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Freelance, footloose and fancy free for lunch?

January 3, 2013

Freelance, footloose and fancy free for lunch?

Are you, like us, one of those solo creatives beavering away alone in their studio/study/kitchen all year?

How about joining us for a festive get together, a chance for female freelance creatives to have their own Christmas bash.

 Place: Pizza Express (Coventry Plaza)

Day: Friday 7th December 2012

Time: 12.30

Dress: Glitter obligatory

Hope to see you there,

The Ladies Salon

Julie Boden, Ness Oakes & Jo Roberts

The Postmistress is pleased to report that the Ladies had a fine old-time (glitter was worn, wine was spilt and new friends made) and were joined by: Sayan Kent, Anne Forgan, Anna Douglas, Claudette Bryanston, Gabrielle Byam-Grounds, Catherine Edwards, Helen Kelly, Jo Skelt and Mandy Ross. Those of you who have encountered the Ladies en masse will understand that I would personally like to thank the staff at Pizza Express for their endless patience and good humour on the day…

Creative Cornucopia

April 3, 2012


The postmistress was pleased to see all of the Ladies together again at Ness and Marks’ home for its 300th anniversary. With Ness and Marks’  horn of plenty filled with gifts,  the ladies talked about the different creative activities they have been involved in. There was, as one would suspect, the drinking of tea (from an array of bone china teacups) and there was once again the sound of laughter!

Ness had written a quiz for all of the guests – this will come as no surprise to those of you who met the ladies at Can Serrat as they filled each of their days there with joint and individual activities. Jo, as ever, is wandering the world  – her recent quests taking place on a motorbike. Ness was coming up for air following a heavy schedule of projects including her recent George Eliot residency in Nuneaton. Julie came out of the cave to share stories of recent and planned cross arts projects with photographers, sculptors, visual artists and musicians.

Among the cornucopia of Projects  – Julie is planning new projects (and is revisiting some that have long been on the back burner) with Richard Battye (photographer), Michael Lyons (Sculptor), Steve Tromans (Musician), English Serenata. Performances and projects in the last two years included solo Foyer Fusion peformances and joint performances with David Calcutt at THSH, with Dave Reeves at PGR and various performances on the ‘On the Cusp’ tour with Michael Thomas (and musician Rich McMahon). More projects are planned in Leamington with Dave Reeves and Campbell Perry and a new ‘Love in Leamington’ set is being planned with Lucy Jeynes.  Steve and Julie are  also planning readings in Italy, France and also they are creating a new set inspired by ballads and music of the folk tradition which they hope to tour around the Scottish Isles.

Poems continue to be  written inspired by THSH classical performances ( the CBSO and visiting leading International orchestras), Choral concerts (including Ex Cathedra) and a variety of folk Concerts. Julie is keen to attend more Folk concerts and to create new work created by these.  On a musical note – over the next month  – and fresh back from a tour in Milan where the Warwick University Orchestra and Chorus were performing concerts of Mozart’s Requiem –  Julie is once again set to be singing with the Feral Choir of THSH, at the Big sing -a- long at Symphony Hall and in a concert  later this month with English Serenata.

Bearhunts, Bluebeard’s Doors, Bugged,The Iron Men, Seven Leaves; One Autumn, Split Screen

April 3, 2012

The Postmistress has noticed that despite 6 months of living a nomadic existence followed by a year of ill health and retiring to the cave, Julie has still managed to be involved with a number of exciting projects in 2011 and 2012. Poems were included in anthologies including: Bugged ( Seven Leaves, One Autumn ( edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh and published by Rajkamal Prakashan) and Split-Screen (edited by Andy Jackson, published by Red Squirrel Press)  Poems have also been published on a variety of internet sites including Ink, Sweat and Tears on Boxing Day.

Two large scale THSH Concerts2Kerbstones projects Ladywood Goes on a Bearhunt (a long poem by Julie and illustrated by Zora Pane was published as part of this project) and another Bluebeard Castle project with intergenerational groups and a variety of artists resulting in a film animation and DVD which included the making of poetry quilts and the perfomance of a new piece (with Pens) entitled Dark Symphony. 

Educational projects include residencies and workshops at literary festivals and projects for Creative Partnerships, Cre8us, Write on, Well Versed, NHS, Warwickhire Libraries and individual schools such as Kingsley in Redditch. The podcast Iron Man – A Taste for Writing was produced by Monty Funk Productions after Julie led a project at Knowle C of E Primary School, in Solihull, for Cre8us. (This podcast is available free online from Monty Funk Productions)

The postmistress had been interested to observe that Julie has continued to produce a variety of commissions – the current challenge, set by Poetry on Loan  is to write a poem for the Olympics. 


