Ride the art in Vilnius

Painting Routers art initiativeHave you ever taken a journey on a piece of art? Now you can take an epic ride on one of Vilnius’ trolleybuses covered in contemporary art. Running for the second consecutive year, the Painting Routers art initiative has transformed five trolleybuses into Vilnius, Lithuania, into canvases painted on by five teams of well-known young artists from Lithuania and Estonia.

“The novelty of using public transport as art lies in the subjectivity of painting and its corporeal and incorporeal duality rather than  in the trolley’s medium as something new and unexpected,” explains the project’s coordinator Darius Jarusevicius. “The aim of Painting Routers is to question the stable  identity of painting and the sustainability of its corporeal actualisation, and to highlight the nomadic nature of art.”

The idea of Painting Routers sprang from art duo Polyrabbit.Duplicate (Inna Shilina and Darius Jaruševičius). “Our painterly practice is based on duplication and the repetition of our own paintings on different mediums: animation, digital  appearance, corporeal surfaces with very different densities and situations of exposition,” says Darius. “It was a dream of the Polyrabbit.Duplicate duo to find means of creating visual art in non-static public spaces. When we hit on the trolleybuses was the answer, it became clear that it would be good not only for our own painterly practice, but for contemporary painting in general, so we invited more artists to join in.”

Painting Routers art initiative

Artists involved in the project for 2018 include Goda Lukaitė, Donata Minderytė, Monika Plentauskaitė, Alexei Gordin, Kazimieras Brazdžiūnas, Vita Opolskytė, Kristina Ališauskaitė, Rosanda Sorakaitė, Kristi Kongi, and Rosanda Sorakaitė.

This year’s Painting Routers initiative aims to encourage dialogue on the #metoo movement, femininity, sensations, and sexuality. “A real-life social media wall will revert back to digital when people share their experiences of the Painting Router works, creating a cycle,” says Darius. “Taken out of the galleries, the art becomes accessible to everyone.”

The trolleybuses will be riding  the streets of Vilnius until October 2018, offering plenty of time to spot all five works and ride each one as the mood takes you!

More information about the project and about tourism in Vilnius visit www.vilnius-tourism.lt/en.

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Hay Festival 24 May-3 June 2018

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

I remember visiting Hay-on-Wye as a child and being entranced by this place built, it seemed, entirely on, around and with books. Yet I’ve never yet made it to any of the much lauded Hay Festivals (have you noticed how they’ve spread throughout the world? Good to know that the love of the written word is so contagious).

The festival runs from 24th May – 3rd June. The events are too many to list here, but include the Hay on Earth Forum, music from the likes of singer-songwriter Jake Bugg, and features Sarah Corbett speaking on the powers of Craftivism. The festival retains a healthy literature section, with introductions from exciting Latin American writers, conversations with recipients of the Man Booker prize, Icelandic Literature Prize and others, plus numerous readings from rising literary stars.

Roddy Doyle will offer his insights and humour, Simon Mayo will discuss his debut novel, and Margaret Atwood will talk about a new generation discovering The Handmaid’s Tale.

Get your tickets from www.hayfestival.com. And if you’re lucky enough to attend any of the events, please let me know! I’d love to publish your festival review on SkyLightRain.com. Just email me at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Green Island

Logoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel by Judy Darley

Logoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel

My travel feature on the tranquility of Sao Miguel, one of the Azores islands, was recently published by In The Moment magazine. It provided a wonderful chance for me to re-live the beauty of that Portuguese isle.

You can buy back issues of In The Moment here. My feature appeared in issue 10.

This is my third feature published about that trip, the previous ones being published in Wedding ideas magazine and A Year In Portugal journal.

I’ve also had a piece published about a somewhat chillier visit to Iceland in Balance magazine. Love getting out to see the world and sharing my discoveries!

Icelandic Thrills feature by Judy Darley

Jaipur Literary Festival

Jaipur Literary Elephant

Image © Steppes Travel www.steppestravel.co.uk

What better way to begin 2017 than with a trip to one of the world’s hottest literary festivals?

Founded by William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale, Jaipur Literature Festival is celebrating eleven years old in 2018, and takes place from 25-28th January. From Nobel Laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, the annual event brings together over 250 authors, thinkers, politicians, journalists and popular culture icons from India and from around the globe.

Speakers and performers taking part include Amy Tan, Anthony Horowitz, Helen Fielding, Julia Donaldson, Kathy Reichs, musician Zakir Hussain, and countless others.

Keen to take part yourself next year? Contact the organisers through the website to find out more.

