Found Poetry & Text Art Workshops

It’s been a great summer, and I’ve loved developing my Found Poetry & Text Art workshops. Working with lovely groups in Shrewsbury and Hay-on-Wye has been an absolute joy, and I’ll be repeating these classes on a regular basis.

In the class we get creative with words, making poems, stories and our own artwork out of book pages and magazines. Using drawing and collage, I demonstrate simple techniques to help you read between the lines and work with text on a new level. Here are some photos from previous sessions:

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The next workshop is on Friday 9th September in Shrewsbury, full details and booking information is on eventbrite. I hope to see you there or at a future workshop! Keep an eye on the events page for new dates.

What previous students have said:

“ I found pleasure in bringing pictures to old forgotten words “

“ Combining the words with images was very relaxing, the workshop opened my mind to new ideas and flow”

“Fun and fascinating! Emily is a very enabling tutor”

“Pleasantly destructive! Cutting up old books is rather thrilling”

“Time just flew, I really enjoyed Emily’s delivery and her fabulous ideas for starting points”

“I really enjoyed that, Im going to take my work home and frame it!” 

“Lots of fun and a kind of magic, I could do this all day!” 

Book Cover Beauty

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Over the last four months, I’ve been working away on three commissions for poetry book covers.

Thirza Clout is the first poet in the UK to be published by Mark Time Books (founded in Australia by Ross Donolon). Her pamphlet The Bone Seeker has been described as “honest, tender, fierce and with a gallows humour, journeying through a child’s life in a family so nuclear it breaks your heart”. To reflect the themes of Thirza’s poetry, I wanted to use something from her childhood in the artwork. After experimenting with photographs, precious books, hand-me-down textiles and a much loved teddy bear, we settled on a school photograph collaged onto a background texture.

Here’s some of the lovely feedback I had from Thirza and Ross:

“I knew Emily would come up with something creative for the cover of my first chap book because I’d commissioned her after admiring her work – the fact she was utterly professional, stuck to deadlines and was a pleasure to work with were bonuses. I shall certainly be going back to her!”
– Thirza Clout

“As founder of Mark Time Books, I was delighted with the cover artwork provided by Emily for the 2016 book by Thirza Clout, The Bone Seeker. This is the first Mark Time U.K. book and it was especially important to have a cover that both complimented the fine poetry and acted as a flagship for Mark Time. The title and poet’ name strike the reader at first glance and can be clearly read by a prospective buyer. The classic school photograph is presented in a slightly ragged way over the uneven white brush strokes. The effect is to suggest that there is something not quite o.k. and works well with the disturbing title. Mark Time Books would be more than happy to use the work of this talented artist again.”
– Ross Donlan

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The next cover to be brought into the world was local author Paul Francis‘ self-published collection Five String Banjo. The ‘five strings’ to Paul’s bow are sonnets, real lives, politics, performance and miscellany. Poet liz Lefroy says “In 5-string Banjo, Paul Francis shows himself to be a master of rhythm, rhyme and engrossing narratives. Pick up this book, hold it to your ear, and listen to it beat.” 

For Paul’s cover artwork, I worked with an abstraction of the banjo shape. As a textiles lover I felt it important to use real strings, and my inner texture junkie had fun working subtle fragments of newspapers into the background to reflect Paul’s political leanings!

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Lastly, my artwork for this year’s Wenlock Poetry Festival (called Wenlock Time) has been featured on the 2016 anthology cover (published by Fair Acre Press). The image was inspired by Much Wenlock’s town clock, and thinking about how the festival curates such fantastic contemporary poetry in a historic setting. The anthology is now available from Wenlock Books, and will also be available at the festival bookstand on the 23 and 24 April. If you haven’t booked tickets yet, what on earth are you waiting for?

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From May 2016 I’ll be taking on more commissions for book covers, so do get in touch if you’d like to discuss a project. I offer a sliding scale of pricing for self-published authors, small presses and larger publishers.

 

New for 2016: The Red Shoes

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Cover concept image by Sam Brett-Atkin

Stepping into the new year, I am pleased to announce a new project for 2016: my poetic retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Red Shoes. Using a combination of combination of verse and poetic prose, I have written my own interpretation of this classic story.

There have been many adaptations and interpretations of The Red Shoes; in books and on the screen. As a motif, red shoes have long been popular in well-known stories and some lesser-known folk tales. Inspired by themes such as direction, dancing, nature, belonging and creativity, I wanted to write a version about making soulful and authentic choices within the dance of life. I also just really love red shoes 🙂 

When I met artist and illustrator Sam Brett-Atkin, I immediately loved his artwork and thought he might be the right person to illustrate The Red Shoes. Luckily Sam was just as keen! Through our collaboration the story has developed into a richer narrative, and Sam has begun creating beautiful, atmospheric images in charcoal and ink. 

We have decided to self-publish the book in 2016. Through a crowd-funding campaign we hope to finance the first print run, and allow you to pre-order your copy! We will be announcing the details later this year, please get in touch if you’d like to be on the project mailing list.

Festival on the Edge

In mid-July I was invited to teach a bookmaking workshop at Festival on the Edge, a lovely folk and storytelling festival in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. The festival site is at the beginning of Wenlock Edge; a wooded limestone escarpment steeped in myths and stories, home to views like this:

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When not making things in the children’s or craft tents, I enjoyed music by artists O’Hooley & Tidow and Jonathan Day.  Tent-side breakfasts, locally roasted coffee and local cider were shared with my splendid companions, and a very pleasant eve was spent under a hazy Shropshire sunset.

As well as teaching bookmaking, I took along the Wild Wenlock teepees for some Sunday crafting, poetry and stories. Here are some photos from the weekend:

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Textual Transformations #2

0It has been some time since we last saw our friends. Quietly, steadily, they have been continuing their journey.

7Too soon to name what is happening, delicate dreams flutter across way-weathered skins. New sensations and feelings rise to the surface.

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Tiny rips and tears in the exterior begin to reveal the stories they have carried for so long.

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Some of the emerging stories are precious gems, messages worth carrying down that long, hard road.2Yet some are old stories no  longer needed. Ones to be retold or left behind in the dust. 6

A dramatic and unexpected turn in the path. All these threads of history peeking through cause a heart-wrenching rip in the surface. A swift slice through the outer self leaves this one exposed in stark vulnerability.

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What will become of these wandering companions, naked interior torn out for all to see? What new tapestries will their narratives weave without those old shells? The next chapter may give a clue. Until next time…

 

 

 

 

Textual Transformations (part 1)

Today’s foundlings, taken from the bookshop shelves to embark on a journey. Chosen intuitively because an element of their story resonates; a faded but beautiful colour, an inviting title or time-worn embossed symbol.

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How will the journey transform them? Meeting with lost scraps of fabric, foreign fragments and threads of another, the outside surfaces are the first to show signs of affect. Of course, a little destruction is usually required for meaningful change to take place.

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After a long first day on the road, they sit waiting for the next to take them deeper.

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Look within; early signs of their flowering. Fragrance surfaces a half-forgotten memory acknowledged in this blooming.

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More to come.