Category Archives: Event

5 Minutes With…..The Artist Taxi Driver

Ahead of his scheduled Talk at Fircroft College on Thursday 18th January, we had a chat with  performance artist and YouTube vlogger The Artist Taxi Driver, aka Mark McGowan.

How did you become The Artist Taxi Driver?

It was kind of an intervention into media, an intervention into politics. It started around 2000 – 2001 with public performances. By 2007, after about 10 years of doing critical art pieces and trying to get into political news media, I switched from that. It was around the time of IPhone’s and video and the accessibility of uploading directly from your phone to YouTube. The way things were moving with technology, I started to create this online character whereas before it was public performance. I turned a camera on one day and that was it.

Where did the name Artist Taxi Driver come from?

The first video was outside Frieze. Well actually, I said I was outside Frieze which is a big art fair but I wasn’t.  I just made up this video where I wanted to go into the art fair but they wouldn’t let me in, it was on for about five days so there were five videos. I was talking about not being let into the art fair, about not being invited. During those 5 days, at one point someone said to me, “Are you a taxi driver?” I said no, I’m The Artist Taxi Driver. I had been a courier, a taxi driver and run a cab office as well. I taught MA Fine Arts at Chelsea for about 6 years, taught at Camberwell and different universities.


Is there anyone who influences you? Or whose work you admire?

I get really inspired by lots of important artists and performance people and the way they style themselves. You can see good in all art, you can get inspired by everything. People who inspire me the most are generally rogues. Alexander Brenner who’s like a very bad man; Frankie Boyle who’s a Scottish Comedian. At the same time I like Giggs, I like his attitude. He’s very roguish, he believes in his creativity.

I say to students, when you’re creating something, whether it’s an essay, whether you’re making the tea, whether you’re having a bath – just make it the best one ever. I mean if it’s a bath, put the candles on get the bubbles going and make it the best bath ever!

What did you think about the way in which Grime artists got involved in the last election?

That was very cool. That’s good. I really like the way that Stormzy is sticking it to the Daily Mail and is his own person. I think people appreciate that he engages in politics. It’s really important that young people have role models. It’s good that young people have a really strong social conscience, especially when they see things like Grenfell Tower. It’s good that you have people like Stormzy who are pro public services and try to contribute to community, that’s what you want people to be involved in. Sometimes young people feel left behind and discarded so they take it out on their own communities. I try to make people realise that this is ours, this is what we’ve got and we’ve got to make the best of it.

Have you always looked at society the way you do? Or is this something which began later in life?

Since around 2000, around that time.

What was the catalyst that changed your way of thinking?

Before that, when I was about 35, I was a heroin addict on the streets, homeless, in institutions. I stopped using and they sent me to Art College. Got taken into care by the local council after going to rehab and therapy groups. I was in a house where you weren’t allowed out, like a recovery house. It changed me. Now they’re shutting services like this and we need more not less. I know a lady whose daughter had to go to a centre in Edinburgh as there were no spaces for her locally at all.

Does print media still have influence over the public?

A lot has changed. People are more aware that in a general sense, 90% of the media is corporate media. They have set agendas, they are not going to tell you the truth, it’s not an unbiased organisation. What they do, instead of blatantly lying, they control narratives. So the narrative is whatever they want it to be.

Activism, Politics and Social Media with The Artist Taxi Driver takes place on Thursday 18th January from 1 – 3pm.

To register for your free ticket visit our eventbrite page

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, Fircroft College will be hosting Black Voices: A Spoken Word Event. A celebration of black excellence through the art of poetry. We invite established local poets as well as up and coming wordsmiths to share their thoughts and opinions on black history and culture.

Join us on Monday 23rd October from 7 – 9pm. Tickets are FREE and can be booked here.

Black History Month was launched in UK in 1987 – a campaign led by Akyaaba Addai Sebbo who worked for Greater London Council at the time. GLC selected October as the Black History Month to coincide with the Marcus Garvey celebrations and London Jubilee.

From the London boroughs, the interest in Black History Month soon spread to other cities. Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham actively participated in promoting and publicising its philosophy.

The aims of Black History Month are to:

  • Promote knowledge of Black history, culture and heritage
  • Disseminate information on positive Black contributions to British Society
  • Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people to their cultural heritage

 

Black History Month fundamentally highlights the history and contributions of Black communities and Black individuals, past and present.

