We were recently invited to attend a conference held at Nottingham Trent University, organised by Natalie Braber and Stuart Burch. Focusing on everything Nottingham, the day involved of a series of presentations by academic researchers, partly to try and put forward the city as more than just ‘Shottingham’.
Several talks were of particular interest to creatives, including a talk about film making in the city, specifically a study into a film shot in Nottingham called ‘The Weekend’. The picture, directed by Andrew Haigh, uses Nottingham as a backdrop for its love story between two gay men, claiming to be a true representation of Nottingham and its gay and lesbian scene. As speaker Hongwei Bao explained, it portrays Nottingham in a less than positive light as a city unwelcoming of homosexuals. This proved to be a talking point as many disagreed and saw this as another misconception by people unfamiliar with the realities of living in Nottingham.
Another really interesting talk by Ruth Griffin, introduced the concept of psycho-geography to many, as being a new and insightful way to see a place; the idea being that an unplanned and spontaneous walk around a usually controlled urban environment, can unveil things that often go unnoticed. The scope for creative inspiration is vast as the slides showed to us proved. Hidden spots of decay and abandonment or peculiar signage that gets seen by few, can raise questions or provoke unlikely scenarios in the imaginations of writers, artists and photographers alike.
There was plenty of inspiration for writers, with readings from local poet Deborah Tyler Bennett and a book reading by David Belbin from his political crime novel ‘What You Don’t Know’, showing there’s no shortage of literary talent within our city.
It was raised by several speakers that Nottingham is undeserving of its bad press and that more recognition should be given to its creative industries which are currently sitting below the radar. With a wealth of world class talent in fashion, art and literature, our city’s creative offering and presence as an opportunity for investment and tourism continues to struggle with lingering and inaccurate perceptions of Nottingham as a capital of gun crime and non acceptance of minorities and culture – when in actual fact, as everyone in attendance agreed, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The conference didn’t necessarily provided answers to these problems but raised them for us to consider. So now it’s over to us to do something about it!