Film review – No Idea Complete

No Idea Complete Dan Martin framed in doorway

Dan Martin, No Idea Complete

A man enters a warehouse and immediately begins to dance. Standing framed within a doorway, Dan Martin’s movements are immediately arresting, as he twists his torso and limbs, and the notes from a piano pour over him – like water, like light.

No Idea Complete is elegant film that brings together a harmony of music, dance and location. Our focus is on three exceptional dancers who each bring their own blend of experience and talent to scenes they embody as solitary beings, their only company the shifting sounds that bleed in and out, adding texture and atmosphere. Jo Butler’s original piano composition weaves around the dancers, whose feet and hands add occasional percussion.

To me it felt like a haunting, with Dan Martin, Luke Antysz and Sara Mather playing the role of the ghosts. These are the people who have been here before, who have left an impression of themselves on the air – I almost expected incomers to walk through them, none the wiser.

Sara Mather, No Idea Complete

Sara Mather, No Idea Complete

No Idea Complete is a title open to interpretation, but I like the idea that it is an allusion to each life that passes through a space. It is a rare person who finishes living before moving on. In a sense, we are all destined to become ghosts.

In one brief sequence, Sara appears on a staircase executing stunningly exquisite ballet moves, her expression contemplative.

No Idea Complete Dan Martin angst

Dan brings a different speed to the mix, at times angst-ridden, at others content. Luke is perhaps the most ethereal, glimpsed fleetingly as he springs, cavorts, spins, then disappears.

No Idea Complete Luke Antysz1

Luke Antysz, No Idea Complete

The setting at Paintworks Bristol itself has a distinct presence, as the dancers appear framed by brickwork, wood and metal, within sweeping spaces or in silhouette.

No Idea Complete Sara Mather stillness

The power of the three individuals, each self-contained within their own space, is a phenomenal thing, building quietly with the music to a silent crescendo whereby each holds the camera’s gaze in a moment of stillness that is utterly compelling.

Director: Grant Pollard (Films Gb)
Producer: Polly Crockett Robertson (3rd Stage Dance).

The premiere of No Idea Complete was on Sunday, 13th March 2016 at 6pm on Big Screen Bristol, Millennium Square. During 2016, it will be screened in London, Paris, Seville, Cadiz, New York and Nashville. Find details of future events at

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

Writing prompt – memory

Seascape for Pad by Judy DarleyToday is my dad’s 77th birthday. A pretty impressive age. Buying him gifts has always been a challenge, and now that he’s enduring the ever increasing losses of Alzheimer’s disease, the big thing is to find something he can connect with in the moment he opens it and gain some simple pleasure from.

I decided to paint him a seascape. It took me back to being a small child painting pictures for my dad, and already knowing the pride that would shine from his eyes when he saw it. There’s some irony in that given that my dad no longer knows I am his daughter, or that he ever had children, but that’s a story for another day.

The man who I will give this painting to is kind and caring, and loves art. My hope is that the sea in the scene will make him smile.

As today’s creative prompt I invite you to consider how you might attempt to connect with someone whose memory is failing them, and how that interaction might turn out.

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

Real and Imagined

Long Shore Drift-Low Tide by Lydia Halcrow-photo by Alice Hendry

Long Shore Drift (Low Tide) by Lydia Halcrow, photo by Alice Hendy

I’m drawn to the idea of imagined landscapes. A sense of place is vital to my writing, and often I take inspiration from real places, but alter them to suit my own preferences and needs. In the RWA‘s Imagined Landscapes exhibition, on at the galleries in Bristol until 12th June 2016, artists have create works from places they’ve known and dreamt.

SomeWhen by Jethro Brice and Seila Fenandez Arconada

Some:When by Jethro Brice and Seila Fenandez Arconada

Other strong pieces include Some:When by Jethro Brice and Seila Fenandez Arconada, a collaborative art project that responded to the severe flooding of the Somerset Moors and Levels. The piece on show takes the shape of a handmade boat called a Flatner, built from reclaimed and new materials.

Imagine Landscapes, photo by Alice Hendry

Imagined Landscapes, photo by Alice Hendy

In the adjoining galleries you’ll find Inquisitive Eyes: Sade Painters in Edwardian Wessex, 1900-1914. This exhibition offers a rich insight into the lives and delights of some of England’s best loved painters, including John Everett and Augustus John.

The Blue Pool by Augustus John

The Blue Pool by Augustus John

The final gallery holds a more modern interpretation of our surroundings, as Simon Quadrat explores the social awkwardness and built beauty of cafes, buses, and greenhouses. While not every painting features figures, their presence is always suggested, and most that do appear look decidedly at odds with the place they inhabit. In Cafe Garden, only the waitress seems relaxed – every other person present is apparently on the brink of bickering.

