Underwire – a short story

TearsInTheFence67This beauty arrive last week, brimming with noisy poems and tales all fit to stop you in your tracks for a moment (or far longer, if you’re not careful). I’m thrilled to have my surreal flash fiction Underwire included in issue 67 (Winter/Spring 2018) of Tears In The Fence.

The issue boasts a spine and 184 pages, making it a journal, if not a full-blown anthology, rather than a magazine.

You can buy back issues of Tears In The Fence or subscribe here.

 

Here’s a sneak preview of my tale:

Underwire by Judy Darley

The pebbles of the beach are cold lumps beneath my soles. A January wind whistles in from the sea, but I ignore the goosebumps sprigging my flesh and with effort I think the core of me into heat. That’s a trick, imagining a small inferno lit at the centre of my gut, flames licking the ropes of intestines and keeping me warm.

That’s how it begins, and the image below is where it ends, but you’ll have to get your hands on a copy of the issue to find out what happens in between.

Underwire by Judy Darley

Winchester Writers’ Festival competitions

Stripe Image provided by The WInchester Writers' ConferenceWinchester Writers’ Festival returns from 15th-17th June 2018, offering the opportunity to mingle with writers, hungry agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

The Writing Competitions are now open for entries. Don’t miss the earlier than usual deadline of 11th April!

The Shortlist will be announced on the Festival website at noon on 11th May, with the Winners due to be announced on 18th May.

Founded in 1980, the conference now encompasses a festival, book fair and  in-depth workshop schedule, as well as masses of opportunities to network with other aspiring and established authors.

Promised highlights include the festival’s renowned One-to-One Appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors, authors, poets and industry experts. There will also be masterclasses, talks and open-mic readings, all devised to inspire and inform you so you can take the literary world by storm!!

The Winchester Writers’ Festival takes place June 15th-17th 2018.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

A moment’s respite

Old Harry Rocks by Gilly Mound

Old Harry Rocks by Gilly Mound

There’s an enticing hint of reminiscence about Gilly Mound’s mixed media artworks – looking at them I find myself recalling childhood holidays to picturesque villages, often within sight of the sea and almost always within earshot of sheep. The vivid colours and bold shapes are deliciously inviting, with an impression of sunshine throughout.

“I have always loved colour,” Gilly comments. “Initially my art was based around mixed media and stitch and was quite colourful, but not as bold. Then a few years ago I decided to pare down the media and processes I was using and began to experiment with acrylics. I was instantly hooked.”

Home From Home by Gilly Mound

Home From Home by Gilly Mound

Gilly describes her style as “quite ‘blocky’ and naïve. Acrylic is a perfect media for this style.”

Her surroundings are frequently the impetus of a new work of art. “For me it’s down to environment,” Gilly explains. “I live in the countryside where the changing seasons are very defined and inspirational. I love to walk in a rural landscape of fields, trees, leaves and sheep! And the British coastline, particularly Cornwall and Wales is very influential in providing imagery of little boats and harbours.”

Little Harbour by Gilly Mound

Little Harbour by Gilly Mound

Gilly is also a fan of ceramic pots and jugs, and these, too, appear in many of her works as still life elements, often providing a foreground focus to an idyllic view. I love the details she chooses to include, such as the pebbles in the scene above.

Three Sheep crop by Gilly Mound

Three Sheep, crop, by Gilly Mound

Gilly’s aim is to share her affection for the places she lives close to in Worcestershire’s Teme Valley, and the locations she visits.

“I try to portray the way I feel about places and everyday objects rather than capture their exact visual reality,” she says. “For instance, my painting of Bayards Cove, Dartmouth, is pared down and stylised but still recognisable as the subject.”

Bayard's Cove by Gilly Mound

Bayard’s Cove by Gilly Mound

Prior to immersing herself in fine art, Gilly worked as a fabric retailer and knitwear designer, before studying and then teaching fashion and textiles. I couldn’t resist asking how she feels her background in this area impacts on her work.

“A really interesting question!” she exclaims. “I believe it has given a commercial leaning to my work. Colour, shape, pattern and form are important features of fashion and textile design and yes, I believe these ‘organising’ factors do influence me when I am making art.”

