Let Us Spray

As the months roll by since the vast swathe of space between the Square and Middle Street was razed, speculation on what would rise from the rubble has been rife.

Sadly, the Phase 2 Space (as it is known) has still not attracted a developer, despite oodles of council cash being splashed on consultants.

Anyone arriving by bus or tram therefore gets a poor aspect of Beeston when approaching: much like the pre-Tesco wilderness that once blighted the space opposite less than a decade ago. It’s not a good look and leads to a vicious circle: if the area looks run-down, it’s unlikely to find a developer. If it can’t find a developer, it will look more run down. And so on.

We hope to transform the area with vibrant street artwork, perhaps depicting famous Beestonians mingling among the old town centre buildings

We therefore were cheered by the innovation recently shown by a bunch of Beestonians, who banded together and put forward a proposal to give the drab parts of Beeston a boost with street art – creating murals across the bits of Beeston that do not reflect the vibrancy and strangeness within: think the wall running down Phase 2; the ‘Birds’ wall on Station Road, etc. Jeanie O’Shea, one of the project’s initiators, said:

“We hope to transform the area with vibrant street artwork, perhaps depicting famous Beestonians mingling among the old town centre buildings that were demolished for the current 70’s structures, or similar.  There are great possibilities”

They’ve been brainstorming ideas for some time, taking inspiration from Bristol, Nottingham’s Lace Market and numerous other places. What would suit us, bearing in mind this is Broxtowe, not the Bronx?  To make it happen they need YOUR support. The Beestonian is very happy to give their support to this innovative, low cost idea: you can too by going onto Facebook, joining the group ‘Beeston Street Art Festival’ and becoming part of the debate.

Let’s paint the town red. And if we can afford another spray can, some other colours.

Beeston Film Festival 2017

The room upstairs at the White Lion was packed on Sunday 12th March as the winners of the 3rd Beeston Film Festival were announced to a very excited and eager audience.

Thanks must go to Sergio the landlord of  Beeston’s most sociable pub, as it has been the base for the festival, since John Currie and James Hall launched it back in 2015.

After months of planning and preparation, some 90 short length films from across the world have been screened over four days, with the launch taking place at the University of Nottingham’s Sir Clive Granger Building on the Thursday. This first evening saw the inaugural Three Counties Festival Night, which was split into two categories; short films of up to five minutes in length, and long films, which were up to fifteen minutes in duration. Prize money was on offer too, courtesy of the Matthew Martino Benevolent Fund. All the other films were shown at the White Lion.

There were a number of categories that a number of the films were shortlisted for.  Thirteen judges from around the globe had viewed all the films to find the best in each of the areas, such as horror, comedy, script and cinematography.

It just goes to show the amount of talent that there is in the East Midlands. The 2018 festival is going to be bigger and even better.

No cash prizes here, but the winners did receive a wonderfully crafted ceramic award: the B’Oscar, created by Nottingham artist Anna Collette Hunt.

So on to the fifteen winning films and filmmakers:

Best horror film: Woods
Best Animation: Cuerdas
Best Drama: Soldier Bee
Best Documentary: Cecil & Carl
Best Comedy: Braquage Serenade
Best Script: Braquage Serenade
Best Actor: Shauna Macdonald for Soldier Bee
Best Director: Pedro Solis Garcia for Cuerdas
Best Cinematography: Stewart Whelan for Cinephiliac
Best Sound: Cinephiliac
Three Counties Short: Portrait of a Craftsman
Three Counties Long: Cadence
Rising Star: Night Owls
Audience Favourite: The App
Best Film in Festival: Braquage Serenade

A number of Beeston-based shops and companies sponsored the B’Oscar awards. They were:

Art, Culture, Tourism
Artworks
Broadgate Laundry
Charlie Fogg’s
Chimera
Cutting Edge
Happy Daze
L’Oliva
Pamela Sietos Clothing
PN Design
ROK Jewellery
Rye Café & Bar
The Berliner

I caught up with a weary but ecstatic John after the ceremony to find out how the four days went. “It’s been the best one so far”, he replied grinning from ear to ear. “It just goes to show the amount of talent that there is in the East Midlands. The 2018 festival is going to be bigger and even better. The support that the festival has received has been phenomenal. All the students from the university that have helped out have been fantastic.”

