As Nature Intended

Debra Urbacz grabs her pencil and sketches the disrobed….

This issue’s article comes to you from the serene scene that is inhabited by Beeston Canal Heritage Centre. Steeped in nature, it is the perfect backdrop for the life drawing classes, that are currently running in the beautifully renovated studio room upstairs, within the old lock keeper’s cottages. I have been itching to get to one of these classes since they started three weeks ago and finally made it this week, and thought I would share the experience.  When I arrive, the room is quiet and gently lit by tiny spotlight stars. It is my first time at the class and I am more than a little apprehensive as it is a very long time since I had done any ‘real’ drawing. I felt a little under the spotlight.

However, it was a small friendly group that greeted me and I was introduced to a host of lifedrawsmiling faces. I already knew Janet who was running the class from the ABC Arts Trail and seeing her artwork displayed locally. She explained that this was an informal class, with a break in the middle for tea and cake. This and the relaxed atmosphere quickly put me at ease. I picked up my 6B pencil, and a sheet of the paper that was provided, ready for my first challenge.

I wasn’t quite prepared for how swiftly one minute speeds by when you are trying to replicate a human being on paper but my first sketch consisted of a shoulder and part of an arm. I persevered though, and by the time I got to my last sketch in the ‘quick fire round’ I had progressed to achieving a little bit more. The ten-minute sketches were better, although I seemed to do a lot more rubbing out than any of my companions. I was pleased to see that my hands were beginning to get into the groove again.

At the break, the conversation was free flowing and despite the fact we had just spent the last hour peering intensely at a naked person, there was no awkwardness at all. After all when you are so deeply immersed in nature, what could be more natural than the human form with all its graceful dips and curves? I was a little bit in awe of the model. Always a failure at musical statues myself, I had to ask how she kept her composure and held the poses for longer periods. “What do you think about, where does your head go?” I tentatively ask. Well dear reader, I am not sure what I was expecting but can tell you the answer was that this model amusingly distracts herself with hearty numbers from the Monty Python musical ‘Spamalot.’ Well why not!?

The second half of the class seemed to go much more quickly. I became thoroughly absorbed in producing at least one decent drawing and was surprised to find that I had not yet glanced at anyone else’s work, nor had they at mine. The lady next to me was using rainbow pastels, from a stash in a box near her feet, and I admired the effect she had created with the small strokes of colour. Happy to remaster the pencil I set to work drawing the prone figure on the floor, paying particular attention to posture and proportions. The extremities provided the most challenge for me and I must have drawn her hands five or six times! I spent the time I had left at the end practising drawing the model’s feet.

The end of the session was as easy as the beginning. As the final timer sounded, Janet informed us that it was the end and we packed away. I complimented my neighbour on her work and rolled mine up to pop in my bag ready for the cycle ride home. I was pleased with my efforts but relieved we did not have to share them with the rest of the group as I had done back in my college days. Instead, I wandered around the cosy space to take a closer look at the Beeston Snappers’ photography exhibition, a series of photographs which have captured what were the old cottages in their derelict state before renovation.

What they have achieved with those cottages has to be seen to be believed. Retaining many of the original features, the rooms feel bright and spacious. With a café and gift shop downstairs and plenty of outdoor space, the centre invites you to stay a while and bathe yourself in calm. Perhaps it is its proximity to the canal but the air of tranquillity will certainly be pulling me back for a visit.

The Life Drawing Classes are currently running on Wednesday evening for two hours from 7:30 pm. There is no need to book and it is just £8 per session with refreshments and art materials provided.  Contact Canalside Heritage Centre by email via their website www. canalsideheritagecentre.org.uk, on Facebook or by phone on 0115 922 1773 for information about all of their classes and events.

The Lock Keeper’s Cottages Exhibition features the work of four different local photographers, Sara Gaynor, Lynne Norker, Jenny Langran, Catherine Smith and is on display until the end of August.

