Saturday, 15 August 2015

Creative Writing at Parbold Library

I have had the loveliest time this week with a fantastic group of writers at Parbold Library.

Over the three sessions we have explored place and character. We have captured our own stories and memories in words and created new tall tales that feed directly into the narrative that I am putting together for the Parbold Street Festival in September.

The writers were brilliant - the sort of creative people who you give a tiny nudge with a starter idea and they are already writing before you even finish explaining. We talked a lot about the process of writing - how our ideas begin to form and the images or words that lead us into our creative practice. It is always interesting to hear how differently our creativity is sparked. Almost everything written in a workshop is, by its nature and due to the time restrictions, just the smallest seedling of a story; the initial burst of energy... although during the workshops, some pieces written did have a feeling of completion about them. I really hope that the ideas and paragraphs begun during the sessions will continue to grow and develop. They deserve to.

I will be weaving the words, ideas and images written during the workshops into the final narrative and some of the participants have agreed to take part in the performance in September, sharing their creative writing on stage. I'm delighted that their work will get the audience it deserves.

 It has been a privilege working with such a lovely group. I have learnt a great deal from them. It has been a joy to share in their creativity.

Friday, 14 August 2015

I spent an afternoon at one of Parbold Festival's visual art workshops this week. It was brilliant.

The lead artists on the project, Andy and Sharon Shaw are not only utterly lovely they are also brilliant and inspiring artists and teachers.

The last time I did anything properly artsy was probably my art GCSE (where I did a charcoal portrait of my friend with an unfortunate bit of shading on the upper lip...) So I was a bit concerned that my artistic contribution wouldn't be very good. But Andy and Sharon demonstrated some art techniques that all the participants, from the youngest child to the grandparents who brought them, could grasp and experiment with. We worked on some flags for the procession, large banners and posters.

It was also lovely to meet Naomi, a fantastic artist who is helping with the project. More on her reflections on art for the Parbold Festival and her own work here.

Here are examples of some of the artwork we produced during the session.

Work-in-progress. This is watercolour and wax on
cloth. Andy and Sharon demonstrated how to colour wash
and blend the paints to create different effects. 
Work-in-progress. The dragon creature. Each
scale was individually shaded during the workshop
by artist Naomi.

The next visual art workshops are Thursday 20th and Friday 21st August,  10am - 1pm, 2pm - 5pm at the WI in Parbold. We will be creating the dragon creature - a massive sculptural structure that will process through Parbold during the Festival. The session is open to 8 yrs and up and will be inspiring for both children and adults. I'll be there - I can't wait!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Creative Writing Workshops at Parbold Library

This week I am leading three creative writing workshops in Parbold Library. Everyone is welcome! And they're free to attend. We will be thinking about tall tales, myths and exploring stories around Parbold.

It will be fun, friendly and creatively inspiring. However you feel about creative writing - whether you're a seasoned writer or reluctant to put pen to paper - we are all storytellers and this workshop will give you the opportunity to explore your own creative ideas and tales. Dates and times for the workshops are:

Monday 10th August 7 - 9 pm
Tuesday 11th August 7 - 9 pm
Thursday 13th August 7 - 9 pm

The writing workshops will feed into the narrative for the Parbold Arts and Street Festival, which is on 4th, 5th and 6th September, when there will be a procession through the village telling Parbold's tall tale, with dancing and music. It's going to be fantastic. Do come along and get involved. For details of other creative workshops you might like to get involved in, see here for a full programme of events. If you have any questions, contact the Chapel Gallery on 01695 571328.

The Parbold Arts and Street Festival is funded by grants secured by Parbold Community Association and WLBC Arts Development.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Parbold Festival Workshops with Beacon Crossing Retirement Community

This week I'm facilitating creative writing workshops at Beacon Crossing retirement community in Parbold.

The stories and ideas that the participants have been sharing are inspiring, thought-provoking and intriguing. The participants are really open to all the activities and we've done a lot of laughing over the last two days. In one of today's activities we used buttons to spark story ideas. We selected buttons from my button box (every self-respecting human should own a button box, didn't you know?) Buttons are like acorns. With some reflection time and conversation, a tiny button can grow into a garment and then a character with a complete life and personality. We talked about who might wear the garment, where the garment came from, how they feel wearing it, where they might go in it... The characters the participants created were varied and wonderfully rounded. Two characters, a naval officer and a dress maker, even began communicating with each other as we fleshed out the start of an interaction between them.

It's an absolute joy to be working with this group. They just have the best time sharing ideas and stories and have so much to contribute to the project. I feel like I'm learning a great deal from them. We have our final session on Friday - we are writing a collaborative prose poem that explores what sparks our creativity and using clocks as a stimulus to writing memoir and storytelling. The tall tale that I am curating which narrates the Parbold Festival story, about the dragon that lives under the hill, begins with the ticking of a clock, as the villagers await the dragon's arrival. I am excited to find out what ideas, words and images the Beacon Crossing writers come up with that I can weave into the final performance piece.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Parbold Arts Festival Free Visual Arts Workshops

See below for the full programme of workshops available for the Festival through summer. The visual arts workshops with Sharon and Andy Shaw will be brilliant and a perfect family activity. Hope to see you there! For more information contact The Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk: 01695 571328

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Parbold Arts Festival Free Creative Writing Workshops

I am running a series of creative writing workshops as part of the Parbold Arts Festival: A Tall Tale to Tell. And they're free!

The workshops will be held at Parbold Library. Maggie and the the library team have been fantastic in helping to organise them. Their enthusiasm and passion for literature and creativity is inspiring. The workshop dates are:

Monday 10th August 7-9 pm
Tuesday 11th August 7-9 pm
Thursday 13th August 7-9 pm

Please do come along, if you are local.

I'm really looking forward to the workshops and hearing the stories that the participants create. Workshops, especially with community groups, always feel collaborative. People bring with them all sorts of experiences and perspectives that we learn from as a group. We feed each other's creativity.

Creative writing is sometimes misunderstood. There is often the notion that the best creative writers are the ones that got all the praise and attention at school. The ones that can spell perfectly and understand punctuation rules. Brilliant creative people are often put off creative writing because of these false notions.

During a creative writing workshop, I'm not interested in spelling or the function of an Oxford comma. What interests me is the small details people notice in their everyday lives. That moment they witnessed something that has stayed with them. That particular emotion they experienced that they want to capture in a few sentences because there isn't quite a single word that describes it. A story idea that has been bubbling away for a few years that they haven't quite had the confidence to start writing yet. I'm interested in the fact that if you give a group of people three unconnected words, each person will find links between those words in a unique and intriguing way. That if you ask someone to describe a room they know well, the aspects of that space that they choose to describe or jot down will be instantly emotive. We are all storytellers. And we help each other to bring those stories out. I can't wait to meet the participants who come along. I am looking forward to learning with them.

If you would like to come, or if you have any questions about the workshops, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

I'll post more soon about the free visual arts workshops that are also planned. In the meantime, here is a sketch of the dragon of Parbold Hill by one of the lead artists, Andy Shaw. Andy and Sharon, whose stunning artwork can be seen at their studio in the Millhouse, Parbold, are preparing brilliant workshops to animate the tall tale with puppets and a life sized dragon creature. I can't wait!

'Fruit Dragon' by Andy Shaw @Article fine arts, Parbold

Parbold Arts Festival is funded through grants obtained by Parbold Community Association and WLBC Arts Development team.