Thursday, 25 November 2010

Week 10 Crits

Chris Simmons & Adam Hiles

Dimitros Sinos

James Williams & Simon Jones

Ottile Yip

Georgia Chatzimichali & Pedro Santos

Adam Freestone & Matthew Parnham

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Best of British

Whilst enjoying a quaint afternoon tea to celebrate my sister's birthday my mother steps outside and returns with a treat for the whole family. The Best of British Board Game, emblazoned with images colourful images ranging from Churchill to Dennis the Menace, from Fish and Chips to Mr Whippy, its slogan reads "The game of what makes Britain British!"
The actual game revolves around the tried and tested format of answering questions to move around the board however these questions leap from obvious stereotypes to ultra specific obscurities. British identity seems to stem from a series of factors; Pop Culture, National Species, Events and History, Cuisine, Currency and Civic Life.

Although this game is based around the family it is interesting to speculate the other uses that it could facilitate. Entry exams to the country; if you know enough useless facts about the UK you can claim asylum. It seems to question what it is to be British, are we just holding on to a series of stereotypes.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The problem of England

"Robinson in Ruins is the third of Keiller's feature length essay-fictions to deposit his eccentric protagonist among the relics of millennial England", Brian Dillon on Robinson in Ruins, in The Guardian. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

cultural exchange

This year's first project was called Cultural Exchange and was in two parts. The first part was to make a film exploring the relationship between Dover and Calais, and England and France, through the ubiquitous cross-channel ferry journey. The second part was to manufacture an object, a gift between the two nations. 

The  project was intended to explore a number of themes including objects out of place, souvenirs and miniatures as well as the tradition of political gifts exemplified by the Statue of Liberty, a present from France to the United States in 1886. The following pictures show the statue under construction in its Paris workshop.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Dover People's Port Bid

A £200m bid to buy the port of Dover as a "people's port" has been dismissed by the harbour board as "totally unrealistic and undeliverable".

Dover Harbour Board (DHB) said Dover People's Port Trust (DPPT) was making promises it could not deliver.

Dover residents have been told they can become members of DPPT for £10.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: "This is a serious bid backed by serious people. They wouldn't waste their time if it was unrealistic."

The people's port was launched on 30 October on Dover beach at an event attended by singer Dame Vera Lynn.

Representatives from three ferry companies were also there, along with the leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter and Conservative MP Mr Elphicke.

Funding for the bid in excess of the contribution from Dover residents would be raised in the City of London.

'Gateway to nation'
DHB said in a statement on Monday the plan was neither a commercial nor a business proposition.

DHB, which has run the port as a trust since 1606, asked the government for permission to privatise it in January. A decision is expected soon.

Dover People's Port website says it wants to prevent the "gateway to the nation" being sold to overseas buyers.

But DHB said the people's port promises were unaffordable.

Dover People's Port Trust was launched on the town beach on 30 October
"Despite making statements that the people of Dover would 'own' the port - at a minimal payment of only £10 per head- it is estimated that such ownership could only be achieved if each and every one of the people of Dover, 39,000 in all, contributed over £5,000 per head to the trust," it said.

"The reality is that financial institutions would be financing the deal."

It also said the proposal made no allowance for the required £85m investment in the Eastern Docks or the £250m needed to build a new terminal.

"The reality is that the DPPT is a political instrument," it said.

Mr Elphicke added: "I am sorry that they are being so negative about the community's bid.

"It is backed, as everyone knows, by major British banks, by the ferry companies and by substantial businessmen.

"The privatisation plan under their idea would mean millions (of pounds) for management.

"My proposal is that we have millions for the people of Dover."


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The view from the nearest house to France


The image above (Little Channel 3, 2008) was painted by Paul Winstanley, part of a series of views over the English Channel. The precise view is taken from the garden of a house perched on the top of the White Cliffs in a small village called St Margaret's in Kent. The garden is approximately half a dozen metres long and terminates in an abrupt and unprotected drop to the Straight of Dover three hundred and fifty feet below. 

Both the view and the garden belong to a house known as The Gun Emplacement or, more colloquially, The Nearest House to France. The structure was built in 1910 by the British Army and formed part of the Kent coastal defences during the second world war. The actor Peter Ustinov was billeted in the house at the time and bought it shortly afterwards as as a holiday retreat. For a short while towards the end of the war he would have been a near neighbour of Noel Coward, who lived in another highly exposed and prominent house on the shingle beach at nearby St Margaret's Bay.