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DU

Beeston Bees

(Yes, it is all about bees).

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Roald Dahl once wrote a short story called ‘Royal Jelly’. It revolved around a beekeeper called Albert, who fed his family the bee food, especially his underweight baby daughter. The twist being of course, that he and his daughter turn into bees.

So I was wondering what I would expect when I met experienced local beekeeper Mary Venning, and her three hives, which are situated in the Wollaton Road allotments, one of nine in the area. “Did you know that Oliver Cromwell’s son in law gave this land in perpetuity? That was found out when they built the medical centre.” As anyone that’s visited the site will know, it’s a very big triangle shaped area. We reach Mary’s rather large growing space.  “This hive is the most productive at the moment,” says Mary, indicating a hive prominently placed and literally buzzing with the sound of bees. Mary then shows me her other two hives, which don’t seem to be as active. “The queen may have died in this one,” indicating a hive with very little activity around it.

Mary’s bees were also very busy around the parts that they make their honey in, that she had out on display  “They are licking all the honey off. Every little bit.” We watched as many, many bees were swarming round these honeycombs. “Bees have such different personalities. I used to have a hive where they were quite aggressive. But the ones now are friendly. People shouldn’t be anxious around them. Bees don’t like loud noises, people waving their arms around, or strong perfumes, as they might think you are a flower. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. If you do get stung, then pull the sting out and apply something alkali, like milk of magnesia.”

They prefer to gather nectar from open or tubed flowers.  Dandelions are the best plant for bees, as its nectar is already 50% food

I asked Mary how she got into beekeeping. “I studied the life of bees as part of my psychology degree. The nature of animals. I then did a beekeeping course when I retired. It was a weekend course over five weeks.” It is an expensive hobby. Did you know that once the queen has been chosen, she is fed royal jelly, created by worker bees?  You can see how enthusiastic Mary is about the insects. ‘Buzzing’, you might say as she imparts so much different information about them, quicker than I can write it down. “Bees hum in the key of C major.” Or, “They prefer to gather nectar from open or tubed flowers.  Dandelions are the best plant for bees, as its nectar is already 50% food. If only people would let a few dandelions grow in a patch of ground or in a tub, then that would be very helpful to them. Pussy willow and Hawthorne are also good sources of pollen.”

Mary then goes on to tell me about the worker bees’ waggle dancing, a figure of eight movement and how it informs the other bees about where the best pollen can be found, how far it is from the hive and if there are any dangers about. All this in very little, or no light in the hive.  She then told me about some joint research being done between Nottingham Trent University and the Centre Apicole de Recherche et D’information in France over the vibration of bees. Martin Bencsik at their Brackenhurst site is also looking at ‘swarm preparation’ that should aid beekeepers in the future, in that it may reveal health of bees and how the hive is doing.

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There have been a lot of stories in the news over the last few years about the vast reduction in bee numbers, due to a change in farming practices and the increase in chemicals that are used on the land these days. Bees are vital to the food chain with their pollination of plants and fruit trees. So the work that Mary does, and other beekeepers like her around the world are so important to the life of these interesting and much loved insects and, in fact, for us.

CDF

B-Town: A Podcast

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isha pic

A mysterious Beestonian has made an epic, deeply strange podcast about our town. Here, she tells us why…

Not all places inspire. Not all places excite. Not all places have stories growing out of the cracks in the pavement.

But then again, not all places are Beeston.

Not all places can be. Which is the whole point about naming somewhere, really. To distinguish it from somewhere else. If there were another Beeston it would have to be called something like New Beeston, or Beeston-upon-Avon.

Except… well there are a few other Beestons, actually. There’s a Beeston in Bedfordshire, one in Cheshire, another in Norfolk, and one in Leeds. How I feel sorry for those other Beestons, living in the shadow of our own epic town. People must ask those Beestons:

  ‘Wow, are you the Beeston?’

And the other Beeston probably looks embarrassed and says:

  ‘Oh no… you must be thinking of the one near Nottingham.’

