Friday, 9 May 2014

We're back!

York Festival of Ideas is back again this year with a vast array of fascinating events.  Our website has just gone live, so do check it out!

Brochures will be winging their way around York early next week.

We look forward to seeing you!

The Festival team

Sunday, 30 June 2013

The final two days... Sitwells, servants, Melvyn Bragg, literary women and Ancient Greece

Friday saw us hosting a talk by William Sitwell at the Mansion House.  William, editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine and great-nephew of Edith Sitwell gave a witty talk on his illustrious forebears. 

We were joined that evening by author Lucy Lethbridge (who had also given a talk at Betty's the day before).  Lucy spoke about the experiences of servants - from butlers, maids and cooks in 1900 to au pairs, cleaners and childminders of seventy years later. 

We were also joined that evening by writer and TV presenter Melvyn Bragg, talking about his new novel, Grace and Mary, which reaches from the late 19th century to the present, about a son seeking to uncover his mother's family history in a Cumbrian town. 

Saturday 29 June - the last day of York Festival of Ideas 2013

The majority of events on our final day were held in the Ron Cooke Hub.  We had a session from the V&A offering a rare opportunity to engage with Victorian women artists' work. 

The British Library also had a session in our 3Sixty exhibition space talking about the 2014 launch of a major new web portal, English Online, which will use primary source material to shed light on the social, political and cultural contexts behind key literary work.  Their exhibition showed manuscripts, diaries and many important artefacts. 

Fabulous fictional females saw four literary experts stand as an advocate for one of four classic novels written by women. 

For the final event of the evening (and of the festival) we were honoured to be joined by TV presenter Michael C Scott for a talk on ancient Greece.  Looking at the people in the 17th to 21st centuries who put ancient Greece back on the map, and who have shaped the legacy that ancient Greece still holds in our society today. 

And so ends York Festival of Ideas 2013.  A huge thank you to everyone who attended our events - we hope you enjoyed them.  To our speakers, thank you so much for your time and fantastic talks, performances, readings and exhibitions.  To our marvellous interns, who gave us so much help and support during the festival - Helena, Harry, Leanne, Bartek, Dima and Robert - you are all brilliant! 

A massive thank you to our official Festival photographer, the exceptional Ian Martindale.  

We have so many other people who deserve huge thanks for being part of YorkFoI 2013, but if we tried to list everyone we'd possibly miss some names - but everyone who has had any involvement has been great! 

See you all next year!

Joan, Sarah, Naomi, Alice and Sue - your Festival team

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Seamus Heaney's poetry reading

Wednesday was a quieter day. After the excitement of the past few days (Ross Noble's impromptu visit had us scurrying around to make sure that he was properly accommodated), we were grateful for a short break in the afternoon before it all started again in the evening.

To help build the hype for Seamus Heaney's poetry reading we ran a quick social media competition, requesting - on Twitter and Facebook - haikus about York. 

Enthusiastic social media types quickly warmed to the theme. Some haikus tugged at the heart-strings:

Some were more jovial:

And some were a little more questionable:

The winner, as judged by our expert panel of five Comms Office staff, was this somewhat traditional haiku, which subtly alluded to the upcoming graduation ceremonies:

We met Ms Bialkowska at the evening, and she was thrilled to have the chance to see Seamus Heaney speak. As, of course, were all the Festival team! 

Here's the evening in pictures:

Seamus gathers himself before his talk (left) and stands with Professor Hugh Haughton from the Department of English (right). Hugh invited Seamus to York to speak on the evening.

Hugh delivers a compassionate introductory speech

An expectant audience

 A short Vine clip of Seamus taking to the stage. Make sure your sound is turned on, to get a sense of the loud and long applause that greeted him.

 Seamus read a diverse selection of his poetry. He concluded his reading with 'A Peacock's Feather', above, from his 1987 book of poems called 'The Haw Lantern'.

Seamus sat with Hugh afterwards and answered questions from audience members. 

Our favourite:
Q: 'My brother's studying your poetry at GCSE, and he summed it up as 'Death and Potatoes'. What do you think of that?
Seamus: Genius.

Seamus leaves the stage, waving to a still-captivated audience.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Jutland, Minster mysteries and Design for Living

Yesterday was a great, if surreal, day. With yet another array of fascinating events, including a talk and re-enactment of the Battle of Jutland.

A talk in the undercroft at York Minster on the findings of recent excavations which revealed new evidence of York's landscape before the Minster was built. 

Throughout yesterday we had our 'Design for Living' day. A celebration of advances in technology, architecture and design.  The final event of the day was a panel discussion on the global grand challenges - with contributions from Andy Hopper (Institute of Engineering and Technology), Leo Hollis (author of Cities are good for you), Bill Price from WSP (the structural designers of London's Shard), Paul Newby (Shepherd Group), Martin Mayfield (Arup), Rodric Yates (IBM), last-minute special panelist Ross Noble (International Comedian), chaired by Rowland Atkinson.

'Stroking a mole'

Today we have the fantastic Seamus Heaney doing a reading, a panel debate on North/South Ireland, a discussion about Yorkshire's DNA and many more.  Check out the calendar for further info. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Black market Britain, Beryl Bainbridge and a vocal pi

Monday saw our first event at Betty's in York - a talk on the British black market in the 1940s and 50s by the wonderful Mark Roodhouse, served alongside a traditional Betty's afternoon cream tea.  

Mark Roodhouse

Author Psiche Hughes joined us in the Ron Cooke Hub to talk about her friend Beryl Bainbridge and how Beryl's love of art linked with her writing and her life. 

Meanwhile at the National Centre for Early Music, David Howard took us on a journey 'from South to North' exploring our voices from lungs to head! 

Today is 'Design for Living' day at the Ron Cooke Hub - a celebration of advances in technology, architecture and design. Tickets are available on the door if you're keen to attend.

We also have 'Minster of mystery' at York Minster, looking at the recent excavation and revealing new evidence of York's landscape before the Minster was built.

At York St John this afternoon we have an afternoon looking at the Battle of Jutland - with a lecture followed by a recreation of the battle in Temple Hall.