Ginosko Flash Fiction contest

Icelandic skies cr Judy DarleyThe Ginosko Flash Fiction Contest 2018 invites submission of exceptional, unpublished works of flash fiction.

Submit up to two of your finest flash fiction, of no more than 800 words per piece. The work selected as the winning flash by judges Amanda Yskamp, Michael Hettich, Gary Lundy, E M Schorb, Andrena Zawinski, Andrei Guruianu and Robert Paul Cesaretti will receive a $500 Award, and will be published on Ginosko Literary Journal website as well as in a future print issue.

You can read the 2017 winner, PRAYER FOR SMOKE by Jason Del Guidice, here.

The deadline for entries is 1st March 2018.

Each entry must be accompanied by a $5 entry fee.

Submit your entries, along with a brief bio and cover letter if desired, via Submittable: ginosko.submittable.com/submit. The name of the author must not to be on the actual submission.

Find full details at ginoskoliteraryjournal.com/contest.htm.

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Art to make you smile and think

Ironing by Martina Paukova crop

ironing by Martina Paukova, cropped

Artist Martina Paukova has launched her debut solo exhibition Girls, at The Book Club in Shoreditch. Running until 8th April 2018, the show represents an antithesis to the glamorous, air-brushed photos we face daily.

“These domestic environments are little self-made worlds of sort,” says Martina. “Away from the outside world where we are pushed to pose and perform, it is usually at home, within the four walls, where we are at our most natural and non-performing selves.”

waiting by Martina Paukova

waiting by Martina Paukova

The vivid scenes feel like snapshots of real life, with a quirky cartoon feel. The girls are surrounded by the paraphernalia – laptops, phones and coffee cups, but they themselves are unpolished and occasionally 2-dimensional, folding into the angles of the sofas they slump onto.

dining by Martina Paukova

dining by Martina Paukova

The artwork is hyper-simplified, flattening out detail in a way that’s both light and cheery, while underlaid with a faintly foreboding darkness that speaks of our concern for the future of females in a time when artifice is paramount and men still have the upper hand. In Martina’s world, men serve as furnishings or simply hang around waiting to be tried on, while technology wins her girls’ overriding affection.

loving by Martina Paukova

loving by Martina Paukova

Martina Paukova was born in Slovakia in 1983, and has since studied graphic design in London, followed by illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. She now lives in Berlin, doodling people and creating commitions for clients including Pull&Bear, Converse, the Guardian, Google and The New York Times.

munching by Martina Paukova

munching by Martina Paukova

Despite the shadowiness of her underlying themes, Martina is aiming to prompt more smiles than disruption. “I am hoping for a light amusement mixed with some sense of familiarity,” she says. “The scenes I present can be super autobiographical and rather tongue-in-cheek and ideally I’d get some tongue-in-cheek response back :-P”

Find out more at www.wearetbc.com

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Writing prompt – first love

Bunny Valentine by Judy DarleyToday, to the satisfaction of card sellers and florists everywhere, is Valentine’s Day. This is the card I made for my husband of ten years (and friend for countless more).

Today, I invite you to write a love-letter not to the person you first loved, not to a parent, sibling, or even pet, but the object you first felt true, undying passion for, whether that’s a toy, book, or random item, such as, say, a particular sock. A friend of mine once harboured an unwavering loyalty towards her pyjama case. I myself was partial to a train set that thrilled me with its swooping hills that its interlocking parts allowed me to construct myself.

What first filled you with such delight?

Turn that devotion into a poem, letter or story that reflects the depths of your feelings, but hold one detail back – the word that explains exactly what the item you so adored was or is.

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

The Edge of the Sand – a short story

Cornish shore cr Judy Darley

My short story The Edge of the Sand is the featured tale in issue 9, the March issue, of In The Moment magazine. It’s in shops now.

Turn to the centre of the any issue and you’ll find the cute mini-mag, inviting you to “take a moment”, with a recipe, a crossword and a short story. What a fab idea!

IntheMomentissue9Their strapline for my tale reads: “Arianne finds a way to help her mother overcome her fears in this moving story by Judy Darley.”

What a great introduction. Ta very much!

It’s a beautiful magazine to have my words take up home in, and they pay a decent amount too, which is refreshing. In issue 10 they’re publishing a travel piece I’ve written for them about visiting the Azores. Can’t wait to see how it look on the page.

And, yes, I have used this photo previously to illustrate a post about my tale Adrift. It’s curious how many of my stories happen within earshot of the sea!

Beyond the curtains

Levitated solar etching by Debbie Lee

Levitated solar etching by Debbie Lee

I encountered Debbie Lee’s extraordinary solar etchings, paintings and prints at the RWA Galleries in Bristol. Taking up almost a full wall in the downstairs gallery, it felt a little like having drawn aside a heavy velvet curtain and discovered a wonderful circus of the shadows taking place.

