Art as an experiment

People Power, 80 x 110 inches, by Anthony Seymour

People Power, 80 x 110 inches, by Anthony Seymour

There’s a vivid sincerity about Anthony Seymour’s art – his paintings jostle on the canvas and demands to be known. Many of his works are disturbing, disruptive even, expecting far more from you than a passive viewing.

Solitude, 30 x 40 inches, by Anthony Seymour

Solitude, 30 x 40 inches, by Anthony Seymour

 

His works explore elements of the human condition at a deeply personal level. They provoke a response, which, however discomforting, can also be exhilarating.

Anthony’s bio on the Royal Drawing School Alumni page reads: “Anthony completed The Drawing Year in 2004 and moved to Bristol in 2006 in order to push his work further. He feels that working out-of-doors and living with the work at home is a blessing which opens up elemental and experimental possibilities to continue creating as an individual. His work is direct, authentic and opposed to collective demands, which he believes can otherwise stifle the spirit of the artist.”

It’s an ethos Anthony has remained true to.

Pregnancy, 40 x 40 inches, by Anthony Seymour

Pregnancy, 40 x 40 inches, by Anthony Seymour

Becoming an artist felt inevitable to Anthony.

“It’s natural and I hit the ground running, but then the cultural reality becomes very complicated,” he says. “Same with anything, the class system is crucial to the selection procedure of who can or cannot survive as such, but that is another and even very convoluted challenge to question!”

Next Move, 30 x 20 inches, by Anthony Seymour

Next Move, 30 x 20 inches, by Anthony Seymour

Anthony describes painting as “a biological compulsive experiment to a different attraction. All processes of sensory perception communicate as abstract philosophy and pattern making in art.”

The Artist, 32 x 48 inches approx, by Anthony Seymour

The Artist, 32 x 48 inches approx, by Anthony Seymour

Despite this, he claims that the messages he sows in his work is incidental, rather than the aim.

“Drawing naked women is probably the best motivation. You see, it’s never really been about being an abstract artist for me, it’s more about survival.”

Reclining Figure, oil on canvas, by Anthony Seymour

Reclining Figure, oil on canvas, by Anthony Seymour

Anthony has experienced both the best and worst elements of being an artist. “I love/hate being an artist,” he says. “Logistics are always impractical as there is no sustainable funding if you don’t give up but keep going on instead! It’s a serious challenge to find way to support new works that will explore experimental and risk-taking ways to increase professional income. People are welcome to make suggestions and offers or contribute/collect.”

He adds: “It’s always been great having my own head space, which nobody and nothing yet has succeeded in knocking out.”

Find Anthony on the Royal Drawing School alumni page, on Facebook and on LinkedIn.

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

Writing prompt – mortality

Arnos Vale and cranes cr Judy DarleyThis view at Arnos Vale Cemetery always stops me in my tracks. It seems like a visual representation of the saying “Time waits for no man.”

How much of a life can you fit in a single tale? This week I urge you to write a story that attempts just that, thinking about how the end of a life echoes with all the greatest moments in it, every triumph and loss, love and regret. What, or who, have been the linchpins in that 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.

Seeking shelter

St John in the Wall by Judy DarleyOn Thursday 9th June from 7pm I am hosting a literary event at St John on the Wall, an ancient church filled with atmosphere and forgotten histories.

The evening will involve poetry, tales and music inspired by the themes love, life and mortality. Just the big human topics, then. Tickets cost £4 on the door, and all proceeds will be split between The Churches Conservation Trust, who look after this magnificent space, and St Mungo’s, a charity dedicated to helping homeless people back into a life of security and self-worth.

The latter is a cause close to my heart. I believe, as St Mungo’s do, that everyone has the right to a home where they feel safe.

Homelessness is increasing in Bristol. St Mungo’s aim is sustainable recovery – supporting people via hostels and supportive housing projects, advice, physical health and mental health services.

“Outreach workers go out in the early morning and late at night to check on people sleeping rough,” says Jo Lenny at St Mungo’s. “It takes time to build up trust and a relationship. Once people agree to engage, they’re assessed so their individual needs can be supported, such as housing, or more complex needs around mental health, addiction or both.”

Aside from providing beds, St Mungo’s run a recovery college, where people can learn a new skill, or share a skill, and so be helped to feel part of the community and to engage. “A horticultural project called ‘Putting Down Roots’, supports clients to work in public parks, hostel gardens, and in the Recovery College garden, developing gardening skills, growing wildflowers and carrying out hard landscaping and building projects,” says Jo. “Current projects are in Castle Park and at New Street Centre, with plans for more. Through this, people gain skills, qualifications, paid and voluntary work.”

The number of people sleeping rough doubled between 2011 and 2013, and doubled again between 2013 and 2015.

You can help by going to www.mungos.org.uk where you can sign an open letter to David Cameron to Stop the Scandal.

If you’re concerned about a person sleeping rough, you can make a street referral by visiting www.streetlink.org.uk.

Find out more about the Love, Life and Mortality literary event and buy tickets at www.visitchurches.org.uk/lifeloveandmortality.

Flash Fiction Day celebrations in Bristol

Pero's Bridge cr Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day happens on Saturday 25th June 2016, celebrating literature in its briefest forms from dribbles to drabbles and beyond. There will be events erupting across the UK, but the hotspot is in Bristol, with three fab events to mark the fourth official day of Bristol Flash.