To choose to live on the White Cliffs, or perched on the loose shingle at the edge of the channel, is to associate yourself with a very particular kind of national identity. It's amusing to speculate on the scene as various extrovert and extravagant British actors strolled the grounds of their houses on the edge of England, preparing to defend the country through whimsical lyrics and amusing voices. Whilst Ustinov manned a literal gun emplacement, Noel Coward's propaganda was a more subtle and possibly effective form of warfare. After the war, he sold his house to Ian Fleming, another even more vociferously xenophobic writer who based one of his Bond novels, Moonraker, on the White Cliffs. In the book - far removed from the even more ludicrous film - a bitter ex-German Army officer who has assumed a new identity as a British millionaire builds a rocket on the White Cliffs with which he intends to destroy England. The launch-pad for the rocket is facing inland, not out to sea.

The Gun Emplacement is now owned by another actor who's identity is revealed somewhat obliquely  on this website advertising the house as a holiday let. Unsurprisingly, it is not considered suitable for children.

Blog Design

If anyone has any thoughts about the new design of the blog, or ideas to improve it please comment
this will happen on Friday, 5th
Anyone interested to join?
(if we are all going, the Fri tutorial would be......)

Open Jury: Portfolios 2009/10
Friday 5 November, 10.00–6.00 Lecture Hall
This one-day event gives everyone the opportunity to see some of the best portfolios and presentations from the last academic year. Discussions will centre around presentations: how we produce, discuss and present design work at the AA. The event will be a great opportunity at this early stage, mid-way through the first term, to speculate on the type of work that the school will be producing in the coming year. This internal, self-reflective discussion will be led by undergraduate tutors from across the school. The selected students showing work represent the school from Foundation through to Diploma.

The format will mimic that of a final table review, with a rotating group of approximately four tutors at any one time. Presentations will be limited to around ten minutes with discussions to follow. In order to be sure that everyone can see the work and hear the presentations, a video camera will be positioned over the table, projecting the work on to a large screen as well as to other parts of the school.

10.00–1.00 Presentations
1.00 Lunch
2.00–5.00 Presentations
5.30 Summary discussions and drinks
for tutors, guests and students

Monday, 1 November 2010

New P&O Ferries, due Jan 2011

Wonderfully awful video and gallery of new pair of ferries, apparently the largest on the route, due in a few months time.

Particularly like the pair of windsocks on the top decks as illustrated in the video, suggesting part ferry part airfield...

Ban on swims across Channel urged by French coastguard

BBC News, 1st November 2010

Swimmers should be banned from crossing the Channel from Dover to Calais, according to the French coastguard.

People attempting the 21-mile challenge have to cross the world's busiest shipping lane.

Deputy director of the French Coastguard Jean-Christophe Burvingt told BBC South East's Inside Out he feared there could be an accident.

But Mike Oram, of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, said the crossings were safe and well organised.

More than 500 vessels pass through the shipping lanes each day.

Mr Burvingt said: "This continuous increase of swimming in the Channel creates a danger which is getting more and more important every year.

"I think that there will be a collision. There will be an accident due to that [cross-Channel swimmers]."

France banned swimmers using the Calais to Dover route 17 years ago.

Kaimes Beasley, of the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said cross-Channel swimming was "as dangerous as trying to cross the M25".

Some ferry operators have also warned that a swimmer could cause a major accident.

Chris Newey, of DFDS Seaways, said: "We'd like to see some control over the numbers of people that are doing this activity, and when they're doing it, and some regulation around that activity from a health and safety perspective."

The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, which accompanies swimmers and is one of two regulatory bodies authorised to organise and assist swims and other crossings, said the challenges were as safe as could be.

"We are over the top with all our safety precautions," Mr Oram said.

"We have tracking systems on the vessels, we have everything else that is required, we report into the coastguards.

"They know well in advance exactly what we're doing and how we're doing it and there is a restriction on the number of pilot boats."

He added that the number of swimmers had reached a peak and figures had stayed roughly the same for the past four or five years.

No swimmer or support boat has ever caused an accident in the English Channel to date, but the MCA has said "swimmers should be persuaded to look for a challenge elsewhere".

Guest Lecture Richard Hawkes

Guest Lecture by leading low carbon designer Richard Hawke entitled "The Grand Design with no energy bills - what makes it tick?"

UCA Canterbury, Thurs 4th at 13:00 in the Crag Lecture Theatre