Tuesday, 11 June 2013

National Media Museum Blogger Event

Last week I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a bloggers event at the National Media Museum in Bradford. At first I was hesitant about making the two hour round trip to Bradford on a week night, but in the end I decided that it was definitely worth a visit as it held so many childhood memories.

As I'm originally from the Bradford area, the National Media Museum (or the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television as I first knew it) was THE place to go for school trips.  Everyone from my town has fond memories of all the cool, interactive and kid-friendly exhibits that showed the magic behind film and TV - especially the magic carpet ride. I've since learned that they no longer have this *sad face*.

Anyhow, I hopped on the train last Monday and made my way over to Bradford. Thankfully I remembered the way to the museum from the station (cue flashbacks of being a teen and traipsing around Bradford with nothing better to do) and the weather was really nice and sunny. Bradford actually looks quite nice in the sun!

I was greeted by the ever-so-lovely press team and then told to sample the delights of the newly refurbished Media Cafe with the other bloggers - who were all lovely of course! I have vague imaginings of what the cafe used to look like (a bit school canteen-y?) but the new cafe looked ultra slick with nice thick wooden worktops and various bits of film memorabilia dotted around. The food was really nice - lots of interesting and tasty salads and flatbread pizzas. No stale popcorn or overpriced hotdogs in sight! Unfortunately I wasn't able to sample the wine that evening, but the orange juice was perfect. The Media Cafe now stays open until 10pm, so you can grab something before catching a film.

After enjoying some good food, wine and conversation (blogger events are always a civilised affair...) we were taken on a guided tour of the museum's Bollywood Icons exhibition, led by curator and Bollywood commentator Irna Qureshi. Even though I've never seen a Bollywood film before (despite a few requests from friends) I found the exhibition really interesting. It was also interesting to pick up on some of the parallels between Bollywood and Hollywood films, but Bollywood's audiences seemed to take the idea of celebrity to the extreme, making sure they know everything about their favourite stars on screen and off.

It was great to have Irna as a tour guide, as she was obviously so passionate about the subject and gave us a great run through of the history of Bollywood cinema. I now have a few Bollywood films to add to my ever growing list of 'must-see' films!

After the Bollywood Icons exhibition, we then moved on to take a look at an exhibition by photographer Tom Wood. This exhibition displayed 116 photographs, including more than 10 previously unexhibited and unpublished images and managed to completely blow me away. He just seemed to effortlessly capture 'life' in all its mundane, yet fascinating glory. An image of two young girls drinking out of bottles in front of a public toilet becomes a story of 'who are they waiting for?', 'what are they doing?', 'are they best friends?', 'where will they go next?' whilst the clothes, drinks packaging and toilet sign cement the image firmly in the 80s.

In all of his work Tom Wood just seems to capture those little moments that encapsulate the spirit of the time in one image. I was actually surprised to find that Wood is very camera shy and introverted, despite his bold, yet candid portraiture work. I always thought that it took a very self-assured and confident photographer to approach strangers in the street and photograph them - I get embarrassed even when photographing trees and buildings!

After the Tom Wood exhibition we headed back to the Media Cafe, where we were offered the chance to catch a film in one of the three screens, but unfortunately I had to catch the train back home...

Both of the exhibitions I visited close on the 16th June, but they're definitely worth the visit if you have a spare afternoon before then. If not, the next exhibition looks equally exciting (even if it is aimed at children) which starts on July 12th. It's called Moving Stories: Children's Books from Page to Screen and tells the story of how children's books are adapted for film and television. I'm definitely going back for that! And I'd like to explore a bit more of the museum on my next visit.

On a final note, there has been some speculation in the news that the National Media Museum is facing the threat of closure, which makes me angry and very very sad. Nothing has been confirmed, but it's been stated that one of the museums run by Science Museums Group will have to close due to cuts.

If you're tired of people thinking that all National museums should be London, and you wish to save the home of Europe's first IMAX screen then please sign the petition here: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-national-media-museum-bradford

Thank you to the team at the National Media Museum for putting on this event and long may the museum continue to inspire and excite the next generation of journalists, producers, writers, creative directors, illustrators, presenters, sound technicians, editors, photographers, curators, camera(wo)men...


  1. Oh man I am jealous. I want to go the media museum. Hey media museum, where was my invite? :(

    Lovely post, and I agree that it will be a real shame if it closes. So much of our culture is already focused in London so we should keep what we have elsewhere in the country. A year or so ago I went to see a Vivienne Westwood exhibition at Bowes museum in Barnard Castle, which was the only UK museum it showed at, and in the guestbook somebody had written a long angry message about how unfair it was that they had to travel so far from London to see it. I couldn't help but think, hey, now you know how everyone who doesn't live in London feels!

    1. It's SO good. Haha, well you should visit anyway - it's free entry!

      Aww thank you, yes I agree! Why should all the museums be in London? It's impossible to visit all of them in one trip, so why not spread them about a bit for the rest of the country to enjoy?

      Haha, yes angry person, this is how the rest of the UK feels!


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