The person would then apologise:

  ‘Oh right, sorry, you must get that all the time.’

The other Beeston would then look off into the distance, a tear glistening in his eye, glistening with the glory of what might have been, what could have been possible with a name as majestic as Beeston.

  ‘Yes,’ the other Beeston would reply, ‘yes it happens quite a bit, actually.’

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Beeston is particularly inspiring. Which is quite lucky really because the other month I wanted to make a fictional investigative journalism podcast for a birthday present. At first I was at a loss… what would it be about? I wandered the streets… along where Fletcher Road changes into Middle Street. It’s funny how streets do that, I thought, changing name with no notice and we just have to carry on, as if everything’s fine.

I kept walking, trying to forget about Fletcher Road and all the great times we’d had a few seconds ago… the Humber Road chip shop, the newly installed tram lines, the front gardens – some elaborately planted and others elaborately abandoned… Of course! I realised. I could make the podcast about Beeston. Where else is more inspiring? London? Paris? New York? Don’t be ridiculous.

And it was there, out of the cracks in the pavement around the Middle Street tram stop, that the story began to grow.

An enthusiastic podcast maker would get a mysterious email from a fan of her previous podcasts, offering her ‘something meaty’ for her next project. When they met, he would give her a small box wrapped in a plastic bag.

‘I found it on the tram tracks at the Middle Street stop one morning,’ he would say.

Then he would have to leave because he had an abs-core-and-bums class to get to.

What the box would contain would horrify the enthusiastic podcast maker. She couldn’t face this alone, she would need help from friends – willing or otherwise. The gruesome object would send her on a quest, an arduous quest condensed into 4 episodes of 20 minutes each, to unveil hidden depths of Beeston that none us could ever have thought possible.

The podcast can be found here:
www.soundcloud.com/whenallthiswasfields

(thanks to Isha Pearce, Benjamin Taylor, Adele Nasti, Peter Iwanciw, Martien Williams, Giulia Grisot, Lia de Simon, Mariele Valci, Connor Murphy, Paul Holmes for producing something wonderful)

We gotta wear shades

Is Beeston in for its best summer in living memory? Of course we’d say it was, as the trumpeter of all that is ace about our town.

But check out the evidence before you dismiss this as simple hyperbole:

  • The Canalside Heritage Centre opens in June: see the feature on Page 3.
  • Oxjam returns! There was doubt on its return, but we can confirm it all kicks off with the Unplugged event on July 1st.
  • A week later, Beeston Carnival is back for its twelfth year.
  • The Street Art Festival that will be brightening up some local walls.
  • More beer festivals than you can drunkenly shake a stick at.
  • Beeston Library reopens in August after a huge refit.
  • The ABC Art Trail returns, showing off the best in Beeston artistic flair on the 3rd and 4th.
  • TONS MORE! Really. For a town of our size, we certainly punch above our own weight. The Beestonian is always keen to hear about (and subsequently promote) exciting local stuff, so don’t hesitate to drop us an email at thebeestonian@gmail.com

We also have a big project to launch, which we’ll tell you more about soon. As we now have joined the nineties and got ourselves a website, you’ll be wise to keep an eye out there: https://beestonian.com/. Now, open up this magazine and find just a slice of the talent stuffed cake that is Beestonia…

MT

Street Art: Time to Act!

In the current issue of the Beestonian, we have an article about the potential street art project to lift up the tired dull mess that is Beeston Interchange / Birds wall. We can now tell you that the project has taken a huge step forward…

Beeston Square’s old dark walls (down Station Road and adjacent to Beeston Centre’s tram interchange) badly need an aesthetic lift.  We are planning a potential Street Art Festival for 2018 – a community regeneration project.

Broxtowe Council have an ‘art budget’ set aside which is £8k (subject to committee approval).  Artists are now invited to submit their work – the designs will ultimately be chosen by the council and its planning department but will be shown to the public who should have some say.

