Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Okay, just a little more Gossiping

Gossiping is bad (apparently), the Gossipers are good, here's some more of em
A couple looking a little coy if you ask me



The Gossipers

Here's another photo, a bit more seemly ...

Except this un comes across as a bit lonesome.

Let's have a more cosy image ... see next post



Sculpturals & the CY Project


Last post (as it were), I forgot completely the reason why I popped in to post ... 'twas as below

As I've mentioned in an earlier posting, us contributors on th Celtic Year Project have devised autobiographical details using the Celtic calendar as catalyst for specific information about our good selves.

In one of the autobiog sequences I mention favourite places. These include the site of the 20-odd piece sculpture 'Conversation Piece'. This is its formal name, locally we all refer to it as The Gossipers. Maybe everyone who visits it refers to it as the Gossipers and only the artist calls it by its chosen name, I don't know.

Anyways, the Gossipers are located on the shore of a little beach in South Shields in the north-east of England, and I love them.

I popped in to post a photo of them ...

There they are
Hope you like them
Actually I've just realised that one of them looks like (s)he's wet her/himself. I might look out another photo
Off to search

The Celtic Year Project


I've been involved with the Celtic Year Project ( for several months. I did mean to get involved with it from its very start back in Samhain 2008 but I was distracted with other writing projects so was a tardy starter.

Howsoever, since my Imbolc contribution 'Between the lines - Words in a February Pond' I've been more and more enthusiastic until the point where I'm currently quite obsessed.

I've created three pieces of writing that I wouldn't have created without the stimulation of this project - the February pond poem, 'Yezriel', and 'Gedesa'. They all took a turn for the mythological. Have a looksie on the Celtic Year site to see them in context with their Celtic calendar moments and the work of the other artists who are contributing to the project.

Beyond those individual pieces though, something far more developmental and exciting is happening.

Sally Stafford who is mistressing the Celtic Year project has arranged for us to hold an exhibition of our works down at one of my most favourite places the Garden Cafe & Gallery, bottom of Lydbrook. See the website link that I'll be adding soon for fuller details, but folks the place is gorgeous, just gorgeous, in the kind of quirky and unique way that I love, love, love.

Enough of the gushing. Be assured the place is fab.

So, me and Sally met down there for coffee -and-nettle-tea (not together o'course) and a chat about the exhibition, and Paul the owner says 'you have seen up the back of the house haven't you?'
So he leads us up the garden path (this has a happy ending) behind the house, and up the hill, and shows us the most wonderful ... piece of old railtrack ... but so much more to our perception. We're calling it the tunnel atm, because of the way the sides of the track curve around, like wings really.
But me and Sally were both so immediately inspired by it that we decided to collaborate on a piece of work in response.

Cutting a long story short (I never ever do this) (but I'm going to because I have to go to Monmouth in a bit) the collaborative process, with its accompanying creative alchemy, is proving to be compelling. And much lovely work is developing from the initial inspiration of that lovely tunnel site.

We are showing-and-telling about this process as part of an event called Words & Ideas which is to be held on 1st July at the Kavern Bar, Coleford as part of the Coleford Festival of Words. So if anyone's about ... pop in.


Wednesday, 10 June 2009



this is another of the random word freewrites I've written with my online writing group, Wac.

As I've mentioned earlier, a member of the group (we take turns) chooses a word at random from a handy book, and posts it for members, if they so desire, to freewrite for 10 minutes on first impression of the word.

Sometimes, like the word below, there's a need for a definition.

My freewrite for the word's below the random word.

It kinda tickled me.


Nahuatl(adj. Of or relating to any of a group of American Indian peoples of southern Mexico and Central America, or their language.)

Freewrite ...

We were thinking of going to Mexico to do our open water dives for the PADI scuba diving certificate, but then there was swine flu fever, and the guy at the Brecon pool training centre says anyway that pound for pound you can't beat the Red Sea.

I'll bet Moses would have a thing or two to say about that. Now I think of it, I wonder what he did say, I can't remember, but I'm bound to have read the story in the bible several times, you can't go to 3 Catholic schools without having read Moses really.

