My Life in Reporting

On this page, I’ll be transcribing all the interviews and work I do for other media outlets and talking about what I’ve learned from the wierd, wonderful, and workload-heavy life I have in the media. Be it radio, film or blogging, there’s a lot of things to find out about this world and I intend to discover as much as I can!

NUS Broadcaster of the Year Nomination

I’m a finalist in the NUS Award for Broadcaster of the Year. I don’t know why, or what prompted them to choose me for the final, but anyway I’m off to the awards ceremony in a posh place in London on the 12th June. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people I work with on Fuse FM and in the media generally, as well as you guys for sticking with me. Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Buddhist Meditations

I filed a report for BBC Radio Manchester this week, which you can hear here for the next seven days. (It’s at the 1  hour 36  mins mark.) This Saturday, millions of Buddhists worldwide celebrated Wesak, the festival which celebrates the Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment, and to cover it for the faith show on BBC Radio Manchester, I decided to pop down to the Manchester Buddhist Centre to find out what was going on.

I took part in a meditation and spoke to several Mancunian Buddhists about the celebrations as well as how challenging/rewarding it was to practice Buddhism in the city. The meditation I can sum up in one word, although it’s a very pretentious one – phenomenological. Phenomenology, the study of your phenomena and the perception of them, forces you to focus on what it is you exactly do when you think, imagine, reflect etc. Meditation in Buddhism does exactly the same thing – it forces you to focus on what you’re doing in your body, at that particular time. Quite something.

Overall, Buddhism seems to be doing well in Manchester, although it’s by no means the biggest religion in the city. The people that practiced it at the Manchester Buddhist Centre were warm, reflective and a great representation of their religion. One other thing – the incense is incredible!

Interview – Sir Nicholas Serota

Sir Nicholas Serota

Sir Nicholas Serota

It isn’t tremendously encouraging to begin an interview in a darkened room with no sense of direction and disturbing images thrown at you every few seconds. But that was how my interview with the director of Tate, Sir Nicholas Serota, began – with a tour through Kinderzimmer, the new Gregor Schneider exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery. The exhibition itself focused on ‘subversive spaces’ – those spaces that we find just a little bit chilling, and force us to confront our darker selves.

Having fully confronted the Darth Vader within, I found myself at the end of the exhibition in a celebration party that reeked of affluence – canapes, champagne and the like. I found myself rubbing shoulders with the great and the good in art in Manchester and became curiously self-conscious of my recording equipment (it’s a portable mic attached to a wooden spoon – doesn’t exactly create the most professional image.) Just as I was debating whether or not to lose the spoon (it’s good for getting background noise) I found myself face-to-face with a gentle, tall bohemian chap called Sir Nicholas Serota.

For those of you that don’t know, Sir Nicholas Serota is the director of the Tate in the United Kingdom. He’s widely acclaimed, hence the knighthood, and is viewed as somewhat of an expert on Turner, but has also attracted controversy at his strong propulsion for controversial works of modern art and his development of the Tate, which some condemn as an ‘experience’ rather than a ‘gallery. Nonetheless, he is the perfect gentleman to talk to, articulate and well-presented, no doubt a product of his cambridge-excelling background. Caught between down-to-earth manners and the aloofness of a life lived in the stratosphere of aesthetics, he presents as quite a curious fellow.

So what did he make of the Gregor Schneider exhibiton? “I think that Gregor Schneider’s accomplished a remarkable thing,” Serota intones in that honed-to-perfection voice. “Given some of the haunting spaces and places we have seen in recent events in Austria, he does an excellent job of confronting some of our deeper and darker fears.” It certainly is a haunting space – imagine a pitch-black room with only occasional images of haunting spaces projected at you – but is it really art? How would visitors to the Whitworth be able to relate to the subject matter? “Art is defined by meaning,” Serota unflinchingly responds – you’ll find no apologies for modern art here. “People didn’t understand Turner years ago. Contemporary art needs time – sometimes artists will be many years ahead of us.”

So what is the role of the director of Tate? “The critical thing is to remember what it is to be an outsider. Frankly I walk into a new artist’s studio and frankly, I’m terrified, I don’t know what I’m going to discover there! I have to find the confidence in which to explore a new idea. And the job of a curator or director is to facilitate the exploration of that idea without being patronising.” I find this quite ironic, given the la-di-da-iness of the reception occuring outside, but in all fairness the art itself is quite hard-hitting, even if the various art historians outside are quite rotund in their jolly bourgoiseness. They’reall perfectly pleasant, but there are some magnifcently phlegm-ridden accents around.

As a gallery press officer anxiously glances at her watch and taps on the door, my time with the curious curator is almost up. One final question – What legacy would Sir Nicholas like to leave as Tate Director? “One of trust, and exploring new ideas. There’s plenty of things I wasn’t switched on by when I was younger that I now find really intriguing. So a little bit of trust would be nice.” As the press officer sneaks into the room and I reach for my dictaphone, this curious, evanescent man closes with one piece of advice – “Don’t ever close your mind.”

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