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Almost 8 weeks have slipped by since I left Wooda. It was pretty hard to leave, having established an incredibly productive working pattern & made such great friends with the farm & all who dance in it. Not to mention the beautiful landscape that one could wander off into at a moment’s notice, way beyond the chaos of the studio.
My time at Wooda was unreservedly positive. Even falling down the studio steps had its fun moments. I achieved what I had promised to myself & Wooda, that being the editing of my debut feature film, Follow The Master. But I took much more away with me ‘just’ that.
Most valuably I have drawn from the experience a renewed sense of confidence in how I go about my film making & indeed my day to day life, which can be summarised as just get on & do it. There’s a lot of talking & speculation & cowardliness around film production & it has got to stop. Wooda gave me a generous slice of time & space to get on & simply do. This was a rare privilege & I consider myself very lucky to have been selected for the residency.
The final weekend was spent preparing for a private screening of the ’96% completed’ film to family, crew, friends & co. Tony Hill turned up with some pals which was a great surprise & pleasure.
Max managed to get an article about it in the local parish magazine, The St Genny’s Gazette. I was particularly delighted that it appeared on page 3, right in the spot where one might ordinarily expect to see St Genny’s Gazongas.
The screening took place in The Barn at Wooda. As dusk fell a mighty wind & a freezing fog whipped up (no, really, it did – I assumed it was Grandpa Eric). Gary & Max lit braziers which burnt furiously & crazily, setting the scene a la Jarman’s The Last of England.
Despite the little technical ghosts in the machine that somehow secretly reorganised a section of the film before the presentation (to my amusement & Nick’s abject horror) the screening was a singular success.
The music to my ears, seemingly sung by many, was that the film was uniquely bizarre & yet open-hearted & accessible & that it could even be a bit longer. Nick & I had erred on the side of ‘not boring people’ & had cut the film dead at around 65′. So this was good news. We could hang out a bit.
Gary & Max had prepared the most amazing spread of food for all assembled which was a beautiful & tasty way to round things off. Drink flowed. Lucy danced. I tipsily kissed Cal & Morgan good night. Thank you, Wooda. Can we do it all over again please?
Got this haiku from Nick:
The Spinney (1985): Much sought after debut album from solo ukulele prankster Matt Hulse, including Top 30 hit Twiglets.
Produced by Brain Ono.
A Normal Boy (1991): Hulse solo again, in alt.country vibe, fusing faux-lazy brush drums with percussive horse nut explosions & line dancing.
Untitled (1993): The first album in a series that fans refer to, in hushed tones, as The Bleak Trilogy. Produced by Default.
The bold opener Black Slotted Spoon heralds a new departure in the reclusive artiste’s repertoire with its unforgiving 23 minute ukulele solo, fed back through a toy microphone strapped to a sedentary mule.
The Tapalapa Trio (1995): Hulse joins post-rock avant-jazz heavy weights Whitbread & Burrows on this free-form organic workout inspired by the legendary wildcat of Cornwall. Produced by Woodburner.
Woodamoon (1997): Hulse, solo again. The irksomely mashed closing track More Space For Haiku says it all.
The Lonely Donkeys (1998): Escapist poptastic respite from The Bleak Trilogy.
Jangling treble guitars, dirty bass, frenetic drums & a growling guest appearance from Lemmy who, legend has it, was found asleep in a pub near the Wooda studio. Produced by Accident.
Cal: Walk On (2000): Something of a return to his alt.country days, Hulse pens heart warming ballads covering such diverse topics as bread making, wind turbines & Davidstow mature cheddar. Produced.
The Harder They Come (2002): Hulse reasserts his genre-bending expertise with this down-the-back-steps-then-off-the-wall take on northern soul.
Crowd-pleaser Slip Up Fatty climbs up to number 7 on the Crackington Institute Hit Parade. Produced by Wewak.
Cornish Birds (2008): After a break of 6 years, Hulse returns with this tongue-in-cheek bluesy exploration of airborne wildlife.
The hapless soar of Where Is Dawn? suggests that Hulse isn’t planning on handing in his rock ‘n’ roll credentials anytime soon.
If you would like to buy any of these priceless recordings, I’ll need an advance of about £1000 per album.
But I would make the record for you, I really would …
Nick sent me a picture of this LP that I forgot about.
I asked Elspeth Owen, Max Burrows’ mum, to tell me a little about the founding of the Wooda Arts Award as I felt there was a bit of a hole in this blog. After all it is ultimately thanks to her mum that I am here at all. She wrote:
“She was called Jean but we all called her Dag – my father, her children and her grandchildren. She was born 100 years ago now, a lot of Scottish blood, very talented as a piano player – she was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in the 1920s. She loved laughing and joking and poetry and singing and gardening.
When my father died – she had already died 8 years before – he left us some money. One of my first thoughts was to buy a beautiful violin (“my” instrument) and give it to the Royal Academy for students to borrow in her memory. But I gradually turned away from that idea (I’m not too good at relating to prestigious institutions) and developed the Wooda Arts Award idea with Max and Gary. I think she would like the simple direct structure that we have given the Award and I’m sure she’d be very critical of your ukele jamming!
Her FATHER was in fact called Eric. So there’s a taster about my mother.
I feel there is a gap about my Father’s role in the Wooda Arts Award. He’s the one that saved up all the dosh - for me and my brother and sister to have a good time after he was gone. Since he left me the money, I have been calling him “Jimmy Jones” and he has been “funding ” all sorts of things that would not really have been his rabbit. But I sense a certain insouciance creeping into his giving. It’s as if he has become a happy-go-lucky ghost. So I would like to raise a glass to the spirit of caution and careful husbanding that he personifies!”
Nick sent me this clip from YouTube. He suggested that the unfortunate dog may be dreaming of The Black Slotted Spoon.
Another good pal Svenja took the time to send me a picture of her overloaded desk at home in Edinburgh in order to show how hard she’s working, accompanied by a map of her brain. She is completing a PhD at the moment (come on, get on with it!).
I may turn the map into a printed textile. Svenja can get a shirt made up & use it as a revision aid, or a nifty way of cheating in an exam. Of course if she had been sensible & studied art, she could have simply submitted the shirt itself.
(Actually, looking at the arrangement of yellow vs blue, I would humbly suggest that this needs to mixing it up a little?)