March 27, 2017 by katie
Artistic Director Katie Day will be heading over to Japan for a two week visit this April.
Supported by an Artist International Development Fund Grant from Arts Council England and the British Council, she will be making new contacts and researching contemporary and traditional elements of Japanese Culture.
As part of the visit Katie has been invited by Akiko Takeshita at YCAM to give a talk about her practice and to feed into the team’s planning for community and education projects currently in development.
Katie will take in temples in Kyoto, Buddhist monasteries and cemeteries in hilltop Koya San, and immerse herself in the high tech contemporary buzz of busy Tokyo.
The focus of her research is to explore Japanese ideas and traditions around memory, retreat, death, afterlife, community and ritual. This research will inform the development of the Afterlife project, which will go into production in 2019.
She’s hoping to catch the end of Japan’s famous cherry blossom season. Do keep an eye on the Blossom Forecast to make sure you’re up to date with all things petal-related.
December 19, 2007 by katie
With the support of an International Development Grant from Birmingham City Council’s Arts Division, the Company will be travelling to Thessaloniki in Northern Greece to undertake an international residency there in February – March 2008. We will be the guests of the University, and will spend our residency developing the scenic, video and image elements of our new production codenamed "Hotel", in collaboration with two Thessaloniki based scenographers.
November 20, 2006 by katie
We left Vilnius wishing we’d had more time there, and headed for the train that would take us to the border with Poland. While we were finding the platform, we met a fellow rucksack carrier in the form of Jorn, an amiable chap from Norway (hi Jorn, if you’re reading!) who proved to be an entertaining companion for the very, very long journey to Warsaw.
We hadn’t really had any hassle on the journey up to this point, so it came as a bit of a shock when two youngish Russian guys burst into our compartment, blind drunk at midday, and all over the place. We endured ten minutes or so of their shouting at us in a language none of us understood, but as their hands wandered more, and they got more aggressive in trying to communicate, the three of us made a swift exit to another compartment. After we left there was massive crash from their compartment which alerted the conductor. She had stern words, and ejected them from the train at the next stop, where they were met by the police on the platform. I was glad we’d left when we did.
After an hour’s wait at a desolate station near the border, the Polish train arrived to take us on to Warsaw. The hours (all nine of them) passed slowly as we chugged through the Polish countryside, stopping for ages at every station. We were glad we’d stocked up on food at the supermarket beforehand, as there wasn’t even so much as a soggy ham sandwich or overpriced cup of coffee to be had. Jorn had brought even more food than we had, and managed at least ten cakes and a litre of Coke during the last five hours of the journey! Near the end of the trip, we were treated to some live entertainment by a three year old Polish girl called Carolina, who along with her mum joined us in our compartment for an hour or so. She started off shy, but by the end she was performing ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ over and over again (she’d learnt it from ‘Teletubbies’ on TV apparently).
Our last day of sightseeing dawned clear and bright and relatively warm. Warsaw seemed like the ‘big city’ after all the small-town like capitals of the Baltic states. Since Jane had developed a full blown cold by this point, we spent much of the day sitting in snug cafes and restaurants. In between, we wandered through the Old and New Towns (the New Town is like Edinburgh’s New Town – old, just not as old as the Old Town).
We made a special detour to check out one of the few remaining parts of the Jewish ghettos from WWII (much of these were demolished in Soviet times, along with most of Warsaw). After getting lost in warrens of depressing post-war Soviet apartment blocks, we were in no doubt that we were in the right place when we finally happened upon a back courtyard of the tenements dating from the early 1900s.
They have been left almost untouched, and unoccupied, as a memorial of sorts, and the atmosphere was thick with what had taken place there. There was a dank smell, and a palpable feeling of silence, stillness and loss. Life went on all around though, and people were living in the newer flats right next door. We wondered how it must be to live with such a place on your doorstep. It was a moving end to our trip, and a reminder of how different all of the places we’d travelled through since Helsinki were only a few years ago, and certainly within our lifetimes.
We finally made it back to London at lunchtime on Saturday 18th November. The twelve hour train journey from Warsaw to Cologne had passed easily for me (I dozed a lot of the way on my bed in the sleeper carriage), but more difficultly for Jane, who was still ill and couldn’t get to sleep.
