.  This is something I first started doing when I was a student, looking for clothes or objects that I could buy cheaply. I suddenly realised that I have been doing this for 35 years and it goes back to student days. So does my love of gardening and enjoying browsing bookshops. I still stay in Youth Hostels sometimes when I go away, and this goes back to my student days and interrailing. I went to Tai Chi classes as a 19-year-old student. I have been to several different Tai Chi classes over the years since, and hope to be able to join the classes at ARU.  I only discovered Tai Chi when I was a 10-year-old student because a friend wanted to go. The classes were in an old art studio.  I giggled during the first class, finding it funny.  Then I started to love it, and found it very relaxing.  Life is still an exciting adventure, but I have become invisible. It’s a long time since I’ve been a slim young woman with long permed ginger hair and a flat tummy. I’m middle aged, overweight and my hair is going white on the outside, but still feel the same inside. I still like adventure. I sailed across the channel in my early 50s in an old wooden fishing boat, with a crew of competent sailors and I’ve sailed to the Shaint Isles in the Hebrides on another former fishing boat.

My heart goes out to two young women I spoke to yesterday, Freshers, in the same queue as me.  I remember 35 years ago being nervous, not knowing anyone, not knowing how to cook or look after money.  They seemed much more self-assured than I used to be.  My advice to them would be to work hard but enjoy yourself. Join clubs and societies, make friends. An adventure is waiting for you, the start of your adult life.  If you are as fortunate as I was you’ll make some good friends who will be your friends for a long time and you’re about to have three excellent years.

Today I went to Fresher’s Fair, a middle-aged woman. I have started to become invisible as I am ageing.  I spotted my niece, a student, with her beautiful ginger hair.  She reminded me a little of how I used to look.  When I was young I was always noticed, although I didn’t want to be. My long ginger hair caught people’s attention. I was pleased when the sun bleached it in the summer and it faded a little. Then the white hairs came, and people who met me for the first time mistook the white hairs for blonde. I have put on weight, shrunk and my fatness makes me look shorter. People spoke to me, I talked to people from the philosophy society about their favourite philosophers, and I felt young again.  They liked Hume, Camus, Satre and a Hungarian philosopher I didn’t know but who sounded interesting.  I looked at all the new things I could join as a mature student, it seemed exciting, but I felt alone.  I didn’t have my young, excited friends from 35 years ago. I wasn’t about to explore my life and see how it turned out.  I felt a sadness for my youth, lost years, lost friendships and a lost beautiful friend with happy smile, a kindness and gentleness, and who always liked a good party.  We danced at her 50th birthday party, 80’s style, in a row, lifting up our legs to Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s “Come on Eileen”, like a half-hearted can-can. A few days earlier I was remembering my student days and went to a café for a cup of tea.  There was an exhibition of children’s book illustrations on the wall, and I sat at a table in front of two pictures.  Two women asked if I minded if they looked closely at the paintings on the wall.  One of them called out my name and I realised she seemed familiar but different. It was a former art student I used to share a house with, with the same soft voice, but short hair, no longer long and her face looked different.  She was still slim and looked an athlete. As a housemate, she was forever jogging on the spot in her room or going on a 40-mile bike ride. I’d preferred a more relaxed approach to live.  She had kept her fitness but I had lost mine and was slowly becoming a hippo.  She was familiar but different.  We kept in touch until our mid 20’s and have not been in contact for 30 years. Our conversation was of the young women we’d shared a large house with posters by Matisse and Picasso on the walls.  I can still remember what they looked like as 19-year-old girls.  They are becoming old like I am but in my mind, they belong to a past, distant and perfect. Perhaps it wasn’t how I imagined it to have been.


Written by Heather Macbeth-Hornett

Illustration by Maisy Ruffles



Culture Focus: Budapest

This gem of a city in the small country of Hungary in the heart of Europe is a popular getaway destination for young adults, partly due its eye candy…

Your non-tourist guide to a great Budapest weekend

By Rebeka Kancsar

This gem of a city in the small country of Hungary in the heart of Europe is a popular getaway destination for young adults, partly due its eye candy architecture and affordable flights and hotels. Now, you could google ‘things to do in Budapest’ and figure that catching the hop-on hop-off and going from Fisherman’s Bastion to Heroes’ Square might be your best, or you could focus slightly less on the tourist hot-spots and explore some of these not-so-hidden treasures of Budapest.