 

 

 

Fircroft Garden Party & Awards 2017

It’s been just 5 days since this years Garden Party and Awards Ceremony and we still can’t quite get over what a great day it was. Not only did everyone have a wonderful time, the rain stayed away until the event had reached an end – shocking I know!

We celebrated the achievements and successes of our 2016-17 students in style. There was a huge marquee erected in the gardens, purple and green balloons blew gently in the wind, whilst the sound of Indian Dhol Drummers lifted the atmosphere and got everyone in a celebratory mood.

       Dhol Drummers getting the party started.

There was a fantastic spread of canapes and cakes provided by our dedicated kitchen staff, a performance by Mitch Mitchell (former The Voice contestant and West End musical extraordinaire) and a beautifully written piece by Fircroft student Raymond Howell.

The event also saw the launch of our brand new Friends of Fircroft Ambassadors scheme.  Our distinguished presenters on the day and valued Friends of Fircroft – Roger Cadbury (Fircroft College Patron), Scott Lucas,  Charmaine Burton, John Holford and Catina Barrett – have been invited to become the first wave of Friends of Fircroft Ambassadors. Awards were also presented by Cheryl Turner (Chair of Fircroft Governing Body) and senior members of the Fircroft staff.

    Scott Lucas presenting award to Melanie Starkey

The award winners were overjoyed. There were a few tears, lots of smiles and laughter filled the air as one after another the winners were gifted their prizes and certificates. Click the picture below to view the full list of awards, winners and presenters.

We have received some amazing feedback from attendees and we are happy that the event was genuinely enjoyed by our guests.

“It was brill, I was so happy that Roger Cadbury presented my award,I can’t stop smiling”.

Roger Cadbury Fircroft College Patron & Kim Cartwright

“The event maintained elements of the old e.g. Student recognition and a relaxed tone. Listening to the creative writing piece was great and the drummers created a fantastic mood to the event.”

               Guests enjoying the day.

“I felt the community atmosphere it generated was really enjoyable.” Can’t wait ’til next year’s!”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended, from the students to the partners, from the governors to the ambassadors, we appreciate you and your continued support of the college.

If you would like to have your say about the Garden Party, please complete our survey and let us know your thoughts.

 

 

 

Fircroft Colleges’ Trump Talk with Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas became Professor of International Politics in 2014, having been on the staff of the University of Birmingham since 1989 and a Professor of American Studies since 1997.

He began his career as a specialist in US and British foreign policy, but his research interests now also cover current international affairs — especially North Africa, the Middle East, and Iran — New Media, and Intelligence Services.

A professional journalist since 1979, Professor Lucas is the founder and editor of EA WorldView, a leading website in daily news and analysis of Iran, Turkey, Syria, and the wider Middle East, as well as US foreign policy.

Scott Lucas will be hosting the Donald Trump Talk at Fircroft College on Tuesday 4th July from 7:30pm onwards. Join us for what promises to be a fascinating insight into the leader of the free world.

 

Eid Mubarak!

Join us at Fircroft College to celebrate the diversity in our community on Monday 3rd July. With a number of workshops and exhibitions as well as deliciously authentic food,  it promises to be an event not to be missed.

Break bread with us as we get to know each other and find ways to better understand the differences and similarities in our cultures.

 

Black Feminist Protest – Mary Prince’s Slave Narrative by Ifemu Omari-Webber

Mary Prince’s autobiography – The History of Mary Prince (1831), was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published.

On Thursday 22nd June at the John Lewis Community Hub, Ifemu aims to share some of these stories in her seminar, and argues that Mary Prince is indeed one of the first black feminists to actively resist the dehumanisation process of West Indian slavery, ensuring that her life experiences continues to be passed on almost two centuries later.

We hope you can join us for this interesting and informative event.

Fircroft Great Get Together

Fircroft will be hosting a Great Get Together Lunch on Friday 16th June.  This will be one of over 100,000 community events to take place as part of The Great Get Together in commemoration of the murder of Jo Cox on 16th June 2016.

Placards show Jo Cox’s picture during a commemorative event in Trafalgar Square

Placards show Jo Cox’s picture during a commemorative event in Trafalgar Square, London, last year. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

More than 100,000 events are expected to be held across the UK as part of The Great Get Together, organised by the Jo Cox Foundation. Organisers hope it will be the biggest number of community events since the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

The weekend of events will take place between 16 and 18 June, with picnics, street parties and iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan.