Stu Mayhew – on photographing GDIF

Hi and welcome to my GDIF2016 photo blog !

My name is Stu Mayhew and I am an amateur photographer based in Greenwich where I help run Aperture Woolwich Photographic Society – one of the oldest camera clubs in the country. I have been photographing the Greenwich +Docklands International Festival for many years now and it’s always an honour to be asked back. In the build up to this year’s event I have been bust charging camera batteries, getting my memory cards sorted, cleaning lenses and dusting off my trusty GDIF Press and Media vest!

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The first event of this year’s GDIF took place at the Queen’s House in a specially commissioned show marking the 400th anniversary of this beautiful building right in the heart of Greenwich. The show consisted of digital projection onto the facia of the building, dance, music and narration by Sir Ian McKellen.

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I arrived at 8PM to allow myself plenty of time to talk to crew and production members about vantage points and so on, as well as to catch up with other GDIF photographers who I only get to see once a year. I spoke with Rebecca Brower, the costumes and scenic designer, and enquired into whether I could shoot the event from a platform on one of the lighting towers. A quick word with one of the riggers and I was up on my lofty perch with a perfect view over the whole crowd and production area. I set up my tripod, got my cameras (I shoot with two, a Canon 5D and a 6D) and watched the crowds gather below me. As dusk fell into night the show began – the front of the Queen’s House transforming in front of our eyes – the projections were amazing and there were dancers and a performance by Sharon D Clarke –  the whole show was transfixing. The finale was a cascade of pyrotechnics with fireworks shooting into the night sky. As smoke drifted over the audience a huge cheer went up and GDIF2016 was under way. I think it was one of the best opening nights of the festival that I can remember.

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Arka Photo Blog – Stu Mayhew

So I had spent an enjoyable, if occasionally wet, day in Canary Wharf it was time to get home and charge my batteries. My camera batteries naturally ! I made the short trip from where I live in Shooters Hill down to Artillery Square in Woolwich where Teatr Osmega Dnia would bring and end to GDIF 2014 with Arka.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

This Polish theatre group began their performance amongst the large gathered crowd, winding their way up on to the main stage. It looked like a wedding celebration but was soon interrupted by a military invasion symbolised by fire eating men who being wheeled through the square on wood and metal contraptions spitting flames high into the night sky, drawing cheers and gasps from everyone.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Meanwhile the stage had turned into a scene of huge burning windows , silhouetting the crowd. This large flaming structures were then moved through the crowds and the scene was strange yet beautiful to behold.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

The performance is about war and refugees being displaced from home. It was quite a moving piece and visually captivating. GDIF has really discovered Artillery Square as a great performance venue and bring the Arts right into the the center of Woolwich has to be applauded, there is always a really big, highly appreciative crowd and tonight was no exception

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

As a huge ship gently sailed into the crowd the show ended and the curtain was closed on GDIF 2014. It is a real privilege to be apart of it, in my own small way. Over the years I have met many of the performers and photographers and its nice to see old faces. A massive effort goes into to bringing such a prestigious event to Greenwich Borough and long may it continue.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

If you live locally and enjoy photography or want to learn how to get more out of your camera then visit http://www.woolwichphotographic.com and find out more about Greenwich’s award winning camera club!

See you next year

Stu

Safe House – A place to call home

By Andy Cooper, Director at Draw & Code

After premiering to a crowd in excess of 5000 in Brighton, Safe House will be travelling to the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival on June 21st. The show is a large-scale, outdoor theatre event that explores our relation to the home – which is ironic considering just how little time the cast and crew have spent in our own homes recently!

With projection-mapped animations that feature during every one of the 45 minutes of the show’s duration, the ‘Draw’ side of Draw & Code were kept very busy indeed in the run-up to this fantastic outdoor theatre event. We were required on site during rehearsals to tailor our animation to the needs of the performers from Wired Aerial Theatre Company and the producers from Metro Boulot Dodo. While animation is always time-consuming, it doesn’t often result in you travelling the country!

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The rehearsals were staged in Leicester, Metro Boulot Dodo’s home town, where the disused Haymarket Theatre was about the only building we could find that was capable of fitting the giant set. This oversized creation stands a lot taller than a real house, which makes for quite a challenge for the dancers who are suspended from it.

When I set off to take up residence in Leicester I decided to take the office iMac with me on the train. After all, what if the laptop isn’t enough? If you’ve seen a photo of somebody with an iMac on a train and gone “really?” – it was probably me!

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Rehearsals were draining, but a physically and logistically challenging production like this cannot leave any stone unturned. Thankfully it’s always fun working with the spectacular Wired Aerial performers. They are part athletes, part artists and we have enjoyed seeing them interact with our animations.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though; having upped sticks from our Liverpool sanctuary, for much of the time I was Draw & Code’s sole representative in the chilly theatre while they could all head back home to Liverpool. The rehearsals began during the tail-end of the winter – in a venue that had no heating. It’s fair to say that an abandoned theatre lacks a few creature comforts!

