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Celebrating the bicentennial of Stoodley Pike monument

A gathering to celebrate the bicentennial of Stoodley Pike monument, on the highest part of Langfield Common, overlooking Todmorden. The original monument was inspired by the Treaty of Paris in 1814, and as such it (or at least the stone monument which now stands in its place) is listed as one of the oldest towers in the world dedicated to peace. You can view one of my previous panoramas from the monument, during the lighting of a beacon for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, here.

This celebration included music from Todmorden Community Brass Band and the Handmade Samba band; giant puppets from Thingumajig, and a mayoral speech. There was a great party atmosphere, and the weather was uncharacteristically sunny. The celebration was especially apposite for Anglo-French relations because, as well as the monument standing testament to almost two centuries of peace between Britain and France, the party included a gathering of visitors from Todmorden’s twin town, Ronq in France; and all this occurs in the same year as the world’s most famous cycle race comes to Yorkshire, with the Tour de France Grand Départ 2014. Vive l’entente cordiale!

The finale of the celebration was the release of two hundred homing pigeons from the parapet of the monument… this panorama captures the moment they flew away into the distance over the crowd.

stoodley_flyer

Pace Egg play performance at Heptonstall

One of the Calder Valley’s most popular folk attractions is the annual Pace Egg Play. Its origins are now lost in the mists of time, but it continues delight generation after generation with a delightfully haphazard mix of performance, audience interaction and comedy. Revived in 1979 after a brief hiatus, the roots of Pace Egging hark back to before the 1500s, and are quite different across the north of England. In many towns the tradition has died out, but it’s still performed in the upper valley by players from Hepstonstall, and Calder Valley High at Mytholmroyd…

Clog-wearing players perform well-trodden routines and well-loved lines to an appreciative (and increasingly merry) audience in Weaver’s Square, Heptonstall, on the hill above Hebden Bridge in Calderdale. The central theme is a bit hazy, but involves St George and a host of others; a degree of pantomime theatre; some swordplay; and a healthy amount of ale-swigging.

It’s always a bonus when the sun’s out on Good Friday, and the audience numbers were swollen for this, the final performance of the day. As the players tend to retire to one or other of Heptonstall’s hostelries between stagings for some well-earned liquid refreshment, this was a glorious mix of ad-libbed responses, fluid moves and the occasional flubbed line, all being embraced and egged on by the audience. “Mince pies hot, mince pies cold; mince pies in the jar, nine days old…”

There’s much more information on the Pace Egg play here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/04/02/pace_egg_play_heptonstall_feature.shtml
http://hebdenbridge.co.uk/news/2014/082.html

 

The Lamplighter Festival, Todmorden

After the overwhelming enthusiasm and participation which greeted last year’s Valley of Lights events in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge came a spectacular new nocturnal experience: The Lamplighter Festival, Todmorden.

On November 23, after the Christmas lights were switched on, Tod – a town with an individual character and strong arts heritage on the Yorkshire / Lancashire border – was illuminated with performance, parading, participation, pyrotechnics and passion. I positioned myself to capture some of the excitement of the procession with some elevated panoramas.

The town centre was lit up with a lantern parade, spectacular fire performers, illuminated installations and sculptures, shadow puppets, glowing show bands and belly dancers, and night markets.

The event was produced by Handmade Parade CIC, supported by Todmorden Town CouncilCalderdale Council and Thingumajig Theatre.… and enjoyed by most of the town. A great, memorable night for all involved!

You can view these as a set on 360Cities here, or click on the individual images below)

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis at MIF13, Mayfield Depot, Manchester

Look around the panorama above to explore a series of panoramic 360° views around Mayfield Depot. Toggle between a view showing the show layout, and the depot as it was before rigging, by click the button on the top right. Click/tap the red hotspots to jump from viewpoint to viewpoint.

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis, the much-anticipated event from Robert Del Naja, Adam Curtis and UVA opened last week as one of the headline attractions at this year’s Manchester International Festival. I was there in Mayfield Depot on the day before the show opened, just as the crew were testing video and audio. I have to admit, I had high expectations when this gig was announced: I’ve admired Adam Curtis’ documentaries for the last decade or more, and I last saw Massive Attack play in Manchester in 1998, when guests Horace Andy & Elizabeth Fraser (appearing here at MIF) provided outstanding performances. Expectations were raised further after spending an afternoon shooting the venue before it was cleaned and rigged out, trying to second-guess how it’d be used for the event.