Bespoke holiday specialists Steppes Travel offer tailor-made visits to Jaipur Literature Festival. Find full details here: www.steppestravel.co.uk/india-group-tour-jaipur-literature-festival/overview

Find full details of Jaipur Literature Festival here. It could be a fabulous start to your literary year.

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Head to the Bath Children’s Literature Festival

Child reading cr Julian Foxon Photography

© Julian Foxon Photography

Hungry for writing inspiration, or simply got young book-worms to entertain? Bath Children’s Literature Festival offers up a fantastic, imagination-stirring line-up of events.

The festival runs from Friday 29 September – Sunday 8 October 2017, with events for all ages, including inspiring and entertaining conversations with Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell, Jacqueline Wilson and Miranda Hart, as well as Michael Rosen, Eoin Colfer, Harry Hill, Ade Edmonson, David Baddiel, Kate DiCamillo, Ellen Anderson, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Ben Faulks, Christian O’Connell, and Gemma Cairney.

Learn to write picture books with Tessa Strickland or get to grips with writing for TV, take a drawing workshop, try your hand at animation or simply find out how to become a witch with author Kaye Umansky.

Find details and book tickets at bathfestivals.org.uk/childrens-literature.

Find out more about Bath, including places to stay, at visitbath.co.uk.

Escape to Port Eliot

Port Eliot Festival cr Michael Bowles

All photographs used in this post are taken by Michael Bowles

Describing itself rather eloquently as “an annual celebration of words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration and fun”, Port Eliot Festival brings together some of the best creative talents around and plonks them in the middle of a magical sprawling garden party.

It all kicks off on 27th July, running till 30th July, at St Germans, West Cornwall.

This year’s speakers, performers, mixologists and events include poet Hollie McNish, Geoff Dyer, Three Cane Whale, Salena Godden, Tim Smit, Las Cafeteras, and Martha Tilston, “with a voice like spiderwebbed hollows.” And so many others

There are also exhibitions to be inspired by: In The Round Room, you’ll find Adrift, a combination of art and science, which throws light on the 27,000 individual pieces of debris currently orbiting above us.

Each of the stages have names that seem plucked straight from fairytales: Caught by the River, Walled Garden, Flower and Fodder, The Idler Academy and The Black Cow Saloon being just a few.

Port Eliot woodland cr Michael Bowles

It helps, of course, that the surroundings are some of the finest SW England has to offer, with historical attractions including the oldest church in Cornwall – St Germans Priory Norman church. Natural delights range from the Grade 1 listed park and garden, to the estuary – an irresistible spot for a dusk-glow lantern parade.

Port Eliot estuary cr Michael Bowles

That’s not all though, not by a long short. Look out for the Hush Starry Garden, Philosophy and Psychology Walks, life classes with owls, Survival Wisdom Masterclasses and much more. Once the grounds open, anything can happen – in the word’s of the organisers, “at Port Eliot, as twilight turns to darkness, you may still feel the menacing frisson of the unknown coming night…”

Now, that’s my kind of party.

Night at Port Eliot Festival cr Michael Bowles

Music of the Faroe Islands

Múlafossur waterfall, Faroe Islands cr Kate Chapman

Múlafossur waterfall, Faroe Islands cr Kate Chapman

There’s something about small islands and their proximity to the hungry sea that ensures they are awash with creative talent. Gather some inspiration and experience their wild energy for yourself with a season of extraordinary musical events on a remote archipelago situated in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Norway. The 18 Faroe Islands have inspired countless musicians and composers, and the locals love nothing better than to immerse themselves in festivals, cultural evenings and cosy concerts.

From the living rooms of locals to sandy beaches, sea caves and sweeping valleys, there is a music event to suit every sensibility this year in the Faroe Islands. Here’s my pick.

Norðlýsið, Concerto Grotto

Norðlýsið, Concerto Grotto

Until 20th August: Concerto Grotto

As part of Summartónar, a series of concerts in traditional and unusual venues across the Faroe Islands, Concerto Grotto take place in natural grottos hidden in the huge sea cliffs on the island of Hestur in the Klæminstgjógv gorge or on Nólsoy, depending on the weather.

Depart from Vágsbotnur aboard a beautiful Faroese schooner, the Norðlýsið (the Northern Light) and sail into the seas around the islands before transferring into a smaller vessel to enter an enormous cliff cavern. Here, musicians almost invisible I the darkness make the very most of the natural acoustics.