To give yourself the best chance of being chosen for this paid commission we suggest your designs are naturalist rather than brutalist.  It may also be advantageous to perhaps incorporate Beeston and Chilwell’s heritage and character somehow:

This Blue Plaque booklet is very useful – illustrating the area’s history and personalities https://beestoncivicsociety.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/blue-plaques-of-beeston-chilwell-broxtowe-2017.pdf

We have also put together a Dropbox folder of images/ideas to help inspire; including pictures of the buildings that were demolished for the current 1960s Square we are trying to improve, and more famous residents not featured in the Blue Plaque booklet. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ecifyn29eros6z9/AAC6d6ttJN-u136ZsiayHAIPa?dl=0

Please do submit your designs to BeestonStreetArt@gmail.com by 31/8/17 if you would like to take part and join our Facebook group ‘Beeston Street Art Festival’ to stay in touch.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/178727832631780/

Best of luck!

Wall adjacent to Beeston Tram Stop

We are five

Here’s to the next five

Wow: somehow, against all odds and expectations, we have made it to our fifth birthday. That’s five years since the first edition of The Beestonian, printed on four pages of strangely-hued paper, hit the streets. We had no clue what we were doing, but that should never get in the way of a good idea. We only knew we wanted to celebrate the excellence of living in a bizarre, vibrant town; in a format perfect for reading while sitting with a coffee or a pint.

Beeston is more about the future, keeping pace with the changes that are inevitable in a vibrant, exciting town.

Since those inauspicious beginnings, we’ve gone on to expand four fold into 16 pages, bring on proper designers, publish the finest local writers, interview and feature the best local (and not so local) talent, run a successful independent film club that still occasionally springs to life, produce a documentary film about the town in the flux of the tram-works, partner with Oxjam to help make it the most successful such festival in the UK, hold meetings on development and other issues, run charity events and appeals and much, much more. It’s flown by.

Since then we’ve had a Tesco appear, the tram-works cleaved the town apart and then become part of it, the Square torn down and (sort of) rebuilt, BID flourish and die, pubs actually get much better, restaurants and other local businesses spring up like never before, blue plaques stuck to walls all over the town, an international film festival set up shop and Beeston staking a claim as the cultural, creative cousin of our nearby big city.

So at our half-decade, we’re stopping to take stock of what we’ve done. Beeston is more about the future, keeping pace with the changes that are inevitable in a vibrant, exciting town. We have no idea what will occur in the next five years. There are the risks of a crap development in the Square Phase 2’ further draining of interest and funds from the Council, not to mention the bully-boys of the fracking industry coming to town. Yet the hope outweighs this. Never before has the town had such a sense of community, of pride, of standing up to determine our own destiny. We are proud to be some small part of that, and promise to reflect that and work hard over the next 5 years to keep Beeston special. Viva Beestonia!

LB

Oxjam 2016: Get ready for Takeover

One of the biggest highlights of the Beeston calendar is just weeks away…

OxjamThe Oxjam Beeston Takeover will happen again on Saturday 15 October, with tickets already on sale at Oxfam Books and Music (Beeston High Road) and The Guitar Spot (Chilwell High Road) at an ‘early-bird’ price of £8. You can also get them online from wegottickets.com (80p booking fee). On the day, a limited number of tickets will be available from £10 so get in early to be sure and save a bit of cash! We will also have ‘Takeover’ early-bird tickets for sale at our Saturday morning busking stall.

Leading up to the Takeover, the Oxjam Beeston Music Festival has two events: The ‘Oxjam Introducing…’ night at The Beeston Youth and Community Centre (‘West End’) on Friday 16 September, when we’ll have a programme of under-19 artists and bands – just £3 on the door.

The ‘Oxjam Ceilidh’ happens on Saturday 24 September at Christ Church Hall – tickets are £10 apiece from Oxfam Books and Music, online at wegottickets.com (£1 booking fee) or from our Saturday stall. Music and ‘calling’ will be provided by the ever-popular Beeston Ceilidh Collective. Oh, and there’s a bar for you thirsty hoofers to slake your thirsts!

