School of Curiosity

School of Curiosity

School of Curiosity

Explore. Dream. Discover.

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Darling I sold the house. We’re making a one minute film!

September 3, 2013

Marina Nicholas came over to me one day when I was having coffee at my local cafe. She excitedly showed me a hand written story she had made for her son Bruno, who loved racing cars. I said it was very good.

The next time I saw her she had sold her house and used the money to create one minute of animation based on her character ‘Franco’ who is a racing driver. She’d taken it to The Cannes Film Festival won a prize and has now signed up 38 countries for the series. This despite having no experience whatsoever in the media industry.

I should have been surprised. I wasn’t. Years before doctor after doctor had told Marina that she couldn’t conceive. She experimented with every possible technique and every possible variable until after seven years Bruno was born. She put her research into a book which was published in 16 languages and hundreds of other kids were born.How does she do these things? Come and find out. She’s just one of the amazing people that will be part of the faculty at The School of Curiosity ‘End of Summer School’. You can find the full prospectus here.

You should come. You never know where it may take you when you open up the door of curiosity.

Have a curious day.

Your life in a minute

September 2, 2013

She’s currently in the US with Michael Palin making a documentary for BBC2 about the giant of American painting Andrew Wyeth. Soon though, film maker Eleanor Yule will be with us in Villefranche-sur-Mer at The School of Curiosity ‘End of Summer School’. She’ll help you to dramatise your life as if it were a one minute screenplay and then to try to answer the question “How would I like the film to end?”

Sounds a bit morbid? Well the only thing you can control is the ending. It’s going to be great and you can download the full prospectus here

Meanwhile here’s a bit more about Eleanor….

Eleanor’s documentary work for the BBC includes an award winning profile on Scots psychiatrist R.D.Laing and a BAFTA nominated ‘Bookmark’ on celebrated novelist Muriel Spark. She has an ongoing collaboration with ex – Python, Michael Palin, to produce one off documentaries about painters. Their last offering, MICHAEL PALIN AND THE MYSTERY OF HAMMERSHOI, for BBC 1, was nominated for both BAFTA and FIFA (Festival of Arts in Montreal).

Her first feature BLINDED, a haunting love story, starring Peter Mullen and Jodhi May, won the Newfoundfilms scheme against strong competition, the ‘Jury Award’ at the Celtic International Film Festival and the ‘Silver Screen’ in L.A. BLINDED played in competition at film festivals all over the world including Edinburgh (Nominated for the Michael Powell award), Taormina, Istanbul and Moscow.

She has written and directed numerous crime drama documentaries which include, CRIMES THAT SHOOK THE WORLD (UK/US DISCOVERY) and SCOTTISH KILLERS series for STV, which was nominated for the 2010 Celtic Media Festival.

She was short-listed for Productions Base inaugural ‘Freelancer of the Year’ award at the BFI in London in 2010 and completed a comedy pilot for the BBC featuring the successful Doric ensemble the’ DESPERATE FISHWIVES’, ‘THE MISSING’ for BBC’s Artworks, based on Andrew O’Hagan’s book, and a short Romantic fiction film ‘LOVE CAKE’, written by award-winning writer Mandy Lee, due to have its world premiere at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York in November 2013.

Last year she made profile for BBC4′s Christmas season of ‘Moomins’ creator Tove Jansson, while studying a Phd in practice-based screenwriting at UWS. She is about to film ‘WYETH’S WORLD’,profile of the giant of American painting with presenter Michael Palin for BBC 2.

She is involved in charity work and is proud to serve on the board of cutting edge StreetLevel Photoworks Gallery and the highly successful Scottish Independent cinema, the Glasgow Film Theatre.

….in other words she’s pretty damn good, and we are so lucky to have her come to Villefranche.

Have a curious day.


Son of a witch (no that’s not a typo) heads for School of Curiosity

August 28, 2013

A gifted poet, performer and philosopher, Tom Calderbank is a son of a witch (literally) and proud son of his home city, Liverpool.. He’ll even lern yer sum Scouse. Tom’s running the philosophy walks at The School of Curiosity ‘End of Summer School’ in the medieval Old Town of Villefranche – an amble through ancient streets exploring the ideas of five philosophers and leading a discussion about their relevance to our lives today. You can get the full prospectus here.

Meanwhile, here’s a bit about the man….

A man landed on the moon, for the very first time in history, the year that Tom was born. The heavenly bodies must have been aligned, as Tom was born to one of England’s greatest unsung witches, Arianhod, in a unique city that styled itself as the centre of cosmic consciousness: Liverpool.

He is a force of nature, a man with lightening running through his veins. A man who turns the trash of run down neighbourhoods into the treasure of vibrant communities.

During the city’s reign as European Capital of Culture, he worked as a roadie for La Machine and their epic spider ‘La Princesse’, 10 days that he says changed his life. He was the driver of an IT bus, a community activist who had passionate love affairs with ancient buildings before bringing them back to life and now is the Director of Curiosity at Bearhunt.

Tom has been positively changing the world (or his small part of it) all his life. A huge believer in people power, he has been instrumental in a string of award-winning projects at the sharp end of community development in his beloved Toxteth.




Secret millionaire Feng Shui’s a town

August 22, 2013 2 Comments

Yes we know! It sounds like a bizarre headline from a tabloid newspaper, but’s its true – Dawn Gibbins was a secret millionaire and she did Feng Shui a whole town. What’s more she’s coming to The School of Curiosity ‘End of Summer School’ as part of our amazing faculty. You can download the prospectus here

Here’s a bit about her…

Dawn Gibbins gave away £250,000 on TV’s Secret Millionaire and then decided that after a successful business career, she needed a higher purpose in life. So she did what anyone would do and set out to try to apply the principles of Feng Shui to a whole town. The effects have been remarkable and Dawn believes that you don’t have to be out there with the ‘Woo-Woo’ people to use the principles of this ancient oriental philosophy to make things better for yourself, your home, your business and even your town. She now describes herself as a philanthropreneur and has many more curious ideas on the go.

