Balance Month

It's Balance Month. But I won't be doing any of this. (Have you seen 'Man On Wire'? It made my head hurt)

On Saturday evening, H Ren and I held our sporadic conference as to what the theme for July might be. Although my inebriated state led to my forgetting said theme (it was Carnival, OK?) she later reminded me: July 2011 is Balance Month.

Contrary to this theme, I then went on to have terrible insomnia the last few nights and feel distinctly out of balance. I’m much more on-theme today, though – thank goodness – so thought I’d post something up to honour it. I’ll come back and write some more about the idea of Balance – which I think was part-inspired by debt, balances and payback again – later on.

But for now – after my Twitter-based brush with one of my very favourite writers, Margaret Atwood, on Monday and my conversely Twitter-based failure to get Carol Ann Duffy to read a poem which mentions her (there’s some balance, perhaps?)…Here is a poem by CAD which has a great image of ‘balance’ in it.

I was reminded of it recently and remembered how much I like it: the highlighting of text-as-image, words-as-thoughts and thoughts-as-objects – and in such a brief poem. The sense of how we create the world, generate risk and failure, strive or don’t-strive to achieve things, and live through thoughts and images are all really palpable, despite its brevity:


This is the word tightrope. Now imagine
a man, inching across it in the space
between our thoughts. He holds our breath.

There is no word net.

You want him to fall, don’t you?
I guessed as much; he teeters but succeeds.
The word applause is written all over him.

– Carol Ann Duffy

Oh and if Carol Ann Duffy happens to read this (teehee!) then here’s my previous post containing a poem about you (or rather, your name – and names generally). There’s a few links to ‘Talent’, in fact…

June: Convergence Month

I realise it’s a little late, but I declare – on behalf of The Palace of the Gorgeoisie – that June 2011 is:


For some reason this word and idea had cropped up variously in my mind of late – and it seems like quite a positive notion, of flowing together, uniting and joining-up. Our good friend Mr Wikipedia says that it is, in fact, all sorts of things – from mathematics (which will somewhat go over my head, I fear) to net Goth Festivals (bless). The full range can be read here:

Although reading about convergent and divergent thinking ( ), it seems I’m much more a fan of the latter…

In March, I was in Lyon (see post ) for an event – and realised I’d previously read something about a brilliantly barmy museum being built there: the Musee des Confluences. I was researching a (never to come to fruition) idea about chaos theory when I heard of it. This building, at the Confluence from which it derives its name, was one of the (only) examples of attempts to render Chaos Theory architecture, though elements of it appear very often I suppose. As one architectural site put it, as the building deals with the overlap of science, society, technology, biology and ethics, ‘spaces mutate into one another via penetration, deformation, coexistence, breakdown and variability’.

Sitting on the fork of the Rhône and Saône rivers, the building seems to attempt to become the water flowing either side of it – physically and conceptually mixing together, echoing the elements in which it is sited. Perhaps there’s a subtle difference between ‘convergence’ and ‘confluence’ – but it still seemed a great physical example to kick off the monthly theme. I think it’s a brilliant and bonkers project – one that France would still have the guts to see through, even in times of ‘austerity’ (I like that about the French). Alas, it was not finished when I visited in March, but I hope to go back and see it when it is.

There’s information on the museum at the following link, and a picture follows:

CycloGeographic, Caerphilly

CycloGeographic, Caerphilly, Wales

Last Sunday 5th September, Paul Hurley, Arabella Butler and I  set off to Caerphilly, to set up our participatory cycling arts event for SusTrans’ MicroFest event. Posing as our alter-egos, The Explorer (Paul), The Ringmaster (Me) and Lady Bee (Arabella), we invited the public to explore their surroundings in new, creative ways, either on foot or by bike.


Part treasure hunt, part discovery game, Cyclo-Geographic was commissioned by SusTrans as a cycle-based arts event for adventurers of all ages. With a selection of things to do, make or find, adventurers will set off from the Castle to explore, on foot or by bicycle, the National Cycle Network in and around Caerphilly.

We invited Explorers to spin the ‘Bike Wheel of Fortune’ to decide on their tasks, based on different skills/areas, a la Trivial Pursuit: Nature, Creativity, History etc. They were then given ‘luggage tags’ with ‘Invitations’ for games and exercises to do.

Our amazing artist friend, H Ren, painted a gorgeous map of the site and the National Cycle Network area, so when people returned from their explorations, they were asked to ‘map’ where they had done them. Thus, an alternative map was created which represented people’s creative experiences of the area:

H Ren's beautiful alternative map of Caerphilly, with people's experiences pinned to it. This is now with Caerphilly library.

In our bright red tent, we had prepared various bike-based artefacts from surplus bike parts from the Bristol Bike Project. Here’s the Cyclo Geo sign, made entirely of bike parts! I was quite proud of it…

CycloGeo bike part sign

CycloGeo bike part sign

Paul and I are keen cyclists – and I’m passionate about how important it is for more people to get cycling – so it was a great pleasure to do an interactive event which was so cycle-centric. This is something we could very easily adapt to other localities and events, so if you want to talk about us doing it at an event then please get in touch.