Expressive views by Tim Mullins

On the Camino by Tim Mullins

On the Camino by Tim Mullins

“It’s been said that all art, whether it’s abstract, landscape, still life or portraiture is all really just a self-portrait of the artist themselves,” comments Tim Mullins. “With this in mind, I’d like to think people would also see a bit of themselves in my work and maybe understand how their own lives, past, present and future may link with the landscape.”

Tim’s landscapes are an uncanny mix of the serene and the explosive – tranquil backgrounds revved up by foregrounds overlaid with brushstrokes and scratches that suggest the movement, changeability, and unpredictability any true vista is subject to.

Windy day on the south downs, early spring by Tim Mullins

Windy day on the south downs, early spring by Tim Mullins

“Coming from a very artistic family on my mother’s side, I was always given interesting advice on my work as well as encouragement to be creative and try new things,” Tim says. “I learnt from an early age that art wasn’t just about pretty pictures and colour but was also a way of expressing yourself in the same way as one could with poetry or music. For me, art is the creative medium through which to express my feelings or to capture fragments of memories of places and times.”

Rather than attempting to capture a particular landscape or scene, Tim aims to “use a landscape or scene to express an idea, feeling or emotion. So for me the idea comes first and then I’ll use my memory to find a scene with which I can best illustrate the idea, feeling or emotion.”

Noon Alentejo, Hot Grey Sky by Tim Mullins

Noon Alentejo, Hot Grey Sky by Tim Mullins

Although his paintings are expressionist rather than representational, Tim does sometimes like parts of them to be accurate. “I’ll use photos or sketches of the particular area to make sure the hills, trees or fields are as I remember them.” Other times, he explains, he’s “more interested in the ‘feel’ of an area or habitat maybe say downland or the sea shore, so the painting could be of any range of hills or any coastline. I rarely, if ever, paint in situ as I find that there is too much visual stimulation and a temptation to record what I see rather than recreate what I feel.”

Storm on the Downs by Tim Mullins

Storm on the Downs by Tim Mullins

Painting predominantly from memory in his studio, Tim is freed up to  “allow my imagination to dominate reality. If I was to paint a typical downland scene one could change the whole mood and feel by simply having a very stormy sky. It would, of course, be up to the viewer to interpret the meaning of this and whether the storm was coming or going.”

This ambiguity is part of the satisfaction for Tim. “I hope my paintings evoke an emotional response, and encourage people to look at a landscape a little differently.  I would also hope people would feel the power of nature and its elements and how hard it is for us to control or use them. This is why many of my paintings are of very wild places and the edges of cultivation – moorlands, mountains, shorelines and wastelands where people struggle to make a living.”

High Fields Asturias by Tim Mullins

High Fields Asturias by Tim Mullins

He admits that the character of his work means it can occasionally be a frustrating experience.

“Sometimes a painting just won’t work however hard I try,” he says. “My style of painting is vigorous and dynamic where paint can be applied carefully with a delicate brush or smeared on with a large palette knife or even thrown at the canvas. When it does work and it all comes together, there is a wonderful feeling of achievement. It’s very rewarding when an image successfully captures a memory and this is made all the better when other people gain pleasure from looking at them.”

Wet Spring, Hawkley by Tim Mullins

Wet Spring, Hawkley by Tim Mullins

Tim exhibits regularly at the Affordable Art Fair in both Bristol and London through the Mae Gallery. He also participates in Hampshire Open Studios each August when Artists open their studios to the public. “As my studio is attached to my home,” he says, “I am always happy for people to come and see my work and give me feedback.”

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

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.

Theatre review – Dark Land Light House

Dark Land Light House_credit Paul Blakemore3The scene opens on a tall metal structure and a single figure apparently fixing things. As the audience files in and takes its seats, he carries on – we are irrelevant. All that matters is keeping the lighthouse working and preventing ships from being drawn into the dark land below.

The man is Parcival (Derek Frood) and he has been here alone for ten years. Then Teller (Jessica Macdonald) arrives and takes the helm.

