Writing prompt – shelter

Triennale Brugge by Tadashi Kawamata photo cr Peter De Bruyne

photo credit Peter De Bruyne

I have something of a passion for treehouses. These particular examples are ‘tree huts’  created by Tadashi Kawabata as part of an outdoor art exhibition called Triennale Brugge. I love the way they look like garden sheds suspended above the city.

There are so many story possibilities for this scene. Who might live in them? Why do they need to be so far off the ground? Or might they actually have been built for some other purpose entirely?

If you create something prompted by this, please let me know by sending an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com. With your permission, I’d love to share it on SkyLightRain.com.

Be inspired in Manchester

Bjork Copyright Inez and Vinoodh 2015

Bjork © Inez and Vinoodh 2015

Manchester International Festival returns from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 19th July, with a programme of dazzling world premieres, unique concerts and one-off events, including a scattering of free events across the city.

It’s the festival’s tenth birthday, so expect some jaw-dropping and inspirational acts, including theatre commissions such as Neck of the Woods, a collaboration between Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon, novelist and playwright Veronica Gonzalez Peña, pianist Hélène Grimaud and actress Charlotte Rampling. The show’s been described as “a portrait of the wolf brought to life in a startling collision of visual art, music and theatre.” Sounds spectacular!

Neck of the Woods image credit Douglas Gordon

Neck of the Woods © Douglas Gordon

You’ll also have a chance to take a surreal culinary journey to mark the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, with High Tea In Wonderland by chef Mary Ellen McTague. The event takes place at a part of Manchester Museum not usually open to the public, and Mary Ellen says “even that space will be transformed and will allow us to take our participants on a journey through Alice’s wonderland via the flavours, aromas, sights and sounds of the experience.”

High Tea In Wonderland - Mary Ellen McTague and friends Photography by The Mancorialist and Hemisphere

High Tea In Wonderland © The Mancorialist and Hemisphere

Oh, and queen surrealist Bjork will also be dropping by to perform a special one-off gig at Manchester’s Castlefield Arena.

And those are just a few of the highlights.

Discover more events and book tickets at www.mif.co.uk. And if you attend any of the happenings, do let me know! I’d love to publish your festival review on SkyLightRain.com. Just email me at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

National Flash Fiction Day celebrations

Flash Fiction Day booksThis year National Flash Fiction Day falls on 27th June, with events unfurling across the UK to celebrate and share creative writing’s shortest form.

“It is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed the deeper they burn.” Robert Southey.

Over the years, Bristol has become the hub for National Flash Fiction Day, and will kick off with free flash fiction workshop sessions at the Central Library. The workshops will take place from 1.30-4.30pm, led by NFFD director Calum Kerr and prize-winning author KM Elkes.

From 6pm, head over to Foyles Bookstore Bristol for An Evening of Flash Fiction I’ll be sharing a couple of stories at this free event, along with some serious writing talents, including KM Elkes, Zoe Gilbert, Kevlin Henney, Sarah Hilary, Susan Howe, Calum Kerr, Adam Marek, Freya Morris, Grace Palmer, Jonathan Pinnock, Jane Roberts and Diane Simmons.

It’s a free evening of literary entertainment, so please do come along!

Wild art on the island of Anglesey

Anthony Garratt painting at Brynsiencyn cr Richard Broomhall

Anthony Garratt painting at Brynsiencyn cr Richard Broomhall

I love encountering outdoor art, particularly when those artworks join forces with their setting to enhance an area’s existing beauty. Done well, it has the power to engage people with nature and art in a way that’s really exciting.

With this goal, landscape artist Anthony Garratt has created four spectacular al fresco paintings on Anglesey, painting them at the locations where they’re now displayed, on the north, south, east and west of the isle. Each artwork takes in a different iconic view: Caernarfon, Snowdonia, the Great Orme, the Lleyn Peninsula and the Irish Sea.

Anthony Garratt painting at Lligwy cr Richard Broomhall

The four 2.5-metre acrylic and oil canvasses have been hoisted onto bespoke steel structures to be enjoyed in the spaces they were inspired by and where they were painted. I think they’re amazing – really dramatic. I love the way they reflect and interact with the scenery.

Anthony Garratt painting at Lligwy cr Richard Broomhall1

“This is a hugely exciting project,” says Anthony. “The fact that the paintings are at the mercy of the ever-changing light and weather adds a whole extra dimension both to the painting process as well as to the experience of the viewer. Sitting under the watchful eye of Snowdonia, Anglesey is an amazing landscape to contemplate.”

The project has been commission by Anglesey resident, Bun Matthews, owner of Menai Holiday Cottages. The outdoor art exhibition of ‘Four on Anglesey’ will remain in situ until October 2015. Do go along if you can, and if you do, let me know what you think.

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. I’m also happy to receive reviews of books, exhibitions, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com.

Writing prompt – ribbons

Ribbons cr Judy DarleySometimes I’ll happen across something entirely unexpected and delightful, such as this tree hung with vivid ribbons of cloth.

I’ve no idea what prompted someone, or perhaps a group of someones, to adorn a patch of woodland in this way. The fact the ribbons themselves seem torn from vibrant, possibly hand-dyed, fabric is even more intriguing. What ritual was carried out here? What do the ribbons symbolise? Whose garment was shredded, and why? Did they have to run home naked?

Write a story from this, and send it my way!

If you turn this into a short story, or know the real answers to these questions, I’d love to know. Just send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com. You could see your words published on SkyLightRain.com.

Book review – Meridian by David Rose

Meridian by David RosePart novel, part interlinked short story collection, this immersive tale takes you into a world of people each deeply absorbed in their own lives. Whether it’s the architect seeing the beauty in the world around him, or the man building a wine rack and obsessing over a misadventure on a quiz show, each character is focused on their activities in a way that can’t help but draw you in.

Objects hold an emotive significance that becomes almost sensual – for the woman bidding at an auction items conjure up a nostalgia in which jam-making “means freedom, expansion of the soul. The clatter of copper pans in her grandmother’s kitchen was the comfort-zone of solitude”.

For me this is the sense the book as a whole offers up – a gaze at life’s minutiae that’s both intensely personal and dizzyingly universal. Often this is simply about our own sentiment and connections, but many ring out, following the protagonists’ rambling thoughts to uncover some wise observation or intriguing information. For example, a section about a remembered pair of binoculars becomes a wonderment over the aftermath of World War II “the returnees, the expulsions, the Displaced Persons housed in barracks, prisons, derelict halls”, finishing the paragraph with the simple, vivid sentence, “Life, he found, was a constant rippling out.” Continue reading