Writing prompt – superstition

Wells Cathedral cr Judy DarleyI visited this impressive Gothic cathedral in Wells a while ago and was struck by a curious piece of information in the museum. Apparently back in the days when the cathedral was built (between the 12th and 15th century), it was traditional for a worn left shoe to be buried in the foundations of a new building to bring luck.

What a brilliant, random idea! Who might this shoe have belonged to? Why was it significant to the residents of that home?

I love the concept of weaving a piece of superstition like this into a story, making it the motivator for your protagonist’s deed – the more unsettling the better.

Find more superstitions-from-around-the-world here.

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.

Industrial splendour with Lisa Malyon

 

Clevedon Pier on jade by Lisa Malyon

Clevedon Pier by Lisa Malyon

Artist Lisa Malyon has an eye for the most intricate arcs and lines that form the structures that surround us. Her work mainly focuses on built things – bridges, piers and cranes are among her muses, captured in ink and on paper, with a touch of collage adding texture and a pleasingly abstract element.

“I have always loved the element of control in using a fine art pen and as a lover of detail it suits my style well,” she says of her technique. “I introduced a collage element onto the page, initially, to avoid the dread of an empty white page. The placement of collage paper, as well as giving my drawings a focal point adds texture referencing back to my textile degree.”

Textiles were an early passion for Lisa, leading her to gain a degree in Textile Design before “going slightly adrift with my career as a retail buyer.” She began drawing seriously after moving to Bristol in 2000.

Clifton Suspension Bridge by Lisa Malyon

Clifton Suspension Bridge by Lisa Malyon

Fittingly, given her new home amidst many of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s finest works, she soon “discovered a love of industrial architecture in particular. Drawing initially in a sketchbook, I progressed to larger paper.”

She adds: “I enjoy drawing the struts and supports in a pier or bridge as it helps me to make sense of them. Sometimes I wonder why I set myself such difficult challenges, but it helps concentrates the mind. Industrial architecture does it for me every time!”

Exhibiting at Bocabar Bristol in 2009 encouraged Lisa to find new possibilities for her line drawings.

“I attended a lampshade-making workshop at Bristol Folk House using printed fabric,” she says. “I replaced an old white drum lampshade with new handmade one. The white cotton lampshade sat on my dining table for weeks until one day I decided to draw on it.”

Clevedon Pier lampshade by Lisa Malyon

Clevedon Pier lampshade by Lisa Malyon

Lisa gave that first hand-drawn lampshade to a relative, and was pleased by how positively it was received. “This encouraged me to draw more. The fact that they are artworks with a purpose appeals to my pragmatic nature. A common misconception is that I print the lampshades but they are all hand drawn, and I want to keep it that way.”

Today, Lisa’s artwork, as well as her inspirations, are scattered throughout Bristol and beyond, including a selection of framed prints are exhibited at Hidden Art Gallery in Clifton Arcade, Clifton, Bristol, and original drawings at Café Grounded, Fishponds, Bristol.

Lisa will be exhibiting her hand drawn lampshades in the The Southville Centre at Bristol’s Southbank Arts Trail on 14th and 15th May 2016.

Find Lisa at www.lisamalyondraws.co.ukwww.facebook.com/LMDraws and on Twitter at @lmalyondraws.

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 – high wire

The Bullzini Family cr Joe Clarke

The Bullzini Family © Joe Clarke

This stunning photo was sent to me by the clever folks promoting Day At The Lake. I think it’s overflowing with potential stories.

Every love affair is something of a high wire act, requiring patience, trust and strength. Is this man proposing, apologising or entreating?

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

Novel Nights this Thursday

Budapest tree with heart cr Judy DarleyOn Thursday 21st April I’m co-hosting Novel Nights, a monthly literary event in Bristol, along with founder Grace Palmer. Taking place at Strawberry Thief, it should be a really lovely evening.

Five local writers, Mel Ciavucco, Kevlin Henney, Angela Brooks, Paul Deaton and Mark Rutterford, will be sharing short stories and novel extracts inspired by the theme of romance – taking some unexpected, moving, humorous and thought-provoking tangents through the genre.

In the second half (after a break for mingling and buying drinks), bestselling author Lucy Robinson will share her experiences of getting published, staying motivated and the submission process. Think of it as a mini-literary masterclass!

The evening begins at 8pm. Find full details at www.novelnights.co.uk

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.

Writing prompt – mountain

Arcos de la Frontera mountain cr Judy DarleyI love the fact that by cropping an image you can create a completely false scale of perspective. This photo, and the one below, show boulders photographed to resemble immense peaks.

