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.

Wordy riches

Wordy riches by Judy DarleyI got back from holiday to discover three exciting parcels waiting for me. What a brilliant welcome home! Each package contained a wealth of wordy riches.

The first I opened contained a review copy of The Dragonfly by Kate Dunn, which I can’t wait to start reading.

Sleep is a Beautiful ColourThe second was this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology, Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, containing my story Fascinate.

The book offers up a selection of fabulously quirky and inventive flashes compiled and edited by Santino Prinzi and Meg Pokrass. I’m so pleased to have my tale included!

The third package contained my prize for winning third place in the National Flash Fiction Day NZ competition – my favourite kinds of prizes, words.

In The Wild Wood by Frances Gapper already has me enthralled, and, yes, those are teeny tiny books in the little box in the centre. So enticing!

National Flash Fiction Day NZ 3rd prize

I feel well and truly topped up with gorgeous fictions. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while :)

A flash about a dragon

Bamboo forest by Judy DarleyA dragon flies into a bar.

Ouch.

I’m thrilled that my story Flightless has not only been published on the Micro Madness website for National Flash Fiction Day NZ, but has been placed third in the Micro Madness competition!

The competition organisers asked if I mind it being read aloud at the festival events in New Zealand – of course I don’t mind, I only wish I could be there!

You can read it here.

A wordathon for refugees

Arnolfini cr Judy Darley

This Saturday I’m taking part in Satellite of Love’s Wordathon in aid of Borderlands. This Bristol-based charity offers support to refugees and asylum seekers.

Between 1.30 and 6pm on Saturday 10th June 2017, writers will be taking over The Dark Studio at The Arnolfini on Bristol’s Narrow Quay, sharing stories and poems to inspire, move and enthuse anyone who drops by.

Organised by Helen Sheppard, Stella Quinlivan and Pauline Seawards, the afternoon will offer a zesty sprinkling of five-minute flash fictions and poems, including some prompted by the refugee crisis.

At 2.30pm I’ll be reading a brief series of vignettes that are somewhere between flash fictions and poems, and are inspired by how we can become refugees in our own lives when we’re old.

Do come along if you can, and donate a few coins or notes to support Borderlands at www.justgiving.com/teams/satelliteoflove

Satellite of love - Spoken Word Event - 10 June

A literary outing in Hong Kong

Mussel shells cr Judy Darley

I’m happy to announce that my short story Preservation has been selected for the Liars’ League Hong Kong night of literary performances on 29th May.

In case you weren’t aware, Liars League is an event that matches short fiction to actors, celebrating the spoken word while giving it some thespian panache! Their tagline is Writers Write. Actors Read. Audience Listens. Everybody Wins.

The evening my story has been chosen for focuses on the themes Prophecy & History. Splendid!

Susan Lavender will be reading my story, which is great news as she previously read my tales Geese Among The Trees and Night Flights in Hong Kong.

The story was inspired by the fact various words about nature really have been excised from children’s dictionary to make room for more about technology. Sad but true. Mussel was just one of the words removed.

I can’t attend, but hope to catch up on the podcast or videos afterwards. It starts at 8pm on 29th of May at Social Room, a loft style multi functional Hong Kong event venue “ideally located next to the Central Escalator.” If by some chance you happen to be in that part of the world that night, do swing by. It should be a fabulous evening!

Strawberry Thief – a short story

Strawberry Thief by Judy DarleyJust as the birds are dashing around celebrating the start of spring, my flock-infused tale Strawberry Thief has found a new home with the deliciously named Straylight Magazine, biannual literary magazine of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

They say: “We look for innovative works of fiction, poetry, and art. Straylight takes pride in being on the edge of literary innovation.” So I’m feeling rather flattered.

The story begins: The hide is empty but for herself and Jonathan. In the clearing beyond the small, wooden structure, birds cavort—more species than she can name. Jonathan would know them all. He understood their code of feathers and colors in a way she’s never been able to grasp.

To read the full story, click here.

Reading at Novel Nights

Green Glass by Judy DarleyThis Wednesday from 8pm I’ll be reading my short story Green Glass as part of Novel Night’s romance themed evening. My tale is a bit less hearts and flowers than wavering principles and recycled glass, but at the core of it is a protagonist with a desire to be a better person, and that has to count for something.

Along with our gracious Grace-ious host Grace Palmer, I’ll be accompanied by local writers Amy Morse, Chloe Turner and Kate Dunn, with Rosemary Dun, author of The Trouble with Love, headlining. Can’t wait to discover their interpretations of love!

It takes place at The Square Club, 15 Berkeley Square, BS8 1HB Bristol, United Kingdom. You can buy tickets here: http://buytickets.at/novelnights/78222. Hope to see you there!

Writing prompt – journey

Basque country coastal walk by Judy DarleyThe journey has long been a staple of storytelling. You give a character a mission, send them off on their way, stick a few obstacles in their path and see what happens.

In a recent story, The Daughters, I sent two sisters off on a journey I’d taken myself, into the rural reaches of Spain’s Basque Country. The setting gave me a backdrop for two very different women to come to terms with their relationship, while tasking them with solving the riddle of how to reach a particular beach from the clifftops they were walking along.

That area is on the fringe of the Camino de Santiago, making it ideal for a fictional pilgrimage. You can read the story at www.litro.co.uk/2016/12/the-daughters/

Think of a journey you could send your own characters on and how it might change them, however subtly.

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.

Silvering – a short story

Leaves on lawn by Judy DarleyI’m thrilled that my short story Silvering has been published in volume one, issue four of Wolves Magazine. Bobby, the lovely editor, said some awfully nice things about it. Thanks Bobby! The story follows a man on an emotional journey as his view of the world is utterly changed.

You can read the story here: www.wolvesmagazine.com/#!silvering/t4t5c.

It’s a really beautiful and entertaining issue. Do drop by for a read if you have a moment free. And submit your tales and poems for future issues too – Wolves is one of the few literary publications to actually pay!

A watery big adventure with Bristol Biennial

Bristol waterways cr Judy DarleyBristol Biennial begins today, with a programme of peculiar, beautiful, imaginative and immersive events taking place across the city.

I’m really happy to have been chosen as one of 12 artists taking part in The Floating, a collaborative writing project taking place on the Bristol’s waterways, and set to culminate in a series of works inspired by the boat journey. Excitingly, these will then be published “in an experimental way” along the harbourside where you’ll be able to see them throughout the week of Bristol Biennial.

The project is being masterminded by graphic designers Conway and Young and writer Amy Spencer. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in anything quite like this, and I’m buzzing with anticipation!

The Floating is just one of an array of fabulously inventive happenings, many of which are free to experience. Find out more about Bristol Biennial and The Floating.