Quadrat’s paintings wriggle with narrative, making them ideal writing prompts. I urge you to visit the RWA, soak up some inspiration, and see what tales emerge.

Simon Quadrat exhibition at the RWA

Simon Quadrat exhibition at the RWA

The three exhibitions seem to flow into one another, each capturing the atmosphere rather than the mirror image of a place, and creating an impression of setting that’s all the more evocative for that.

Imagined Landscapes, Inquisitive Eyes and Simon Quadrat PPRWA are at the RWA until 12th June 2016. Ticket prices apply. Find out more at

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

A call for fairytales about rain

Scottish Trees cr Judy DarleyFairytale magazine Enchanted Conversations invites original fairytales for their March open submissions period.

The theme for this month is rain, which means that rain must be present in the foreground or background of your story or poem – the possibilities of this seem beautiful and bountiful, so why not let it drive the heart of your narrative?

The window for submissions closes at 11:59 p.m., EDT, Z on 30th March 2016.

Stories should be no shorter than 700 words and no longer than 3,000. Poems may be of any length.

The essence of classic fairy tales must be maintained when you write these stories. You are free to explore themes by retelling a classic tale, but it must be in your own way and in keeping with the theme.

It’s advisable to read past EC stories and poems to see what they publish. Also, Beyond the Glass Slipper, Krampusnacht and Frozen Fairy Tales give great insight into what I publish. You can find them at Amazon, B&N and other booksellers. All are available in ebook form.

Submit your entry to Do not send attachments. They will not be opened or considered. Paste your work in the body of an email.

Your last name, the month and the year should be in the subject line of the email.

You must try to use American English word forms and punctuation.

No fancy spacing or characters, please. Do not indent for new paragraphs. Just do an extra return between them. Heavy dialogue is very hard to format. Resist the urge. Most classic tales are not heavy on dialogue.

Your submission must include how you follow EC. Methods include something Google related, Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest (the board called New Posts at Enchanted Conversation). You only need to follow in one way. But if you don’t follow, your work will not be considered.

Only first electronic rights are being bought. Once the story is published, you are free to shop it elsewhere. Authors of accepted stories receive $30, while poets receive $10, in US dollars made through PayPal only.

Find full details at

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

Off-Centre Innovations

Relics by Peter Ford

Relics by Peter Ford

Half way down a quiet residential street in south Bristol, Off-Centre Gallery is an unexpected discovery. Open by appointment and only on certain days of the week, it takes a bit of determination to gain access, but it is well worth the effort.

Climb two steep flights of stairs and you’ll reach a pair of rooms that flood with light on even the gloomiest February or March day, and exude a sense of contentment. It’s the kind of space where you can feel at home within moments.

Peter Ford, Feb2016

Artist Peter Ford, February 2016

This is no doubt at least in part to do with the artwork layering the walls, stacked in glass cabinets and swinging gently from the ceiling or in front of windows. Sculpted from handmade paper or printed using salvaged or sought out surfaces, they represent almost a lifetime’s worth of explorations by artist Peter Ford.

ffice Work by Peter Ford, photoetching and mezzotint on handmade paper, 2011

Office Work by Peter Ford

In the room to the left of the stairs, two comfortable chairs invite you to sit and take in the art around you – and all the shades, textures and forms it encompasses. My attention is immediately drawn to an arrangement of repeating images labelled Office Work, which Peter later explains were printed from a metal plate made for commercial printing, to advertise a bank, dating from the 1950s. In Peter’s world, nothing is without potential for creating a new work of art.

The first time I visited Off-Centre was during an art trail several years ago, when I was attracted by a number of prints Peter had carried out using scraps of fabric he’d found by a Chinese river. The idea of printing from so many different sources intrigued me. At first I thought the forms I was seeing were the fabric itself, painted and collaged.

Peter's studio

Peter’s studio

Peter came to his investigative form of printing after realising that the fumes from etching could be hazardous, but had come to etching many years earlier in an equally serendipitous way. Wanting to train as an artist but aware of his father’s disapproval, the young Peter came to “a compromise” and instead qualified as a teacher of Art and English. He continued to create artwork in his own time. “Several people told me my drawings reminded them of etchings, which interested me.”

When the opportunity arose, through his art teaching, to learn etching, Peter was immediately captivated. “At the time I was living in a commune in Ramsgate, Kent, and there was space for an etching press, so I bought one, and began experimenting.”

It was the beginning of a new phase in Peter’s artistic life.

In his mid-30s, Peter retired from teaching so he could devote himself full time to his art. “It was a liberation.”

