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Sheep, sheep and more sheep……and Vivienne Westwood…….October 2013

SHEEP, SHEEP AND MORE SHEEP……AND VIVIENNE WESTWOOD.

Modern Farmer magazine have got me taking photographs of sheep and I am enjoying running around the country seeing these quite lovely creatures. They gave me the front cover again, which was nice!

In between doing work for the wonderful RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and a visit to Cheltenham for the University of Gloucester, there was a visit to Buckingham Palace to see Prince Philip (who was delightful!) and a trip to Keats House where Dame Vivienne Westwood graced us with her presence. (She was not quite so delightful!)

I know I go on about the RNIB, but they are brilliant. This was a quick trip to a school they run in Coventry, where children of various special needs are looked after and educated with great care and attention.

A lovely week was spent in Cheltenham for the University of Gloucester, taking photographs for their new prospectus. Always great fun and a really nice vibe there.

A friend of mine has just taken over as Chief Exec. of The Lord’s Taverners. He has been involved with them for a long time and is a mad cricket fan, so it his perfect job. The Taverners do a great job raising money for the underprivileged and I know that he will take them onto bigger and better projects. Every so often he has called me along to take a few snaps for him and this time it was a trip to Buck Palace for a ‘do’ hosted by Prince Phillip. I’m not a great royalist, but there was something quite nice about wandering through the gates at the front, into the inner courtyard and then into The Palace proper. It is ‘rather splendid’ inside and not a spot of dust to be seen! Prince Phillip was on good form too, considering he wasn’t long out of hospital.

And then there was Dame Vivienne Westwood…..hmmmmm.

I am a trustee of a very small non-for-profit scheme called YouYou mentoring. This year we had the opportunity to partner with the fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and her ‘Climate Revolution’ project, by giving five young poets the chance to develop their poetry and create a collection of poems to inspire others to consider their own relationship to the environment.

Climate Revolution is an inspiring project that Dame Vivienne founded and is doing great work in keeping this issue in the public domain.

As part of the poets development they had their photographs taken with Dame Vivienne at Holborn Studios, (see August post) and recorded their poems at a solar powered studio and had their poems published, by Dame Vivienne, in a little poetry book .

The poets also gained guidance from a leading literary editor of a top magazine and were voice coached. All this was to climax in a special event at Keats House in Hampstead, where they would read out their poems, alongside YOUYOU’s supporter, BAFTA  Rising Star Award-winning actress Juno Temple (premiered here on iD magazine) and to an invited VIP audience, including the poets mums and dads.

Dame Vivienne was invited along to say a few words about the ‘Climate Revolution’ project, a few words about YouYou Mentoring and then to have a nice evening….or so we thought.

So, after the young poets, who are aged 17-21, had finished reading their poems in front of the audience, Vivienne gets up to host a Q &A discussion with them.

Her first words were: “Well, people keep talking about talent, but I don’t see any here…..”

… she then told one of the 18 year old’s, that she didn’t think her poem was any good and she didn’t understand a word of it!

Vivienne’s staff and her guests were sniggering and chuckling, obviously thinking this was hilarious. Eventually a few people in the audience, including myself, decided to stand up for the poets, and she started to be a bit more pleasant.

Although there seemed to be an attempt to humiliate them publicly, each of the poets were dignified and were able to talk about the poems and the story behind them with great passion.

(Remember that Dame Vivienne’s company was a partner in the project, she took part in the official photo shoot and media, had very kindly printed the poems in a little booklet, with its ‘Climate Revolution’ branding on the cover and on the night she had her photograph taken with the young poets for the press. )

I don’t know, maybe Ms Westwood, thought this was good fun, maybe she thought this was the right thing to do, maybe that is a normal Saturday night out, maybe trying to make people feel small is something that occurs regularly in her world…?

What I do know, is that YouYou Mentoring has very strong values and strives to develop and encourage young people to get on to the first rung of their chosen career. With high youth unemployment it is schemes like YOUYOU that are helping to make a real difference and we always offer POSITIVE encouragement.

The journey of the poets development and other creative mentee’s involved in the project was documented by YOUYOU Mentoring. You can view the promo films, stills and read the poets poems here on the designated Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/YouyouMentoringClimateRevolutionPoetryProject?ref=hl

As I say…..And then there was Dame Vivienne Westwood…..hmmmmm.

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