I wonder where I can get hold of a copy of The Apostles by Elgar, I'll look in town when I go through on Thursday.

American Indians, Native Americans, the Sacred Path and Medicine Wheels.

Once upon a time there was a wheel spinning down the road, all on its own. A medicine woman flew after it. Not ran very quickly, quickly, actually flew. She'd have flown faster if it wasn't for the totem animals that were clinging on to her. She hadn't actually meant to evoke them, especially not altogether. Who would? 9 wild animals materialising all at once, just at the moment when the wheel made its break for freedom, causing the carriage to ground to a halt and throwing her and the totemics up up up into the air!

She knew that wheel was going to be trouble from the first time she hitched it to the cart, it just always wanted to go its own way. Teamwork! That was what made a cart get from one place to another, teamwork, all 4 wheels working for the common cause, goddamit.

It was right about now that she was wishing her totems were creatures like the dragonfly and the spider and the ant. Sure, one of hers was the Hummingbird, which was kinda small enough not to be a bother, but come on, a Hummingbird! Zinging to and fro in front of her face so she couldn't see where the hell she was going. A blind flying medicine woman wasn't the done thing round these parts at all, no, not at all.

Especially since she was so low to the ground, what with the other 8 animals not able to go far from her own body and being a bit shocked at the rude awakening they'd all experienced. It would have been fine if she'd been able to rest down on the Bear, or the Moose, or the Elk, and let them carry her and the animal burden basket, but she'd tried and they just wouldn't co-ordinate, and after a couple of roly-poly down the roadie experiences where they'd all bundled together in one ball, she'd dragged them all off the road and back into the sky again. And the noise they were all making! It was ridiculous! The Wolf was howling, the Horse was neighing, the Mountain Lion was roaring, and to be honest she could well do without the Whale singing her damn head off at the moment. It wasn't helpful at all, no, not at all.

Neither was the Coyote's infuriating laugh, she was going to have to do something about that damn laugh, just as soon as she caught up with the wheel …

Raindrops on roses ...

Okay, not exactly, but ...

just recently I've written biography details related to four main themes of the Celtic Year, including Beltain and its nod to a personal sense of place. So I was pondering on my favourite things, place wise, and my love of site-specific work ... so here's an extract from the biography ...


I enjoy site-specific work and since working for the Sculpture Trust as a PA for their Projects Manager and then as Community & Outreach Officer, working alongside site-specific visual and multi-media artists was a great inspiration.

I'm interested in the imprints in and around old buildings. I'd like one day to explore further the history of the 18th century cottage where I've lived for over 20 years.

From my garden I have an open view of a wooded valley which always refreshes me. Living in an ancient forest means that I have lots of choice for My Favourite Trees, a collection which I add to constantly

We grow our own vegetables, have mature fruit trees, and my particular favourites are the stunningly attractive and fabulous scented herb beds (I have 23 varieties - of herbs, not beds - the same as had P L Travers who wrote the Mary Poppins' books …)

Special places that I visit often include …

The Forest of Dean 'itself', so many personal tracks and paths
Dean Heritage Museum
Tintern Abbey
Garden Café, Lydbrook
Ross on Wye – especially the areas around Palace Pound, St Mary's Church (especially when they're doing bell practice on Tuesday evenings), the Phoenix Theatre
Riverbanks by the Kerne Bridge, Goodrich; at Ross on Wye; & Symonds Yat
Wye Valley from the Bigsweir Bridge to Tintern
Monmouth – from the Bridges, past the Monnow Bridge, to the Blake Theatre, to the avenue leading to Church Street
My childhood beaches on the north-sea coasts of Sunderland and South Shields, from the Roker Marina, Cat 'n Dog Stairs, Seaburn, Whitburn Bents and cliff top
The coastlands between Whitburn and Shields, the Marsden Grotto, Frenchman's Cove
The Boardwalk Hotel and conservatory alongside the harbour on one side and the sculptural Gossipers on the other
The Winter Gardens in Mowbray Park

College Green in Bristol, the canals and wharfs, St George's Tower and surrounding park

Gloucester Cathedral and Gloucester Docks area;
the Playsets room at the top of the Music and Drama library overlooking St Mary's churchyard;

The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham

Bridges and staircases and railway stations, especially old ones like Kemble and Stroud

The monumental Larkin Angel in Sunderland Cemetery
Fetternear graveyard in Aberdeen
Sculpture Trail

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Cinderford Town Trail & RIO


torrential rain and a strong fresh breeze has encouraged me to stay indoors awhile and do a little blogging.

