Chicago…full of surprises!

Chicago greeted me with it’s coldest winter in 50 years, thankfully I was prepared- my ‘no playing’ Dr Martins showed no mercy against the 9 inches of snow. Encased in my purple duffle coat, my shawl refusing entry to the hostile conditions, I was sufficiently armored.
On arrival, my first port of call was to find a toilet to dispel the bottels of water that i had been drinking on the flight. I was met with a quirk piece of technology in the ladies; a toilet seat that had a plastic cover that replaced itself. The clear instructions advised me to wave my hand in front of a green button, then, tho my amazement the plastic cover (a little like a plastic bag) rotated. Usually in public toilets i place sheets of toilet paper onto the seat before placing my delicate self onto the seat. If the toilet is offensive I levitate over the seat. No need for that here!
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Chicago Toilets
I navigated my way from O’Hare airport to my hotel Chicago Essex Inn on South Michigan avenue using the very efficient Chicago subway.
The security at the airport seemed to think my shea shower gel and apricot facial scrub had potential to cause harm and were confiscated- what was i going to do, have a ferocious facial scrub on the plane??? So I went out looking for replacements and for hot meal after Miss Flora and the rest of my baggage team were put to rest.
Early Saturday Morning I met up with 2nd Servas host, Kathy who invited me to go along to an event at the Pritzker Museum. I met Kathy at the venue as it is occupies the same road as my hotel. The event was unveiling a painting by Kay Smith. she was commissioned to paint a piece that commemorated the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII. I have particular interest in this topic as for the past 18 months I have been working on a documentary about Black Servicemen in WWII as part of the Nottingham Black Archive Heritage Lottery funded project “No Tears For Me My Mother’. The Tuskegee Airmen were a fleet of Black pilots who served in the American air force in WWII, largely unrecognised and unknown by the wider American public. As well as the painting being unveiled, a short documentary was screened about the process Kay Smith under took and interviews with a few ex Tuskegee pilots. I approached the film maker and the Pritzker Museum Events Manager to inform them of the project I had been working on. To my delight they asked if the Nottingham black Archive film could be donated to the museum and vise versa. The Nottingham Roosevelt Travel Scholarship (the reason why I’m able to be traveling America for 3 months) encourages it’s scholars to connect with industries that they are involved in and to promote Nottingham in the process and I really feel by connecting with Pritzker museum and sharing our resources would be one way for me to do this.

Black Ex Service from ioney smallhorne on Vimeo.

Artist Kay Smith and film maker Steve? at the Pritzker Military Museum

Artist Kay Smith and film maker Steve? at the Pritzker Military Museum

Kay Smith with her painting commemorating the Tuskegee Aircrew

Kay Smith with her painting commemorating the Tuskegee Aircrew

Kay Smith at Milliatary Museum

Later that same evening Kathy invites me to the DePaul University Theatre to watch a play, ‘A Free Man Of Colour’ byJohn Guare. A play set in New Orleans, Louisiana 1801 and cleverly intertwines many historical personalities and events such as the story f Hernando De Soto, Le Code Noir, Toussaint Louverture’s sugar revolt, France and Spain fighting to control the state. It was a fascinating play, but at 3 hours I found it a tad long. Jet lag mixe with a dark warm theatre could only have one result. Yes i ashamedly fell asleep, I felt so bad as I was sitting in the front row. It had no reflection on the play whatsoever and was purely down to sheer exhaustion.
Kathy, my Servas host is an amazing woman, a marathon runner, cyclist & film editor she is deeply embedded into the community and frequently appears in local news advocating cycling in the city, for various charities & carrots. Kathy has the most impressive collection of carrot themed things in her kitchen.
Kathy Schebert with Suzi

Sunday, visited her friend Barbara car crash victim. Barbara was left unable to talk, walk and has limited control over her body. She does however have control over her thoughts and uses an alphabet board to communicate; pointing to letters on the board to spell out what she has to say. I was interested to meet her as i have a good friend, poet Maresa MacKieth who also uses alphabet board to communicate. Last year I translated one of Maresa’s poems into a short film and Kathy wanted me to show Barbara, with the hope that it may inspire her to also write. Barbara was delighted to learn of Maresa and said that she would think about writing.

