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.

Wenlock Time

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Wenlock Time: a new mixed media piece commissioned for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2016. 

Back in September I created a piece of artwork for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2016, which is now making it’s way into various bits of promotional material. The piece is called Wenlock Time, and is a mix of collage, paint and digital layers. I based the image around a photo I took of Much Wenlock’s clocktower, and worked in a map of the town.

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The piece used in promotional material. 

Next year’s Wenlock Poetry Festival (22nd-24th April 2016) has a ‘time’ theme, as in April we celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare. As always, the festival will be bringing the best of contemporary poetry to Shropshire, so I wanted to create an image that is fresh and vibrant as well as referencing the roots of poetry.

ALCHEMY

Back in early August I travelled up to North West Scotland for a week’s course at Bridge House Art. The course was called Alchemy, and focused on mark making and altering surfaces. Taking inspiration from the dramatic (and sometimes stormy) surroundings, we delighted in a whole week’s experimentation using light and heavy materials.

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We also incorporated found objects foraged from the shore into our experiments….

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A larger piece was created, but the week for me was about experimenting and new techniques…only time will tell how they will filter through into things and words made closer to home. Saying a fond farewell to Ullapool, I returned to my nest with fresh memories of the mountains and inspiration from the sea.

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Walk on the wild side

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It’s been almost a whole month since Wenlock Poetry Festival, and shamefully I’ve only just got round to processing my photos from Wild Wenlock. For me the weekend was a wildish crafty whirlwind, with lots of visitors to my little travelling village. The splendid chaps at the builders merchants made our month by turfing the entire Corn Exchange in real grass, which was the icing on the cake for Wild Wenlock. Here are photos from our weekend of play and poetry:

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By the way, Wild Wenlock is available for summer events and children’s parties 🙂

This Netted House

Whilst travelling on the Isle of Lewis last year, I came across the most curious thing; a derelict house entirely covered in fishing nets. I showed the film of this spooky place to poet Jean Atkin, who wrote a most marvellous poem called This Netted House. We made this short film, which The Island Review have just published.

NaPoWriMo #5: They Often Walked This Path

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Feel memory words made solid.

Touch carved wood edge speaks 

warm texture; object bearing

the weight of her and his stories.

Muddy field stretches out their

etched past. Footsteps immortal;

crafted in grain, gone to earth.

NaPoWriMo #3: Clootie Well

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Today I took the NaPoWriMo prompt of writing a wee charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme. I don’t usually do rhymes but enjoyed this one; the subject and rhyming create a folky-story type vibe. This poem is about the clootie wells found in Cornwell and some other parts of the country. Clootie wells (also Cloutie or Cloughtie wells) are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas. They are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. It is actually becoming a problem in some places where silly people are tying synthetic fabrics and objects into the trees, which of course don’t degrade (which is the whole point, the rotting and returning to earth of the fabric is what symbolises the healing).

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Bind gently the source of pain 

with a roughly torn strip of wet cloth

soaked through with healing water.

Unwrap the dry fabric again,

and knot to branches hanging over;

Wellness returns in rotting matter.

 

Napowrimo #1: Magnolia Waiting

I am showing my poetry a little love this month by taking part in NaPoWriMo, and writing a poem each day for the month of April. Here’s number one, about the magnolia tree I watch every day from my window.

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Magnolia Waiting

A hint of pink flashes
in budding April breeze,
gentle sway suggests
just enough; a hint of opening.

She is waiting. Patience
protects a healing heart
from cruel frosts and bitter
winds that whip through uninvited.

Wandering eyes will miss
it all. Gentle attention day
after day will witness deep
blooming; a flowering from the heart.

New material

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This week sees me piecing together fragments, little remnants of my shoe-making and some text found in a second hand book about magnolias and rhododendrons. The beginnings of something new methinks. I also went to a talk in Ludlow last night by Imogen Goldsmith-Du Fours, which was about Bohemian apparel and lifestyle. Imogen shared this wonderful poem by Rimbaud which has got me thinking about rustling stars and all kinds of tactile goodness…enjoy.

My Bohemia
A Fantasy

And so off I went, fists thrust in torn pockets
Of a coat held together by no more than it’s name.
O Muse, how I served you beneath the blue;
And oh what dreams of dazzling love I dreamed!

My only pair of pants had a huge hole.
–Like some dreaming Tom Thumb, I sowed
Rhyme with each step. My inn was the Big Dipper.
–My stars rustled in the sky.

Roadside on warm September nights
I listened as drops of dew fell
On my forehead like fortifying wine;

And there, surrounded by shadows, I rhymed
Aloud, and as if they were lyres, plucked the laces
Of my wounded shoes, one foot beneath my heart.

 – Rimbaud

Make Do and Mend

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As if a sheet of cotton were suddenly ripped in two, I am torn  
from
both fantasy and reality. My soul has stitched itself so closely 
to this idea
that unpicking renders the edges of this fabric altered.

Frayed and imperfect, love is never new and neatly pressed.

Real relationships are mended and repaired, their history traced
through the patching up of hearts, hopes darned onto new realities.

Keep making,

do not fear the sharp point as it pierces a new threshold.

With the lightest of touch, let us feel our way into new loving.

Image: Japanese ‘Boro’ textiles. Boro means ‘tattered cloth’ and is the term given to heavily patched and repaired indigo cotton – mostly bedclothes, futon covers and fisherman’s jackets. Some have been repaired so many times that the original material is barely visible.