We endured a three hour wait at Cologne train station in the early hours of Saturday morning, then onto a smooth, fast train to Bruxelles. We had enough time to get an early lunch in, before boarding our last train – the Eurostar – to London.
Well it certainly was a long way round, took a lot longer than flying, and was pretty exhausting at times. But we saw so many new countries and beautiful cities, had an adventure, and started to get a grasp of just how big Europe really is. Bring on the next trip!
November 19, 2006 by katie
We had a very mixed reception into Vilnius in Lithuania. On trying to buy a train ticket to Warsaw for the following day we were met with a shake of the head, and an avoidance of eye contact – a complete stonewalling. Eventually we found the correct office, where the the clerk spoke a little English, and in order to make our train ticket for the Polish leg of the journey, we were treated to a show of stamping, copying, writing on slips of paper, filing them, stapling them, that is pretty much obsolete in the UK these days. (Those who are familiar with our performances – it was like the work room where the two performers were in ‘I am waiting…’ but with just one person doing every function.)
On arrival at our hotel it couldn’t have been a more different story. The girl at reception appeared to be smiling for Lithuania! Our cash seemed to be stretching a long way here, so we joined the Lithuanian glitterati at a swish restaurant called Pegasus, where I had tagliatelle (yes, back to Italian) followed by crème brulee with a satisfyingly crisp top. Then on with our tour of the ‘Skybars’ of the Baltics (we just couldn’t resist!) – this one also had a great view, with more of the historic buildings lit up, but involved a much longer trek to get there. There seemed to be a lot more money washing around in Vilnius compared with the other Baltic capitals – there were flashy Audi and VW garages on the outskirts, the streets seemed grander and cleaner, and the buildings were large baroque affairs like ornate wedding cakes. In summary: we liked it a lot – decadence at bargain basement prices.
November 14, 2006 by katie
Today we are in Riga, Latvia, and for the first time the city fatigue started to sink in. Another day, another ridiculously beautiful Baltic/Scandinavian city. But, just couldn’t face another wander around, taking hundreds of photos of pretty buildings.
Ended up in a vegetarian indian restaurant, where much of its food is made using Ayurvedic principles. Felt pretty cleansed after my lunch of ‘winter soup’ and fresh mint tea, so we headed for the ‘Skybar’ to re-tox. It’s on floor 26 of some corporate hotel, and we sank a cocktail, while admiring the amazing view of the (lowrise) city.
We’re off out soon, back to the Ayurvedic place for dinner, since it has a massive veggie menu, and no Italian food in sight.
We’re here tonight, then take a five hour bus to Vilnius tomorrow, then a ten hour train the next day to Warsaw. Wish us luck!
November 13, 2006 by katie
Well, the conference was the main purpose of the trip, but it took me a while to get out of the traveller/tourist mindset, and into the conference delegate one. I think I got into the swing of it on Saturday, just when it was ending. The conference was called ‘Mobile Home’, and images of caravan parks in Skegness just kept forcing their way into my head every time it was said. But they were really talking about the mobility of artists to exchange and work within Europe.
The start and end of the Meeting was marked with a big party, and in between these I met some interesting people, attended a few organised sessions, and watched two performances.
I also got to know some people from the West Midlands – seems a bit perverse to have to go all the way to Finland to socialise with people from Cov, but it just worked out like that.
We stayed in two plush hotels (the environment themed Helka, and the corporate but sleek Radisson), and ate the best and most varied food of the trip so far: Thai, Tapas, and … well one night I did eat pasta with cherry tomatoes, so Italian food ever present!
We declined the dubious pleasures of the outdoor IETM sauna in an old army tent, on a busy street and with windows (and the Fins like to Sauna naked). Instead we took one at the Radisson – a bit more luxe, and with less randoms staring at you starkers (sorry, just too British for that whole concept).
So, just when I was getting the hang of it, it was time for the big closing party. Now, I’d been warned to expect dire europop and some pretty far out dancing from european delegates, so we’d steeled ourselves with considerable amounts of vodka (purchased on the ferry) before heading out. It still wasn’t quite enough, to be honest, to allow us to enjoy the band ‘Eternal Erection’, with a front man who bore more than a passing resemblance to Sam Gamgee from Lord of the Rings (he’s a hobbit, people). We ended up getting cornered by a well meaning food packaging salesman, and only escaped by saying that we were going to dance – so dance we did, along with the rest of the crazies.