I also spoke to James, who was busy packing away the IT equipment, and asked for his thoughts. “It’s been great, but much harder work than helping to organise the Oxjam music event.”

Finally, one face that I recognized in the audience was that of local actor, puppeteer and storyteller Melvyn Rawlinson. I asked Melvyn whether he had been involved in any of the productions. Yes he said, I appeared in the film ‘I Am God and Severely Underqualified.’ This tells the story of a writer struggling with the dreaded writer’s block, and how he gets over it.

John and James will shortly be e-mailing a weblink to those that attended the festival, so they will be able to watch their favourite films again, or catch up with any that they missed. For everyone else, you’ve missed out. Some may make it to a cinema release, or might turn up on YouTube. You never know, there may even be plans to create a ‘Beeston Film Festival’ compilation DVD. Now wouldn’t that be exciting!

CDF

Stu: A Life Lost

Nothing quite makes you question mortality than those two great bookends of life: birth and death.

The former had been dwelling on my mind for some time, as my son grew from the size of a poppy seed when the pregnancy test striped, to 8lb 6oz of squirming, screaming life, emerging in early November after a torturously long labour. The feeling that had grown through the nine months preceding the labour became flesh: I was now responsible for a life. Looking at him, blinking under hospital lights, I realised that what he became was an empty canvas. It was up to myself and his mother to paint his early life, set him on the right paths. Trying to extrapolate what he would become when he was my age…it’s a heady, terrifying thought.

Around the same time, in the days leading up to his arrival, I became aware of a departure. Stuart Alexander Smith was a guy I had not known long, but had become very fond of.

I’d first met him when I asked a friend to help me mend a bike I’d been gifted. Stuart had tagged along. He was new to the area, and this had got him out the house. Afterwards we had a cup of tea – he was teetotal – and a chat. He was instantly personable, instantly interesting. He was fascinated with The Beestonian, and became an avid reader, reading each issue cover to cover and letting me know the bits he particularly like. “Write for us one time” I suggested “A view of Beeston from an ex-con who has come here to find a quiet life”. He liked the idea, but I never received any copy.

A gentle man hidden behind a rough demeanour, I realised I hadn’t heard from him for a while. The random meetings on the High Road, where he’d tell me of the life he was rebuilding after a spell in prison. It too had been a while since I’d received one of his FB messages asking for advice about Beeston (he was from the South, as you’d know instantly by his deep, cockney accent), or his thoughts on politics (hugely anti-authoritarian, but mellowing & inspired by Corbyn to join Labour). I checked his Facebook page, and was shocked and saddened to see people leaving tributes to his life. Stuart had died. I didn’t even know he was ill.

I contacted his friends. They explained he’d had a cancer diagnosis which was too advanced to treat. It all happened quickly apparently. Not enough time to hear about it, not enough time to say goodbye.

How could a man, so full of heart and generous of spirit, leave like that? How awful was it that just as he was finding some peace in his life, he would be taken so ruthlessly?

I couldn’t make his funeral, a week after the birth of my boy. The experience of a difficult birth had taken a huge chunk out of my wife’s energy, and her recovery was slow yet steady. Others did make it to Bramcote Crematorium, on a cold November afternoon, one of those grey days where the darkness never really breaks.

He believed that world peace can only be achieved by individuals finding their own personal peace

He died without obituary, so I hope this serves. A friend of his told me with much sadness: “He had no family”. Yet it would be wrong to say he died lonely: he was blessed with a great friend in Trowell resident Gareth Whitedog, who gave a eulogy. “I really can’t tell you what a good friend he was to me over the years” he told me when I got in contact. I asked about his life before Beeston. “He was born in Wood Green (North London) in 1952. His father died when he was quite young; and he was devastated when his mum died in the eighties. I met him at college: he then became a court clerk, then a building surveyor for East Barnet Council, where he became massively disillusioned with the way councils operate. He couldn’t tolerate injustice, you see.”

