RIP Lanternhouse, Cumbria. Lest we forget.

Like a cantakerous old Uncle, I’ll remember Lanternhouse in Cumbria as a somewhat distant relative – but whose influence over my professional growing up was always keenly felt: hovering over my shoulder, whispering exhortations, yelling out criticisms and the ocassionally deranged epiphet which caused the rest of us in the extended community arts family to look at each other in that modern, knowing way. Uncle John was clearly not on form we might mutter; he’s seen better days someone else would offer.

What we shouldn’t forget that without Uncle John, we would not be stood where we are now. Sometimes the shoulders of the giants we stand on start to tremble– and its at that point we’re obliged to stand up straight and take the load off them rather than castigate them for not being who they have been, and for what they’re not doing any longer.

Farewell Lanternhouse and everyone who was fortunate to benefit from your lights. They’ll continue to shine into the darkness of this recession long after the politicians who put you there have faded into miserable obscurity.

If you have a memory of Lanternhouse – or indeed any of the arts companies that are now fading away in the cultural freeze of this recession, please feel free to send them in and we’ll post them up here.

From Paul Kleiman:

Lanternhouse magical moment: a beautiful midsummer’s evening concert, with the band starting in the streets of the town, a tower of instruments and bells, and at the climax, a hot-air balloon flying right over the top of the tower. (the balloon was pure coincidence!!)

For an ongoing list of companies MIA click here.

Flow: prayer for a provisional ending

As life begins
The circle of evolution continues
Life flows through my body
like the wind blows through nature.

Flowing beside the city
Beside the river
Down by the docks
Along the far side of the port,

My words and stories evolve into thoughts and memories
and through these
my world becomes a performance.

A place where the boats fill up
The seagulls fly straight
And the passengers look out
To a place and time

Where my imagination flows
My humanity becomes a performance
Where possibilities begin
And end and begin again.

The tide surges
It falls back
The salmon are left on the shoreline
Waiting for the signals

To call them back
To the ocean
And back to the stream
They left in their youth.

But will the flow ever end?

Composed with Emily Frodsham on the morning of the death of Steve Jobs, as part of the final performance of the Flow Community Arts Autumn School, Sigdal, Norway.

Geoff Pennycook, in memoriam.

Imagining Chris Thompson: an original Geordie mother of invention

Chris Thompson was a Community Arts graduate from LIPA who died 5 years ago this week: but some images of Chris which have stayed with me over the last 15: images which suggest a powerful, creative, expressive artist who didn’t pay much attention to the rules, who didn’t know when to stop – but who did  know intuitively and compulsively how to capture, thrill and entertain an audience.

Watching Chris in rehearsal or on stage, you always had the sense that he was about to take you on a roller coaster of theatrical  thrills and spills – he’d tear off your safety harness, lock you into the front seat – and then, like a figurehead at the bow of a ship, perform to blazes, completely fearless in his imagination and shameless in his performance.

As a 1st year student wielding a large kitchen knife borrowed from the LIPA canteen one Friday afternoon;  as an actor pleasuring himself in the window of the college library during performances of The Tin Drum; and as film actor in My Life as an American, Chris’s muse and inspiration – Frank Zappa – was always close to hand – and we, his audience, were privileged to see our very own extreme Geordie artist in action: and we will miss that energy, imagination and vivacity. As Zappa said in the International Times in 1970 once he’d dissolved the band which took him to international prominence – and as Zappa might have said of Chris himself: The Mothers of Invention, infamous & repulsive rocking teen combo, is not doing concerts any more. Frank – you’re in good company with Mr. Thompson – make sure he’s still riding that roller coaster when we join you both and when it’s our time to leave the funfair.