Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter Solstice at The Lit and Phil

Mariam Rezaei is the current Composer in Residence at the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, and has been working with ZENDEH, an organisation led by Artistic Director Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh that produces high quality cross art form productions with creative engagement programmes that are culturally eclectic, unforgettable and attract new audiences.

ZENDEH is a Farsi word meaning ALIVE, and the organisation adopts an approach that listens, breathes and transforms. It values creative collaboration, sharing and the imagination.


Inspired by Shab-e Yalda, the Persian Winter Solstice, ZENDEH held a Winter Soltice event at the Lit and Phil consisting of poetry readings, storytelling, workshops, art, music and theatre.

I went along to help out and participate in the evenings happenings.

ZENDEH's next production, CINEMA, was at the core of the event with the artists and musicians responding to the tragic event of August 1978 in which 422 people died in a fire that happened in Cinema Rex, Iran.

I took part in a workshop ran by multi-disciplinary musician and new media artist Sean Cotterill. We made primitive synthesisers producing different tones and then used these musical devices in a performance. We were given a graph depicting the population statistics of Abadan, which we interpreted as a musical score, and over a period of 5 minutes we made a range of sounds with the synthesisers. As the population rose, the tendency was for us to make our devices louder and more intense.

Yvette Hawkins presented an installation of cut-out paper scenes illuminated in the dark and quiet downstairs library.

Christopher Younger invited visitors to interact with, and add to his three-screened artwork.

The evening ended with poetry readings that were read from the balconies overlooking the library.

Bearing in mind that I will be participating in a small group exhibition in the Lit and Phil in March, I was interested to discover the audience that attended the event, and was surprised to find that the majority had never been in the Lit and Phil before, but following this special occasion, they certainly intend to return.

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