You might notice that things are a little quiet this week at Chapel FM. That’s because a big part of the Chapel FM team is in Utrecht in the Netherlands working with our Dutch partner organisation—ZIMHIC theatres—as part of our with the TANDEM international cultural collaboration.
Zoe Carty is with us on work placement and we asked her to write a blog of what we have been up to…
Our flight from Leeds landed in Amsterdam at about 6:30/7pm local time where we had dinner before catching the train over to Utrecht. The difference in airports was a little striking to me: everybody in Leeds seemed to be in such a hurry to get to wherever they were going, yet the people in Amsterdam were much more relaxed, as though they knew that time was definitely on their side. It made the travelling process immediately feel less stressful, not to mention that the train was actually on time, and the sunset over Amsterdam was a beautiful blend of pinks, purples, blues, and faded oranges, laying so gently over the dark horizon it seemed like just a crack of light in a serene black wall.
The Sunset in Amsterdam
It was then that I knew a beauty
Almost endless as we rolled along in the night
The sky was lined with colour
A diaphanous blanket
A crack in the wall
Stretching thin across a dark horizon I knew not before
Pink, purple, and orange and blue
No yellow like sunflowers. daffodils in the spring
Like peaceful sleeping infants
The sun on the sea,
The stars over Holywell Bay and
The voice of a loved one.
It did not speak; it did not move; it did not glimmer
But I heard its silence as I moved
With the lights reflecting on the window
–The beauty then that I knew!
As we rolled along
In the night
We arrived in Utrecht some time around 9pm and headed over to Zimihc theatre in Zuilen, receiving a warm welcome. Already I felt like the people here would be friendlier than I had anticipated, and I relaxed into knowing I would be meeting a lot more people over the course of the week.
We chatted around drinks about what we would be up to and who is who, discussing both the important things for work and simple things like who has children and who likes cycling.
The room that we were in, a café area I think, was beautiful to me. Not for outstanding design or colour scheme or any specific sort of visual product, but for it’s general feeling. A narrow room , not unlike a large hallway, with red leather seated stools placed around black square tables next to floor-to-ceiling glass windows with guitars upon on the shelves, opposite a clean wood-paneled kitchen area, interesting and lovely landscape photography on the walls, with a raised area in the far end of the room that was almost just like a open living room, complete with an armchair, a rug, and a piano. The area was clearly versatile, suitable for multiple events. Obviously the visual aspects are great, but what I found myself paying attention to at that moment was how I didn’t feel out of place or superfluous there, but like a welcome guest, which I was not used to in many places at home in Leeds.
I don’t what time we left, but we cycled back to the apartment through the town centre with only our bicycle, street-lamps, and building signs for light. Luckily the roads seem much more bicycle focused than on vehicles, and there weren’t a lot of people around anyway, so I had no worries about my amateur cycling causing a problem other than how to stop without breaks on a bicycle that was only just too big for my legs.
It’s not often that we as people take a break to think about the simple things surrounding us; we all-too-often overlook the everyday things like the colour of the sky, how many stars there are, and how quiet the city is during the later hours of the night. As we were cycling I found my mind drifting towards these things: the colours of the houses lining the canal and what I could see of the paintwork on the boats; the way the birds seemed to be whispering from somewhere in the dark distance, as if they knew it was night now and time to go to bed; the hush of a far away traffic that was almost inaudible unless you let your ears search for it; and the way that the bushes along the sides of the roads seemed navy in the night. I know I could notice the things like this in Leeds, and I often do, but being there and then, as the air that was not quite cold and we cycled along the long, flat roads as if we fit right into the swing of breeze: it felt pretty incredible to me then, and still does now.
When we made it to the apartment, although I had fallen off of my bicycle an embarrassing amount of times and was surprised to even make it back, I was not yet entirely worn out, and excited to get started properly in the morning.
I was worried I wouldn’t wake up in time, but by 8:15am the whole team were up and preparing for our 10am start. What I did not realise until that morning is how nice the simplicity of having time to get up, shower, and have coffee/breakfast with good company is.
With a much better idea of which directions to take, and aided by the light of day, we made our way back over to Zimihc in time and without any trouble, although the lack of hills in Utrecht meant that the carefree feeling of freewheeling downhill that I like so much was not a common mode for me. Still, the birds were loudly singing their chorus, the weather was gorgeous, and the day was only beginning.
At the theatre we were greeted goedemorgen and had coffee before starting our first workshop: photography. We were tasked with going out in pairs and exploring different areas of Zuilen, taking photographs of things that we liked and/or things that stood out to us, so that we could make use of them in the poetry workshop we would be having during the afternoon.
We had taken 8 photos before reaching the middle of the first street we decided to explore. There were a lot of things that caught my eye, and a lot of things I liked. There was a particular beauty coming from the clean roads, mainly populated with bicycles and parked old cars, and lots of nature. Further up the road was a dual carriageway, very dissimilar to the one at home I’m used to: the grass in between the two roads was green, there were footpaths to cross over, and the trees were all grown and colourful. I was perfectly aware of how familiar all of this must seem to the people who live here, but to me it was brilliant.
I was very pleased but not surprised with the images that were taken, representing the beauty of both the architecture and the lifestyle here. I think all of our groups took photos of the simple details, rather than what could have been seen as the typical tourist attractions, and there were a lot interesting little things that were noticed like the common use of symmetry and the stylish brickwork on the buildings.
We all all gathered to have lunch at the pancake house, right next door to the theatre.
After lunch we started on the poetry workshop. I was interested to find out what we would be doing and how it would incorporate our photos from the morning and the newspapers we had brought over from Leeds with us. Thankfully, I was not displeased with the task: using two photos and a chosen newspaper article, we were to highlight words and/or phrases in the article to create a poem that somehow linked with the photos.
Grammar Man, After My Heart (from Wednesday’s workshops)
Anonymously, under darkness. He,
An engineer by trade, little else known about him
How old is my suspicion. that he is after my heart?
He finds the misuse of life
He climbs back, gets to work-
Shop signs, for example.
May the morning find the other world.
to care about the niceties:
cigarettes and greeting cards.
Of his infraction: time-honoured.
remembering. between envelopes,
he thanked me: my
intervention about his day
I admire the dedication I have long since given up.
Countless people I’ve never met, “Hi,
hope you’re well,”
I don’t mind informality,
intrusion, genuine temptation,
face value wishes.
I’m sorry. I have myself
the misuse of the modern world;
Distraction I go to. when
the young respond: “Amazing.”
It’s not that amazing. I just
arrived in a spaceship
with the good fight.
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