Hands from ioney smallhorne on Vimeo.

After visiting Barbara Kathy took me to the a The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which has a beautiful tropical butterfly garden. You are invited to walk through the garden and meet butterflies of all sizes, colours & breeds who flutter freely- it was a magical experience.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

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While walking through the garden I received a phone call from Peter Kahn, a spoken word educator who works at Oak Park River Forest High school. I met him last year through Deborah Stevenson, the founder of Mouthy Poets. Peter mentions that there is a poetry event later that evening and invites me along. I accept the offer, Peter and informs me that I am actually the headline act. Surprised, confused, amazed, horrified and excited I agree to doing the gig. I find out that the gig is actually at the famous Green Mills, the home of slam poetry infamous for being Al Capones hang out. The gig is at 7pm so i had a few hours to gather my thoughts and poems.

Kathy then invited me to join her and her cyclist friends a a balaclava making party, which happens to be 5 minutes away from Green Mills. Kathy’s friends some how find the most ugly fleecy fabric (a lot of it donated) and make balaclavas with the intention of giving them away free to homeless and cyclists or anyone who needs to keep warm in these severe conditions. Having basic sewing machine skills I was soon put to work and made about 20 balaclavas before heading to Green Mills, where I meet Peter.
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a wild balaclava making party in Chicago!

a wild balaclava making party in Chicago!


I take to the stage at about 7:45 after the open mic set. My nerves do kick in and prevent me from performing to my best, luckily I had a very supportive audience and get through a 15 minute set.

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Hands

Premiered at the Mouthy Poet event ‘Say SumThin 5’ fetauring Lemn Sissay as the headliner at Nottingham Playhouse on 15th June. Written by Maresa MacKeith.

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Hands

Performance poet Maresa Mackeith has commissioned me to translate her poem ‘Hands’ into a short film.
Maresa hiding copy

Maresa copy

hands

Hands1 copy

coiled

For Maresa it is imperative that she finds alternative ways to express her poems to her audiences, she is unable to talk and has no control over her body, but she certainly has control over her mind and a universe of determination and drive to have her voice heard.

One of the things I love about making films/documentaries is that each project offers a chance to absorb a new culture or look at life from a new perspective each project is totally different form the next… With this project I’m learning a lot about disability and what it’s like for them when they are marginalised by main stream society. Maresa invited me to join her at a Quiet Riot conference where she was asked to deliver a speech and a creative writing workshop. Quiet Riot (organised by Joe Whittaker) is a gathering of people who use facilitated or ‘assisted’ communication. They have a number of objectives, a few of which are: to give people who can’t talk a public profile, to share ideas and to make the public aware that just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they have nothing to say! (here’s a link for more info onQuiet Riot: http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/news-item/2011-quiet-riot)
flier front

Design by The Pickyheads, design for thr choosey mind

Design by The Pickyheads, design for thr choosey mind

So with Quiet Riots objectives in mind, Maresa has commissioned me to translate her poem ‘Hands’ into a poetry film that will be premiered at Nottingham Playhouse as apart of the Mouthy Poets spoken word extravaganza, Say Sum Thin 5 on the 15th June. If Maresa’s poetry film or the Mouthy Poets are not enough to entice you to the Playhouse, Lemn Sissay will be headlining- three unmissable reasons to buy a ticket!

Black Ex- Service Personnel & Their Families In WWII

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WWII Community Capsule

I’m currently working with Nottingham Black Archive to produce a documentary highlighting the efforts & achievements of Black service personnel who served in WWII.
Press release flier

Mr Powe ex-servicemen who served in the RAF in WWII

Mr Powe ex-servicemen who served in the RAF in WWII

The film will be interviewing WWII Ex Sevice Personnel and their families revealing untold stories and providing a richer and fuller picture of life of that time.
The finished documentary will be screened at various locations in East Midlands and also be available as part of a school learning resource.

