I’ve blogged over on the British Library Digital Scholarship blog about the Games in the Woods game jam I’m involved in from 15th – 23rd May. It’s a woodland, tree, forest themed game jam being run as part of the Urban Tree Festival. The blog post specifically highlights one of my favourite narrative game making tools, Bitsy, as I’ll be running a free online session featuring it for the launch of the jam on Saturday 15th May. I especially enjoy using Bitsy as it allows people who aren’t programmers to make little retro style games. So, why not get involved in the jam and make your first game with Bitsy?
I’m very happy to announce that one of my small narrative Bitsy’s has been selected for inclusion in the Museum of Wild & Newfangled Art Biennial Exhibition. This online exhibition features 100 global artists from a wide range of creative backgrounds. To get a flavour of the exhibition take a look at the teaser video below. It’s such an interesting leftfield and (as the curators cari ann shim sham* and Joey Zaza say) wild mix, and I’m so pleased to be included in with such a creative group of people.
In the curators own words…
The 2021 mowna Online Biennial is an exhibit of an international pool of artists selected from 44 countries gathered through a free call for submissions process that ran from January through March of 2021. mowna’s largest show to date, the Biennial includes all forms of art made from 2019 to 2021, inviting artists to consider new ways to exhibit their work online and how their artworks translate best through mowna’s digital platform. To kick off the Biennial with opening night festivities, mowna will host a special screening of the feature doc “The Faithful: The King, The Pope, The Princess,” by Annie Berman on April 30th at 9 PM ET. It will be followed by q&a, the mowna party room, and a first look entrance to the Biennial.
The online exhibition runs from 30th April to 22nd September 2021 and is paid entry, with artists receiving a percentage of the entrance fees.
On 21st April I’m running a new online session as part of the Beginning Cataloguing seminar programme, which will be focussed on how libraries and heritage organisations make use of technology to share and re-work their collections and resources in creative and engaging new ways. I’ll be sharing a variety of inspirational examples from organisations, along with how online mapping and narrative tools can provide visitors with a new digital discovery route into your collections.
You can book now via the Beginning Cataloguing Teachable site.
While you’re there, take a look at the range of other interesting cataloguing, bibliography and book history seminars and workshops that Beginning Cataloguing is running.
Today I’m launching the call for submissions to an online exhibition that will be a celebration of LGBTQ+ people’s positive experiences, lives and perspectives.
Contributors aged 18 and over are welcome to submit visual or audio art and creative works to the LGBTQ+ Positive Voices exhibition. Contributions from amateur, hobby, DIY artists, crafters and creatives, those who do not consider themselves to be artists or creatives, and those who have never submitted to an exhibition before are especially welcome.
It’s partly inspired by my experience of visiting LGBTQ+ exhibitions, and engaging with collection items and art works that helped me gain a better understanding of myself by seeing others like me represented in them. At the same time, some of the personal stories shared alongside exhibition items made me feel as if I had a positive future as a trans/gender non-conforming bisexual person. I want this exhibition to be a space that will allow other people to share and experience creative works that are a positive reflection of being an LGBTQ+ person.
The call for submissions will remain open until 31st May 2021, with the online exhibition opening mid-June 2021. For more information and to contribute visit: http://ashgreen.uk/lgbtq-exhibition/
I’m currently organising an online exhibition as a follow up to the Create Place programme. The intention is to use the space to share creative positive stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ people.
The idea was sparked by the reassuring narratives I encountered when I attended exhibitions such as the Museum of Transology and Transworkers Photographic Exhibition. At a time when I wasn’t sure what lay ahead of me when I was coming out, there were stories in exhibitions like these that made me feel hopeful that I would have a positive future.
In the exhibition I’m organising I want to give every LGBTQ+ person an opportunity to tell part of their positive story. I want everyone in the community to feel they can submit something creative or artistic, whether they’re a professional, amateur, hobbyist, DIY or bedroom maker. And when I say creative or artistic, that could include anything (as long as part of it can be shared in a digital format) – including but not only painting, drawing, writing, music, video, games, digital stories, interactive pieces, crafts and textile arts, performance. The key thing is it just needs to be creative and share positive experiences of being an LGBTQ+ person.
Even though this is starting out as an online exhibition, in the long term I also want to be able to share these experiences in a physical exhibition as well.
I’m discussing the ideas behind this project in a Voluntary Arts Creative Network session on 17th Feb (5-6pm), which is open to everyone. During the session I’m also looking for input into how I can develop this project as a safe online space for LGBTQ+ people to share and discover these positive stories.
If this sounds like your sort of thing I look forward to seeing you on the 17th.
And keep an eye on this blog for updates and calls for submissions.
The Create Place programme is open for applications for its second cohort of participants (deadline 29th January). It’s a free North Staffordshire and Cheshire East based programme supported by Arts Council England. It focuses on developing leadership skills in creative & cultural co-creation, co-production and co-curation for the arts & heritage sector…. which includes getting communities involved in making, creating, & community arts.