In the morning from 10.30am until midday, you can take part in a Flash Walk around Bristol’s harbour area, with site-specific flashes being read by trained actors along the route. Until 9th June, you’re invited to submit stories between 40 and 400 words for the chance to hear your words included on the trail. Find details here and here.

In the afternoon from 13-30-16:30), there will be a flash fiction workshop at Bristol Central Library led by award-winning writers Alison Powell and Ken Elkes. Find details here.

From 7pm that evening at At the Well on Cheltenham Road, Bristol, you can settle in for a mass of flash readings from local and not-so-local writers, including Alison Powell, Calum Kerr, Diane Simmons, Freya Morris, Jude Higgins, Ken Elkes, Kevlin Henney, Pete Sutton, Tim Stevenson, Tino Prinzi, Tom Parker, and me! Find details here. Find details here.

Every event is free to attend, and designed to inspire, amuse, disquiet and enthral you, all in the name of flash fiction!

Theatre review – The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Marc Antolin as Marc Chagall and Audrey Brisson as Bella Chagall in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk_credit Steve TannerEvery love affair has the potential for greatness, but only a select few achieve this, and fewer still have the spirit of their passions captured on canvas for all the world to see for eternity.

Many of Marc Chagall’s exuberant paintings featured himself and his first wife, Bella, often with Bella taking flight as though in joy. In Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic’s vivacious production, written by Daniel Jamieson, the couple’s love affair and life is displayed in wondrous technicolour, with lighting, sound, an inventive set, dance and song all playing a role. As director Emma Rice says in the teaser video on the Bristol Old Vic website: “I’m finding the whole piece is like painting a picture. It’s like we’ve got a palette of things and we’re mixing our colours and mixing our ideas, and making a new art form.”

Audrey Brisson in Bella Chagall in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk - Photo by Steve Tanner

Performed with boundless energy by Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson, we witness the pair’s first meeting and follow them through the years that follow, as they explore their love, face some of the darkest times in recent Russian and European history, and eventually make it to the United States.

Music director and composer Ian Ross
 and musician James Gow ensure the stage always feels full, even when populated by a lone actor. The wedding is a particular comic joy, beginning with Bella strolling the stage greeting guests we cannot see and admitting time and again, “Yes, yes he is a Jewish painter,” and enduring the uninvited sympathy of her relatives on one of the happiest days of her life.

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk_credit Steve Tanner

Ian Ross has mined the traditional, classical and “the Rusco Romany element of folk music in Russia” to imbue scenes with atmosphere, while lighting designer Malcolm Rippeth shifts moods with an injection of colour entirely in keeping with Chagall’s paintings. The screen at the back of the stage that captures these colours also serves to show the shadowy figures of anyone standing and dancing behind it, adding another enticing layer to the texture of the show.

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk_credit Steve Tanner

There are countless moments of laugh aloud humour, thanks largely to the physicality of the two actors, but also heart-breakingly tender scenes, as when Chagall is battling depression and Bella does her best to draw him out of it, and later, when Bella is taken ill.

Marc Antolin as Marc Chagall and Audrey Brisson as Bella Chagall in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk - Photo by Steve TannerSome of their darkest moments are barely touched upon however, such as their arrest and escape during World War II, when the Jewish population of their hometown, Vitebsk, has already been eradicated. At times, details like these are mentioned by a character, almost in passing, but with so much beauty and interest present on stage, the emphasis is on enjoyment – dwelling too much on the bleakness would create an entirely different play. As Audrey Brisson says: “You don’t get to see the whole thing, but you get this beautiful arch through the story.”

I fell for the art of Chagall when I visited the Marc Chagall/Dario Fo exhibition in Brescia last year, and now feel I have fallen in love all over again. Emma Rice and her team have more than done his extraordinary talent justice and brought to exquisite life one of the artworld’s greatest duos.

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is on at Bristol Old Vic until 11 June 2016. Find details and buy tickets here.

All images by Steve Tanner.

Writer Daniel Jamieson
Director 
Emma Rice Assistant Director Matt Harrison
Composer and Music Director 
Ian Ross Musician James Gow
Designer Sophia Clist Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth
Sound Designer Simon Baker
Choreographer Etta Murfitt
Marc Chagall Marc Antolin Bella Chagall Audrey Brisson

I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a book review, please send an email to Judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Savages – a short story

Field by Judy DarleyI’m thrilled to let you know that my short tale Savages has been published in issue three of Ink In Thirds magazine.

This beautiful publication describes itself as ‘a magazine of poised prose, precarious poetry, and photography that makes us want to pilot our own realms again.’

Inspired by the wilderness of childhood, including glimpses from my own, I’m glad my tale has found a home here.

Read issue three of Ink in Thirds magazine here.

The opening line of Savages is:

The field has been scalped; sharp spikes are all that remain of the wheat that whispered here, green stems that leaned with the wind and hissed tickling promises as we drifted by on our way to school.

Writing prompt – savages

Feather tree cr Judy DarleyI recently meandered down a little used track, and discovered this scene. It made me recall how when seen through a child’s imaginative eyes, every old tree, fallen feather, discarded leaf and found stone has potential to become part of a savage land populated by pirates, vampires, dragons and more.

Make this the basis of your story, remembering to recast the ordinary as fearsome and the commonplace as potentially magical. Anything is possible.

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.