Where I Want To Be by Gilly Mound

Where I Want To Be by Gilly Mound

The pleasure of creating is evident in her work. “That moment of making art and ‘being in the zone or flow’ is a priceless experience,” she says. “Unfortunately it doesn’t happen every day, but when I’m fully connecting with my work there’s a sense of immense satisfaction in simply being involved in the creative process. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Find more of Gilly’s work at www.gillymound.co.ukThe Art Agency, 118 – 120 High St, Esher KT10 9QJ and Whalley Fine Art & Framing, Holywood, Belfast, Co. Down.

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

Writing prompt – seahorse

Seahorse by Judy DarleyI met this otherworldly creature at my local aquarium. Clinging to his net for support, he looks rather as though he’s a felon behind bars, which made me smile until I considered the controversy currently surrounding Sea World.

These ambiguities offer a rich mine of story possibilities. Is he enjoying a moment’s serene contemplation or is he a frustrated captive?

Aquariums and zoos can be centres of conservation, preserving wildlife and providing education. Equally, they can jails where animals suffer for our entertainment. Write something that explores these dualities, or choose which side of the fence you’re sitting behind and show us something that will make us think about these issues in a fresh way.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Enter the Poetry on the Lake Competition

Carzano harbour cr Judy DarleyThere’s still time to enter the Poetry on the Lake Competition with a closing date of 15th April 2018.

There are three categories:

Silver Wyvern (all forms, max 42 lines).
Short poems (max 10 lines).
Formal (for traditional set rhyme and/or metre patterns only, max 40 lines).

The best poem in any category written on the theme of ‘cinema’ will receive £100.

Fred Johnston is the Silver Wyvern adjudicator. Kevin Bailey adjudicates the short and formal poems.

Prizes range from €100 to €500. Interestingly, all fees are donations to the organisation and events of Poetry on the Lake, so while there is a suggested amount, they add: “If you genuinely can’t afford the fee, just send what you can. Of course, if your bank manager kisses the ground when you walk in, please donate generously.”

Find full details at www.poetryonthelake.org.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

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Get ready to sparkle

Adam Closs Magic Eye 3 detail (not part of the exhibition)

Adam Closs Magic Eye 3 detail (not part of the exhibition, but an artwork that evokes circus 🙂

The RWA will launch their new exhibition Sawdust and Sequins on the weekend of 24th and 25th March 2018, and it sounds fabulous. It marks the start of a spectacular exhibition that will run until 3rd June at the RWA Galleries in Bristol.

The exhibition will showcase historic and contemporary art that offers up a sense of the UK’s circus heritage and Bristol’s thriving circus scene.

The exhibition coincides with Circus250 – a nationwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of circus in the UK.

The opening weekend will transform the stately gallery buildings on Queen’s Road with  with performances from Circomedia Academy of Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre, with aerial displays, acrobatics, aerial displays, have-a-go workshops and creative activities for all ages to get stuck into.

It’ll all be happening on Saturday 24 March 10.30am–3pm and Sunday 25 March 11.30am–3pm. Find out more here.

Got an event, exhibition, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

Writing prompt – home

Moon and roofs by Judy Darley

Moon and roofs by Judy Darley

My man and I moved home last weekend, which has meant constant upheaval for several weeks. I took this photo in our former street on the night of a supermoon and can’t help thinking how the stillness of the houses and the apparent agitation of the moon makes it resemble the start of an encounter of the third kind.

On the other hand, these are all utterly familiar things, each of which speaks of home.

What means home to you? How would you feel if that was removed? Can you channel that emotion into a tale or poem that says something about what it is to be human bereft of and seeking a home?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Enter the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award

Solive Winery, tractor cr Judy DarleyThe Tishman Review is open for entries to their short story competition in honour of author Tillie Olsen.

“Olsen is one of our heroes,” says the magazine’s co-founder and prose editor Jennifer Porter. “She was born in 1912 on a tenant farm in Nebraska, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Early in her life, she began crusading for worker rights, jailed for organising packinghouse workers and for participating in strikes. She continued working as an activist her entire life. (…) Olsen died at the age of 95 – a mother, grandmother, award-winning writer, feminist, and human rights and anti-war activist.”