The Festival finishes with ‘Classical Oxjam’ at Beeston Parish Church on Saturday 12 November. Tickets already available for £8 (concessions £6) from Oxfam Books and Music, The Guitar Spot, online at wegottickets.com and from our Saturday stall.

Look out for us at the Heritage Weekend opening on Saturday 10 September, 10 am at Bartons where we’ll be providing some music – we’ll also be at The Boat and Horses later in the day for a folk music session.

Saturday mornings, 11am to 1pm: we’ll be busking, selling tickets, collecting your pennies and giving you goodies and info.

  • 17 September – outside Sainsbury’s, by ‘the bell’ – featuring ‘Stringummyjig’
  • 24 September – The Podium, in The Square – artists from Second Time Around Folk Club
  • 1 October – The Podium in The Square – artists to be confirmed
  • 8 October – The Podium in The Square (with Arts and Crafts Market) – artists tbc

For up-to-the-minute information about artists and venues for ‘Takeover’ and ‘buskers’ visit www.oxjambeeston.org

16 September – ‘Oxjam Introducing…’

24 September – ‘Oxjam Ceilidh’

15 October – ‘Oxjam Takeover’

12 November – ‘Classical Oxjam’

CT

We Shall Overcome

Broxtowe Women’s Project [BWP] is a vital support and information service for women and their families who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.

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Recent changes to BWP’s funding model imperils the essential work it does, which is why we are delighted to support a fundraiser at the White Lion on the 23 September (more info on the event below).

We know that in times of drastic reductions in government funding to local councils, that less money is available to spend on public services, and that cuts disproportionately affect women. As Lisa Clarke, Women’s Officer for Broxtowe Labour, tells me, ‘We are currently witnessing an epidemic of violence against women and girls. Two women a week are murdered at the hands of a current or former partner; and yet as local authorities struggle to cope with cuts to central funding “women’s services” experience real time cuts’.  BWP offers support and advice to women living in the Nottinghamshire borough of Broxtowe through the delivery of a range of services. This is achieved through a mixture of outreach, one-to-one support, and group support. Examples of support include resilience building, safety planning, and assistance in accessing a range of other essential services such as housing, legal and financial support.

Funding is essential to ensure project development to meet the ever increasing complex needs of our services users

BWP has supported thousands of women and children since it was launched in 2001. It plays a crucial role in our community. Sarah Dagley, Business and Fundraising Manager at BWP, informs me: “The greatest risk for BWP is lack of funding in order to maintain current service provision”. Current levels of support are at risk. As the number of women and their families needing support increases, Sarah is also concerned that alterations to funding structures means that BWP will struggle “funding is essential to ensure project development to meet the ever increasing complex needs of our services users. It is also extremely important to the women and their families with whom we work that they have access to local services.”

I’m sure we can all agree that this is a shocking state of affairs.

The fundraising event at the White Lion in Beeston has been organised to raise much needed money for BWP. It aims also to help raise awareness. A BWP representative will be present to give a short talk. Music starts at 7.30 prompt. We are delighted that former Eastwood local, Matt Hill (stage name of Quiet Loner) will return to the area to play us a gig. Matt is the musician-in-residence at the People’s History Museum and will be performing his show ‘Battle for the Ballot’ as part of a national tour. Later in the evening, entertainment is provided by two local bands – Dear Victor and Cherry Hex and the Dream Church. More information can be found on the facebook event page. If you cannot make the event, but want to donate, you can visit BWP’s webpage for more information.

This event is part of the ‘We Shall Overcome’ nationwide series of events, all of which are locally organised to support local services helping those affected by austerity cuts. Elsewhere in the Nottingham area, events have been put together supporting homeless support centres and organisations, mental health support groups, and food bank providers.

Pete Yen

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