An ethereal and unique event, these grotto concerts are sure to evoke a sense of wonderment and awe at both the music itself and their natural surroundings, as well as provoking some story ideas.
www.visitfaroeislands.com/event/summartonar-grotto-concerts

G! Festival cr Ólavur Frederiksen

G! Festival cr Ólavur Frederiksen

13th-15th July G! Festival

The internationally-acclaimed G! Festival takes place in the village of Syðrugøta – population 400 – on the island of Eysturoy. The village has a population of just 400, and lies within a natural amphitheatre set between grass-carpeted peaks and the ocean, in a break between the cliffs skirting the coastline. Stages are built on the beach and the football pitch for the unique three-day event.

Understandably, the five stages have previously attracted world-class music and well-known names such as The Guillemots and Travis, and this year will welcome British band Desert Mountain Tribe, amongst many others.

Bring your own tent or stay with a Faroese family for the full experience. gfestival.fo

10th-12th August Summarfestivalur

This pop-centric festival attracts the largest crowd for any event in the Faroe Islands. It’s a family-friendly festival, with activities for children, a funfair and entertainers, alongside well-known international and Faroese artists performing popular music.

Over three stages in the centre of Klaksvik, the second largest town in the Faroes, on the island of Borðoy, Roxette and Westlife have previously performed. The 2017 festival will feature Danish sensation Lukas Graham and American classic rock band, Toto

Stay overnight in caravans, tents or even boats. www.summarfestivalur.com

HOYMA4th November HOYMA

This gorgeous anti-festival creation will suit anyone who likes things a bit cosier and more intimate. HOYMA, is a series of concerts performed in locals’ living rooms: 1 evening, 20 concerts, and 10 artists in 10 homes.

The village of Gøta on the island of Eysturoy provides the backdrop for this innovative event, where people walk from door to door, popping in to listen to live music performed  in the living rooms of locals. All the music is unplugged and performed acoustically.

HOYMA harks back to the Faroese tradition of going from house to house and gathering around the fireplace in the living room – the way that people living on these isolated and stormy islands have socialised for centuries, sharing stories and songs.
www.facebook.com/hoymafestival.

Daily flights to the Faroe Islands (London to Vágar Island, via Copenhagen) operate year-round and cost from £368 pp return. Seasonal twice-weekly direct flights to the Faroe Islands (Edinburgh to Vágar Islandoperate from March to December and cost from £199 pp return. Visit www.atlantic.fo for further information.

For more information about the Faroe Islands, see www.visitfaroeislands.com

Literary Heroes of Thanet

Botany Bay, Broadstairs - credit Thanet Tourism

Botany Bay, Broadstairs © Thanet Tourism

Ever noticed how certain places seem to attract more than their share of writers and artists? The eastern corner of England encompassed by Thanet has been pleasing inspiration-seekers for hundreds of years, making it a key location in VisitEngland’s year of Literary Heroes.

You might more readily associate Jane Austen with Bath, but actually Georgian Ramsgate captured the author’s imagination, moving her to write the poem Post Haste From Thanet, and providing a backdrop for flirtations between Mr Wickham and Georgiana Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and between Tom Bertram and the younger Miss Sneyd “who was not out” in Mansfield Park. Scandal!

From JMW Turner to Tracey Emin, with George Morland and Vincent Van Gogh falling somewhere in between, artists too, have flocked here.

Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge loved to “Ramsgatize”, as he called it, seeking relief from his chronic ailments during a series of holidays between 1819 and 1833 – you’ll find a blue plaque where he stayed in Wellington Crescent.

Charles Dickens described Broadstairs as “the freshest, freest place.” TS Eliot came to Margate in 1921 to recuperate from a nervous breakdown, catching the tram each day to sit in the Victorian Nayland Rock promenade shelter, where he wrote lines that became part of The Waste Land.

Shell Grotto, Margate - credit Thanet Tourism

Shell Grotto, Margate © Thanet Tourism

And that’s not even the half of it. John Betjeman, Arthur Ransome, Wilkie Collins, Charles Lamb, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll (who visited Margate’s Shell Grotto in 1870, describing it as “a marvellous subterranean chamber” – see above), Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, and Scarlet Pimpernel author Baroness Orczy, were all fans of Thanet and its seaside charms.

Literary Events 2017

Dickens Festival, Broadstairs, 17–23 June. From a Grande Parade featuring Queen Victoria in a horse-drawn carriage to Dickensian feasting and revelry, the festival is celebrating its 80th anniversary in style.