Other jobs followed. “He had many facets” Gareth explained “scholar, builder, surveyor, wheeler, dealer, wheeler dealer, music lover, audiophile, free thinker, comedian, poet, philosopher, mystic, conspiracy theorist, conspiracy theory debunker, detectorist, angler, space cadet, star ship captain, and covert galactic special forces operative, to mention a few”.

However, his liberty was curtailed in the late noughties when he was given an eight-year sentence for drug offences. His thirst for knowledge never ebbed: he was an incredibly well-read man “Prison is great for books” he once told me “I was a captive audience. They were my escape”.

Released on license in December 2012, Gareth took him in. “We couldn’t see him going into some awful offenders’ hostel, or something” he explained. This is when I would have first met him. He was infinitely interesting, often bizarre in his esoteric look at the world, but even his more outré ideas were underpinned by a great love of humanity.

“He was a spiritual man, a follower of an Indian guru” Gareth told me “and he believed that world peace can only be achieved by individuals finding their own personal peace, and bringing that into the world on a day-by-day basis”

It may seem bizarre to print an obituary in this mag. It may seem especially odd that if it wasn’t for a kind friend taking him in, he would never have become a Beestonian and crossed my path.

But he did, and he deserves some form of memorial. Beeston barely knew him, and I have no doubt that if cancer hadn’t snatched him away, he would have become a great part of our community. It was not to be. So let this serve some form of memorial to a man of great humility; and the potential we lost when he finally found that ultimate peace.

Stewart Alexander Smith, born 17/7/52; died  26/10/16

 

Oxjam…They Think It’s All Over

Why,  you may very well ask, is someone still going on about ‘Oxjam’ in January? Wasn’t that all done and dusted months ago?

Certainly the highest profile event – the ‘Takeover’ – was in mid-October but there was another event – quite a lucrative one – in November (‘Classical Oxjam’) and then it has taken ages to gather in all donations and sponsorships, the last one not appearing in our account until 23 December. It was therefore not ’til early January that we could say with certainty that we’d accounted for everything and paid over a nice big chunk of dosh to Oxfam.

You probably already know that our final total in 2016 was a not-to-be-sniffed-at £14 thousand (£14,020 to be precise) which we were able to announce in early December because we knew of money coming our way even though it hadn’t been paid in. To set it in a national context, that was the second highest amount raised in the whole of the country – in fact, in the last three years, Oxjam Beeston has been in the ‘top three’ every year (2014: 3rd, 2015: 1st, 2016: 2nd). Not that it’s about competing but it does indicate that Oxjam Beeston is just about the biggest Oxjam Festival, consistently, in the UK.

After six years – and more than £60,000 raised for Oxfam – Beeston has become used to the Festival – and ‘Takeover’ in particular – as a unique and much-anticipated community event. But like the Carnival. ‘Party in the Park’, Christmas lights switch-on and, most topically, The Chinese New Year Celebration, it can’t be taken for granted. As we all know, and as we have seen, the Borough Council has no funds to pay for these kinds of events – who knows how the arms-length company, Liberty Leisure, will handle anything like this going forward?

‘The Party in the Park’ 2016 was heavily sponsored to make it feasible and happily the weather was kind to the Council and all of us. As for the others, they are either run by volunteers or at the mercy of empty coffers at the Council and in neither case can they be taken for granted. This is very sad, of course, and extremely short-sighted of whoever is responsible, be they local or national politicians. It isn’t just about giving people a great time, the Oxjam Takeover, for one, clearly brings in people to the town who are in celebratory and generous mood. Local venues and traders are keen to be involved and happy to welcome paying customers, whether they are buying drinks or food, even if they are not directly involved.

So what of Oxjam Beeston 2017? I have made it clear that I will NOT be the so-called ‘Takeover Manager’ this year, although I do hope to run one or two of the ancillary fund-raising events. Perhaps others of you out there might also consider getting involved as ‘gig makers’ (as Oxjam calls them) that is organisers of one-off fund-raising events. However, if there is going to be the ‘jewel-in-the-crown’ Takeover event, someone with the time, skills  and energy to commit to the project needs to step forward.