Tell Me A Riddle by Tillie OlsenOlsen was the author of the short story collection Tell Me a Riddle and her story Requa I appeared in the publication Best American Short Stories 1971. She also wrote journalistic pieces from the 1930s about the struggle for economic justice.

Entries are invited of unpublished (including online and personal blogs) short stories not longer than 5,000 words in length. Manuscripts and file names must not contain any identifying information. Make sure you follow the formatting guidelines!

All entries must be received through Submittable with the $15 entry fee per story.

The closing date for entries is 30th March 2018.

The final judge is author Tori Malcangio.

Contest winners will be announced on 30th July 2018. The winner will receive $500 and publication in the July issue of The Tishman Review.

All entrants will receive a one-year e-book subscription to The Tishman Review.

Find full details of the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

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The power in portraiture

Untitled 2 by Hatty Butler

Vigorous brushstrokes, spray paint and mixed media give Hatty Butler’s portraits an uncommon vitality. They have statements to make and personalities to exude, and little time or patience for the uncertain viewer.

“I’m drawn to painting people because the idea of representing someone in a new form fascinates me,” says Hatty, who studied BA Hons Fine Art at Bath Spa University. “I love creating an image of someone and bringing it into a whole new dimension, giving the individual a new life. The concept of bringing a likeness of the person the painting yet adding a contemporary, energetic aspect is, for me, hugely exciting and inspiring.”

The scale of the pieces is immense: it’s as though their fizzing force of character has transformed them into giants.

Hatty Butler, artist

“The energies and emotions I aim to capture of those just under the surface, those that we may try and hide in day to day life,” Hatty says. “It’s all about those feelings of vulnerability and a stripped back version of our existence.”

Pink Is For Me Too by Hatty Butler

Pink Is For Me Too by Hatty Butler

She adds: “I am also passionate about portraying individuals that may be overlooked or criticised by society for being different. We live in a society where the abnormal is sometimes laughed at and my aim is to alter these outdated views. Art can be the most innovative and compelling means of providing change within our society. I challenge the viewer, encouraging them to look deeper into the painting than just the portrait itself, to raise internal issues and try to comprehend them.”

My Hair Is Pink, So What? by Hatty Butler

My Hair Is Pink, So What? by Hatty Butler

Hatty’s own mood shifts drastically while she is painting. “At the start of creating a new piece I feel a mixture of excitement for the unknown, yet also apprehensive how it will turn out,” she admits. “I never plan ahead what direction the piece will take – it grows and evolves as time goes on. I love the freedom of adding pastel and spray paint once the finer details have been completed. It is a liberating and fulfilling experience.”

April by Hatty Butler

April by Hatty Butler

She’s become an expert at melding the observed and invented in her work.

“I tend to makes initial sketches from life and then work from a series of photographs,” Hatty says. “A lot comes from my imagination too – my work is a representation of the subjects inner being, I only focus slightly on the external likeness. For me it is more about externalising the internal.”

I Am Strong, I Am Proud, I Am Me by Hatty Butler'

I Am Strong, I Am Proud, I Am Me by Hatty Butler’

To do this, Hatty needs to set aside her own immediate feelings. “That’s the greatest challenge of trying to represent the internal through painting the external – I need to be able to be honest and not portray my own internal emotions,” she says. “The work needs to represent the characteristics of the subject initially.”

Twenty-one by Hatty Butler

Twenty-one by Hatty Butler

Being an artist, Hatty says, offers a wonderful sense of freedom. “To live a creative life is such a special thing and while it comes with its struggles I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. “I relish having the freedom to express myself and spend every day doing something that I love. I love what I do, creating things that did not exist before, that are unique and that touch other people. As an artist, I see the beauty in things that are often overlooked. Without art the world could be a very boring place. It’s so important that we take a moment to appreciate what’s around us.”

To see more of Hatty’s work, visit www.hattybutler.com, and look out for news of upcoming exhibitions.

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

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Writing prompt – dream

Cat dreaming cr Judy DarleySomething about this sleeping cat reminds me of the Salvador Dali painting snappily titled Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

What sounds might be contributing to this cat’s dreams? How surreal might those dreams be? And what if those dreams somehow influenced the world we live in?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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