23 May 2013
So... I was talking over the garden wall today to one of our very friendly neighbours at the Chapel. "Back again…" she said, "what are you up to this time?"
I've been putting my time in at the Chapel that's for sure. Last week the Structural Engineer was investigating underneath the pillars to see if they might be able to hold up an extra floor. Then the Acoustic Engineer and the Mechanical and Electrical Consultant were in to talk about how the different studios would work and what kind of heating and ventilation we would need; even where the plug sockets would be needed. Today the Quantity Surveyor was visiting with the architect to check all the cost calculations and identify where the risks were—what we would do if the ceiling starts to disintegrate if we try to fix it, that kind of thing!
Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Of course doing your preparation work thoroughly is crucial…but sometimes I'm just in the mood to pick up that axe and swing (or preferably just go with the chain saw
Don't get me wrong—we've had a good month. We've completed a full review of the design and made some changes (the latest plans are attached). We invited a whole bunch of our ELFM volunteers into the Chapel one Saturday to go through the plans in detail. We even marked out the various studios and rooms in the chapel itself so that people could feel how it would work in the real life as opposed to on a sheet of paper. The response was very positive. Helen Burke is no stranger to the chapel. As a poet she has performed there at our Live@Chapel festivals and been involved with our educational work with local schools. She has also been part of our Access Group; looking to make the Chapel as accessible as possible for disabled people—not an easy task for a building like this. After this latest event Helen wrote:
"The new layout for the lift to enable wheelchair users to access the stage is a much improved design. Very useable and user-friendly, no noise aspects and much less intrusive. The whole place looks better also! I liked very much the idea of lots of glass windows on the left hand side—and therefore lots of light coming in. And the downstairs layout – it feels welcoming and has a very 'free' feeling to it—easy to understand.
Everything has been changed, but the character of the building has not been lost."
Inviting our volunteers to the Chapel also gave us an opportunity to introduce our newly appointed Public Artist for the project, Zoë Eady. Many of our volunteers had met Zoë before—as a musician and performer; as a volunteer and intern with Heads Together; and as a paid ELFM Station Manager. What they might not have realised is that Zoë also apprenticed as a glass blower's assistant on the Isle of Wight and recently started her own business—the Glass Garden. A combination of her creative skills and her understanding of the ethos of ELFM meant that she was successful in the competitive process of choosing a Public Artist for the chapELFM project. Zoë jumped straight into the rôle; asking the ELFM volunteers a series of questions. The one that particularly struck me was to ask everyone to imagine how the Chapel might be in fifty years time (after all, we are signing a 99-year lease).
Here are some of the answers to the question: what can you see in 2063?
* People still working together as a community and performing to a larger audience.
* New forms of broadcasting discovered
* Thriving creativity
* New technology
* The building is buzzing with activity
* A stunning modern building that retains memories of its 50 years
* An open building, people coming and going - ELFM is a household name
* People enjoying music and radio
* More established project. Links with national radio
* Pictures of past graduates as holograms bouncing off the walls
* ELFM will be the biggest radio, broadcast and performance station
* DJ equipment and hidden speakers
* Still producing local bands and live performances
And there you have it. As they would say in France: "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" (The more things change, the more they stay the same). I am looking forward to the hoverboards though. And I would add one more thing to the list—gaffa tape. In 2063, however new the technology might be, when things break I am confident we will still be bodging it all together with gaffa tape!
And there will still be a 19th Century Wordsworth & Co. organ in the building. Mark Wood came to visit the other day. Mark is the Principal of Peter Wood & Son Organ Builders of Harrogate. His previous visit to Seacroft Methodist Chapel was in 1982. He was the last person to tune the organ; it cost £19. It's a nice story which doesn't end there. Mark is the fourth generation of Woods involved in building organs. His great grandfather, John Edward Wood (1857-1935), joined Wordsworth & Co round about 1888. Peter thinks the Wordsworth organ was installed in Seacroft Methodist Capel at some point in the late 1880s. Call me romantic, but I like the idea that John Wood might have been involved in some way in building our organ. Anyway back to the future…
"It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday in company with the architect, and to be re-acquainted with this lovely Organ, as I certainly remember servicing it back in the early 1980s. It seems that the Instrument is playing reasonably well and I think at this stage the correct course of action would be to protect and sheet over the Organ from the proposed building works later this year, and at that time take a comprehensive study of what exactly will be required for the Organ restoration...In summary if the Organ was fully restored, effectively this would give the Centre a reliable working Instrument for well in excess of 50 years."
The restoration job is going to cost a bit more than £19, but I have absolutely no doubt it will be well-used. All we need now is a commitment from another couple of generations of Woods to pop in from time to time and give the organ a bit of a tune up!