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The contrast between the first day of rehearsals in a dingy abandoned building and the public premiere of Safe House in sunny Brighton was amazing. As we sat in amongst the barbecues on the grass of Hove Park it was the first time in a long time that I could relax, although the cast and crew will have been tense.

The show went without a hitch and the crowd loved it. We hope you can leave your own little castles for a few hours, wherever you are, and join us to watch Safe House!

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Safe House will be performed at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival 2014 on Saturday June 21st at 10PM in Mile End Park, Tower Hamlets.

GDIF2014 Highlights and Trailer

Turning the World Upside Down

See the world from a different angle and immerse yourself in London’s festival of shape shifting, perception changing, free outdoor performance.

From the top of Greenwich Park Hill you can look out on one of most spectacular views of the capital – a city of stories. GDIF 2014 invites you to experience these familiar streets and public spaces as they’re transformed with astonishing free performance from around the globe.

From gravity-defying aerial choreography to global stories of war and peace; encounters between the living and the dead and a house turned inside out; from a pop-up desert island to a flying ship; this summer the magic of outdoor theatre will reinvent the everyday and encourage you to look at the world anew.

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Full programme highlights details at www.festival.org. Join us 20-28 June!

GDIF2014 and LIFT Announce UK Premiere!

Rara Woulib’s Deblozay

'Deblozay' by Rara Woulib. Photo Credit: Photo Bushido

‘Deblozay’ by Rara Woulib. Credit: Photo Bushido

 Fri 20 June & Sat 21 June, FREE

Rara Woulib explore des zones frontières, où le spectacle a peu l’habitude d’aller

Liberation – France

Dance with the Dead
Haitian culture looks at death in a very different way to our own. It is not a hushed-up affair of coffins and closed doors but a loud celebration of all that life has to offer, in this world and the next.As the sun sets, join French company Rara Woulib in conjuring the ghosts of the city’s departed for this joyous pilgrimage. See for yourself why the dead have so much more fun than the living.

This show is free but capacity is limited. Reservations have now closed, but stay tuned, as we will let you know if more spots are released.

[Meeting place and route to be confirmed].

Co-produced by LIFT and Greenwich + Docklands International Festival and David Binder Productions, as part of Festivals in Transition — Global City Local City with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union, and the Institut Français.

Support a Spectacle

We need your help to stage GDIF’s Opening Night Spectacular!

Muare, 20 June 2014 

GDIF is renowned for its free opening night spectaculars. Over the years, enthralled Festival audiences have witnessed a disaster movie in the sky, dancers scaling the front of the Queen’s House, a giant 12m puppet awakening and even a life-sized sperm whale. Staging such extraordinary, jaw-dropping occasions is hugely expensive  and to be able to continue to present them we need your help.

Muaré by Voalá; Photo credit Sergio Bolanos

Muaré by Voalá; Photo credit Sergio Bolanos

This year our planned opening night spectacle Muaré is set to be an astonishing spectacle in which aerial performers from the Spanish/Argentinian company Voalá swoop overhead on a giant “op art” mobile accompanied by live music. If you’ve seen De La Guarda, Fuerzabruta or marvelled at the staging of an Olympic or Paralympic opening ceremony you’ll have some idea of how incredible this event will be!

We need to raise an additional £5,000* to make this event happen so please help us achieve this by donating here.

Please support GDIF’s opening night today!

*Every pound you give will be matched through Arts Council Catalyst funding

Stu Mayhew celebrates ‘One Million’

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

 By Stu Mayhew So, after an amazing two weeks from beached whales to ballerina’s, the Greenwich and Docklands Festival 2013 came to a close on Saturday with TangledFeet’s production of ‘One Million’ in Artillery Square in the Royal Arsenal , Woolwich.  Of … Continue reading

At the rehearsal of Tangled Feet’s ‘One Million’ – By Stu Mayhew

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

By Stu Mayhew Over the last couple of years GDIF have brought some spectacular outdoor theatre to Woolwich center and this year Tangled Feet bring their One Million production into town. Rather than just photograph the actual performance’s (taking place on … Continue reading

One Million: A World Premiere by Tangled Feet

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Don’t miss the world premiere of One Million this weekend on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 June at 10pm at the Royal Arsenal Woolwich. Commissioned by GDIF2013, this new production from Tangled Feet takes its name from the fact that … Continue reading

Greenwich Fair through the photographer’s lense – By Stu Mayhew

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This gallery contains 19 photos.

By Stu Mayhew Saturday, 22 June 2013   Today was the start of the Greenwich Fair , accompanied this year by the Island Fair. A chance to immerse yourself in the weird and wonderful world of performers from around the world. … Continue reading