Have a curious day!

Like school should have been but wasn’t

August 20, 2013

Yes. It’s going to be great!

We’ve got a World class faculty; some amazing experiences; an awe inspiring venue; and there’s the chance to light the blue touch paper of curiosity that may just lead to a startling new insight.

Anyway, that’s enough chatter have a look at the full prospectus here School of Curisoity Prospectus

Nerd hero heads for School of Curiosity

August 19, 2013

When he lectured at Harvard University he was described as a ‘Nerd Hero’, with up to 600 students queuing up to attend his lectures. Dr Brian Palmer’s popularity, enteratining and engaging style (as well as brilliant content) won him the Levenson Prize as Harvards best lecturer.

Brian loves The School of Curiosity and is coming to our ‘End of Summer School’ 23-25 October to work with us on “What is happiness, and how do we balance time and money?” It might just change the way you see the world.

As if that were not enough he’s going to regale us with stories from his latest book, 101 Historical Heroes, (with  Ola Larsmo).

If you’ve never seen this guy, believe us, he is a legend. They will be queuing around the block for him, though if you do get a ticket you’ll be interacting with him in a small class setting.

Don’t wait. The full prospectus will be released today, but you can reserve your tickets here

The art of mental time travel

August 8, 2013

Hey, there’s no need to wait until you can afford that time machine you always promised yourself. Tali Sharot in The Science of Optimism: Why We’re Hard-Wired for Hope  says that mental time travel is all part of our daily routine. It’s a double edged sword, it keeps us optimistic, yet warns us of the things to come. According to Sharot…

“Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel. That is, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one’s mind. To think positively about our prospects, it helps to be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Although most of us take this ability for granted, our capacity to envision a different time and place is critical for our survival. It allows us to plan ahead, to save food and resources for times of scarcity, and to endure hard work in anticipation of a future reward.

While mental time travel has clear survival advantages, conscious foresight came to humans at an enormous price — the understanding that somewhere in the future, death awaits. This knowledge that old age, sickness, decline of mental power, and oblivion are somewhere around the corner, can be devastating”.

Have a curious day.

The power of stories

August 7, 2013

Are stories just stories or can they create value?

In 2009 Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn wanted to find out, so they set about  a curious experiment: They would purchase cheap trinkets, ask some of today’s most exciting creative writers to invent stories about them, then post the stories and the objects on eBay to see whether the invented story enhanced the value of the object.

It did: The junk, originally purchased for a total of $128.74, sold for a whopping total of $3,612.51 — a 2,700% markup. The most highly valued pairing in the entire project, bought for $1.49 and sold for $197.50, was a globe paperweight with a moving handwritten story by  Debbie Millman.

Stories have power, use it wisely.

Have a curious day.

Lord Andrew Mawson will be at The School of Curiosity

August 6, 2013

Lord Mawson at The Bromley-by-Bow Centre

Lord Andrew Mawson will join the ‘faculty’ for The School of Curiosity ‘End of Summer School’ 23/24/25 October in Villefranche-sur-Mer. You can book here Here’s a little bit about him….

Andrew Mawson arrived in the run down London neighbourhood of Bromley-by-Bow as a fresh-faced Reverend taking on his first Parish. He found a church with a leaking roof, £400 in a bank account and a congregation of twelve people, all aged over 70. On the face of it the future didn’t look too bright.

He became frustrated at what he saw as a voluntary and social sector having endless management meetings, spouting ideology and with endless talk about equal opportunity, whilst all around lay poverty and decay.

He says “There were people like Karen who lived in a tower block with three kids who would say ‘well I don’t want to join a committee, but what we really need around here is a decent nursery and a health facility’. I was hearing massive frustration from people and thought that maybe here was an opportunity”.

Curious about the energy and frustration all around him, he began to just say ‘yes’ and back people and their passions. He found the sculptor Santiago Bell, who had been imprisoned in Chile by the Pinochet Regime, sharing a flat nearby. Santiago set up a studio in the church and began to produce amazing works from wood he found in skips. More people began to come to see what was happening. Janet, who had been a professional dancer set up a dance school in another corner of the church; Eve came and set up a nursery; then Sue created the Pie in the Sky café.

By now momentum was gathering and Gordon, the architect, came up with a plan to rip out the church and create a central canopy area, which could be used by any faith, an art gallery and Britain’s first integrated nursery.

When Jean, a local lady suffering from cancer died after being badly let down by the NHS, Mawson decided that if the NHS would not build them a health centre they would do it themselves. They did, using the same hand-made bricks that they have at Glyndbourne.

What grew out of a church with a leaking roof is today known as the Bromley-by-Bow Centre. It employs over 100 local people has an income in excess of £2 million and includes the integrated health centre and a three acre park, providing over 125 activities every week. Several businesses have spun out of the centre.

Mawson says “Human beings if they can connect in a certain way can become amazingly powerful things. If you start from people and their passion you can get 120% commitment. Instead of building a theory of society as government tends to do we need to rebuild society around passion”.

Today Mawson is using exactly the same principles to regenerate St Pauls Way, an area of East London adjacent to the Olympic Park. It will include a new £40 million school, a health centre, redeveloped housing and a new £1 million streetscape.

It all began with some simple ideas about backing people in a crumbling old church. The clues to the macro lie in the micro.

If money were no object

August 6, 2013


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