Otherwise, folks, it ain’t gonna happen! And then, we will sadly be able to complete the phrase “They think it’s all over – it is now!” Let’s hope not.

Colin Tucker

Anybody wishing to know more is welcome to contact Colin by email – colintucker18@gmail.com

Off The Rails

Network Rail are keen to stop us crossing their tracks. We think it’s them that have crossed a line….

They weren’t exactly brazen about it. In mid-December, a letter dropped through the door of a few select houses, all close by the rail line.

It could so easily have been missed: that time of year usually has people rather distracted by the looming festive holidays, and with the daily letterbox fodder swollen with Christmas Cards and junk mail, you’d be forgiven for overlooking it.

But those who did open it up and read found it contained a bit of a bombshell: Network Rail were looking to close three paths that run across the line, on the rather spurious grounds of safety.  We had until the end of the month to lodge an objection. Curiously, these letters were post-dated late November. Had they been floating around in the ether / sorting office all that time? Nope.

A cynic may suggest that this was done on purpose to keep the number of objections to a minimum. However, we at The Beestonian are a positive bunch so accept that this was, as Network Rail claimed when this was bought to their attention ‘an admin error’. They duly extended the consultancy to late January.

So what is being proposed?

Three crossings, named as ‘Nature Reserve’ (Meadow Lane); Long Lane and Barrat’s Lane No.1 are being considered for closure. This would severely restrict access into the nature reserve by all means other than car: necessitating a 3 mile round-trip for most Beestonians used to the highly popular Meadow Lane crossing. Cycle paths, jogging routes, bridleways and nature trails would be blocked off. Bizarrely, the Nature Reserve was not informed of Network Rail’s plans, which is akin to someone nailing your back door shut without notice.

Alternatives are suggested: a rather limited token mention of bridges, each suggestion appended with a list of reasons why this would not be practical. There is no option for retaining the status-quo; or beefing up safety features. It’s a raised way, or no way.

Beestonians were, unsurprisingly, livid. A campaign was swiftly set up, overseen by myself, and a great surge of community action began as people contacted groups who would be affected. The word spread beyond those few houses that received the letter, until the media picked up on it, which in turn alerted others.

Emails were sent to Network Rail, stating why the shutting off of the paths would be detrimental. Nature lovers, denied access to our beautiful nature reserve. Cyclists, who use the crossing to join the cycle paths to Nottingham. Dog walkers. Horse riders. Joggers, who keep fit pounding the mazy paths. A wealth of reasons have been put forward.

If we look at the bigger picture, we can see why this is happening. After a severe scolding from an all-party parliamentary report on safety back in 2014, which admonished them for their approach towards safety at level-crossings,  Network Rail have been keen to reduce their liability on the rail network in the bluntest way possible: get rid of them altogether. This also reduces expenditure on maintaining crossings: if there is no need to have clear sightlines down the track, it is fine to leave bushes to overgrow longer.

There have been deaths, but after an accident a decade ago of a pensioner, Network Rail themselves stated that the circumstances were highly unusual (the victim was wearing a hood that prevented clear vision; he was very hard of hearing; there was dense fog that day) and did not warrant further safety measures being implemented. The vast majority of people use common sense when crossing, to a degree of vigilance that they would not usually do crossing a road.

Retaining the status quo (albeit it with increased safety features), or building bridges accessible to all is what we need to argue for. How these are implemented is up to Network Rail.

What is key, what we need to strongly stand against, is any attempt to lose access to these vital crossings, the paths that through giving easy access to those wanting fresh air and exercise increase the collective health of our town.

 

 

One Lump Or Two

Like the White Queen in ‘Alice Through theLooking Glass’’, I try to believe six impossible things before breakfast, but Trump becoming US President was a one too many. So when I found out that an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed café had opened up near the Nottingham Railway Station, I just had to go down the rabbit hole and find out all about it.

The Wonderland Café is situated in the basement of the old Hopkinson building on Station Street, and began trading in December. It is the creation of Beestonian Ash Hudson, who lives in the Rylands, but is originally from Chesterfield. Ash had previously worked there selling watches from a stall. When the tearoom closed down, he had the crazy idea of running one himself, using his favourite book as inspiration. And so Wonderland was born. It is currently open seven days a week between 12 & 5pm.

