The psychology of a landscape

Somerset Coast by Andrew Hardwick

Somerset Coast by Andrew Hardwick

Growing up deep in the north Somerset countryside played a role in shaping Andrew Hardwick as an artist.

In case you were wondering (I had to ask), saltings are grass land that are on tidal land, and are regularly flooded by sea water. Imagine that, a place occupied both by sea and land. My inner poet is in raptures.

These are among views that capture Andrew’s attention and inspire much of his art.

“I have a studio out at the farm and that enables me to collect all the things that are left over from farming,” he says, listing: “Decorating paints, PVA, plastics and pigments – soot and soils. I glue and cement it all together on canvas bound with wire.”

Valley and Wind by Andrew Hardwick

Valley and Wind by Andrew Hardwick

Becoming an artist was a process that gradually consumed Andrew Hardwick over a number of years. “It took quite a long time,” he comments. “The enthusiasm and fascination slowly built up, and before I knew it, it had taken over my life!”

Art classes and a part time foundation course contributed to his enduring desire to create. “I think when you go to art college they expect a level of seriousness and professionalism that cements it, that make you click and identify fully as an artist,” he says. “I’m now totally committed.”

In truth, it was seeded in his psyche from his earliest days.

The artworks themselves just come, Andrew says, “from doing lots of walks. They’re not immediate representations, not something I’ve seen and am recording in a straightforward way. Rather, they’re memories of a landscape, with lots of accidents in play in making the final artwork.”

The moods of his surroundings intrigue Andrew endlessly. “I’m interested in the psychological implications of a place, as I remember it,” he explains. “I do occasional works based on actual places – a recent exhibition was all based on Bodmin Moor, for example – but these aren’t pictures of specific views, rather the feeling of the view.”

Moor, White Sky, Sheep by Andrew Hardwick

Moor, White Sky, Sheep by Andrew Hardwick

Andrew enjoys the challenges of his work. “It’s all very personal and because of that it’s fascinating to do,” he says. “My passion for the landscape is a big part of it, but also the way I perceive it as mirroring my own state of mind. Finding ways to explore that is key to what I do – answering the questions in myself.”

He’s keen to dispel the myth that dark works are proof of a dark personality. “I work mainly around the estuary and Dartmoor so people might presume I’m a bleak person, but the opposite is actually true. I see my work as reflecting the power of nature and wilderness and the power of being alive. It’s wonderful being out in the rain with the wind blowing. It can be frightening, but it can also be spiritual – elemental.”

He adds: ‘I see a lot of joy in my work – it\s a celebration of life and living things.”

Andrew will be exhibiting at the RWA’s 165th Annual Open Exhibition from 1 October until December 3rd 2017. He will also be showing his work at the Totterdown Front Room Art Trail on 18th and 19th November 2017.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Writing prompt – angles

London angles by Judy DarleyThe angle you take with a story is as important as the story itself, whether you’re writing fiction, non fiction, or something in between.

What you leave out, what you add in, how you emphasise the heart of the tale are all crucial to your end result.

To me this slide of London represents that perfectly, taking in past, present and possible futures.

What direction would you choose to take from 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.

Submit to Novel Nights

Novel-Nights-Literary-Events-Bristol4-photo credit Sophie Carefull

Novel Nights © Sophie Carefull

Having an audience for your prose, whether it’s a short story or a novel extract, is a great way to build up a loyal following as well as get a sense of the story you’re telling.

The session of Novel Nights on 25th October is part of Bristol Festival of Literature 2017, making it a really prestigious event on Bristol’s lit scene. There are three slots of five-minutes for writers, and I’m helping to select the stories, so why not submit?

Closing date for submissions is 1st October 2017.

Grace Palmer, the organiser, says: “We want to hear prose which delights, tells a story with skill, hooks a room of people and won’t make them fidget. If you are chosen to read you get free entry to Novel Nights, your name on the programme and publicised on Twitter, Facebook and on this Novel Nights website.”

The audience are a group of friendly writers and readers, so you’re bound to come away with a buzz.