Bringing together his two early loves, Peter soon devised a form of text art, taking a single word and typing it in shades and shapes that accentuated the meaning. “Using a typewriter I made three books, each based around a single word – Innovative, Strong or Challenging.”

A collection of crosses and zeros become an artwork titled Migration. The fact these symbols have come to mean kisses and hugs in today’s text-speak gives the piece an extra layer of meaning speaking about alienation and loss.

Migration by Peter Ford, cropped

Migration by Peter Ford, cropped

But another obsession was taking hold, and before long Peter has gained an expertise in creating intricate bookplates – decorative typographical labels intended to be pasted into books to denote the owner. For the one below, Peter drew inspiration from his son’s comic collection.

Bookplate for OffSpac Gallery, inspired by son's comics

Bookplate for Off-Centre Gallery, by Peter Ford

Organisations, including Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, began commissioning him to create bookplates to commemorate periods in their history, or represent their different departments. As his reputation grew, Peter received invitations to exhibit in Beijing and Łódź, Poland, as well as to curate an exhibition at the RWA in Bristol.

By this time, Off-Centre Gallery already existed, initially called Hard Times Gallery, with a tagline reading: “Hard to Find – Open Odd Times”!

The gallery gave Peter an opportunity to bring Polish and Russian print works to the UK, showcasing the work that drew his attention.

In the meantime, he’d realised that working with the chemicals used to etch metals was threatening his health and he developed an alternative way of working using found materials, such as “discarded kitchen equipment, things I see in charity shops or find in the street – bits that have dropped off other things.” With an ability to see the potential in all kinds of objects, Peter then transforms the items and uses them to create bold graphic images. The repeating motifs shown in the artwork below, he tells me, is made from “a flattened out cheese grater – those things that look like insects with four legs, that’s where I cut into the metal to enlarge some of the shapes.”

Artwork by Peter Ford made with flattened cheese grater

Peter had already begun making paper, developing different means of creating impressions. One of my favourites is this lunar landscape created by falling raindrops rebounding against the surface of pulped paper.

Handmade paper sculpted by falling rain close up

Handmade paper sculpted by falling rain, cropped

“I get my ideas partly through the materials I use,” Peter says. “When I started making paper in the mid-1990s I mainly stopped making figurative artworks and my creations became far more abstract.”

He admits to a passion for “fiddling about with materials – I like the combination of brain and hand, discovering what I’m doing as I do it.”

Recent projects include Peter’s Pulse series, which began as a single work of text art he created using ink and a pencil eraser he’d carved into. “The word PULSE is printed 4 times before re-inking and then repeating this so that a rhythmic pattern is created across the whole page,” he explains. “This first one was created during my time as artist-in-residence at Ningbo Art Museum, near Shanghai. I decided to do the same process with the Chinese characters for Pulse.”

Pulse Project by Peter Ford

Pulse Project by Peter Ford

Today Peter has nine of these complementary works – in English, Greek, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew and Chinese, each in its own script.

To me, that sums up Peter’s approach, in which the whole world represents a potential work of art – the trick is to identify what to collect, and what to hold onto.

Find Peter Ford at or make an appointment to visit Off-Centre Gallery, 13 Cotswold Road, Bristol, BS3 4NX by calling 0117 239 6784 or sending an email to

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

Writing prompt – an extra day

Askew cr Judy DarleyTwo significant dates occur this week – February 29th and March 3rd. The first is a relative rarity, returning just once every four years to mess up our calendars and fill people with the urge to make the most of a so-called extra day.

The second is World Book Day, encouraging reading, writing and creative thinking.

For this week’s writing prompt I invite you to imagine waking one day and discovering that for the next 24 hours every little thing will be slightly off-kilter, out of whack, askew from the world you normally live in.

What happens?

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

Book review – Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful by Deborah Kay Davies

grace-tamar-and-laszlo-the-beautiful coverRediscovering the darkly poetic wilderness of Deborah Kay Davies’ writing in Reasons She Goes to the Woods drew me to reread the book that first brought her to my attention, Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful.

This sharply envisioned series of interlinked fables is less about loyalty and sweetness of siblings than the darkness of this enforced friendship, focusing on the venom that bubbles between two sisters.

It’s no surprise that the book won the 2009 Wales Book of the Year award. Scenes are vividly painted, sometimes almost too brightly to look at directly, and as readers we race along with the narrative, terrified and charmed at time, but most often disturbed to the core.

Deborah is acutely observant, using colours, sounds and unexpected imagery to depict the oddities and frailty of human emotion. And as you get deeper into the collection, the two sisters get older, alter and present different sides of their personalities. Continue reading