Writing prompt – ship

Small ship cr Judy DarleyI dug this tiny boat up from a patch of dirt when I was a child. For years I kept it in a small box along with other knick knacks from that time in my life. Then, last year, I found it and wondered if I could shine it up. So I did, and discovered that beneath the grime it was this exquisite little pendant.

Who might have owned this miniature ship originally? Who gave it to them, and why? How did they come to lose it?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Book review – Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo

Dreaming The Bear by Mimi TheboSometimes a book can sneak into your consciousness, and warm the parts of you that you hadn’t even realised were cold.

So it is with Mimi Thebo’s Dreaming the Bear, a story beset with snow and wilderness but very much rooted in contemporary life.

Darcy is a British girl displaced by the careers of her parents to live far from the shopping malls she’s most at home in. Instead she’s struggling to get to grips with life in the winter of Yellowstone National Park America.

We meet Darcy when she’s recovering from a bout of pneumonia and is trying to build up her strength though daily walks recommended by her doctor. Everyone is busy, so she goes alone, grumbling inwardly about boredom, tiredness and missing everything she’s left behind in England. As frustration takes hold she decides to climb a steep hill, something she’s been warned against as her lungs are still “crinkly and wet” from her illness.

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Writers flock to Winchester

Stripe Image provided by The WInchester Writers' ConferenceWinchester Writers’ Conference returns next month, offering the opportunity to mingle with writers, hungry agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

Founded in 1980, the conference now encompasses a festival, book fair and  in-depth workshop schedule, as well as masses of opportunities to network with other aspiring and established authors.

Promised highlights include Meg Rosoff giving this year’s Keynote Addressor June 18th, plus the festival’s renowned One-to-One Appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors, authors, poets and industry experts. There will also be masterclasses, readings and talks, all devised to inspire and inform you so you can take the literary world by storm!

If you make it to any part of the conference, let me know how you get on!

The Winchester Writers’ Conference (writersfestival.co.uk) takes place June 17-19 2016.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at Judy(at)socketcreative(dot)com.

Life, Love and Mortality – a literary night

St John in the Wall photo credit Andy MarshallSt John in the Wall photo credit Andy Marshall

St John in the Wall © Andy Marshall

I’m really excited to be hosting a special literary event on 9th June 2016, at a very special Bristol venue. St John on the Wall is one of those magical places you can pass a thousand times without truly realising it exists, and then find it hard to believe you ever failed to notice it.

Late last year, I visited this church embedded in one of the only remaining sections of Bristol’s walls still standing. The atmosphere of the place, which is no longer used for religious purposes, immediately stirred my imagination.

Happily the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), who manage the space, were just as taken with the idea of a literary evening at this site as I am.

So this is what’s happening – nine individuals (poets, prose writers and musicians) are creating works inspired by the space and the themes life, love and mortality. These pieces will be performed in the setting of St John on the Wall, with many pieces being read from the pulpit. Doors open at 7pm, with the evening expected to end around 10.30pm.

There will be a small entrance fee of (£3 for early bird tickets, £4 thereafter, and a bar selling drinks. Proceeds will be split between the CCT, and homelessness charity St Mungo’s. Tickets are available from www.visitchurches.org.uk/lifeloveandmortality.

Here’s some text from the official press release that has gone out:

“Featuring the words of Judy Darley, Paul Deaton, Louise Gethin, Harriet Kline, Mike Manson, Helen Sheppard, and Claire Williamson, plus the music of Joanna Butler and Paul Bradley, this will be an evening focused on the things that can stop us in our tracks, and spur us on to achieve our dreams.”

Hope you can come along!

Skies full of roses and ducks

Park Street Ducks by Mary Corum

Park Street Ducks by Mary Corum

A gorgeous textural blend of intensely detailed drawing and colourful printed textiles make up Mary Corum’s artworks. Architecturally precise buildings are set against art deco rose skies through which ducks fly. There’s a nod to the ceramic ducks that graced living room walls of yesteryear, and a celebration of cityscapes adjoined with a love of nature.