Submission guidelines  

Please submit the following:

  • An 800-word extract of your writing; no more than 5-minutes reading time
  • Choose a scene from your novel or a short story that will work as a piece to listen to – not too much dialogue but something self-contained that shows off the story and your writing style. Don’t choose a scene with lots of characters in it
  • A photos of yourself  – please label with your name 
  • A cover photo of your book or books, if you are published
  • Your name (or writing pseudonym), and twitter handle
  • Writer Bio – a 30 word version for our programme, a longer version for our information about you, your writing etc

How to send 
Send your work and bio in the body of an email to submit@novelnights.co.uk  
Photos can be sent as an attachment

How we choose

We look for strong, well-crafted writing that will delight and excite an audience.

We choose extracts that fit in with the theme of the night or that fit with each other. If you are not chosen it doesn’t mean we think you are not good enough! These things are subjective.

Good luck!

Find out more at www.novelnights.co.uk/submissions-for-novel-nights.

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.

Writing prompt – miffed

Geese by Judy DarleyEver noticed how much we humans love to anthropomorphise? This seems particularly true of birds. If I see a group of pigeons, I might mention them gossiping, or if I see a pair of ducks in a hotel swimming pool, my immediate thought is that they’re on holiday.

How about these geese spied recently in Bristol and looking somewhat peeved as the rain churns up their holiday idyll? How might their conversation go?

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 might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

 

Book review – Who Are You? by Anna Kavan

Who Are You coverLike a long, hot fevered dream, Anna Kavan’s story of a stifling marriage swarms with darkness and half-seen threats. Living in a tropical region labelled only through slang as ‘white man’s grave,’ our heroine is struggling to give up of the illuminated life of academic pursuit she’s left behind and accept the wedded unhappiness she’s been forced into.

Her husband, known by the staff as Mr Dog Head, seems no more satisfied with the arrangement. Her silences make him distrustful, which in turn causes him to simmer with violence. Favourite games include playing tennis with unwary rats, and forcing the girl to look on. At any moment, it appears, he’ll turn that brutality on his wife.

We witness the story through the eyes of an omniscient narrator, who shares one viewpoint, then another, often only speculating about the inward cause of responses and actions. It feels as though we are the mosquitoes that the girl unthinkingly lets into the house – swarming and spying on this desolate marriage.

Continue reading

Writing prompt – fairytale

Repunzel photo by Judy Darley

I spotted this torn and disfigured book cover on a shady cemetery path. It feels like an apt reminder of the darkness inherent in traditional fairytales.

As a child the retellings of myths gathered or made up by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen frequently chilled me to my bones. Only in recent years have these twisted tales riddled through with warnings become saturated with the Happy Ever Afters we crave.

Write something skin-shiveringly unsettling inspired by this image.

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.

Stitch by glorious stitch…

Ian Berry artistOne of the features I’ve most enjoyed writing recently is Oh Sew Beautiful for Simply Sewing issue 34 (in shops and available to buy online now). It gave me the chance to interview five exceptional artists who use threads and fabric as their medium.

Harriet Riddell, Ian Berry , Jessica So Ren Tang, Nigel Cheney and Michelle Kingdom each create worlds of light, shade, texture and dreams using their textiles of choice.

India, Living Root Bridge stitch by Harriet Riddell

India, Living Root Bridge stitched by Harriet Riddell

Harriet captures the scenes and faces she encounters on her travels using a peddle-powered sewing machine. “I like to work from life and use my surroundings as a colour reference,” she says. “I love the tactile nature of textiles. I love textures and how strong the use of line can be when in thread.”

Detail by Ian Berry

Detail by Ian Berry

The gorgeous painterly quality of Ian’s artwork is achieved through hours of painstaking effort. “They take a long time to create, layering up the denim pieces and also finding the perfect shade,” he says. “When I open up the pocket, underneath you’ve got such a strong indigo, with a gradient to where the pocket opens. I see the fade in the cat’s whiskers, the amazing contrasts around the belt and a hem, and all of this allows me to use the denim like paint.

Blue Willow Plate detail stitched by Jessica So Ren Tang

Blue Willow Plate detail stitched by Jessica So Ren Tang

Jessica fell in love “with the softness and tactile nature of embroidery. I could create 3D objects and illustrative thread paintings with textile and fabric. It offered the potential to create something new and different.”