Even though I’m based in Surrey (not Staffs or Cheshire), I’m part of the 1st wave of participants & it’s been a great experience for me. I have had so many useful conversations about developing creative projects; linking up with other creatives; and developing strategic & leadership skills. I’d totally recommend applying for a place if you’re based in England.
It involves 3 x 2 day residencies (currently virtual/online) & continuing support from 16 North Staff/Cheshire & UK cultural/arts organisations.
There’s a lot more detail on the Create Place site.
Please share this with anyone you think might be interested.
One of my Bitsy’s, My Face, has been included as part of this month’s the MASS – “a monthly online collection of discursive art, articles, opinions, prompts, thoughts, and questions, gathered in response to global issues.” The issue’s focus is “TRANS-“, so it seemed like a good opportunity to share this small digital narrative focused on my thoughts about what lies underneath my makeup. The rest of the issue includes a wide range of art responses to the theme, including painting, sculpture, dance, video, text and an interactive website.
Despite the past year being a difficult time for me in terms of finding a stable job, I’m pleased with how much I’ve achieved creatively.
The thing I’m happiest about creatively are the music streams across my Replay in Neon, Ice Line Drift, and Midnight Detective Club music projects. I released my first music tracks on Spotify, iTunes, etc back in Autumn 2019, and it was a nice Christmas present to hit 100,000 plays on Christmas Day 2020. Both The Midnight Detective Club and Ice Line Drift had almost 49,000 plays each, and Replay in Neon had 2,500. It’s something I never expected would happen, and after 30+ years of music making it was a huge surprise. I am grateful to everyone who listened to, enjoyed, shared and helped promote my music.
This year I published 5 new games / interactive digital stories:
- A Little Lost Moomin (3D Bitsy puzzle fan-game)
- The Narrows (interactive visual tale)
- Post-Toxic Aquanator (3D arcade game)
- They’re Coming (3D Bitsy puzzle)
- Bargaining With Supreme Beings (Bitsy puzzle maze game).
The Midnight Detective Club Project
As I mentioned earlier, I’m very happy with how the music for The Midnight Detective Club project is going, especially working with singer Ellen Louise. I released 5 tracks on streaming services this year, with a few more in the pipeline. In terms of the game itself, I’ve released small chunks that aim to either build a part of the narrative (The Narrows, the songs, virtual exhibition), and am working on other parts (card game, interactive comic, matching game). My current focus is on creating the supernatural detective mystery game within a website that includes interlinked narrative in various forms, including interviews, games, comic, music, videos, Instagram. I’m enjoying working on different pieces of this project and expanding the story world of the band with each new piece created.
NOT ON MY OWN
It hasn’t only been solo projects this year. I’ve had fun working with others, or contributing to projects that I wasn’t lead on. For example, I got session singer, Ellen Louise, involved in The Midnight Detective Club project. I know I’ve said it before, but I am really happy that I found someone with a vocal style that works so well with the music, and I love the lyrics and melody she came up with for Where’s the Magic Gone? I also commissioned Jupiter Doomsday to create some fun retro style characters for part of The MDC project. I’m really pleased with how they turned out, and all they need now is the right setting for them in the game.
Thanks to Anne Welsh, I also became an Associate for Beginning Cataloguing, and ran my first online workshop focused on creating a game for library classification, and I’m planning more in the future. I also co-ran a Bitsy workshop for The British Library. I mentored for Pocket Code’s Google Summer of Code project, and enjoyed seeing my mentee’s project coming together into such a fun showcase game. I contributed to Creswell Crag’s online Midwinter Festival of Folklore, with a piece about winter folklore in my digital story, Midwinter Spirits and other games. And I also became a student on Create Place, which is a creative leadership program focused on place-making, and I’m looking forward to finalising my collaborative project for this in 2021.
I know 2020 has been a difficult year all round, but my creative interests have been the mental leveller I personally needed. The pandemic itself helped me to focus on my creative projects. I had game and music making opportunities that kept me going and made me happy whilst dealing with the uncertainty of not having a job. And that creative focus also made me wonder why I’d not taken advantage of some of those creative opportunities before.
Even though a lot of my creative projects were solo efforts, without the support from others I’m not sure how much I would have achieved. This includes those who listened to and shared my music; encouraged me from the side-lines; played and/or gave feedback on my games etc; helped me solve techy game-making problems; and just tolerated what might have seemed like a blitz of endless self-focused creative tweets and Facebook updates. I appreciate it. That support is important to me. Thank you everyone who helped me have a positive creative year.
All of the tracks for the Ice Line Drift project have now been released on Bandcamp. You can also find them on other streaming and download services. This includes the latest track, an ambient beat-free version of I Saw Three Ships. As the ambient version of The Holly and the Ivy went down so well this time last year, I thought I’d create some more music for people to drift off to during a quiet Christmas night.