Ramsgate Festival, 22–30 July. Explore the town’s creative side, including theatre, music, talks and a writing competition and running alongside Ramsgate Week sailing regatta from 24–28 July. Throughout the summer, regular Ramsgate Costumed Walks offer a sense of the Regency town as Jane Austen knew it.

Margate Bookie, August 2017. Interactive sessions, workshops, talks and author readings aim to inspire you to read more and get involved in all levels of writing.

For more on Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate go to www.visitthanet.co.uk
Twitter and Instagram @VisitThanet. VisitThanet on Facebook.

Witches of Scotland

Agnes Finnie and Witch Pricker at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, characters in the Edinburgh Dungeon Witch Hunt tour_Nick Mailer Photography

Agnes Finnie and Witch Pricker, characters in the Edinburgh Dungeon Witch Hunt tour © Nick Mailer Photography

Few things beat a good ghost story for making your skin crawl, and a dead witch has to be among the spookier ideas.

This year marks the 420th anniversary of Scotland’s Great Witch Hunt, and the country is going all out to seriously send chills down our spines with a series of events marking this dastardly episode.

The Great Witch Hunt of Scotland took place between March and October 1597, instigated by James VI. According to the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, more than 3,800 people, both men and women, were accused of witchcraft in Scotland during the period 1563 to 1736, which is when the Witchcraft Act was enforced in Scotland*. It’s believed that two-thirds of those accused were executed.

Discover this shady period and source inspiration for your own dark tales by visiting some of the key locations.

From the Witches Well at Castlehill in Edinburgh to monuments and rock formations attributed to witchcraft, there’s plenty to fire you up.

I’m intrigued by the revelation that the seaside town North Berwick was the setting for Scotland’s first mass witch trial, on 31 October 1590. Used to get rid of anyone who made the crown uneasy, accused witches from across Edinburgh and the Lothians were accused of attempting to prevent James VI bring his prospective bride home from Denmark through rituals such as throwing a cat into the sea. Almost all of the accused were tortured into confessing witchcraft, with the ‘Devil’s mark’ apparently found on their necks.

Then there’s the sculpture of Helen Duncan at Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum. Helen Duncan was the last person in Britain to be prosecuted as a witch, but this was far more recent than seems palatable. Born in Callander in 1897, was eventually tried at the Old Bailey in London in 1944, after scaring folks at the séances she held through Britain. On the night of 19th January 1944, one of Helen’s séances in Portsmouth was raided by police. Disturbingly, officers failed to stop the ectoplasm issuing from Helen’s mouth! After some order had been restored, Helen was formally arrested, and eventually brought to trial at the Old Bailey in London.

Equally unsettling is the memorial at Maxwellton Cross in Paisley, where a circle of cobblestones surrounds a steel horseshoe centered within a modest bronze plaque. Located in the middle of a busy intersection, it may not seem like much at first glance, but actually marks the final resting place of seven people put to death on charges of witchcraft. All seven bodies were burned, and the ashes buried at Maxwellton Cross, where the intersection of Maxwellton Street and George Street now stands.

Finally, don’t miss the Witch Hunt tours at Edinburgh Dungeon.

According to records, Agnes Finnie was one of Edinburgh’s most infamous witches. She reportedly lived in the Potterrow Port area of the city and was convicted of Witchcraft in 1644 with a total of 20 charges made against her.

Evidence of her dark magic include a retaliation to a young boy calling her names. Agnes publically cursed him, and within 24 hours he had completely lost the use of his left side and became bedridden with “so incurable a disease” that one week later, he was dead.

You can find out all about Agnes at the Edinburgh Dungeon Witch Hunt’s interactive tour, and even discover if you would be accused of being a witch yourself! If you happen to be a creative writer or artist, then I’m thinking the answer is probably yes.

Learn travel writing

Manukan beach, BorneoIf, like me, you’re prone to keeping travelogues whenever you skip out of town, why not have a go at turning your holidays into magazine features?

Tina Walsh is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years’ experience of writing about travel for publications such as TIME, the Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Express and many more.

She’s leading a five-week online travel course, providing an insight into what travel editors are looking for from freelance journalists and offering tips on how to sell your stories.

What does it cover?

* How to find engaging story ideas
* How to write a pitch
* How to structure your story
* How to get invited on press trips and organise your own trips

The course is suitable for beginners and more experienced travel writers looking to brush up their skills.

Start dates are ongoing, so you can sign up whenever you’re ready and complete the course in your own time.

Taking part costs £250 (inc VAT) for five individual one-hour sessions. It could be the start of a brand new career, or at least add a new string to your writing bow.

Find full details at tina-walsh.com.