Hopkinson’s began as a Victorian engineering business, but in 2010 the building became an arts centre. In fact I exhibited some photographs there in that year, as part of a Flickr group that I was involved in. But now it contains three floors crammed with antiques and collectables:  real nostalgia trip down Memory Lane.

There are two ways to reach the café. One is to hunt out the stairs amongst the shelves of bric a brac, while the other is more direct, being down the side alley, where signs and a mannequin direct you. Due to the high winds that day, Ash had had to lock those away, so the stairs it was.

The café area is quite large, with twelve tables and seating for fifty people. Motifs from the book are everywhere, although Ash was keen to point out that he has followed Carroll’s original novel, rather than the 1951 Disney film. Ash of course is the Mad Hatter. There isn’t really anyone else he could be. He employs two waitresses, who become The Red Queen and Alice, when they are looking after the customers.  Of which there are many, especially on a Saturday.

There is a small, but interesting menu, with teas, sandwiches, and a stew on offer. And of course cake, some of which come courtesy of our very own Beeston Brownie Company.

Tea parties, either for two people, or groups, are welcomed, and themed events are in the pipeline for this year, the first being a ‘Lonely Queen of Hearts’ speed-dating event set for St Valentine’s Day.

The café has been kitted out with props sourced directly from Hopkinson’s. Someone that works in the building has specially made some of the more intricate and unusual items, while two flamingos came courtesy of eBay.  Local graffiti artist ‘smallkid’ has used spray paint to create a forest scene of giant mushrooms along one wall, and a row of grinning Cheshire Cats and the signage outside.

The Internet has been brilliant for Wonderland, as its story was one of the most locally shared on Facebook during 2016, with over 11,000 mentions. Ash originally wanted to open a café in Beeston, as he loves the town so much, and was looking at the former estate agents on Wollaton Road, but was beaten to it by what is now home to vintage café ‘Time For Tea’.

The future looks exciting, as Ash has plans to turn the rest of the basement area into a bar/restaurant. He is going to launch a Kickstarter project in May, which we wish him luck with.

‘Drink Me’ cocktails anyone?

Wonderland can be contacted on 07930 877496.

University Of Beestonia

Although we’ve had little chance to share it with you over the last 18 months (our consultants suggested an Overstreet and Schlitz approach to communications recently) it’s been a busy time at the University of Beestonia. 

It’s a challenging time for the industry and it’s important we are correctly positioned to make the most of the opportunities on the horizon as we move forward. We’ve therefore been working hard to ensure The University of Beestonia can continue to lead both nationally and internationally in the coming decade.

Re-imagining and re-imaging not only what our University is but what it should be in the 21st century is a real challenge. We are now constrained by REF, TEF, increasing internationalisation, BREXIT, white papers asking for more with less… to name but a few. This means there is no one clear path and our institutional and individual ability to understand wtf is going on has been stretched to and beyond breaking point.

We are not the only institution harmed by the post-truth (i.e. bullshit) narrative and the 2016 fad for demonising the expert. However, what this trend has highlighted is that saying nothing at all does not say it best (we sacked those consultants, despite any evidence to the contrary in these short paragraphs). We need to say it more, say it better, say it louder and say it backed up with facts (pre-post-truth) and years of experience in what we are talking about. Once we’ve worked out what it is we’ll let you know, but fear not, we have lots of experts working on it.

Here at the University of Beestonia we aim to spend 2017 looking for the solutions and not pointing out more of the problems (it might be another quiet year from us!). We’d love to hear from you about what you want from your university so please do get in touch (thebeestonian@gmail.com) and we’ll read your ideas before ignoring them :p

Berliner Bubbles

Ey yup Beestonites, don’t you just love the New Year?

The new found gym bunnies are slogging it away for a few weeks pounding away those turkey/biscuit/ and/or pudding pounds, leaving the pubs and bars virtually secluded: no waiting for Dave and the office lot to make up their mind on their tipple of choice during their annual excursion to the local boozeries.

There’s also a mad scramble of offers to lure us into eateries – ten pounds off here, get a free 10p sweetie mix there and luckily for us even brand spanking new establishments for our leisure pleasure.