Looking North by Mary Corum

Looking North by Mary Corum

The results are multifaceted and layered as Mary plays out her artistic leanings coupled with the experience gained via a degree in interior furnishings and textiles design.

In fact, this particular degree led to Mary’s output in more ways than one.

“As a young child I always enjoyed drawing and making things,” she says. “In particular I enjoyed sewing, which probably where my love of textiles comes from. I love to work with fine detail, and as part of my initial degree I studied technical drawing. There’s nothing better than the feel of drawing with a Rotring (technical drawing) pen.”

Rooftops by Mary Corum

Rooftops by Mary Corum

Mary believes that her background in textiles and screen printing meant it seemed natural to print her drawn studies onto fabric, “giving them a much softer look. I then started to combine these drawings with my screen printed designs. I love the combination of the fine illustration and repeated patterns.”

If you live in Bristol, you’ll certainly see scenes you recognise them, though not, perhaps, as you’ve ever glimpsed them before. A sense of place is vivid in Mary’s work, unsurprising given that she says the seeds for her designs often begin with “subjects close to my heart and the places I have visited. My first illustration in this series was a result of my time spent living in Sydney – I love the line and shape found in the harbour bridge and the Opera House. On moving to Bristol I felt the same about the Suspension Bridge and the iconic views of where I now live.”

Suspension Bridge by Mary Corum

Suspension Bridge by Mary Corum

Mary lives in Southville, south of the river, “so some of the views are local to my immediate area, but I also love to capture the wider areas of the city which has so many iconic views which makes Bristol such a great place to live and work. My artwork ventures into Bath too, and London where I am from originally.”

Focusing her attention to detail on a smaller scale, Mary also produces exquisite insect studies.

“The Moths and beetles were a result of a local community project,” she says. “I was keen to draw on the beautiful lines and patterns found in these insects.”

Beetles x 3 by Mary Corum

Beetles x 3 by Mary Corum

Other influences abound. “My love of Charles Rennie Mackintosh was the inspiration behind my rose repeat, and my fondness for vintage china flying ducks can be seen in many of my works!”

As a qualified art teacher, as well as working artist, Mary feels fortunate to be able to pass on her skills, “watching children and adults alike finding enjoyment in art. I am very lucky to work in a field where I love what I do.”

You can see and purchase Mary’s work at www.marycorum.com, and find her at instagram.com/marydcorum. She also exhibits on Bristol’s art trails and at the following shops and galleries: Glass Designs in Southville, Dolly What Not in The Arcade, Broadmead, Makers on Colston Street and 7th Sea on Cheltenham Road.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Writing prompt – chain

Bike chain by Kevlin HenneyThis week’s writing prompt comes courtesy Kevlin Henney, who posted this photo on Facebook earlier this week, and has given permission to me to repost it here.

To me it serves both as a work of art and a story prompt.

Kevlin’s explanation for the shot was: “Just found lying on the ground on the way to school this morning.”

Who might have lost this chain on their commute? What implications may it have had on the rest of their journey? Who and what might they have encountered as a result of this mishap?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Write for a Flash Walk

Bristol Harbour cr Judy DarleyFar less seedy than it sounds (depending on the tales submitted), Bristol Flash Walk will be part of National Flash-Fiction Day on 25th June 2016, celebrating fiction in its short and powerful form.

The Flash Walk will take place in the centre of Bristol, and take in the harbour area – a location brimming with stories and inspiration. And your words can be part of it.

To be in with a chance of being included, all you need to do is send us a piece of flash fiction, prompted by some aspect of Bristol’s harbourside area. You can take this idea in any direction you choose, using any theme and any genre, providing your tale is between 40 and 400 words in length.

The selected stories will be shared by trained actors during the walk, so if yours is chosen, all you need to do is come along and enjoy the performance!

The walk begins at 10.30am on 25th June, just outside the main entrance to the Bristol Central Library. It will finish at Corn Street close to St Nick’s Market, between an hour and an hour and a half later.