Dark Land Light House_credit Paul Blakemore

This is a story about loneliness in its biggest sense – the human race has dispersed throughout the universe and Teller is very much afraid that we truly are alone. However, as she is about to discover, there is one far more frightening possibility – that we are not alone.

Using footage, haunting lighting, sound and music by North Sea Navigator & Timothy X Atack, and even smell (courtesy of the dry ice), the play is a mastery of suspense and wonder. Jessica Macdonald is compelling as the woman left to keep the lighthouse working, with only a sentient computer, Hypatia (voiced by Laura Dannequin of Hardy Animal) for company.

Hypatia is a source of much of the wry comedy in the piece, trying out turns of phrase that seem out of place, but have been harvested from each of the preceding lighthouse keepers. There are times, however, when she also adds a thread of horror, not least when she takes too long answer, and then answers: “Sorry, I was reading a book.” Then fumbles and says, no, that’s not right. She was looking at something and now it’s gone.

There’s something deeply chilling about a machine revealing its frailties, particularly when that machine is the only thing standing between you and death.

Dark Land Light House_credit Paul Blakemore2

The dark land itself holds its own menacing presence – threatening, unknown and inexplicably enticing. Parcival calls it a siren. Teller gazes into the audience as she stares at the dark land so we get the full power of her awe face-on.

Jessica MacDonald is superb – she has us enthralled throughout, drawn in by her passion, her humour, and, towards the end, her raw distress. Derek Frood’s rough-edged Parcival is the perfect balance – the moment when they crouch together muttering about the end of the universe isn’t all easy to follow, but the depth of emotion rings true.

Dark Land Light House_credit Paul Blakemore4

We believe in these characters and care about Teller’s fate. More than that, though, you may find yourself considering the stars above you, and wondering what you could overcome and what you would give up for the thrill of travelling among them.

Eerie, thought-provoking, moving, exquisite – Dark Land Light House is a reminder of all that theatre can achieve, when done well and with a dauntless imagination.

Dark Land Light House is on at Bristol Old Vic Theatre until 30th April 2016. To book tickets, visit www.bristololdvic.org.uk/darkland.html. Presented by Sleepdogs, it’s produced by MAYK and is a Jerwood Charitable Foundation & Bristol Old Vic Ferment Commission.

Creative Team
Writer Timothy X Atack
Director Tanuja Amarasuriya
Original Music and Sound North Sea Navigator & Timothy X Atack
Production Design Rosanna Vize
Lighting Design Ben Pacey
Projection and Video Design Rod Maclachlan
All photography Paul Blakemore

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.”

Lampshades by Lisa Malyon

Selection of hand drawn lampshades by Lisa Malyon

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.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.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.

A Day At The Lake festival

Chris Bull of the Bullzini Family. Photo by Joe Clarke

Chris Bull of the Bullzini Family. Photo by Joe Clarke

I’ve always got an eye-out for events that could stir the imagination, and a brand new festival in Staffordshire seems set to tick that box with a flourish.

Taking place on 30th April till 2nd May, the three-day extravaganza aims to celebrate the history of Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, and the spectacular feats of daring it attracted.

Intrigued? Me too!

Organisers Wild Rumpus are declaring A Day At The Lake as “an ambitious, large-scale outdoor experience. For one weekend only, Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire will be reimagined as it was in the late 1800s as an excursion place for thousands of day trippers.

Highlight are set to include Chris Bull’s daring recreation of a wire walk by 19th century legendary tightrope walker Carlos Trower, aka The African Blondin.

There will also be outdoor theatre, literary events, storytelling, orchestras and dance from regional, national and international artists, authors and performers.

Michael Symonns Roberts (winner of the Forward Prize, Costa Poetry Prize and Whitbread Poetry Award) has been commissioned to write a new poem inspired by events at The Lake to mark the occasion.

