Returning to our series of introductions to the staff of Curious Minds we would like to welcome you to Kelly Allen – our programme manager based in Burnley. Kelly joined Curious Minds in January 2010 and since then has been a huge success with the schools she works with, has been Curious Minds direct contact for CPD for practitioners. All in all Kelly is curious, creative and a record breaker – for more information on this you will need to speak to her directly. Let’s just say it involves a beach and 400 people on a Sunday morning.
Anyway over to Kelly’s curious answers to my curious questions:
1. What or who inspires you?
Right at the top of the list – nature! The ultimate manifestation of creativity in my mind. I’m constantly impressed the more I learn and I try to spend as much time in it as possible (although I would like to do this a lot more). I feel inspired by people all the time – young people, creative agents, colleagues, teachers, friends random strangers I find myself in conversations with. I think it’s much easier to have inspirational interactions with people who have a genuine spirit of curiosity and nothing to hide or prove. That’s when I find myself most likely to have a completely original thought, which is always inspiring.
2. What is ‘curious’ about your mind?
Goodness. Lots of things. Possibly the way it often surprises me – especially when an idea arrives fully formed and I don’t really feel like I’ve had anything to do with it. I did an NLP course recently and it’s made me a lot more aware of how I actually think, so at the moment the curious thing about my mind is how curious my mind is about my mind….(unpick that if you dare!).
3. Tell us a ‘Curious Story’ about yourself
The first time I ever went in an aeroplane was when I did a parachute jump. For about a year I was able to claim to have taken off in an aeroplane, but never to have landed in one. Just before we jumped I remember thinking ‘Why on earth did I choose to jump out of a perfectly good plane?’. It was very exhilarating – everyone should do it at least once!
4. If you could be a famous artist/performer from present, past or future who would you be and why?
Erm……there are lots of people I admire, but I’m not sure I would actually want tobe them. Lots of the more edgey artists I like have had horribly troubled lives – and I’m all for a peaceful, gentle, playful life! Also, if I was them, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate them! I think I’ll stay being me thanks very much.
5. You’ve lived in Liverpool, Todmodren and now Burnley – one thing/place/activity in all three locations you would recommend?
Liverpool has changed so much since I lived there. Part of me always thinks of Liverpool as home because I had such great experiences of being there, and I’m so glad I get to go to Liverpool quite a lot through Curious Minds. Go to St Luke’s Church (the bombed out church) at the top of Bold Street. It’s an amazing building which was hit during WW2, but still stands as a shell and physical memorial to some of the most amazing blitz stories about strong human spirit which I’ve been privileged to hear from people who experienced that time, when I worked with Urban Strawberry Lunch. It has no roof, or insides, but is eerily quiet. Urban Strawberry Lunch are still artists in residence there and regularly put on brilliant performances and events in this magical space. Quite unique.
Todmorden – apart from the very dramatic hills, which I love, it probably has to be Three Wise Monkeys – a little bar that sells very unusual beers and has a nice atmosphere, friendly faces (and welcomes my little dog Barkley).
Burnley – Curious Minds. Obviously. I’m voting with my feet on that one.
6. Contemporary art – Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst etc. – This isn’t art – Discuss .
I like anything that makes me see something differently, and challenges me to look from a different perspective. Whether I really like something, or really dislike it, am made uncomfortable or elated I just want to experience some kind of strong response – it actually doesn’t matter what the response is. Some modern art completely does this for me and some I feel completely underwhelmed by, which is when it doesn’t work for me. But I appreciate that’s different for everyone and what doesn’t engage me will engage someone else.
7. If you could live in one place in the North West where would that be and why?
In a wooden hut in the middle of a woodland, near a stream, anywhere that I can’t hear traffic and can look at the stars without seeing light pollution from silly orange streetlamps.
8. Desert Island – three luxuries – what are they?
An endless supply of really good cheese and red wine (is that one or two?). A sauna. A really good masseuse. I wouldn’t want to be rescued – this sounds like heaven to me.
9. If you didn’t work for Curious Minds where and what would you be doing?
I’d be living out of a rucksack, playfully experiencing whatever life puts in my path.
10. What do you like about working for Curious Minds?
The total commitment of the people I work with to doing the best we can do to enable more young people to experience a creative way of being. That our individual ideas are respected and heard and valued and we’re a damn strong team. That during busy and challenging times we’re pulling together and supporting each other. That we actually do make a difference to young people’s lives – what’s more important than that?