First on the agenda, The Berliner, located on the high road. Local lads James and James of the Froth coffee shop venture have yet again joined forces to bring you a venue which combines two great foodstuffs, pizza and err cocktails with a dash of live music in the form of late night deejays and live bands in the pipeline. Achingly trendy the bar’s decor is inspired by trips to Berlin aiming to provide a hangout for students and shoppers alike.

Myself and newbie Beeston Beats fellow contributor Donna Bentley, headed off to perform an undercover report with two accounts of the same bar – that’s twice the feedback without leaving your armchair. While I supped away on a few cheeky cocktails, Donna actually did some reviewing…. The mid-January lull has hit hard. Payday seems an unreasonable number of miles away, and the dark evenings still creep up on us like the bogey man. In amongst the lingering sense of January malaise I had a bit of respite as I was quite excited to learn of a new venue arriving in Beeston.

I saw this as chance to break up the usual routine of real ale pubs. As much as I love nothing more than a craft beer and a scotch egg (or several, as determined by the magnitude of beer consumption), it’s not always what I am in the mood for. Beeston needed something new.

So, furnished with a fresh 20 in my pocket I wandered out into the evening chill and headed (with Lulu) towards Chilwell High Road, filled with curious anticipation. As we entered the bar I immediately felt the buzz. The place already looked well established and distinctly reminded me of the vibe you get when out in the city.This place was most certainly fresh and edgy, a welcome break from the plethora of traditional pubs that dominates the Beeston drinking scene.

I had the privilege of being away some time in Berlin, and could clearly see where the inspiration for the bar came from: creative, contemporary décor, with a bit of cool thrown in for good measure. The Berliner seemed like an oasis of fresh vibe and activity when compared with the calm quiet of the night outside. It almost didn’t seem to fit into Beeston, but I was very glad it was there. The crowd was full of new faces, with a diverse and refreshing age range of clientele. I clocked the D.j setting up in the corner and wondered what the order of the day was in terms of music. The smell of pizza was incredibly alluring, but I refrained.

This challenge, a raging battle between my stomach and my brain, (which was also in conflict with itself) was exacerbated when I noticed several tables furnished with punters all enjoying the pizza. I really did feel tempted. I stayed strong and made a mental note to come back for the 2 for 1 pizza deal before 5pm.

As we got to the bar we realised that we had arrived at 8.45pm, just in time to take advantage of the cocktail happy hour: 2 cocktails for £8 before 9pm – it seemed impolite not to. The bar was busy, but it was also very well staffed and we managed to get both our drinks orders in, just in time.The cocktail menu comprised of some well-known old favourites and a few newbies, with the addition of the Long Eaton Ice Tea, presumably a fresh spin on an old classic.

I wasn’t quite sure what a Bubble Bath was but Lulu and I decided to take the plunge, and so round 1 was bought. Getting distracted by the hub of the bar I didn’t notice what exactly went into a Bubble Bath. I snapped back to attention when a nice lady in the queue allowed me to jump in front.

An order for a Long Eaton Ice Tea was made and Lulu and I challenged the bar staff to a cocktail shake-off. Drinks were made in a timely manner and it wasn’t long before the Bubble Bath, complete with passion fruit float, was catching the eyes of nearby bystanders. By which time, the DJ was set up and ready to go. Mellow house music filled the bar. The volume was audible but not so loud to the point where you couldn’t talk.

Drinks were going down well and the evening was lost in conversation. Overall if you haven’t yet had a chance to get to the Berliner, the upcoming ‘unlimited pizza’ nights and cocktail masterclass alone are valid reasons; add on live bands and acts and we definitely recommend you pay the bar a visit. Lulus input- ‘ummm Bubble Bath cocktail nom nom (reads cocktail menu) wait a min RAW EGG??

Better line us up another Long Eaton Ice Tea…

Lulu

The Return to Handmade – Hipster Trend or Quiet Revolution?