To be part of National Flash-Fiction Day‘s first ever #FlashWalk, submit your entries to bristolflash@gmail.com before 9th June 2016. There’s no charge to enter, so why not give it a go?

The Moth Room – a short story

Moth wings cr Judy DarleyMy very short story The Moth Room has been published in issue 21 of Gone Lawn, which describes itself as “a web journal of artistic and progressive literature.” What a lovely home for my tale!

Inspired by a visit to the studio of artist Rose McLay, my flash fiction draws strands of Cinderella together with a touch of moonlit iridescence.

Click here for a read.

The opening line is: He follows her home from the ball, trailing in the pitch of her laughter: bright as glass, bleak as snow.

Transcendent havens

Ilfracombe by Cyril Croucher

Ilfracombe by Cyril Croucher

There’s a palpable sense of place in Cyril Croucher’s paintings – not only the marine setting (you can almost smell the whiff of brine in the air and the tang of rust), but your own position low down in scenes that stretch skywards without hesitation.

Cyril calls this “the ‘low tide’ perspective”, and explains that he came to recognise the appeal of this unusual angle while life drawing in St Ives for a short period of time. “I was taking a break from life drawing and took a fresh look at my surroundings, in particular the alternative view of looking back from the sea. I wanted to capture that feeling of the height of harbour walls and houses looking up from sea level.”

Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe by Cyril Croucher

Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe by Cyril Croucher

This was Cyril’s breakthrough moment, but built on a breadth of experience of already having produced a wide range of art.

“I wanted to become an artist from a very young age – art and sport were the subjects I excelled in and which interested me the most at school,” he says. “I went to art college after leaving school in the 1960s but cut short my time there after my father died and I found I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the work I was producing.”

At this point, Cyril stopped painting entirely. “I did not pick up a brush again until I moved to Cornwall in 1994.”

Godrevy Lighthouse by Cyril Croucher

Godrevy Lighthouse by Cyril Croucher

Cyril swiftly discovered a fascination with “the shapes, the decay and textures found in walls and other structures, in particular the rust bleeding through layers of fading and peeling paintwork.”

Once he found his particular location in the scenes he wanted to capture, “Everything came together quite quickly – rusting fittings, plant growth and the changing light on the granite all helped my work evolve.”

After the winter Storms, Penzance by Cyril Croucher

After the Winter Storms, Penzance by Cyril Croucher

Today, Cyril’s work is instantly recognisable, and undeniably evocative. Whether he is painting Venice or Ilfracombe, the key ingredient is an impression of loftiness, and the passage of time. These are not pristine coastal vistas, but elegantly worked snapshots framing working ports, spindly piers, listing boats and weather-worn cliff-top homes, no doubt with exceptional views. There’s a beauty in the corrosion Cyril depicts, while the elongated proportions give every element a touch of the irreal, suggesting a desire to transcend the clouds.

Elements of Venice - Doorways II by Cyril Croucher

Elements of Venice – Doorways II by Cyril Croucher

“I am surrounded by a huge amount of subject matter in Cornwall but I also source material from other areas of the UK and from Italy, particularly Venice, and Spain,” Cyril says.

Mumbles Lifeboat Station by Cyril Croucher

Mumbles Lifeboat Station by Cyril Croucher

You can find more of Cyril’s work on the website of the Wren Gallery, “where I normally have an annual solo exhibition, but I have also shown at various group exhibitions nationwide including the RA Summer Exhibition.”

Find out more at www.wrenfineart.com.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Writing prompt – storm

Tintagel storm cr Judy DarleyThere’s a moment on the coast when you can see a storm approaching, and know there’s nothing you can do to prevent the collision between land and air and sea.

You’re aware you should be taking shelter, but something holds you in place, transfixed by the sheer rawness of what’s powering across the sea your way. You’re standing on the last vestige of civilisation, watching the wild wind and rain charge relentlessly towards you.

What happens next?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.