The return of the arts trail

Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail_cr Judy DarleyAfter a hiatus in 2020, Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail returns on 20th and 21st November, offering the perfect opportunity to see what local artists have been up to during lockdown and get a few early, unique Christmas gifts!

The joyful theme is ‘Into the light.’

Now managed by artists Cai Burton and Luci Bearman, the trail has introduced some special measures to keep participants and visitors safe, which you can read about here.

The key detail for me is that although this has long been known as the Front Room art trail, this year there is a greater emphasis on outdoor and larger spaces as well as community venues. Can and Luci say: “Gone are the days of this only being a front room trail – perhaps you’ll put art in your windows? Your front garden? Your roof? Get creative with how you show your work!”

Most venues are open from 12-5pm.

Never been to an art trail? This is a great one to dip your toe (or jump head first) into. It offers a chance to meet the people dreaming up and making the works that capture your imagination and your heart, buy original creations directly from the artists and maybe come away with ideas for an ekphrastic short story or two as well!

Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail is on from 20th-21st November 2021. Find full details at frontroom.org.uk.

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.

Writing prompt – extra

Mini snail and marigold by Judy DarleyAs the Northern Hemisphere turns a little colder and greyer, the vivid orange of this free-growing marigold caught my eye.

It was only as I admired the petals that I discovered I wasn’t its only fan and that a teeny snail had arrived to offer its respects (and perhaps have a small snack).

Have you ever been drawn to something beautiful, only to discover it comes with something you didn’t bargain for? Can you turn this into a satirical tale about expectations surpassed or thwarted in the name of love, greed, politics (or all three) due to some clause or enforced extra your protagonist didn’t anticipate?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – golden

Arnos Vale turns gold by Judy Darley. Shows trees painted gold by the morning sun.The most glorious thing about this time of year is walking early in the morning and watching the rising sun paint the trees. The leaves in this photo have yet to lose their chlorophyll (and yes, I did nearly type chloroform then, which would make this a very different story prompt!), but the sun is sharing its clairvoyance of the weeks’ to come.

I love how the sunlight is visible here like a sentient creature in the form of a mist. It looks like it’s exploring the woodland with curious breath that gilds every item it touches. A Midas mist, perhaps, but with a far happier outcome.

Can you take this scene and build it into a tale celebrating our natural spaces and shifting seasons?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – haunt

Haunted tree by Judy Darley

This lime tree appears to be haunted by a flock of unhappy ghosts, which makes it the ideal #writingprompt as we slide closer to Halloween.

Imagine the spirits who jostle within this tree. What terrible things have they witnessed and heard? What are they trying to warn us to avoid?

Now take this prompt slightly sideways – perhaps the deeds that haunt them are needless deaths of wild fauna and flora. Perhaps each small species made extinct keeps this tree’s spirits trapped and lamenting.

How could you spin and resolve this tale? What could set these spirits free?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – guardian

Arnos Vale grave cat by Judy Darley

I love the spookiness of this time of year and the excuse to indulge my passion for ghost stories.

One of my favourite places in my neighbourhood is the sprawling Victorian cemetery Arnos Vale, where nature thrives amidst centuries of history.

Around this time in 2020, I was strolling through when I spotted this glorious ginger cat. It may well be keeping an eye out for mice to chase, but I like to think it was either acting as the guardian of this grave, or is perhaps a human spirit returned in feline form.

What directions could your imagination carry you? Could you conjure a satisfyingly eerie tale from this scene?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – moped

Moped in Arnos Vale. by Judy DarleyThis poor moped was abandoned in a local Victorian Cemetery, looking utterly at odds with the gravestones and lush greenery.

There are plenty of questions you could explore to create a story inspired by the sight.

Who might the culprit be, and why did they leave it there? Could this be a statement about fossil fuels and our fragile grasp on life, or might a bunch of squirrels, badgers or buzzards have gotten up to no good in the gloaming? Is the Learner plate significant to the tale?

Why not make a play on the word ‘moped’, meaning small-engined two-wheeled vehicle, and ‘moped’, meaning behaviour revealing a melancholic mood?

Given the setting and the season, you also have the option to take a spookier route and write of ghouls taking nostalgic joyrides. I saw it at 7.15am and when I returned a few hours later, the bike had disappeared…

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – pork

Bramble Farm pig by Judy DarleyAt local urban farmstead Bramble Farm open day. a friend and I enjoyed sausage baps before strolling over to meet this meat, ahem, pork, ahem, pig

As someone who rarely eats meat and loves wildlife, it shocks me how much is consumed daily, and how that impacts our planet.

This pig trotted over to have its ears scratched before toppling onto one side, I assume in hope of a belly-rub, but it made me think of the cow-like creature in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that’s been bred to want to be eaten.

I’ve been reading recently about scientific advances in lab-grown meat, whereby a single cell from a pig can be nurtured into a batch of sausages or mince. As sci-fi as this sounds, it’s happening right now, with the target audience being uneasy meat-eaters who want to limit their contribution to deforestation and questionable animal husbandry practices.

Can you turn these strange truths into a fantastical work of fiction?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – time

Forever 3pm by Judy Darley. Shows an old carriage clock on a garden wall.

I don’t know about you, but as summer wanes into autumn and the greens begin to turn rust-red, I grow increasingly aware of the passage of time. While other people may feel this at New Year, for me it’s now that I start to look at what I’ve done with the past nine months of 2021, and what I need to cram into the next three.

This mantel clock left on a wall for any stranger to claim is a great representation of that. Who might happen across this spare time, and what might they choose to do with it?

The other option is to imagine a world set at 3pm. I know a few school pupils who would love that idea! What wonders would tie in with being eternally at that time of day, and what monotony or danger might creep in.

Plus there’s always the chance that occasionally the protagonist could stir from the lethargy of an endless afternoon and realise that somehow 3pm has morphed into 3am – a very different prospect!

What creative works could you muster from these ideas?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompts – classifieds

Northern Slopes stream and woodland by Judy DarleyNeighbourhood Facebook groups often serve as modern-day classifieds pages. A recent post on one in my area offered a wealth of story ideas.

A local helpful person wrote: “Just retrieved a rucksack from the bushes. It doesn’t look that old and was completely empty apart from a photo that may have sentimental value. Please contact me if you think this may be yours.”

She then adds: “Photo is dated 1978 and has a hand written message on the back if that helps.”

This actually gave me shivers! What might the photo show? Who could the backpack belong to? How do you think it ended up in the bushes? If it was stolen, was anything taken from it? Or is this all a red herring?

Soooo many questions! Now, your task is to write the story that answers at least some of these.

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – site

Realm by Judy DarleySome of the most unlikely places have a kind of beauty about them that’s hard to explain. This strange slice is an example of that for me. Photographed between strips of metal, with tangles of weeds and rubble, it has a grandeur that you yourself may not see.

Imagine a spot that one person views as a wasteland, and another regards as a realm of untold possibilities. What informs their different responses? How does their state of mind impact their viewpoint? What transforms a site into a sight?

Can you build this into a story where one character captures the other’s intrigue and changes their mind about the beauty, or ugliness, of the space?

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 may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.