Artists’ depictions of the Iron Lady

On Earth as it is Heaven by Ben Moore

On Earth as it is Heaven by Ben Moore

Wednesday 17 April 2013, the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, marks the start of a brave new exhibition of Underground artwork inspired by the late Baroness.

Art Below‘s ‘Thatcherstic’ opens at London’s Gallery Different with a private view on Wednesday 17th April, the day of Thatcher’s funeral.

The exhibition features 10 artists depictions of ‘The Iron Lady’ and is open to the public for 10 days, tying in with the ‘No.10’ theme. Participating artists include Johan Andersson, Nasser Azam, Jonny Briggs, Sarah Maple, Matt Small, and Carne Griffiths. Continue reading

A unique storytelling adventure

These Pages Fall Like AshExperimental storytelling always gets my attention – the more inventive and brain-stretching the better. Authors Neil Gaiman and Nick Harkaway obviously agree as they are collaborating on the ‘These Pages Fall Like Ash’ project dreamt up by writer and Pervasive Media Studio resident Tom Abba and Bristol artist Duncan Speakman.

cr Tom AbbaOffering up Bristol’s less savoury histories for exploration, These Pages Fall Like Ash’ is being heralded as a “brand new way of experiencing the joy of reading books, which seeks to reimagine the relationship between the physical book, and its digital counterpart, and allows the reader to steer the story.”

I’m assuming it goes beyond the concept of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books (remember those?).

The experience begins on Saturday 20 April and continues for two and a half weeks.

They say: “Armed with a beautiful hand-crafted wooden book, readers will immerse themselves in a story of two cities and become a part of the story as well by accessing extra content on their mobiles and walking through city centre locations, learning new things about Bristol and its past and contributing their own thoughts. This is a reading experience where readers can influence and control the story just as much as its creators, with no way of knowing how the story will turn out.” Continue reading

Help to kickstart the Barefoot Diaries

Barefoot Diaries1 cr Stu McLellan
An old school friend of mine, Stu McLellan, is involved in an exciting new venture I wanted to share with you here. The Barefoot Diaries will be a quarterly journal of writing, artwork and photography “about living slower and deeper – in our own bodies, in our relationships, in connection to place and nature and the wider world.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Barefoot Diaries image cr Stu McLellanWe all need to pause, look up and take stock occasionally, and the Barefoot Journal will offer a chance to do that. Issue one is due out in early summer 2013, with contributors including bee campaigner Brigit Strawbridge and illustrator Jackie Morris, and topics ranging from summer foraging, tree-climbing as meditation (yep, I’m curious too) to the art of campfires, all printed on 100% recycled chunky paper.

You can help they get going with Kickstarter, where you can find out more about the project and your hands on original Barefoot artwork, not to mention the opportunity to send Stu on some random barefoot (literally) adventures.

To play your role in getting the Barefoot Diaries out into the world, visit

Free workshops for freelancers

Money box cr Judy DarleyThe toughest part about being a freelance writer is, in my opinion, dealing with taxes, insurance and all that boring but oh-so necessary stuff.

So it’s welcome news that in association with Creative England, specialist accountant Brookson are hosting a number of workshops specifically designed for freelancers.

You’ll have the chance to network with other freelancers, get tips on running your business effectively and speak to Brookson about your tax and accountancy needs, whether you are already freelancing or brand new to this way of working.

They say: “With 17 years’ history we can help you whether you are trading as a limited company or sole-trader. You will also have access to our business partners including BUPA, Kingsbridge Insurance and Contractor Club.”

The workshops have already taken place in several spots across the UK, but there are still more to come. Continue reading

Book review – Penguin Lines times 2

penguin-lines-the-blue-ribandThis week I’ve chosen to review two of the books in the Penguin Lines series: Richard Mabey’s A Good Parcel of English Soil and Peter York’s The Blue Riband. Each takes their line (the Piccadilly Line for York and the Metropolitan Line for Mabey) and explores it with a historian’s (and in Mabey’s case, a naturalist’s) eyes, packing their slim volumes with details and data as well as a layering of nostalgic romance.

York comments on Piccadilly Circus being the centre of the world: “It was the village green of the largest empire ever known”, before going on to note that despite this, “in a typically British way, it was never all that. Scale, planning and architectural quality all look completely pony and ramshackle compared with any triumphalist Euro-capital of the period.” His is a look at the tube line as a means of tracking Londoner’s aspirations and desire to enter ever inwards into the city. Continue reading

A lit lover’s retail heaven

pens in mug cr Literary Gift CoThe website of the Literary Gift Company caught my eye just by chance, and now I can’t leave it along – skimming through its pages is like finding yourself at a networking event populated only by eccentric like-minded folk you can’t wait to get to know.

