Monday, 5 May 2014

Paper butterflies and silent stories

Well, you can tell the Easter Holidays are over and I'm back at work, because suddenly the desire/time to blog, tweet and write mysteriously disappears!

This is a blog post that I've been meaning to do for ages but have only just found the time and motivation to sit down and write it.

At the beginning of April I was part of the Golden Egg Social that travelled to London to meet, drink and be merry (and creative!) It was a lovely day, so nice to spend time with people happy to talk about story plots and characters and who are all so generous at sharing their ideas and suggestions. That day fired me up to start writing after a fairly lengthy hiatus and so a big Thank You to Emma Greenwood who organised it all.

Emma was fantastic not only for organising the day but also because one of the best bits of that day was a Scrawl Crawl around WC1 with Emma as our muse and guide. Emma led us through the streets of London pointing out the various interesting nooks and crannies and hidden faces that we might not usually see and she set us off on writing tasks to get our creative juices flowing. I thought I would share with you some of the free writing that I did on that day - I've left them exactly as I wrote them then.

The Silent Watchers
The Outer Temple, Lloyds Bank, Law Courts Branch

Heads bowed, stone bones creaking, muscles groaning and necks aching. Nostrils full of the smog and smoke of life, eyes cloyed, lips rimmed with age. But they Breathe. Their stony abdomens expand millimetre by millimetre, draw back in. Inhaling the sweat and rush and hurry as they remain stoic, poised, heads down, dreaming of the otherworld, of the space they were dreamt from, of the place where they were not real but were only light and air and thought and nothing but ideas.

The Paper Butterflies

Shiver of wind against the paper membrane, shocking to the very core. The rise and fall of human buzz and the thick odour of cloying beer and chips. 

They rest briefly, their bright light colours like boiled sweets against the grimy stone building. They feel the hum of the city through their crease and folds. A spot of sunlight, a snick of wind and they rise again, dancing and twirling up above the rooftops, away over London's skyline.

These are not the actual butterflies we saw that day, but I think those, like the ones pictured here, were part of Free Art Friday

The final stop of the day was the national portrait gallery where we were tasked with finding a portrait and consider it as a character to inspire some writing. I didn't quite get round to that exercise as I was too absorbed by some of the paintings I came across.

One was a portrait of Mary English, Nee Ballard, Greenup who lived from 1789 - 1846. I'm really interested in Victorian explorers, particularly women explorers and have been writing a story about a Victorian girl who gets caught up with a Victorian female explorer. I've started to do some research into this area, and Mary English seems to be a good place to start as she certainly seems to have had a colourful life!

Finally I was arrested particularly by a portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo - the earliest known portrait of a freed slave. Beside the portrait was a poem entitled 'Diallo's Testament' by Ben Okri. It's a moving and beautiful poem and demonstrates how inspiration can be sparked by a face drawn in oils on canvas and that stories hide behind so much around us. My favourite lines of the poem are below and you can hear Ben reading the rest here

'Behind me are silent stories
Like a storm. I have worn 
History around my neck like chains.'

Thank you Emma for a wonderful day!

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