Victoria Denham Interview June 2013

victoria denham


If you could send a letter back in time to your 16 year old self what would it say?


Don’t rush.


What subjects, ideas or thinkers do you think are missing from the national curriculum?


I think the British education system seriously undervalues the importance of other languages and the variety of languages that currently thrive in our country. In Britain we have become complacent with the idea that English is spoken globally and therefore why should we ever need to learn? I think this may be one reason Britain and the USA seem often ideologically distant to the rest of the world. Since I began travelling I have often felt a certain chagrin at my lack of a second language, knowing that more often than not the company around me are speaking English for my benefit. I have often cursed my educational experience for leaving me feeling so wholly unprepared and as an adult I can now see the value of what I’ve missed out on. There are dozens of scientific and linguistic studies that have shown the cognitive and social benefits of learning a second language and also shown particularly, that once past the ages of 8/9 years old it starts becoming significantly more difficult to absorb new languages as our young minds become less malleable. I didn’t start learning French until I was 11 and despite my eagerness to learn, looking back the whole approach to language studies was shockingly lassez-faire. While things may have improved since I left school I know it’s not enough yet.


In order for you to achieve your dreams what habits would you need to cultivate?


I try to cultivate more self-discipline. What good is having great ideas or projects if you lack the mental fore-thought and stamina to see these projects through to their conclusion? I am person who is easily driven to distraction and procrastination (especially since the arrival of Facebook), I constantly have to keep telling myself ‘why put off what you can do today until tomorrow?’. More often I cast my mind to the people who have been great inspirations to me and try not to aspire to their greatness but to the willingness and determination to patiently chip away at their passion projects, to sit night after night, day after day, slowly churning out their contributions, building their dreams out of incremental successes that eventually accumulate into something wholly profound. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.


What are the most important ideas, projects, events or activities that you feel passionate about?


It is not a current project in anyway shape or form but what I would really like to see or attempt myself one day is this: When I first moved to Derby I was really attracted to the big yellow storage building on Uttoxeter Road, the surrounding buildings and areas like the old abandoned railway buildings across the road. Almost straight away I could see it’s potential and a little bit of research confirmed this. I envision the yellow storage building as a multimedia production factory an idea inspired by Robert Lepage’s Ex Machina in Quebec. It has the square footage and access to accommodate large scale arts projects for all disciplines and could house, performance spaces, sound stages, editing suites, recording studios, all the things required for producing art and whatever resources it should be freely available to the community’s artists. The Quad centre is a good example of how an idea like this is already working but I still believe we can go further. There are already examples of large scale developments like this are already working very well locally to us, an Arts Council funded study in 2005 showed how large scale creative projects like Leicester’s Curve Theatre and Sheffield’s redevelopment of its railway station and area leading up to the Crucible have helped these small cities to achieve huge steps in urban and economic rejuvenation during the recession. The old railway buildings and surrounding disused land could be a new gallery and museum to house derby’s existing arts heritage and showcase new talent, there could be a new public recreational area, there could even be room for a pit theatre in the smaller outbuilding on Great Northern Road. I was dismayed to see the planning permission go ahead to turn this area into yet another shopping centre that Derby neither needs or wants and I really hope we fight it. The city has the talent and the resources to turn this area into something we can all enjoy and it would secure job opportunities for more than just artists but in all manners of construction and long term management not to mention it would look much better than the current incarnation.


What do you love most about your life? What do you feel most grateful for in your life?


I love and feel most grateful for the incredible freedom I enjoy I live the life I want with few concessions and in comparison to so many people in this world I enjoy relative economic, academic, artistic and even political freedom. I think the worst thing you can do with your life is waste your freedom.


If you had one year to live how would you spend your time?


I’d become a vigilante.


What do you think is the difference between spirituality and religion?


I tend to consider spirituality as a kind of destination you arrive at where as religion is something, a particular mode of thought you ascribe to. However, in that respect the two aren’t mutually exclusive ie; you don’t need to be religious to consider yourself as a spiritual being. I think of spirituality more in terms of a journey to a place or state of mind where you are at peace with yourself and your place in the universe. I think everyone at their essence shares this deep universal compulsion and it’s what drives all artistic, scientific, philosophical and religious pursuits.

If you could be paid to do anything in the world as a job what would it be?


What I do right now, I wouldn’t mind a pay rise though.


What have been your highlights of 2013 so far?


Primavera Sound in Barcelona particularly seeing some heroes like Blur and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Seeing my friend Sally Lee from China for the first time in 2 years and spending a chilled out week with her in Spain at my Aunt & Uncle’s villa . Oh, and quitting my bullshit call centre job in order to facilitate the above and more.


What are the most exciting things that you are looking forward to doing this year and why?


I am so psyched to be going to this years Espinho Film Festival in Portugal for new directors and films. So many industry greats going to this thing I’m actually pretty intimidated but I know that I am going to learn so much and have aspired to move into film-making for a long time now. I’m incredibly lucky, I’ve been invited to stay for the month and I’m living 2 minutes from the festival site so it’s perfect! I’ll also be here for the São Pedro festival at the end of the month which is one of Portugal’s biggest, craziest events. Then afterwards I’ll be in Granada for Etnosaur. I’m a very lucky girl.


What are your favourite things about where you live and why?


Where I live right now is a no brainer – it’s 5 minutes from the beach and a beer will cost you no more than 1 Euro. When people ask me about home I tell them I like it because it’s super-friendly whilst being big enough to allow some anonymity still and it’s been cheap enough for me to always live within 10 minutes of the city centre.


When you think about the issues that concern you what would you like to see more people do?

How do you feel about the current government and why?


I think the issue that overshadows all others for me is I don’t feel I am represented by my government and that ordinary people can’t effect the changes we want on any other issues such as war, the environment, human rights or poverty because we end up electing governments who, for all intents and purposes, do exactly whatever they want with no fear of repercussion. That being said, when talking about voting I often hear the ‘puppet on the left or puppet on the right’ argument, saying that it doesn’t matter who you vote for so what’s the point? As a response I’d love to see more people turn up to elections to spoil their ballots like this:


This is a third option that to me says ‘neither of these are any good, try again.’ That way even if you don’t think any of the choices represent your views your can reflect that, it still counts and your making a public point of that. If you think the whole thing is a sham like I do you can still express those sentiments without throwing your vote, a right thousands of people have died for and many people still don’t enjoy, away. Until we start saying ‘NO’ en masse, no important changes are going to happen quickly.

What do you enjoy learning about most?


I love learning about people, listening to their stories, figuring out what makes people tick, their psychology as individuals or groups. I’m also fascinated by dreams.


Why do you think more and more people are started become critical of capitalism?


Because it’s started to have a negative impact on a lot of lives, no one cared before when they were busy buying houses and cars and maxing out credit cards to live the good life. Now it’s not so easy and probably never will be again. No one told us that so we’re pissed off. Of course when most of this was happening I was a child/teenager and therefore wasn’t expected to care. Now I’m part of the first generation whose expected quality of life will be worse than my parents and now I’m adult it’s my responsibility to do something about it if I don’t like the way things are going. It sucks.

Bt Victoria Denham –


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