“I’m a visual artist based in Dorset, and work in paint, print and animation,” Debbie explained when I got in touch to find out more. “In recent years I’ve made a series of mini etchings which have been exhibited around the UK and in France and Spain. They explore themes of magic and illusion.”

Hypnotist by Debbie Lee

Hypnotist by Debbie Lee

Debbie has linked the artworks together using an imagined narrative and bound them into a limited edition artist’s book entitled ‘Tread Softly’. “I like the containment that a book offers and the intimacy of studying each illustration secretly. I’ve made larger paintings of these miniatures and I hope to exhibit the prints, paintings and book together.”

Tread Softly artist's book by Debbie Lee

Tread Softly artist’s book by Debbie Lee

Debbie often works in print, and enjoys the social aspect of the print studio. “I sometimes invite other artists to my studio to print and share ideas while we work side by side,” she comments. “I have always made prints alongside my paintings and have visited many print studios during my travels to India as a commonwealth research scholar, as well as in Chicago and Tasmania. When I first moved to Dorset with young children, I found going to Poole print studio a great way to meet local artists and I have been teaching solar etching there for a number of years.”

Find out more about solar etching.

Debbie draws inspiration from “surrealism, outsider art and philosophy, psychological theories and fairytales. I like to paint on coloured Indian khadi paper. I am interested in the different process of working in miniature and large scale pictures. Sometimes I take a part of a miniature Indian painting and magnify it so that the brush strokes are physically present and the shapes become abstracted.”

Previously, Debbie worked as an art therapist with children, and still values this process in the work she makes today. “I will often start a number of pictures simultaneously, sometimes with my daughter making random marks on the paper, and exchanging the pictures between us working with large brushes and sponges which I later develop in my studio. I like the idea of developing attachment through drawing and painting with my daughter during this process.”

Debbie has also found support though joining creative parent projects. “We work together and encourage each other to retain our artistic practice,” she says. “Resources like this provide an archive of material for new creative parents to draw upon and a platform for parent artists to show artwork. Last year I was asked to contribute a creative piece of writing in celebration of grand mothering.”

Sadness by Debbie Lee

Sadness by Debbie Lee

In 2016 Debbie teamed up with other artists to experience collaborative ‘play’ on a massive scale at the Hansard Gallery in Southampton. “This has led to further collaborations with group members,” she enthuses. “Ideas from this experience evolved into a series of images offering a psychological inspection of women caught behind the scenes.”

Whispered by Debbie Lee

Whispered by Debbie Lee

The body of work they produced was also influenced by the novella The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one of my personal unsettling favourites. “It charts the female protagonist’s attempts to manage altered mental states after childbirth,” Debbie says. “Isolated by her physician and husband and told to ‘rest’ her creativity, she hallucinates disturbing figures in wallpaper patterns.”

The series of artworks produced in response to the novella also ties in with the phenomenon of pareidolia, an intriguing topic that formed the basis of one of my recent writing prompts on SkyLightRain. “I projected wallpaper and invited the group to draw out images from the patterns and made a stop motion film of the process which inspired future paintings,” Debbie says.

Drawn Curtain still image by Debbie Lee

Drawn Curtain still image by Debbie Lee

Exploratory play is key to Debbie’s imaginative process. “I like to experiment with animated drawings – drawing over one drawing and erasing it over and over to create the sense of movement,” she says. “I find this a satisfying way to bring memories to life using collected sound tracks and images. It has also been a good way to take my work to a wider audience and this year I have had my animations, including Drawn Curtains, screened in Chicago and at the RWA.”

These processes provide a foundation for Debbie’s larger paintings. “For me these are windows to my imagination (Sadness),” she says. “I enjoy the physical activity of working on a large scale and I enjoy the playful processes I go through to create them. I try to create a believable world from my imagination.”

You can see more of Debbie’s work and find out where she’s exhibiting on her website www.debbieleeart.co.uk.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Writing prompt – fever

Jardim Botanico Jose do Canto tree cr Judy Darley

Over Christmas and New Year I was ill with a sinus infection that led to high blood sugars, racing pulse and boiling temperatures, a concoction which led in turn to some pretty peculiar  imaginings. One result of this was a hastily, barely legibly scribbled story that I ended up naming Old Blue Eye.

It’s now been published by The Fiction Pool. I can honestly say it’s one of the strangest tales I’ve written.

So this week, why not try putting yourself in an unfamiliar frame of mind? I’m not advocating drugs or attempting to catch some terrible ague, but you could try to write in bed before you’re full awake, or stay up late and write when your thoughts begin to ramble. Who knows what gems your addled brain might come up with?