Shooting this was… challenging and complicated. Capturing a 360° panorama requires shooting a series of images, in this case looking around every 90°. And shooting another series of different exposures to capture the wide dynamic range of light. Try doing that in a dark room where the video screens are constantly playing a huge range of different coloured, contrasting content; cycling rapidly and changing the light levels and reflections.

360° panorama of Massive Attack v Adam Curtis at MIF13

When I originally shot the venue back in May there was less light, but I had the luxury of several hours to capture the series of HDR panoramas at my own pace, largely undisturbed. Not this time… I had a brief window before full rehearsals commenced. All while crew members are frantically criss-crossing the floor, and visitors in high-viz vests are milling about. Definitely a shoot to keep me on my toes.

So a combination of patience, luck, determination, and a well-honed post-production routine resulted in the final image, which manages to capture the structure and feel of the newly-repurposed Mayfield Depot, but also gives a flavour of the intensity of the visual content (see the trailer below). It’s an incredible venue and a hell of an AV setup, and this should give an indication of standing the centre of such an immersive space.

360° panorama of Massive Attack v Adam Curtis at MIF13

Disclaimer: When I wrote this I’d not yet seen the full show… just some of the footage during the AV tests, and hearing a little of Liz Fraser singing a cappella on stage (which was pretty special). I saw it the following evening: it was overwhelming, disconcerting, thought-provoking and challenging… exactly what I’d expect from Adam Curtis, Massive Attack and UVA!

Panoramic camera rig in Mayfield Depot

Valley of Lights, Todmorden

After severe flooding hit the Calder Valley twice in rapid succession this summer, the local communities reacted brilliantly to this devastating challenge. Businesses and individuals pulled together, demonstrating the indefatigable local spirit and individual outlook which characterises the upper valley, bringing together neighbours and strangers alike.

With many residential and commercial properties affected for months by the floods, it’s been a tough year, and collectively the area deserved a reason to celebrate their achievements since… and let their hair down. Fast forward six months and cue the Valley of Lights; a unique initiative spearheaded by Totally Locally, supported by Calderdale Council and creatively led by Handmade Parade. Embracing the pool of talent, enthusiasm and skill of hundreds of artists, performers, producers, retailers and members of the public, it’s an event spread over ten days in the three towns worst affected by the flooding here – Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.

Designed to celebrate the Upper Calder Valley; its people, its creativity, its uniqueness and its hundreds of small businesses, it combined community initiatives with a series of spectacular performances, outdoor markets and displays. It’s a gloriously welcome way to usher in the start of the Christmas period, and the switch on of the lights in each town.

It was Tod’s turn first on Saturday 24th November, and as luck would have it, the heavens opened just before the start of the celebrations. Ironic considering the heavy rain in the summer. However folk round here are hardy and won’t easily turn down the excuse for a celebration and performance… especially one designed to showcase their triumph over the natural elements. Besides, we do parades and parties well around here, such as the Pollination Parade early this year.

After the Christmas Lights switch on, performers and musicians led a Lantern Parade around the town, before a spectacular fire finale in at the Rose Street / Bramsche Square site. Tod Market stayed open late, with both regulars and local artist makers selling their wares, encouraging shoppers to spend their pounds close to home. Musicians and street performers weaved among the heaving crowds, raising smiles and spirits through the rain.

Meanwhile there was a spectacular wharfside flotilla along Fielden Wharf on the Rochdale Canal, featuring lit-up inflatables by Spacecadets (you can view some panoramas of their work from Preston in 2006 and the Lowry, Salford in 2007 respectively). Live music was performed by Daniel Weaver from an open narrowboat: you can just spot him through the crowds during the timelapse video above.

Friends and food clients alike, local food heroes Porcus and the Bear Café set up stall to warm the hearts (and bellies) of the brave souls who ventured out in the rain. I set up my trusty GoPro and recorded a (very soggy) timelapse video of Porcus serving up their homemade rare breed sausages, while I tried out my new DSLR in wet weather conditions. All in all it was damp but delightful night, perfectly showcasing the diversity and distinctiveness of the local area, and making people rightly proud of what they have and hold dear!