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Q&A with Natasha Hawthornthwaite & Carla Mellor about their new poetry film, 'Look Up'

Our exciting Artist Residency programme kicked off last year, and with lockdowns and moving premises all wrapped up, we’re excited finally to premiere Look Up, a poetry film by Natasha Hawthornthwaite and Carla Mellor.

Natasha and Carla are creatives who live in Wigan. Natasha is a filmmaker and Carla is a poet, and after the success of their first collaboration ‘A Kingdom United', they were keen to collaborate again on a poetry film.

As adopted Wiganers, Natasha and Carla want to celebrate the beautiful old buildings in the town but also look at positivity during the pandemic period, and how we can look forward. The theme of the project is to ‘look up’, both in the physical and emotional sense.

We had a chat with Natasha & Carla to get some behind the scenes information and find out how they went about putting their new film together during the pandemic period.

What is that you both do?

Carla: I’m a spoken-word poet. I write ‘poetry for the people’; accessible, down to earth, and relatable poems for the everyday. I’ve worked on a number of commissions, including two for the BBC, and my debut poetry collection SCRAPS was published in 2021 by Wrecking Ball Press.

Natasha: I’m a Documentary Filmmaker from Lancashire, and Co-founder of Northern Heart Films who are based in Wigan. I’ve got an eye for content that evokes emotion and am passionate about telling human-focused stories with heart.

What made you want to do a residency at Wigan Steam?

Both: We’re both Wigan residents and love what Wigan STEAM do. They do so much creatively for the local community so we jumped at the chance to be a part of that.

What was the idea behind your poetry film?

Both: Following on from the pandemic and the lockdowns that came with it, we wanted to explore how getting out and about can have a positive impact on people's mental health. Not everyone has access to green spaces so it was about focusing on how to see the beauty in a more urban landscape, and how to really take in the finer details of the ordinary and everyday. Wigan has a lot of beautiful architecture so we went with the theme of ‘look up’. There’s a study called ‘the art and science of looking up’ about how looking up can improve people's outlook and have a positive impact on their ability to think creatively, problem solving and general mental health. We were particularly interested in exploring this.

What new techniques were you able to explore when making the poetry video?

Natasha: I usually make films that feature people and are around their stories so this project was quite different to the types of work I’m used to. I wanted to challenge myself creatively to find a way of filming buildings in a different way. I decided to create almost like a dreamlike effect on the visuals. I did this by using a simple technique which is putting a smear of Vaseline on the camera filter which is then attached onto the lens.

Carla: I usually write from a place of emotion and though there was some focus on emotion, i.e. themes of mental health, it challenged me to write in a more descriptive style.

What do you want people to take from the poetry video?

Both: I hope it inspires people to look up and out and see things they might not have noticed before. The idea for us was generally just to highlight that there’s always beauty in the world, sometimes it’s just hiding in plain sight!

We've loved working with Natasha and Carla - seeing their new poetry film come together has been so inspiring! Watch Look Up below and be sure to let us know what you think!

Watch Look Up below:

Support Natasha & Carla by checking out the links below:
Part of Wigan STEAM’s Residency Programme, funded by GMCA.


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