Biographies of Place and Time
As a writer, I am fascinated by the process of capturing the elusive sense of time and place when writing about my travels through life.
As part of the MA Professional Writing University College Falmouth course that I am currently studying on, we have a regular guest writer slot on the timetable. Last thursday, 9th dec 2011, Michael Bird, author of “The St Ives Artists; A Biography of Place and Time” spoke to MA students about his approach to writing about artists, writers, art and culture, particuarly in Cornwall.
He talked about the growth of the St Ives Artists movement that flourished in the 1950’s. Artists like Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth were attracted by the light and landscape of the cornish area. Michael chose a lovely phrase to capture the inspirational and subconscious effect of an artist’s surroundings on their creative work “real landscape flowing into the unconsciousness.” He talked of the liberating effect on his own work of escaping from “suburbia” to the wild coastline of Cornwall.
Through my advisiory work with Ty Newydd, National Writers’ Centre for Wales, I was asked to take part in a 26 Treasures project this spring which involved pairing 26 writers with 26 objects from the National Library of Wales . Each writer was asked to write a sestude ( 62 words) about the object.I was paired with a self portrait by the award winning welsh based artist,shani rhys james. Like Michael Bird, I was heavily influenced by the constants of time and space, in completing the task of capturing one moment of an artist’s life.
The results have been published online in English and Welsh on the 26 Treasures website and were displayed and judged this year at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. The story behind my piece can be seen on Creation Stories.
The experience was a seminal one in helping me to decide to give myself a Second Chance in Life and come to Cornwall, like Michael and several before him, to explore my capacity as a writer.
** The publishers Unbound are planning to publish the 26 Treasures collection, involving such writers as Alexander McCall Smith, Gillian Clarke as well as aspirant writers like myself. We need your support in achieving this. Please see Unbound 26 Treasures if you might be interested in helping. There are 80 days and counting to achieve our target.
A nice literary christmas present for someone perhaps?