Escape To Venus

Premiered at the Mouthy Poets event Say Sum Thin 4 at Nottingham Playhouse

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Journey’s To Nottingham

Nottingham is now home to many people whom originate form various parts of the world and Nottingham Black Archive thought it was time to begin to document these stories, experiences and lessons for future generations. and commissioned me to produce a series of short documentaries entitled Journey’s To Nottingham
The first film focuses on Alain Job, originally from Cameroon but found himself in Nottingham after political turbulence in his native land.
This film (and the others that are planned) will be apart of NBA’s interactive learning resource that is available to hire. The learning resource also encompasses is a three panel exhibition with photographs from the West Indian immigrants of 1960’s, a talk form an elder who will share their experience and answer questions on their journey.

NBA premiered the film at the New Arts Exchange on the 8th November where it was warmly received.

If you are a community organisation that would like to hire the Journey’s To Nottingham interative exhibition please contact the Nottingham Black Archive team at nottinghamblackarchive@gmail.com/

A Honest Look At HIV…

I have recently been working with actors from the YARD theatre group who are based in Nottingham and a Leicester based charity, Faith In People With to produce this short infomercial to promote awareness of how HIV can be transmitted and hopefully help squash any misconceptions.
Being an 80’s baby I remember the frightening infomercial, the one with the tomb stone, eerie music and an over zealous smoke machine. The idea was to shock people into taking charge of their sexual health, and the fact that I can still remember the advert must indicate that if nothing else it was unforgettable.
Some twenty odd years since that commercial and HIV is still with us, affecting many peoples lives and a new generation of young people who are born with the illness. Faith In People With HIV is dedicated and focused solely on supporting young people who are born with HIV, and who have to cope with all the baggage, the discrimination, the bullying, the misconceptions that unfortunately are attached to the illness.
The aim of the new infomercial was to reiterate honestly how HIV can be transmitted, (without any scare tactics) and help to squash any myths. This infomercial was screened at the Children’s HIV Association conference and at Leicester Cathedral for World AIDS Day service.

HIV Infomercial from ioney smallhorne on Vimeo.

Marks…Get Set…PERFORM!!!

A few snap shots of me. and fellow Mouthy poets performing at 2012 London Para-Olympics

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Nottingham Carnival…the first in UK?

I have recently been collaborating with Sophia Ramcharan of Stella Vision on Nottingham Carnival- Community Extravaganza, a feature documentary that investigated the history of Nottingham Carnival. The purpose of the project was to highlight some of the community heroes that have produced this massive ensemble of music, food, costumes and everything else that goes with a carnival!!!
Notting Hill has always been promoted as being the first carnival in England, but this documentary be able to challenge that accolade. Sophia Ramcharan (Producer) and I, met Woody from St Kitts who organised a parade way back in 1958 on the Embankment.
So far there have been two screenings both at New Art Exchange and the documentary has been meet with an overwhelming positive response.

Sugar Coated Curls Published….

Controversial poem Sugar Coated Curls features in Through The Aether poetry anthology published by Nottingham University.

Representing Mouthy Poets!

Ioney clutching a copy of the book…and her wine!

The anthology features poems written by students of the MA Professional writing course and members of dynamic performance poetry group Mouthy Poets. Mouthy Poets, the resident performance poetry collective at Nottingham Playhouse meet at weekly workshops not only to write, perform, discuss and challenge poetry but also to organise various poetry lead events such as their bi-annual grand scale poetry phenomenon Say Sum Thin. Like many of my poems, Sugar Coated Curls tackles many complex and sensitive issues such as the trans Atlantic slave trade, racial identity and the mass manipulation of the beauty industry. Sugar Coated Curls has also been translated into a short film produced, directed and edited by yours truly….check it out!