Their wares are so many and varied and original, yet all somehow relate back to books and literature. Heaven!

There are so many things to choose from, but the ones that really got my attention include the set-of-inspirational-pens (complete with mug!).

virginia-woolf-soft-toyConveniently there’s a list of featured authors so you can easily find all the products directly relating to your favourites, such as this quirky Virginia Woolf doll.

I’m also partial to the quotey tote bags, including their lovely Dodie Smith ‘I Capture the Castle’ one pictured belowI can’t think of a more stylish away to carry my shopping home!

dodie smith bag i capture the castleI’m also partial to their quotey tote bags, including this lovely Dodie Smith ‘I Capture the Castle’ one.


A guide to film journalism

Goodfellas Martin ScorseseIn today’s guest post, film journalist Joel Meadows talks us through how to get started and become a success at writing about the big screen.

Considering the amount of time I spent at the cinema in my teens, it isn’t that surprising that I’ve fallen into writing about film. I read William Goldman’s Adventures In the Screen Trade when I was in college, so that may have sparked my interest in film. I also read Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without a Crew, one of the most witty and entertaining books about cinema, in which we learn how Rodruiguez got his start in film by funding his early work through medical experiments!

Film is such an important and influential part of everyone’s life. It is one of the only subjects that you can guarantee everybody has an opinion on. The best films transcend their fictional settings and stay with you for life. I can still remember seeing Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese for the first time at Screen On The Green in Islington and being transfixed by it. Continue reading

A poem a day…

seashellSo the challenge for April is to write a poem every day. Did you know that? It’s been all over Twitter: ‘A poem a day through April till May’. Any length, any form, any topic, as long as you end up with something vaguely resembling a poem.

Seashell interiorFor a long time I’ve thought about trying to develop my rudimentary poetry writing skills, so this seems like too good an opportunity to pass up. So far I’ve managed to write three poems in the first three days of April, the third of which even sort of said what I wanted it to, which felt like a huge triumph.

But, and this is a big but, I also think I need to read more poetry – get the rhythm of it into my head and find out what seems to me to succeed, and why and how.

A sort of month-long self-taught poetry course.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s in a name?

Ovum screen shotOn Sunday I posted Ovum, very short story about a couple finding a mysterious egg on their doorstep and having two very different reactions to their discovery.

The story popped fully formed into my head (though it may not yet be completely finished), but the characters’ names eluded me at first, partly because I couldn’t decide their genders: should the one who wants to mother the egg be the male to turn gender biases on their head or would that be too obvious? In the end I realised I wanted to the reader to address their own prejudices a little, and so gave each character a gender-neutral name, to allow the reader to make up their own mind.

Because what’s in a name is quite a lot. It creates expectations, leads to ideas about a person that they may be unable to, or may not want to, live up to. If you name a character Daisy or Lilly, your readers may expect someone delicate and flowery. However, giving a really tough, forthright character that kind of name works because you are turning any presumptions on their head (the 1990s TV series Drop The Dead Donkey had a character called Joy who neatly subverted expectations by being anything but joyful).

I went to a party a while ago where I met a woman who introduced herself as Bob, and I immediately had the idea she was someone bold, someone to be reckoned with, possibly someone with a wry, intelligent sense of humour.

At the same party a group of people I’d never met before told me my name doesn’t suit me. It’s not the first time it’s been said, and in a way I agree, but it’s the name I grew up with and as someone who didn’t even change her surname when she got married, changing my given name could be a reach too far.

The group of people came up with an alternative name for me: Patricia – pronounced Patris-siahhh. Make of that what you will.

Book review – Mind the Child

Mind The Child coverMind The Child is definitely the most challenging of the Penguin Lines books. Written by children of Kids Company with Camila Batmanghelidjh, it dips into the lives of London’s most overlooked offspring. The children each offer us a different viewpoint, speaking out about their vulnerabilities, their anger, their hopes; sharing memories so sad and frightening you want to put the book down, but can’t draw your eyes away from the words like: “The door slams in a certain way and I feel like being sick and wetting myself at the same time.”

The fear that strikes through these childhoods is striking, but so is their resourcefulness. Continue reading