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There’s a lot of creative activity going on in Blackpool town centre cafes these days. For instance, Caffe Dolce on Abingdon Street, runs monthly art exhibitions featuring local artists. These include some trained in fine arts, photographers and last month included works from a local sixth form group. This month they did something a little different. They invited six artists, working in pairs, to create a multiform exhibition. Downstairs, the Clarks (working as Wolfshead Photography) exhibited wildlife photos of tigers. They have over 20 years experience in this type of photography and if any tiger image is sold from the exhibition a portion of the fee goes to saving the Bengal tiger in India.

Upstairs, the artwork was of an ekphrastic nature. David Riley had already contributed poems in response to the acrylic paintings of Paul Harding, without knowing the story behind the narrative images, to show how different the ideas of painter and poet might be, even when dealing with the same picture. At the exhibition’s launch, Paul described to the audience how memory, popular song and other factors went into the construction of his images.Paul Harding

This theme was complemented by the last pair Nikki McKenna and David Neal, the latter a familiar local poet working with Cleveleys’ Writers and Blackpool’s Live Poets. He suggested that the viewer doesn’t know what he or she is looking at until told what it is – and even then may not really know, as Nikki explained at the launch. Her pictures seemed to come from wars ranging from the American Civil to Afghanistan – but they were all modern photographs and all taken in Wigan! She looks for suitable backgrounds and ages the pictures of people taken in period clothes, producing very authentic “fakes.”

Caffe Dolce are still looking for further contributions of short poetry or prose to accompany this exhibition until the end of the month. You can view the images here or, of course, in the cafe itself. If selected your work might well be displayed alongside that already on the walls.

Two other cafes can be mentioned on the subject of cafe culture. The Number 5 at Cedar Square hosts the monthly meeting of Blackpool’s Dead Good Poets on the first Friday of every month. This is free and open to all to come along, listen or read at the open mic.They also run poetry workshops on the last Saturday of the month at Central Library. Their next meeting at the cafe will be on 3 May.

Barista on Birley Street also has plans for more creative activities – recently holding an invent a sandwich competition! I believe they are wanting to develop further creativity with local artists as well.  Creative people in creative places, cracking coffee and captivating cake.  Just a handful of the many reasons to wander into town.

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