Road to Ruins

Take a city known for its history, add craft beer, and you get ruin pubs—filled with antiques, flacking lights and art. Notoriously in District VII, buildings—or rather, their remains—can look like what you’d expect to see on urbex blogs, graffiti and fallen pieces of concrete, where you can easily walk past a ruin pub without realising. Considerate to neighbours nearby, it’s an unofficial rule that you have to be quiet on the streets and near the entrance, but once you walk through the gates of Szimpla Kert and into the courtyard, you’ll find yourself in another world, consisting of chill music, laidback atmosphere, projected silent movies, multicolour lights and wall art, filled with thrift-shop gadgets that serve no purpose but are fun to twiddle. Bikes wrapped in fairy lights hanging from the ceiling as chandeliers, old square TV’s mounted onto the wall, disco balls, broken road signs and an old Trabant car covered with graffiti with a table in it—a perfect playground for young adults. Speaking of adult playgrounds, it’s also close to the Pinball Museum, where you can play with over 130 vintage and new machines.


If you ever came across a photo of Budapest, chances are you’ve seen Buda Castle on it. You could take the £40+ walk inside the castle, or you could opt for a walk in the Castle Gardens for free and see historical architecture and a panoramic view of the Chain Bridge and Parliament Building over the Danube.

Another skyline spot on the Buda side of the city is right next to Gellért Thermal Baths—which is worth spending a day in if you’re one for spas, soaking in warm waters that are believed to be healing, although it’s crowded with tourists during holiday season, but Ryan Gosling apparently enjoyed it too. Climbing up above the Cave church, you can sit on a bench surrounded by trees in the middle of the city, overlooking its skyline AND Buda Castle.

Fiumei Road Cemetery & Memento Park

Cemeteries are generally not included in holiday plans, but here I give you Fiumei Road. Being the largest and one of the oldest cemeteries of Hungary, it houses the mausoleums of national heroes, politicians, poets, artists and the famous Anonymous’ Statue in a green, tree-filled park. Creepy, sure, but its architecture and statues are something worth seeing if you’d rather avoid the tourists. If you’re into statues but you’d rather opt from creepiness to a longer drive, Memento Park is right outside city with 42 pieces of art from the Communist era of Hungary, meaning you could have a picnic next to the massive statues of Lenin and Marx—which is, you know, less creepy.

Food & Sustenance

One wonderful thing about Budapest is that wherever you go, there will be a kebab/gyros/pizza place around the corner, where you can get a slice for as cheap as 300 forint, which is around 80p (yes, you read that right). But if you feel fancy, you could visit the New York Café and its Italian Renaissance glamour for a champagne breakfast. You could also try Gozsdu Courtyard for a variety of bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a huge range of traditional and international foods outdoors.


You want to avoid the hop-on hop-off—not only because it takes away the genuine excitement of exploring a city, but because Budapest has pretty good public transport, especially the tram network. Tram 2, 4 and 6 serve not only get you from one place to another, but you’ll have the best views of the city’s buildings. There’s always a stop within a short walking distance and you’ll avoid the crowds and stairs of the tube.

Vintage Souvenirs

Most tourist leave with an I love Budapest t-shirt, and while you’re free to do that, why not leave with something better, if you really insist on souvenirs? Budapest has a number of amazing vintage shops, such as Szputnyik D20 and Anfifactory, where if you’re lucky, you can find brands such as Vivienne Westwood and Versace for ridiculously low prices.

So, booked your plane ticket yet?

Image: Rebeka Kancsar

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: Cue.5 Theatre Show

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, written by Tom Stoppard, takes a look at the story of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on their misadventures.

This 50-year-old classic tragedy, feature two minor characters taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet get an ending of their own. Join Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on their journey as the events from Hamlet unfold around them.

It is wonderful to be able to hold student-led performances that include creative collaborations and can be put on at the university theatre with affordable ticket prices! This allows almost anyone to come and see the play, get involved in the arts and try something new while at university.

We spoke to one of the actresses involved in the play about her experience so far:  ‘Acting in this play has given me time away from uni work, and has been a rewarding way of spending my free time’ Hannah Miller, 19, English literature student has said.

Directed, produced and performed by Anglia Ruskin’s Drama Society, Cue.5, this student run play is one that can’t be missed. Bring your all friends to enjoy a wonderful evening supporting the students of ARU in their accomplishments. Check out all the hard work and effort Cue.5 have put in to their interpretation of this unique play on the 9th and 10th of March 2018 at the Covent Garden Drama Studio in Cambridge, where we will join these two gentlemen and many familiar characters on their journey.