If like me you like to buy unique presents for people at Christmas and prefer to shop locally, then you will have been more than aware of the vast number of ‘craft’ shopping opportunities that were available to us in Nottinghamshire this year. We may ask ourselves, at a time when goods are so easily mass produced all over the globe and readily transported to us in record time, why is there this steady uprise in the making and selling of handmade items? Has it become trendy to make your own or is it a result of the current economic downturn? Are we getting bored of the replicated products we see on all the shelves, in all the shops, and are instead striving for originality?  Or could it be that we are starting to value again the time and care that is spent on something that has been made from start to finish by one person’s skilful hands.

According to the UK Craft Council the consumption of craft has been on the increase for quite a number of years. Their 2010 study showed that 40% of the adults in their sample had purchased a craft object and 23% would consider buying craft. It also showed that the greatest demand was for contemporary  or ‘cutting edge’ craft with 97% of craft buyers supporting this market. It might be worth making the distinction at this point, between the different categories that handmade can be grouped into.

Craft

By definition, to ‘craft’ something is to make it with one’s own hands so this would appear to cover a wide range of objects. However, currently this seems to range from something you made impulsively out of card, with the kids on a wet Saturday afternoon, to the kind of objects d’art you might see at the acclaimed ‘Lustre’ exhibition which features at Lakeside Art Centre in November. In the Craft Council research the words ‘authenticity’, ‘quality’ ‘handmade’, ‘workmanship’ and ‘genuine’ were all attributed to the genre.

Contemporary Craft

Is the name we give to the work that is typically produced by graduates who have honed their skills academically and have created a business which involves making, marketing and selling their own pieces. We tend to look upon this as the ‘high end’ of the craft market and it would be most likely to be sold at larger handmade events, such as ‘Craft in the City’ in Waterstones, rather than the local church Christmas fair. It is this market that the Craft Council’s 2015 three year strategy supports, in their evaluation of craft trends and their impact on policy and practice.

Art

Always a tricky one this, and without getting into the ‘what is art?’ debate, we tend to attach this label to things that are made purely for their aesthetic value rather than their everyday use. Whereas craft objects tend to be created for their practical aspects and are often born out of a need for something that didn’t previously exist. Let’s take the tea cosy as a good honest utilitarian Nottingham example – you don’t want your tea to go cold whilst it’s mashin’ duck!

Creativity

So, do you need to be creative to be able to do crafts? Well, not entirely. Sometimes learning the steps to make something and being technically minded is all you need to produce a perfectly presented set of greetings cards or an origami animal. Natural creativity is generally more expressive and something that comes and goes. The creator can find themselves frustrated when an idea they had doesn’t quite work out the way they imagined it and this is often the artist’s nemesis. But without doubt, undertaking some kind of creative pursuit has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on our well-being. It may be just about finding the one that suits you.

How creative is Beeston?

Very! There are many different groups of artists and makers networking and planning exhibitions as we speak. If you were lucky enough to visit last year’s ABC Arts Trail – twenty five artists at twelve venues – you will already be aware of the wealth of talent we have in Beeston and the surrounding areas.

In fact one Beestonian, Marysia Zipser, was so taken by the cultural and creative richness of this town she set up ACT (Art-Culture-Tourism)  in December 2013. According to her recent interview in the West Bridgford Wire, she is ‘on a mission to make Beeston the art and culture capital of the UK.’ Although she ran ACT voluntarily for the past three years, in May 2016 it became an official registered organisation.

On a smaller scale there are community craft groups currently running from Two Little Magpies, Beeston’s newest gift shop which houses a fantastic selection of locally produced cards, prints, textiles, jewellery and garments.  There is gallery space at Mish Mash on Chilwell’s Creative Corner as well as some of the local restaurants and tea rooms, and regular workshops at Artworks, Heidi’s Home Furnishings and The Fabric Place.

Connections are being made and friendships being forged and we are well on the way to having our own creative ‘hub’ where many of these creatives can share space and ideas and maybe make preparations for that ‘creative revolution.’

