Saturday, 18 September 2010

Have Fun, Make Art - A creative competition

The thing about being around Hope and Social is that it makes hard work look like fun and makes being in the audience feel like being part of something. In the hopes of passing on some creative inspiration from Hope and Social via me, I'd like to invite you to take part in a little competition ...

Last year I took a series of photos from a moving train. Yesterday I finally got round to turning those photos into a video:

Here Comes The Sun from Helen Harrop on Vimeo.

It's missing something isn't it? There's no sound for starters and it feels a bit sparse. So here's what I'm thinking ... you watch my video, then scamper off and listen to some of Hope & Social's music and then create something, create anything ... it could be an instrumental soundtrack for my video, or a poem, or a reading of a poem, or a reading of Hope & Social lyrics, or a doodle, or a painting or a video of your own ... an-y-thing as long as it's in someway a response to my video and to Hope & Social's music. Feel free to download and hack up/deface my video or let me know if you want any of the photos that the video was created from (maybe you'd like to print one out and write/doodle on it?). You can do anything, bold or simple, complicated or off the cuff - if you could keep it safe for family viewing that would be nice but feel free to do something dark if that's what springs to mind.

You've got until midnight on the 18th October to create something and send me a link to it. I'll then ask Hope & Social to pick a winner (they don't know anything about this so hopefully they'll say yes, if not then I'll chose the winner). If your creation is chosen as the winning entry then you will get the following prizes:
- A physical copy of 'Architect of this Church' by Hope & Social (which I'll ask them to sign )
- A wind-damaged plastic kazoo from the Hope & Social Fun Bus trip
- A knotted handkerchief which my lovely husband crafted and wore on the Hope & Social Fun Bus trip with the letter 'I' on it (photo to follow)
- An original doodle by me inspired by the H&S Fun Bus artwork

By entering you'll be giving permission for me to post your entry here on my blog (credited to you of course) - I promise not to do anything evil with it :) The judge's decision will be final etc, etc.

Now ... go forth and let creativity begin :)

[update: Number of entries ... zero ... pffft]

Wherever We Gather We'll Sing From Our Souls

The Saturday after my birthday I found myself catching an early o'clock bus to York so that Mark and I could catch a (still quite early o'clock for a Saturday) train to Leeds so that we could get on an open-top bus to travel back in the direction of where we live and pass within a 5 minute drive of our house some 3 hours after we left it. The bus sat in a traffic jam for about 15 minutes when we were not quite close enough to a roadside establishment where a much needed comfort break could be enjoyed.

Hope & Social Fun Bus

An hour later and the bus trundled along narrow country roads and we had to keep our wits about us to a) avoid getting showered by breeze-caught Leeds Pale and b) protect our noggins from being knocked off by a passing tree. As we lumbered across the North York Moors a particularly steep hill proved too much for our brave jalopy and the thick black smoke coming from the back of the bus and we were forced to bail out and trudge across the moors like deluded cultural vagrants.

I should also mention that most of the time you could not hear yourself think due to the glee-ful wooping and seemingly endless singing and throughout the journey we were forced to carry out arts and crafts chores and other acts of drudgery - all the time with a cheerful smile plastered across our faces for fear that we would get thrown overboard if we didn't look like we were having fun.


The unflinching gaze of the camera-wielding sentinels meant that we could never be certain that we weren't be observed and any dissenting actions caught on film for later scrutiny. The mantra 'Make Art, Have Fun' was drummed into us until we lost any sense of our individual identities.

When we finally reached our destination we had to don a uniform which comprised of a knotted hanky on our head (with letters on them that made up a secret message that we were forbidden from trying to decode) and carry all of our wordly belongings down a long steep hill, across a vast beach and up one final flight of steps to our temporary camp.

By now the Dunkirk spirit had kicked in and we all laughed and smiled as we were able to relax for the first time. However it soon became clear that we had been brought to a place with no means of communicating to the outside world and that we would be expected to take part in demeaning physical activities such as 'musical deckchairs' while our smiling captors looked on and jeered.

Only once our benevolent hosts were confident that Stockholm Syndrome had overtaken the entire group were we rewarded with a jubilant musical rally, complete with mandatory flag-waving, and some delicious, delicious food at the end of a long queue.

Our final ordeal was the long trudge back to our bus which we were literally marched back to with no let up in the singing, smiling and the laughing allowed.
Marching on Through


I will never forget the huddling quietness of being forced to travel back on the open-top bus in the dark, cold, windy night wishing that someone would let me share their survival blanket and where the only interaction with our captors was being forced to sing along to shambolic covers of various 90s rock songs.

It is testament to the depth of our brainwashing that I remain convinced several weeks later that this was one of the best days of my life. Our journey was a metaphoric one as much as a literal journey and since then I have been plagued by vivid, epic dreams where I am back on the Hope and Social 'Fun' Bus, swaddled by beaming smiles and embraced by endless laughter.

kazoo + heart = Hope & Social

Hope & Social Fun Bus propoganda:
Culture Vulture blogpost
Flickr photos
Eduserv summarizr page for #hsfunbus

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Pounds, Pints and Hours

Today is my birthday and I am in the mood for taking your good wishes and turning them into good deeds ... so here's the deal:

Option 1:
from doncaster with love! ...
Donate money to a good cause - maybe the DEC's Pakistan Flood Appeal? - or maybe a cause of your choice, one that is close to your heart? Leave a comment below (anonymous if you'd prefer) letting me know how much you've donated and, as it's my {cough} 38th birthday I'll donate 38% of whatever you donate ... this will challenge my maths skills but I'm sure I'm up to the task.
{see below for a slight disclaimer}

Option 2:
the medical effects of giving blood
Do something amazing and register to give blood or, even better, head to a drop in centre and hand over a pint in your lunch hour. In return you will not only feel like a superhero but if you head to and fill in the form then I will send you a doodle.

Option 3:
time to be negative
If you are thinking 'this all sounds like a lovely idea but a) I don't have tuppence ha'penny to rub together, let alone give away and b) I'm rather attached to my blood' then this could be the option for you. Donate your time in hours to the kind souls that surround you or to a local voluntary organisation ( could be a good starting point if you don't know anyone who needs your help). Leave a comment below to let me know how many hours you're donating and I'll donate 38% of the total time that folks pledge.

So go forth, give of yourself and then let me know about it.

{{slight disclaimer: I have limited funds available which I estimate will more than cover your generosity but if anything crazy happens with the option 1 donations then I'll give all the cash I have available and find another way to cover any residual karmic debt}}