Sugar Coated Curls from ioney smallhorne on Vimeo.

Celebrating Tradition…

I have teamed up with Culturebox (social enterprise offering intercultural learning)Ben Harriott and Nottingham Black Archive to produce a series of documentaries called ‘Tradition’.

Mohamed Jaberi & his Daf (a frame drum)

Ney with the hungo, a single-string percussion instrument


The Tradition series consists of 6 short documentaries that introduces audiences to world musicians that reside in Nottingham who play traditional instruments. At present musicians include; Ney Corte Real from Angola who presents the hungo and dikanza. The hungo is a single-string percussion instrument, a musical bow. Enslaved Angolans brought the hungo t Brazil where it is called the berimbau and plays a significant role in capoeira.
Mohamed Jaberi hailing from Iran who plays the Daf. The Daf is one of the most ancient frame drums in Asia and North Africa. In Iran, Sufis use the Daf during their Zikr (spiritual chanting) ritual.
Virtuoso Surahata Susso talks about the memorizeing kora. The kora is a 21-string bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa. Kora players have traditionally come from griot families (also from the Mandinka nationalities) who are traditional historians, genealogists and storytellers who pass their skills on to their descendants. The instrument is played in Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and The Gambia.All of the instruments I’ve learnt about during filming have a deep rooted connection to a tradition spanning hundreds of years.

I hope that Tradition demonstrates how foreign people can culturally enrich the communities they migrant to. There is heavy emphasis for immigrants to totally embrace British culture, language and system, but often new the immigrants own culture is not celebrated and respected, as it should.
I plan to interview at least three more musicians from Africa, Asia, or Caribbean and exhibit the short documentary at an event where the musicians can perform and maybe have some food from each of the countries represented.

Surahata Susso playing the kora, a 21-string bridge-harp

Is Creative Mini-reel

…taste the creative flavour

Pop Up Nottingham Article

I was approached by POP UP NOTTINGHAM to contribute to their blog, sharing my creative journey in the media industry, here is the the first couple paragraphs…

By hook or crook, I will make films!

I often ask my self why I make documentaries and films, essentially it’s because I love stories. Film-making is an fundamentally an elaborate devise for story telling. As a young child I would often visit Hyson Green library and travel to fascinating forests, or spectacular ice castles where I would escape from the snow queen, or the beautiful lands of Africa and be introduced to warriors…which set the foundations for my film making journey.

I followed an academic path into the film making, my secondary school had offered media and communication as a GCSE subject which I absolutely loved, I followed this up at college and proceeded to Middlesex uni,London graduating in 2005.

At this time I was surrounded with other like-minded creative’s that wanted to make films, so we did, by hook or crook. We shot music videos, shorts, documentaries’. We very rarely received a penny but I we were not working with money in mind- we treated every opportunity to work on a film/video project as a way to sharpen our creative blades, each time exploring new techniques and adding to our portfolio. I was evicted countless times, and ended up sleeping on friend floors’, sofas and offices (I had various part time jobs but still couldn’t make end meet in London) but I was content because I was out doing what I love.
As well as working on independent projects, I would still apply for jobs within the industry. What would usually happen is I would secure a work experience placement with a TV station or film company for 3 months, a production job would arise and the manager would award the job to some one with no experience or even qualification’s in the industry (usually the boss’s friend’s daughter or son) and not even look in my direction.

In November 2007, being continuously rejected and broke, I made the spontaneous decision to travel to Jamaica the land where my parents and grandparents descend. I had been paid from the ‘After School club’ that I helped to run at a community centre in Harlesden and saw a flight on Virgin for £400 return. I couldn’t resist, so I went for it. What was supposed to be 6 weeks in Jamaica turned out to be a 2 and half year adventure…

follow the link for the full post:

http://popupnottingham.co.uk/news/detail/11

National Commercial Bank Promo

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