Rudyard Lake itself was one of the first sites of mass tourism in the UK, and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in times gone by with rowing boats, walks and steam trains while enjoying world-class outdoor arts.

Carlos Trower aka The African Blondin performing at Rudyard Lake in the 1800s

Carlos Trower aka The African Blondin performing at Rudyard Lake in the 1800s

Up to 20, 000 people a day would visit to watch incredible spectacles and feats including Carlos Trower The African Blondin, walking a wire 100 feet above the lake in 1864 and 1878, drawing huge crowds.

Visitors to the lake included John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Macdonald who named their son Rudyard Kipling after the beauty spot where they first met.

A Day At The Lake will be the first event of this scale at Rudyard Lake for over 100 years and marks the first Staffordshire Day on 1 May 2016 – a day marking 1000 years since the county was first mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle.

Got that? Quite simply, masses of inspiration and fun. Early Bird tickets £12 adults, £6 child, under 3s free. Find full details at www.dayatthelake.org.uk.

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.

Savage landscapes with Peter Hill

Soft Autumn Glow by Peter Hill

Soft Autumn Glow by Peter Hill

Paths disappear into forests, lakes reflect a moment’s stillness and windswept skies rampage over landscapes in the work of Peter Hill. His views are vast, and wild – even the cityscapes hint at a savagery that’s both intriguing and curiously appealing.

New York New York by Peter Hill

New York New York by Peter Hill

It’s clear this is work that expects to be seen – and to stop onlookers in their tracks. Peter began exhibiting his paintings early on. “ I have always had a desire to create and paint, and during my time at Sheffield college I started exhibiting work at a local restaurant, where I had a part time job,” he recalls. “I started selling my work from there and as I became less inspired by the art course I made more enquiries to art galleries both locally and in the Lake District, a place I love and have been visiting for years.”

Changing Skies over Buttermere by Peter Hill

Changing Skies over Buttermere by Peter Hill

Peter’s work continued to sell, and a few unfortunate experiences only sharpened his resolve to make his name through art. “One gallery I was exhibiting in went bust and with it I lost several pieces,” he says. “Although it saddened we at the time it didn’t deter me, I continued to paint, exhibit and sell my work.”

Summer on Stanage by Peter Hill

Summer on Stanage by Peter Hill

Months later during a family walk near Calver in the Peak District, Peter spotted a ‘To Let’ sign “on a beautiful building near Calver Mill and thought that would make an excellent gallery and studio, so I made an enquiry.”

The Peter Hill Fine Art Calver Mill gallery opened in 2004, closely followed by the PHFA Kentmere Gallery in 2005. The success of these two galleries lead Peter to invest in what is now the largest of the three sites, PHFA Sheffield Gallery with indoor /outdoor studio complete with an Andalusian Courtyard. “The Gallery was opened by local rock musician Rick Savage of Def Leppard in 2008.”

Timeless by Peter Hill won Best in Show at the 10th anniversary Windsor Art Fair

Timeless by Peter Hill won Best in Show at the 10th anniversary Windsor Art Fair

The desire to paint and create remains as strong as ever. “The excitement I feel every time I paint inspires me to want to create another piece,” he explains. “I developed my artistic style through lots of happy accidents and experimentation and most importantly being prepared to take risks.”While Peter looks at everything with a painter’s eye (“it never gets turned off!”), he admits to having a particular passion nature, especially trees.

“It is their sculptural quality – they are just all like works of art in their own right. I feel entering a forest is akin to entering or discovering a place or building for the very first time. I never tire of viewing landscapes, whether for the first time or the 1000thtime.”

Autumn Waters by Peter Hill

Autumn Waters by Peter Hill

Peter relishes both the public and private elements of being an artist. “I love the reaction to my paintings from the people who love them, and getting lost in the moment of creation and the subsequent journey which each piece takes me on.”

You can visit Peter’s three galleries in Sheffield, the Peak District and Lake District, as well as at art shows across the UK. Find details here www.peterhillfineart.co.uk/pages/visit-us

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.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.

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