The proceeds taken from the event will go to keeping the society up and running, giving opportunity to many students to explore their interest in acting. Cue.5 run workshops every two weeks, on a variety of different aspects of drama and performing arts, including stage combat, costume, and singing.

Tickets can be purchased from the Mumford Theatre website, prices are as below:

Full price: £7.00

Students: £5.00

ARTS Soc members: £3.50

For more information visit the Cue.5 Facebook page or click on the link below.

By Beth Clark

6th March 2018 

Image Credit: CUE.5 ARU Drama Society

The Blocked And The Brain-Dead: How I (Didn’t) Fail At Being A Writer

By Robyn Robles – Each year on the first of November hundreds of thousands of people from all different walks of life sit down in studies, in cafes, in libraries, on the floor…

By Robyn Robles

Each year on the first of November hundreds of thousands of people from all different walks of life sit down in studies, in cafes, in libraries, on the floor of their kid’s playroom – and they start to write. November has been enshrined in the minds of many of us who feel this gravitational pull towards the written word. Arranged by nonprofit National Novel Writer’s Month, November is set aside by many as authors from every walk of life attempt to write an entire novel in just 30 days. It is a mammoth task, as this writer found out in 2017. Encouraged by tutors and family, I set out to write a fiction novel based in the Spanish Civil War that would form part of my bachelor’s dissertation, hoping to kill two birds with one stone.

And I failed. Miserably in fact.

Out of the goal of 50,000 words, I managed 9,812, a number that pales in comparison to the task I had set myself. For this chronic high-achiever and general vortex of academical anxiety, it was a number that haunted my nightmares frequently in the weeks that followed the 30th of November deadline. In an attempt to stem the guilt, I thought I would reach out to the Cambridge Wrimos, a local group who get together each year to help each other through the stresses of the month with grace, weekly write-ins and lashings of coffee. I will not lie, I went into it hoping to find others who had fallen short of their goal and wallow in the self-imposed misery of failure together. I spoke to a handful of other writers who were kind enough to shake off the post-NaNoWriMo exhaustion and talk to me about their experience.

I found, almost to my surprise, that no one else I spoke to had this same problem. Every one of them had completed the 50,000-word goal. I was curious and, assuming that they must have had an easy time of it, I set out to learn whatever secrets these success stories possessed.

I understood one of my biggest errors when speaking to Jane Chan from Cambridge. Jane told me, “I have met a lovely group of writers from last year’s NaNo, and that truly encouraged me to try it again”. I had tried to complete the project alone, locked in my room, and so missed out on one of NaNoWriMo’s greatest strengths – a support system. In 2016 there were 384,126 people who took part ( That is a lot of support to missing out on when you are miserably chugging Irish coffees at 2am in an attempt to squeeze out something that could reasonably be called a sentence from your frazzled brain.

If I had reached out to this wider community, I may have found that many others were also struggling with daily life issues that made it difficult to find the time to write. I myself am a busy student with a host of deadlines and mental health problems that regularly impede my ability to be anything resembling a productive person. Jane told me about how her full-time job would leave her “pretty exhausted when [she would] come home, and the thought of sitting down to write 1,667 words was not so enticing in those moments”. Jac Harmon, 56, also from Cambridge, touched on the “family issues” that plagued her throughout November. Another of my interviewees, Joanna Costin, is a busy doctorate student with a part-time job and she admitted that 2017 “was probably [her] hardest year yet to find time to write”.

And yet, they come back to it over and over. It was Jane and Jac’s second and third time respectively taking part. And when I spoke to Joanna I was shocked to learn that it was her eleventh time doing NaNoWriMo! Whether they have plans to publish, like Jac and Joanna, or simply write for the enjoyment, like Jane, there is something about NaNoWriMo that inspires a usually-solitary sub-culture of society to come together and form a community every single year and pour themselves into writing a lot of words in a very short amount of time.

The process of writing this article taught me one very important thing: that my November was not, in fact, a failure. I ended the month with more words than I started, and that will always be a triumph for any writer.

For me personally, it was not a system that worked this time around. Never having participated in NaNoWriMo, I was woefully unprepared. I had done little of the necessary research ahead of time and had planned virtually none of my novel’s progression. These are crucial steps that seasoned NaNoWriMo participants are well aware of.

We are now half-way to April when Camp NaNoWriMo begins. I am going to have another stab at finishing my novel then. This time with more planning and less reckless naivety, but certainly not with any less enthusiasm for this craft that I love with my whole heart.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock License

The discussions, views and opinions made by individuals in this piece have been obtained first hand by the author. They have been given permission to use these individuals details.