I want to tell you about the heritage trail leaflet for Cinderford in the Forest of Dean. This leaflet has just been created by the year 5s of Littledean Primary School in a project that was arranged by the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) and enlisted the creative support of myself, Ffinlo Kilner, and Sally Gibson, and the energies and enthusiasms Sarah Jane Bonser.

For more information on the Trail, go to ... or if that doesn't work, google (or whatever is your search engine of choice) 'Cinderford Trail' and follow links ...

The pupils were supported by:

myself, with their creative writing, creating the text of the leaflet;

Ffinlo, with initial research about Cinderford's heritage, design of web input, graphics and images within the leaflet, design of the leaflet itself;

Sally, with providing access to the Artspace venue, and organising a research day for us all - that involved a talk and access to archive material and old books at Cinderford library; a tour and talk at the Palace cinema; a talk and access to old photographs and cuttings by a chap who worked at the old Mercury newspaper office for over 50 years;

Sarah Jane, in her role as one of the school's senior Teaching Assistants - helping to keep focus on the tasks in hand - and with the successful efforts of herself and her daughter to find the weather-worn grave of Forest poet, Catherine Drew.

The whole project had first to be approved by the head teacher, and was initiated by Debbie Cook from RIO. More about RIO below, and I'm including their website in my Links list.

We are all tremendously proud of the finished result, the trail leaflet - but the type of process that this sort of project enables is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

I have 'put my oar in', last year some time, about the value of creative collaborative projects to the development of young people's life and essential skills to a select committee researching creativity in schools. I can't emphasise too strongly the massive gains to be had in getting a couple of creative practitioners together with a bunch of school pupils under the umbrella of a previously-researched community project and driving the process through to a finished result - and usually a darn good launch event with the local press and fruit juice and healthy biscuits and such!

Massive gains to the pupils, but I'm talking about myself too (I know, selfish, selfish).

I always gain inspiration and creative stimulation from working with these projects. Not least is the thought-provoking and entertainment value of, say, a baker's dozen of 10 year olds in one space, given free rein to their ideas and opinions.

But other stuff too, that can't be predicted at the start.

Like, for example, I hadn't previously been to the just-gorgeous old Victorain church and graveyard of St Johns.
I hadn't stood on the terrace of the Baptist Chapel and looked over the forest landscape from that view.
I'd barely heard of Catherine Drew, an 'ordinary' housewife who happened to write poetry about the Forest.
I'd never read the 1965 scrap book created by the WI that is housed in Cinderford library.
I'd never heard about the alleged-witches of the area.
I hadn't realised the Triangle now had a mini-auditorium with Forest dialect carved into the sides of the seating!

And one of the times that I really, really loved was the discussion about dialect that the year 5s, me and Sarah Jane had!
I speak with a north-east dialect, even though I've been out of the north-east for over 20 years (lived out, that is, they don't keep me out per se, I go up there all the time :-) ... and I am passionate about the cultural value in retaining dialect. It was lovely to be chatting dialect with these Forest children and their forester TA!


As per their website wording, RIO are a 'social enterprise creating and providing programmes, products and services that help young people around the world realise their potential'.

This is a huge ambition!

But all of my experience with RIO shows me that they're achieving it in their local projects with schools (probably in lots of other projects too, but I only have experience of the schools' ones :-))

And I'm happy to be involved with a further RIO project in the county, this time with Longlevens Primary School.

I wonder what treasures are in store for me this time!
I'll let you know after the project.