The Piano Room

April 2, 2012


Those of you who followed the activities of the ladies while they were at Can Serrat may remember how Ness and Julie sat in a restaurant in El Bruc where, through lunch and through the afternoon, they looked at Julie’s Piano Room poems and discussed possible ways of linking them. Ness continued to work as Dramaturg with Julie and Steve when the ladies returned to the UK. An early version of The Piano Room was first shown at Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2009. Chloe Garner, Festival Director, said of the performance:

The audience were entranced, moved, provoked and inspired! A powerful performance and a rare and precious  opportunity to experience an exciting collaboration in progress’

 Following the success of the Ledbury version other adaptations were made and another version was performed and discussed at a colloquium at ‘Arts at the Barn’. The final version had its world premiere at Symphony Hall mainstage during Birmingham Artsfest 2010. Plans to tour The Piano Room to France, Italy and Scotland are currently underway. The postmistress has also heard whispers that it will be performed in Italy very soon.

Piano Room Rehearsal: Julie Boden and Steve Tromans

April 2, 2012

Piano Room Rehearsal: Julie Boden and Steve Tromans

In the Piano Room at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

The Mechanical Musical Marvel

April 2, 2012

The Mechanical Musical Marvel

The postmistress is happy to report that the The Mechanical Musical Marvel ( Second Home Studios Film  – commissioned by THSH –  with Poetry Narrative by Julie) has been selected for and shown at half a dozen International Film Festivals since its Premiere in Sept 2011. This film is also available online and more information about it can be found on the THSH, RSO and Second Home Studio websites.  

My Reward!

October 3, 2011


Jo here – a Solero was my reward for walking the 32 miles from Ditchling Museum (just north of Brighton, West Sussex) to Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne. It was part of an Artist Collaboration project that I am doing with Ditchling Museum called ‘In Search of Gill Sans’. Whilst DM is closed for major Heritage Lottery Funded rebuild, the collection, including the wooden, Gill Sans, Letterpress is housed at Towner. I’ll now be working with different groups, inspiring them on the contemporary uses of Letterpress.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be commissioned by Fermynwoods Contemporary Art in Northamptonshire to work with artists, David Littler and Simon Woolham for two weeks  – on a narrow boat! We went from south of Milton Keynes to Waddenhoe and back. I became completely obsessed with crochetting……

My wonderful project ‘Field Studies’ for the Timespan organization in Sutherland, has finally finished. It had many aspects and took 2 years to complete – if you ever get the chance to go to this amazing part of the world and meet the great people – do –  they are really in to their contemporary art.

So having finished my Solero, I’m now off to Midland Road, Bedford to do a project called ‘The Excursionist’ for Bedford Contemporary Arts – i’ll let you know how it goes.

An update (ness)

August 19, 2011

The Ladies have all been too busy to meet of late but did agree over a snatched coffee in Warwick to post updates on their individual progress.

Since last August Ness has been busy on a wide variety of theatre projects. Apart from running workshops and reading scripts for people, she wrote a new play ‘The Watched Sea’ for CAPITAL at the Old Joint Stock in Birmingham as a response to Cameron’s call for “people power”. She attended the first read through of her new play ‘His Naked Eye’  at the Citz in Glasgow. She also took part in Pentabus Theatre’s Writers Week and wrote ‘The Game Anew’ for their show MAY FAIR at Latitude Festival. And, the postmistress observes has become completely obsessed with George Eliot.

International Women’s Day

March 9, 2011

A great morning was had on the 8th March celebrating International Women’s Day, at the cafe of the Herbert Gallery, Coventry. Nine very creative ladies brought books of some of the women who inspired them. We started a list….Maya Angelou, Billy Holiday, Alice Walker, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Helen Frankenthaler, Kate Bush, Rachel Whiteread, Clara Peeters, Justine Themen, Judi Dench, Vivienne Westwood, Cornelia Parker, Alison Turnbull, Susan Hiller, Mierle Lademann Ukeles, Vanessa Redgrave, Cora Sandel…….as we talked, we decided that we were part of what we called ‘the real women’ and should be added….so here we are….Vanessa Oakes, Jo Roberts, Mary Partridge, Sally Carpenter, Janthi Mills, Janet Vaughan, Julie Boden, Justine Themen, Anne Forgan.

Quote of the day, “This is women’s art, it takes as long as it takes.”

A Resume…

August 6, 2010

The Postmistress is pleased to report that all the ladies have been gainfully employed in their various roles over the past few months. Julie has been working as a Creative Agent and running a hectic schedule of workshops and readings. You can see the results of all Julie’s hard work for ‘The Piano Room’ on 11th Sept during Birmingham’s Artsfest.

Vanessa was commissioned to write ‘I Am Active’ (Act 2) for Bitesize at Warwick Arts Centre  and also to write/read ‘The Permitted Number’ (Come To Where I’m From – Coventry) by Paines Plough/The Belgrade. She is currently lead artist on Building Sights  and busy writing ‘His Naked Eye’ for Theatre in Action.

Jo and Vanessa were involved with the launch of  ‘The Red Teapot Day’ book.

Jo  produced a new body of work for Warwickshire Artsweek – ‘Travel Sketches’ and ‘Map of the Day’  and has been commissioned to do a project for Timespan developing their organisation. She will also be doing a residency at Much Ado Bookshop.

The Postmistress thanks all her loyal lurkers out there (4,856) and will continue to keep you informed of the Ladies progress.