Thursday, 30 October 2008

Religion, Artists, Regulation

I saw some references to a new exhibition by Sarah Maple recently (at the Salon Gallery, Westbourne Grove until 16th November) which makes some interesting points about art and religion, particularly as regards Islam. As I have discussed previously, the interface between popular culture and religion, especially if there is some sex involved, is a potentially fraught one.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Hope and Despair

On Tuesday night I went to see Edwyn Collins at the Shepherds Bush Empire. It was wonderful and heartbreaking in equal measure. I saw him on his own in the corridor beforehand and mumbled hello to him but it was very unnerving - he reminded me so much of my dad. My dad had a stroke when I was 15, almost exactly the same time that I was Postcard Records mad, writing to Edwyn, then lead singer of Orange Juice and Alan Horne, the owner of the label, see the sound of young scotland blog for more images of the early 1980s Scottish scene and more. The feeling was very weird for me as Edwyn was as close as I got to heroes at that age (this was post Trevor Francis infatuation) and seeing someone like this going through what I had seen my dad go through was humbling, depressing and exhilarating - the band were fantastic - Roddy Frame was on guitar and I can safely say it was the most astonishing and impressive guitar playing I have ever seen and heard - he was supporting his mate Edwyn along with the rest of the band and they felt like a real gang looking after their mate. Many of the best bands are like gangs, from The Clash to The Stone Roses, and Edwyn's band exuded that. It was the most supportive, life affirming event in many ways but tinged with sadness, thoughts of mortality etc, and of course my dear old dad who was a star, though not a fan of Orange Juice it must be said.

For aficianados, you can get the whole set list elsewhere through the Edwyn forums but suffice to say the first three songs were Falling and Laughing, Poor Old Soul and What Prescence and Blue Boy appeared in the encore . What can I say apart from that many old timers like me went away simply thrilled, honey. The Times ran a review that was similarly upbeat. Still heroic, just in a different way.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Drawn by the Undertow

Previous posts have provided some details of the Compton Club, run out of the Centre of Law, Society and Popular Culture at the University of Westminster. Previous events have included Matthew Sweet introducing Witchfinder General and Hammad Khan and John Dyer from the British Board of Film Classification discussing This Film is Not Yet Rated. The next event is a viewing of the short film Undertow, a film by Neil McEnery-West, introduced by the director and followed by Q&A with members of the cast. The Compton Club is delighted to be able to offer this unique opportunity for a number of reasons. Firstly, Neil McEnery-West is a member of staff at the University and we are really pleased to be able to support new and exciting work by our colleagues. Secondly, this shows that the Compton Club is not just about celebrating the past, but looking to the future too. The film has been extremely well received, and was nominated for Best Director and Best International Short Film by the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. For more about the film see the Compton Club website, but the film:
• Was part of the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film festival
• Has screened at festivals all around the world
• Is a low budget independent film that took 4.5 years to make and manages to create the illusion of a deserted London.

Thursday, 31 January 2008


This semester I am teaching a module entitled Controlling Creativity: the Censorship of Entertainment Products to our LLM Entertainment Law Students at the University of Westminster. As part of this we try and have various field trips and outings, previous years have seen us go on a trip to see Jerry Springer the Opera at the Cambridge Theatre for example. In addition we try and get some practical input from bodies such as the British Board of Film Classification and the Advertising Standards Authority who come and give presentations to our students. Students give presentations and write papers based on an area of specific interest to them, broadly framed by the idea of 'controlling creativity'. Over the years we have had some really innovative pieces from the students in many diverse areas.

This year we decided to go and see the Barbican exhibition 'Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now'. There are details on the Barbican site of coverage of the exhibition and also a link to a BBC 4 News review;

As part of the feedback from this I asked the students to write their own reviews - these provided further proof of the value and use of contextual approaches to the teaching of law. One student began her review as follows;

"I’ve been reading a lot about this exhibition in the newspapers and was seriously considering to pay it a visit. Although I don’t go to art exhibitions very often, the combination of art and sex really appealed to me. However as time passed by, I never took any action to actually go to the Barbican. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised that last week Guy announced we were going to the exhibition and that tickets were paid for by the University. Such a great initiative and so appropriate for the module on censorship we are following at the moment.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The University of Westminster, film history and the passing of Tony Tenser

Some of you may have heard on Radio 4’s Last word or elsewhere about the passing of Tony Tenser on 5 December 2007, see his obituary in the Independent, accessed by the link here.

Curiously, I have been working recently on a project that celebrates in part some of the film history of the University of Westminster including some of Tenser's role within this. Below is text from a memo I sent to all staff and students before Xmas, before I heard of Tenser’s passing, and I now hope to be able to show one of his films as part of this programme. Currently these sessions are only available to staff and students, but please contact me if you would like more details or like to be put on the mailing list. The Old Cinema at the University of Westminster has an important place in film history. Perhaps most famously the first presentation of the cinematograph by the Lumiere Brothers took place there on 20 February 1896. Preceding this, whilst still called the Royal Polytechnic Institution, it was world renowned for its pioneering 'Magic Lantern' shows and still maintains links with the Magic Lantern Society. Outside of this the Old Cinema, known at various times as the Cameo-Poly and Cameo News Theatre, was also host for a time to a private members club known as The Compton Cinema Club, run by Tony Tenser and Michael Klinger, and with John Trevelyan, Secretary of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) between 1958 and 1971, as its founding member. A number of notable UK and world premieres have been held at the Cinema including La Vie Commence Demain and the lost mod classic Bronco Bullfrog.

The newly founded Compton Club builds upon this film legacy. Drawing its name both from the club originally founded by Tenser and Klinger, and the superb refurbished Compton Organ, the ethos of the Compton would is one of dynamism and inclusivity, and to develop ideas and initiatives that show the creativity and dynamism that exists within the University as well as paying homage to its history.

The first initiative of the Compton Club is a short film series, entitled Banned! The Regulation of Film. The first X -Certificate rated film was shown at the Cinema in January 1951, and this series looks at a number of films that have proved contentious in the period since this landmark event. The series will be open to all students and staff and will take place in Learning Futures Room at Regent Street within popcorn throwing distance of the Old Cinema, on selected Wednesdays in Semester 2. Further details will be announced early in 2008 and a website will be launched detailing these and other initiatives - more details to follow but look out for posters and emails about this in the New Year. For more details, suggestions or input please contact Guy Osborn