Press Release: Intergenerational Magic Comes to the Big Screen in Southend


Intergenerational Magic comes to the Big Screen in Southend

What is decorum?
Where do we learn our manners?
What do we value?
What do we reject?

An intergenerational group of 21 Southend women and girls has been working with the arts organisations Metal and Magic Me to explore manners for women of the 21st century.

Working together with artists Elsa James, Paula Varjak and Sue Mayo, and filmmaker Chuck Blue Lowry, they have made a film about the topic of ‘Decorum’. The first showing of the film will be at the launch evening at Twenty One, on Southend’s seafront on Monday 16 July, from 5pm – 6.00pm. Guests at the launch will be able to meet the participants and artists and explore their own relationship with ‘Decorum’, investigating what is meant by ‘good’ manners and ‘bad’ manners!

The women have been working with artists over a period of two months in Southend to develop creative responses to concepts of female decorum. The result is the creation of a 10 minute collaborative film, especially commissioned for The Big Screen in Southend, outside Focal Point Gallery.

Event details:
Date/time: Monday July 16 from 5pm – 6.00pm
Venue: Twenty One, Unit 21, Pier Approach, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea, SS12EH

The event is free but please RSVP here to be added to the guest list:

After the launch the film will be screened daily on Big Screen Southend (outside Focal Point Gallery) from 17-29 July 2018, at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm

The artists working on the joint Magic Me and Metal project have worked with young people from Southend High School for Girls and Shoeburyness High School for Girls, and Metal Arts Awards and with older women from across Southend…

The project is linked to a number of other projects about ‘Decorum’ run by the UK’s leading intergenerational arts charity, Magic Me. In 2017 and 2018 Magic Me brought together a group of young women from the Mulberry School for Girls with older women drawn from the local community. The 2018 project resulted in a 3 screen film installation with live performance elements which was shown as part of the Women of the World Festival at London’s Southbank Centre. The film installation element was also subsequently shown at Tate Exchange.

Susan Langford, Director of Magic Me says

“I am really excited to see these films made by young and older women in Southend, and watch them working together. Magic Me will be 30 next year and thanks to funding from the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery we can now begin to expand from our home base in East London. Working with other arts organisations and partners is one of the best ways we can take our work to a wider audience. It means more people get to enjoy the benefits of these projects than we ever could hope to reach on our own. By working with local arts organisations we can create an ongoing interest locally in this kind of work. I hope Metal will be able to keep working on intergenerational projects in Southend so that even more local people can take part.”

The Decorum project in Southend is part of this expansion and Magic Me is also partnering with Metal to create the work on a Decorum project in Peterborough (which will be shown on 24 September). The Decorum projects in London, Southend and Peterborough have been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, Garfield Weston Foundation and the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

As well as working in Southend, Magic Me has been working with Essex County Council on a number of intergenerational initiatives including a training day for artists, recruiting and then mentoring artists in an intergenerational project in Rochford and running training days for care home activities organisers from across the county.

Elsa James, one of the participating artists, said:

“Decorum has been a really interesting and thought-provoking project to be involved with. Sue Mayo, Paula Varjak and myself have been working with 21 local women and girls and exploring the theme of decorum. We have been looking at what kinds of behaviours people value – holding doors opens open for example, the manners that we keep and cherish, those we pass on and those that we reject. Decorum, it turns out, means different things to different people. Politeness in one culture is bad manners in another. Table manners surprisingly seem to touch a real nerve. This all fed into a collaboration with the filmmaker Chuck Blue Lowry. We are looking forwards to launching the film at Twenty One on July 16th.”

Colette Bailey, Artistic Director & CEO, Metal said:

“We are delighted to be working alongside Magic Me, who have so much detailed experience of bringing young and older participants together into conversation and a shared development of work. It has been a great pleasure to see the relationships grow between our participants, as the Decorum project has progressed. I am very much looking forward to seeing the final film presentation – and hoping that Metal can do more of this kind of deep engagement in the future.”

Sue Mayo, lead artist on the project said:

“The idea for ‘Decorum’ came from discovering some archive materials which were pamphlets designed to help women sit, stand and speak ‘properly’. It made me wonder what ‘proper’ behaviour looked like for women in the 21st Century. Intergenerational projects are a great place to bust assumptions based on gender, culture and class, and to share experiences and we are now on our fourth project on this rich topic, which can seem superficial but often reveals deeply held habits and practices.”

Bringing two generations together who are at opposite ends of a lifetime has great benefits for all who participate. A recent report by the Royal Society of Public Health highlighted that stereotypes about ageing become embedded from as early as 6 years old. These ageist attitudes then resurface as individuals grow older as people begin to apply them to themselves. Research shows that people with negative attitudes to ageing live on average 7.5 years less than those with more positive attitudes. Working together as peers on creative projects helps to break down negative stereotypes on both sides, in feedback many of the comments from the younger participants express surprise about the abilities and attitudes of older people:

“The project has meant a lot to me, making connections between the different generations was exciting and thrilling in every way.”
Alannah Bell, young participant.

Older participants find or rekindle new skills and are given confidence about their ability to take part.

“Working together with this wonderful multigenerational group of women was both inspirational and enlightening. It was fun, fabulous and a privilege.”
Chris Gosling, older participant from the Southend Decorum project.

Come and join Magic Me and Metal at a special launch of our amazing film.

For further images of press enquiries please contact or phone 01702 470 700
or or phone 07957 145992

About Magic Me
Magic Me is the UK’s leading intergenerational arts charity. Since 1989 they have been bringing the generations together to build a stronger, safer community.
The charity runs intergenerational projects that bring school children from local primary schools together with residents in nearby care homes as well as projects with older children and older people drawn from the local community.

As well as the programme with school pupils they run a number of other projects with the wider community. Since 2010 the charity has run their signature Cocktails in Care Homes project tackling isolation and loneliness in care homes by bringing young people working in London into care settings for once a month cocktail parties. The Cocktails project currently has over 300 volunteers who enjoy supping cocktails whilst chatting, singing and dancing with older people at the parties that take place in 14 care homes in and around London.

Social media @MagicMeArts

About Metal
Metal was founded in 2002 by Jude Kelly CBE working with our current Artistic Director and CEO, Colette Bailey since inception. We have been active in Liverpool since 2004, the South Essex region since 2007 and Peterborough since 2012. Each of our spaces: Edge Hill Station in Liverpool, Chalkwell Hall in Southend and Chauffeurs Cottage in Peterborough were renovated to create centres of activity for artists, creatives and community. From these bases, Metal have worked with artists and local agencies to provide the catalyst that is helping to transform the potential for thriving creative and cultural industries in these three places over the last ten years. We take a developmental approach to local creativity and talent – training, mentoring and supporting the growth of knowledge and capacity in the sector, encouraging cross-sector and cross-disciplinary conversations and sharing of knowledge.

Alongside Artists-in-Residence, who live and work from our spaces, Metal develops large scale, participatory projects, including Anthem – a 2000 strong choir with participants aged 5 to 85 who welcomed the Olympic torch to Southend in 2012 with a new choral work commissioned from composer Tolga Kashif. On the Line, saw over 1000 young people involved in creating their version of a Museum of the Thames Estuary working with 22 artists, heritage experts and people from all walks of life.

Each year Metal works with around 1200 artists from across the world, 18,000 active participants, over 60,000 live audiences and more than 100,000 online audiences.

Social Media: @MetalSouthend

Top photo and featured image – photographer Chuck Blue-Lowry

middle photo – photographer Kate Hodson