Nigel Cheney dog portraits photo by Sylvain_Deleu

Dogs by Nigel Cheney, photo by Sylvain Deleu

Nigel is passionate about fabrics. “There’s something about the quality of colour when it’s in a soft material that can’t be beaten,” he says. “The way that linen will have a faded grandeur and silk a bloom and depth of shimmering colour is so seductive. The tactility of different fibres, their textures and physical properties never fail to make my heart sing.”

Using threads was instinctual for Michelle. “While it’s inherently beautiful, there’s also something primitive, awkward and fragile about it, which strikes me as both compelling and honest,” she says. “Undeniably tactile in nature, embroidery touches not only the seamstress in me, but connects me to the memory of so many women with stories buried in thread that came before me.”

Life Will Divide Us by Michelle Kingdom

Life Will Divide Us by Michelle Kingdom

Michelle’s preferred technique is to use thread loosely as a drawing tool. “More and more I move away from traditional stitch technique and prefer to play with thread in intuitive ways to recreate the medium. I tackle one new piece at a time and continue to plough ahead on new ideas. The medium seems the best way for me to express my private thoughts, and its results still surprise me after all these years.”

Read the full issue in Simply Sewing issue 34.

Reasons to visit AAF Bristol

Channel Orange by Rowdy via Clifton Fine ArtToday the Affordable Art Fair returns to Bristol. *squealswithjoy* Brunel’s Old Station at Temple Meads is already filling up with gorgeous artwork, and I can’t wait to get down there!

If you are after something special and spectacularly original, it’s a great place to go with a wad of cash or a healthy credit card in your pocket. Galleries from across the UK will be representing some extraordinary artists. I’ll be looking out for the Clifton Fine Art stand, which will feature work by the likes of Harry Bunce, Steve Slimm and graffiti artist Rowdy, who painted the vivid beauty at the top of this page.

Waiting For The Cloads To Break by Steve Slimm via Clifton Fine Art

Waiting For The Cloads To Break by Steve Slimm

The fair launches with a Private Charity View tonight from 5.30pm – 9.30pm, and is then open on Friday 9th Sept from 11am – 5pm, with a late view from 5-8pm, on Saturday 10th Sept from 11am till 6pm and on Sunday 11 Sept from 11am till 5pm.

For me the best part is simply to meander the vast space of the Old Station, traversing corridors of exceptional art and letting it set my imagination alight.

Find full details here.

Writing prompt – view

View by Judy DarleyIt may not seem like much, but this is the view I lost when some idiots decided to build a house a few feet from my backyard.

I’ve always relished having some space in front of me – a bit of distance on which to rest my eyes and some inspiring sky to help me come up with the next sentence or the perfect closing line.

What do you take for granted that you would miss if it was taken away?

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.

 

Writers & Artists short story competition

Playa de San Antolin cr Judy Darley.Writers & Artists have teamed up with Retreat West for a free writing competition that offers you the chance to win a place on one of Retreat West’s writing retreats. As well as five days to focus on your writing in a beautiful coastal setting, the prize includes workshops taking place at the retreat.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is write a short story no longer than 1,000 words.

The only stipulation here is that your story – which can be about anything you like – must use a beach as its setting, and must be written for adults.

Entries are free, though you must have an account with www.writersandartists.co.uk. The deadline for submissions is midnight on Sunday 17th September.

Please send all entries to competition@bloomsbury.com, with a subject line of “Retreat West Short Story Competition“.

Prizes

The author of the winning story will receive a place on Retreat West’s Plotting Retreat, taking place from 17-21 November 2017 in West Bay, Dorset. Workshops over the weekend will be led by Richard Skinner, novelist and head of the Faber Academy, and Retreat West founder and novelist Amanda Saint. The retreat provides the opportunity to hone your writing skills in a beautiful location. Full details of the retreat can be found on the Retreat West website.

Both the winner and two runners up will also receive the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook , a copy of one of our Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Companion Guide series, and a copy of the 2016 Retreat West Anthology of stories from the annual RW Short Story Prize and RW Flash Fiction Prize. The winning stories will also be published on www.writersandartists.co.uk.

Find full details, including terms and conditions, at www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions/retreat-west-short-story-competition

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.