Arcos de la Frontera cr Judy Darley

Sketch on a few ants masquerading as mountain goats and you create an impression of almost insurmountable difficulty when the truth is no more than a scramble.

To make that the theme of your tale, simply set your protagonist a seemingly impossible task that viewed from a different angle will be revealed as the easiest thing in the world. Their true challenge is to discover the point of view that will make this clear.

Hang on, isn’t that a guideline for surviving life?

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.

Poetry review – Antinopolis by Elizabeth Parker

Antinopolis by Elizabeth Parker cover cropThe poems in Elizabeth Parker’s debut pamphlet Antinopolis enter your consciousness like raindrops dropping into a pond – spreading ripples that grow until they touch the edges of your being.

Narratives spool through the verses, as layered and suggestive as any sultry fairytale. In My Mother and the Mysteries, innocent eyes are enthralled by the enigma of womanhood, as her mum and a friend return from the woods “with damp hair/ pine needles spearing the coils/ of their spiral perms.”

Antinopolis by Elizabeth ParkerThe atmosphere continues to thicken in That Night, an evocative retelling of a sensual encounter, packed through with vivid imagery that lifts the ordinary into the sublime. For instance, the chairs laden with clothes become “giant crows with wooden bones.” Ah, delicious. I can picture exactly what she means, and it’s wonderful.

Parker’s word choices shine through with each subsequent poem, summoning up view and mood when describing a burnt out pier (“We could smudge it, rub it out”), a damaged relationship, and the protective love between father and daughter, with just a few carefully crafted lines.

There’s an impression of dexterity in Parker’s poetry – a sense of being funnelled from scene to scene by a confident and serene guide. It gives us as readers the freedom to drink in the emotional undertones. In At Cannop Ponds, we join Parker on a seemingly tranquil stroll with her father, revelling in the natural beauty of each wild thing he names, until, unexpectedly, she mentions, almost by-the-by, “I want to keep asking/ making sure he remembers every bird call” and suddenly we’re made aware of a deep-down barely acknowledged fear.

Continue reading

A different kind of art fair

Hide and Seek by artist Yurim Gough

Hide and Seek by artist Yurim Gough

A while ago I wrote about the talents of life artist and ceramicist Yurim Gough. Her work still astounds me.

If you haven’t yet laid eyes on it yourself, you might want to hot foot it to Victoria House, London WC1A 2QP. Yurim is showcasing the quiet resonance of her pieces at The Other Art Fair there until 10th April 2016.

Recent works include this trio of hand shaped, stone-fired bowls, titled Hide and Seek.

Each one shows a life model in the same pose, shown from a different perspective. I think they would make a wonderful #writingprompt too!

Find details of The Other Art Fair here.

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 – afloat

Whatever Floats Your Boat by Jimmy Lawlor

Whatever Floats Your Boat by Jimmy Lawlor

This beautiful painting is by Jimmy Lawlor and captures a moment of magic. So many questions are raised by this scene.

What here is real, and what imagined? If dreamt, what does it represent? Has this boy been abandoned, or is he on his way somewhere? Why are all the other boats empty?

To me there is a reminder here of the refugees currently spilling from Syria across Europe, but that’s just my interpretation.

Weave together your own invented answers into a work of fiction, and see if you can create a reflection in words.

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.

Poetry review – Black Knight by Paul Deaton

Black Knight by Paul Deaton cover cropDrawing on the darkness glimpsed down alleyways, between streetlamps and on the edge of urban parks, Paul Deaton’s poetry pamphlet Black Knight is an impressively self-assured debut.

From the break up of a love affair to the unspoken grief within a family, Deaton explores the strength of human emotions set against forces both immovable and elemental. There are also moments of humour, and of satisfaction, as a late walk home from the pub becomes a passage of quiet contentment.

Black Knight by Paul DeatonDeaton has a talent of bringing together the personal, and the universal, so that in the opening poem the sale of a bike becomes a eulogy to love lost and lessons learnt. Seasons and their offerings develop human characteristics, particularly vividly in August, when a crotchety old pear tree flings its fruit about in attention-seeking petulance, and somewhat more majestically in October: “Some burly blacksmith/ has quenched the sun/ in the cold sea of the sky, the cherry flames, distant, intensify.” Just beautiful.

In the poem Stalker, even the moon reveals its all-too human flaws, “He’ll watch all night like this, through/ his scarf of cloud, the broke drape; while we count faceless sheep/ he waits. He holds the hours we conflate.”

The visual qualities of these lines paint images inside my head, create characters, texture, and the delicious possibility of jeopardy. Continue reading