You can read my fevered flash fiction Old Blue Eye here, but please be warned, if you’re of a sensitive disposition you may emerge rather disturbed!

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

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The Spoke at Seren Poetry Festival

The Spoke poets with shadesFabulous poetry group the Spoke have been on something of a roll recently. Of the four, Paul Deaton and Robert Walton launched their debut Seren titles in 2017, with Claire Williamson and Elizabeth Parker set to follow with their Seren debuts in the coming months.

On Saturday 17th February 2018, they will be reading at Cornerstone’s Seren Poetry Festival.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event and we really hope you can make it,” says Elizabeth. “the festival line-up is superb and we’re honoured to be included.”

The evening will take place at Jane Hodge Hall, Cornerstone, Charles Street, Cardiff.

Tickets cost £12 and include a meal of Beef Stew or Sweet Potato and Bean Soup with a roll.

Find out more and book tickets here https://rcadc.org/event/seren-poetry-festival-spoke-poetry-music-little-red/

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

Writing prompt – Die Waldfrau

Die Waldfrau by Meret Oppenheim_1939This deliciously creepy painting is by the Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor Meret Oppenheim. She painted it in 1939, when she was just 26 years old, Meret titled it Die Waldfrau, which translates as The Forest Woman.

As someone who occasionally feels like she might be part tree, I particularly like the ambiguity of this scene. As sinister as the woman, with her long green tail, appears, the child looks utterly unafraid.

What happens next?

Find more of Meret’s evocative artwork in the book Meret Oppenheim: Works in Dialogue from Max Ernst to Mona Hatoum.

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

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Book review – Meret Oppenheim: Works in Dialogue

Meret Oppenheim_Rintgenaufnahme des Schndels M.O._1964Has any book ever had a more intriguing title? In fact, the full title is Meret Oppenheim: Works in Dialogue from Max Ernst to Mona Hatoum. When I received this book to review, I admit, I knew little about the German-born Swiss painter and sculptor Meret Oppenheim, despite having been a fan of the surrealists since my teens. Reading this book I discovered that she was something of a phenomenon in her lifetime, managing to stand out amidst the extrovert eccentricity of the male-dominated Surrealist art scene.

This glorious book acts as a retrospective of the artist’s work, in the context of the time in which she created it, with insights into her influences and inspirations. Through the book’s editors art historian Guido Comis and museum director Maria Guiseppina Di Monte, we encounter Meret’s peers, friends and acquaintances, with accounts packed with absorbing titbits from her intriguing life. While her affiliations evidently impacted enormously on her creativity, she clearly helped to mould much of their output just as powerfully.

Handschuhe (Paar) by Meret Oppenheim, 1985

Handschuhe (Paar) by Meret Oppenheim, 1985

My favourite chapter in the book is written by Bice Cunger, which opens with a splendid sentence from Meret: “Men are a species as bizarre as women and, like then, caricatures of what they could be.” it’s a perfect example of the wry observation and light-hearted wisdom that infuses Meret’s work, reflecting her outlook and candour. While many of her paintings resemble scenes from the darker examples of fairytales, she never looses her focus on the absurdities of real life.

Vogel mit Parasit by Meret Oppenheim_1939

Vogel mit Parasit by Meret Oppenheim, 1939

It’s an extraordinary read, especially accompanied by lustrous photography of Meret’s unsettling yet appealing creations. There’s a stunning finesse to her sculptures, so that they’re at once elegant and discomfiting – a duality I find irresistible.

Das Paar by Meret Oppenheim, 1956, from a private collection

Das Paar by Meret Oppenheim, 1956, from a private collection

Published to accompany an exhibition at the Museo d’rate della Swizzeria Italiana, the tome humbly describes itself as a catalogue. In fact, it is a beautifully put together coffee table book worthy of treating as a work of art in its own right, yet packaged in such a way that you can draw it into your arms to shape and stimulate your own creative meanderings, just as Meret’s mind and spirit shaped and stimulated generations of artists, thinkers and innovators. Quite frankly, a fabulous last-minute Christmas present or New Year’s gift to yourself.

Meret Oppenheim: Works in Dialogue from Max Ernst to Mona Hatoum is published by Skira.

What are you reading? I’d love to know. I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a book review, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018 Short Story Competition

Beautiful skies, Victoria Park cr Judy DarleyThis annual competition is one of my favourites on the literary calendar. There’s no theme for you to base your story on – all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website www.writersandartists.co.uk, that the subject line of your email reads ‘W&A Short Story Competition 2018‘ and that you send it to competition@bloomsbury.com.

Your story must be no more than 2,000 words long. The closing date for entries is midnight on Tuesday 13th February, 2018.

The winner of the competition – along with two runners-up – will be announced on the W&A blog pages in March 2018.

Entry is free, but don’t forget to register before submitting your story. Continue reading