Facebook communities you can join: Creative Beeston, Sew Notts, Made in Beeston

For more information email itsinthebeehive@gmail.com

Goose Fare

The Flying Goose has been a part of Beeston for 15 years, a stalwart of a Chilwell Road that has seen an incredible amount of change. We caught up with Hilary Cook to find out 15 facts to mark 15 years of serving some of the best food in Beeston. Have a gander…

  1. Hilary wasn’t always a café owner: she started out as a computer boffin: “I was a ‘computer operator’ at Bristol University, and moved on to be Operations Manager of all the operations system. This was between 1976 and 1984, when computers were room-sized boxes with lots of lights on.”
  2. She knocked about with some pre-fame musical geniuses: “While in Bristol I would finish work on a Friday and go to the Dugout (legendary Bristol club situated in caves) where Massive Attack and Tricky would be DJ-ing.”
  3. She’s not actually from Beeston, and a musical Zelig: “Sssshh! Yes, I’m from a place called Kinver in the West Midlands. I worked in a branch of Boots there, selling records, to, amongst others, Robert Plant and Roy Wood”.
  4. The Flying Goose was a happy accident: “I originally ran a stencilling and paint effect shop on Chilwell Road, where ‘Beest on Ink’ is now. People would come in and drink coffee and cake, and I realised that was a better market. I set up a gallery with a café,  thinking the food would be more of a side-project, but it proved so popular I moved into that.”
  5. Her Welsh Rarebit is legendary: “It’s a self-taught recipe, but it’s proved hugely popular.” What’s the secret? “It’s a secret. That’s the point of a secret, to be secret. But it does have a mix of good cheeses, mustard and spring onion. And love. The rest is secret.”
  6. BBC Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine worked there: “She worked Saturdays, and was great, sharp-witted, good fun and an all-round lovely person. It’s not a surprise she has had such success.”
  7. Buddhist Monks think it’s ace: “A monk called Lama Ngawang from The School of Great Compassion was constructing a complex sand mandala in Beeston Methodist Church. He’d drop by and have lunch, and we all accompanied him down to the Weir Field to complete the Mandala Ceremony.”
  8. Café Roya started there: “Roya would run a restaurant from The Flying Goose in the evenings, catering for 15 covers. It was phenomenally popular, so she took the leap and set up her own place on Wollaton Road which is doing very well. (It recently won  Best Vegetarian Restaurant at the UK Food Awards). I still make her ice-cream though.”
  9. It survived the tramworks: “It was a strange time, seeing the entire road dug-up and replaced with something new. We were right in the middle of it, but made the most: we set up a little pavement café, and people would venture in as they’d come to check out the works. It was a huge upheaval, but we weathered it ok.”
  10. Shane Meadows is a fan: “He was a regular for a while, when he’s not away filming. A few years ago we held an event in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust where people could drop in and meet him. We raised about £500, and he was lovely. His kids love cheese on toast: not the rarebit, but the simpler form.”
  11. As is Benjamin Zephaniah: “He was in Nottingham filming Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, and the production team rang me up as he was looking for good vegan food. We were busy, and I didn’t realise it was him, so told them I was totally full. He then turned up in a beautiful velvet suit and had lunch. We didn’t have any hot sauce – he loves really hot sauce – but he seemed to enjoy it”.
  12. It’s quite the home for poets: “We used to run a regular poetry event with (Beeston poetry legend) John Lucas, who would bring down some wonderful poets: David Belbin, John Harvey, Derek Buttress, Deirdre O’Byrne and many more. We were variously described as ‘Beeston’s Left Bank’ and ‘The Smallest Arts Venue in the East Midlands’.”
  13. It’s also a handy music venue: “We’ve had some great acts come by. The Wildflowers were a particular favourite: they’ve supported Robert Plant, played Glastonbury, so were a real catch. The night out we had with them later on…that was the most fun I’ve had on a weekend.”
  14. She’s not just a dab hand in the kitchen, but also behind a camera: “I’ve been making greeting cards from my photography for years, and sell them in Nottingham and Whitby, a place I love to visit.”
  15. It’s time to move on: “I’ve done fifteen years of this, and loved it. I’ve had some wonderful times, and met some lovely people, many who have become great friends. I’m close to retirement age so want to concentrate on other things, find new challenges. I’m hugely proud of The Flying Goose, and want it to live on, but with a fresh pair of hands and a new, innovative outlook.”

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