Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pat Tromans's " 'Just Write' Amongst Artists" Creative Writing Workshop

We were pleased to host and welcome Pat and her students to create a picture with words (as one of our facebook friends put it)

They gathered in the Gallery Craft room with many
 paintings around them
 Wandered through the
Sculpture Garden gaining inspiration from many of the exhibits

and chatted after lunch  in the Gallery CafĂ©

A piece created  by Penny Cooper one of the students during the workshop-
"A rusty roller
Leans against the ancient oak
That spreads its branches over static sheep
The sheep are lifeless,
Frozen, gazing across the grass.
They cannot hear the wind surging through the trees
Or add their voices to the cawing crows.
But golden dragonflies can flit about
Pausing to rest their gossamer wings
Upon the sun-warmed bench.

And robin can perch
Unharmed on the gorilla's head
While the pig, arms outstretched
Must wait forever his chance to dance.
We can stroll by leafy paths
Through twisted rhododendron tunnels
Past a green man with ivy hair.
We feel the wind on our cheeks

And smell sweet scents of flowers
But the wire woman is forever condemned
To heave herself out of the ground
On splayed hands and outstretched fingers.
Striving to free herself, and go
We know not where.
Penny Cooper August 2010"

and another by  Linda Hutton
"Ellie knew it was him long before she saw him. The smell of Balkan Sobrany from his pipe wafted ahead of him, and she heard the sound of him marching down the gravel path.
“In here,” she called.
He stuck his head around the first tree trunk to look into the glade.
“What are you up to now, cariad?” he asked, then spotted the sculpture. “Bloody hell, a dancing pig! Whatever goes on in your head sometimes?”
His words might seem brusque but they were delivered with affection, and Ellie knew that he’d be smiling when she turned and looked at him. Her big brother hadn’t an artistic bone in his body, but was very proud of her.
“Are we still going riding, then?” he asked, putting a hand under her arm to help her up.
“Oh yes! I just had to put this little chap in place.”
“You could’ve done that tomorrow.”
“I know, Bob, but somehow I feel he needs to be out here today.”
He rolled his eyes in mock despair, then took her heavy shoulder bag off her and arm in arm they walked away, him slowing his long stride to match her limping one.
Dusk came, birds twittered their evening chorus, and with the departure of people from the gallery and sculpture gardens a pleasant hush fell over the place. Long shadows stretched further out and beneath the trees a quiet tension began to build.          
“Are they gone?” the smallest of the sheep statues communed to its  companions. Together they had stood beneath the spreading arms of the great oak since spring. Flowers had come and gone with the seasons but now they were going. All day they had been practicing their farewell song, and soon it would be heard.
 “All clear!” The gorilla from by the front door swung into the garden, nimbly swinging over the garden wall and locked gate, and knuckling his way over the lawn to meet them.
  “Your last full moon here, then?”
“Yes,” the lead sheep baahed. “We’re off to a garden somewhere.”
“I’m scared,” the small sheep bleated. “It’ll be strange and we won’t know anyone.”
“But at least we’re together..,”
“...together,” the other three baahed in unison.
“But what if there’s a dog?” the little one persisted. “The one here’s friendly but others might not be.”
“Don’t you fret, it’ll all be fine,” the gorilla said reassuringly. “You’ve got your leaving song all ready for us?”
“Oh yes...”
“...oh yes..,”
“...oh yes..,”
“...oh yes!”
Together the sheep and the gorilla moved across the darkened lawn. A Green Man plaque on the wall whistled to attract their attention and the gorilla lifted him down by standing on the back of one of the sheep.
“Can’t think why they stuck me on the wall out here!” the Green Man sighed, “it’s going to be interesting next month if I’m still here.”
“Don’t you worry, mate, I’ll get you to the gathering somehow,” the gorilla assured him.
Moving into the wood they found the other Green Man and the Green Lady and some of the other sculptures who could roll their own way to the assembly beneath the trees. Moonlight fell on parts of the garden, but not here, deep in the thicket and far from the prying human eyes inside the house.
“We have a newcomer!” the Green Lady announced from her vantage point on the tree. “Over there!”
            There in the middle of the tiny clearing stood the terracotta pig. His arms spread wide, snout in the air, nostrils flared as if waiting for some unknown thing to happen. His tail was curled in anticipation as he sat on his stone stump, frozen in time. Together the others began a soft humming, and, as the last of the warm herb scents from the courtyards faded and the cool night air awoke more earthly scents, the pig blinked.
“Welcome,” the gorilla said. “For whatever time you are here you are one of us. Do you sing?”
“Sing?” the little pig blinked, seeming astonished that he had been freed from his solid state. “I don’t think so.”
The other looked from one to another. It was rare that an awakened piece lacked a voice, but sometimes it did happen.
“Not to worry,” the Green Man called down. “Just listen and follow us in the choruses.”
Together they settled into a circle as near as they were able, and then they each sang their song, led first by the Green Lady. After the gorilla had rumbled his way through a shanty he gestured to the sheep, who were the only ones left who hadn’t sung besides the pig.
“Time for your farewell song,” he said. “You know the code now: to awaken others whom you encounter, keep the faith, and don’t let the humans see!”
Leaning close to one another the sheep sang a beautiful chant, noses lifted and eyes gazing at the flickers of moonlight which peeked now and then through the canopy. If a human had opened the window they would have heard nothing, but the spirit song was heard by all those gathered, clear and true.
“Go in peace to your new home, we’ll not forget you,” the Green Lady said, then turned to the pig. “And what of you little one? What does your heart tell you to do?”
The pig waved a trotter experimentally, then another. Then, as a shaft of moonlight finally found a hole and sent a shaft of white light to the woodland floor, the pig slipped off his stony seat and began to dance. He pirouetted on wobbly legs at first, then as stars twinkled above and he gained confidence he began to move more rapidly. Like a tiny shaman of old he danced with a love of life, little feet tripping across the fallen leaves, forepaws outstretched and a smile on his face.
“Will that do?” he asked when he stopped.
“That’s just perfect,” the gorilla said. “Welcome brother!” 

Feedback comments from a couple of students :-
  " Inspiring venue & excellent food & facilities."
     " . . . the setting is wonderfully inspiring."

From Pat: I liked the way the writers wanted to pick up where the artists left off.  The artists captured living forms in static materials;  the writers' response was to re-animate them in their stories and poems.



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