The first launch event of my debut poetry pamphlet, Flowers by the Road took place on Wednesday 8 February to a full house at Marsden library as part of Huddersfield Literature Festival’s celebration of local libraries. The event coincided with library events taking place across the country to celebrate National Libraries Day which launched on the 04 February. It was wonderful, if a little nerve-racking, to see so many friends, family and supporters of poetry and libraries turn out on what was a bitterly cold mid-February night. Heartfelt thanks to all who came and made the event such a great success.
Friends of Marsden Library have created a picture blog about the event which you can see by clicking this link
The next launch event is at Keats house in London where I will be reading alongside the wonderful Ellen Cranitch. The event is free but booking is required. Find out about the event here
Flowers by the Road can be ordered direct from Templar Poetry – please follow this link
Please get in touch via the contact page if you would like me to read at an event or to request a review copy. Thank you.
Greengates is the fourth in a series of recent paintings exploring a more fluid approach utilising both oil and acrylic. The starting point for Greengates was an unloved oil landscape partially sanded back which provided an almost abstract texture to work on. Atmosphere and composition was then created quickly utilising acrylic and ink and finally enhanced by oil. The painting was finished with satin varnish.
The painting is framed and available for purchase at Enjoy Art Gallery based in Marsden. Other works in the series include: Pennine Sunset, Neighbour and Holiday Home all of which are currently available through my Artfinder shop.
And finally, inspiration this month comes from The Lumineers who recently played an amazing sold out show at the very excellent Albert Hall in Manchester (not to be confused with the Royal version).
Brand new for 2016 – ‘Tile Art’. Images are created through a variety of processes using artist’s watercolour paint and finished with a coat of varnish. A selection of paintings are currently on display at Enjoy Art in Marsden near Huddersfield. I’ll be adding more to my Artfinder shop soon. Thanks for looking.
Say the names Cuckoo, Moonraker, Leadboiler and Lily anywhere outside of the Colne Valley and people might just nod their heads slightly, smile politely and step aside. But any mention of these names along the banks of the river Colne and locals will be more than happy to recount stories of wilful birds, contraband, boiling water and persecuted Huguenots. These are, of course, the stuff of legends and each of the legends proudly belong to one of the four villages along the valley. So for those not in the know: Marsden is Cuckoo, the Lilies belong to Golcar, Linthwaite lead boils and Slaithwaite proudly rakes the moon. If you want to find out more about each of these stories and see some wonderful paintings that illustrate the tales follow this link:
The legends are celebrated in various ways: Marsden goes Cuckoo for a day in April (which is slowly becoming Cuckoo weekend), Golcar enjoys Golcar Lily Day in May (which is still just a day) and every two years in February Slaithwaite steals the show with the Moonraking Festival (which now lasts for a whole seven days).
It’s now thirty years since the people of Slaithwaite first paraded the streets of their village with hand-made lanterns towards the canal where a paper moon was raked out to the delight of the waiting crowd. Each of the proceeding festivals have had a theme and to celebrate this landmark year the theme for 2015 is, coincidentally, ‘Landmarks’. In recent years competition to build the biggest and best lantern has become fierce and the themes have led to inspiring paper lights in the shape of Dr Who’s Tardis (time), a mouse and clock (nursery rhymes) and our very own star (which managed to hold its own against any number of themes until it finally disintegrated in a snow storm in 2013).
This year the festival runs from the 15 – 21 February and includes lantern making, music, story-telling arts and crafts and culminates in the unique finale on the Saturday evening when thousands of people will line the streets of Slaithwaite with their lanterns to watch the moon raking. Don’t miss out – Slaithwaite Moonraking has quietly turned into one of the best local arts festivals and is great fun for all the family.
To celebrate this year’s Landmark festival the painting, Where We Start which features Marsden and Slaithwaite’s very own famous landmark, Shooter’s Nab, is now available to purchase. The painting was completed in response to the poem, Tuesday Afternoon which was written specially for the now legendary Write Out Loud Poetry Jam at last year’s Marsden Jazz Festival. It was really heart warming to get so many requests for copies of the poem following my reading so in lieu of publication I’ve decided to make the poem available below. As a special treat – a handwritten version will accompany the painting when it is sold.
In other arts and poetry news, a small selection of my work will feature in the Hand Made Trail as part of the Moonraking festival – this will be in the form of a pop up gallery created by the excellent Enjoy Art gallery from Marsden where a more permanent collection of my work is still available to view. The Art Finder shop is slowly coming to life – you can follow my exploits by pressing the big button on the left hand side of this post.
In poetry news, I’m very excited to be reading alongside Tom Clearly and Steve Anderson at the Square Chapel, Halifax on Thursday 12 February. Wordplay has become a popular monthly event that also includes five open mic spots. The nights are hosted by the fabulous Keith Hutson so please come along if you are in the area.
I’m also really please to see that the Little Book of Poems has finally made it to publication. This was an idea dreamed up by local resident Jennifer Smith-Wignall to help raise funds for our local hospice, Kirkwood. The anthology features my poem Clocks which some may already be familiar with and a brand new poem, Bradley Woods inspired by the artist, Peter Brook. You can find out more about the project here:
From the halls this week we celebrate local duo O’Hooley and Tidow who launched their amazing album, The Hum last year in Marsden and have just been nominated for Best Duo in this year’s Radio 2 Folk Awards. The duo will also play a sold out show at The Watershed, Slaithwaite on Thursday 19 February as part of the Moonraking festival.
They are twelve, just. It is May
and the sky seems restless; the sun
rooting out the last of winter beyond
the dry stone walls and farm gates.
It gets their necks, warms their backs,
delivers a thirst that’s like nothing
else. The puddles they walk through
sparkle in the sun, a dizzying collection
of stars and clouds and sky.
They are heading to the mountain,
or Shooters Nab as one day they might know it,
climbing the fence that holds back the moor
letting their shadows stray beyond reach
over bog cotton and peat. Here they turn right,
follow a path and let the village drift from sight.
Red flags hang motionless in the distance;
they signal the firing-range; something they’ve
only heard about. There is no sound, no distant
echo of gunshot; just laboured breaths,
footsteps and the birds, still unknown, that cry out.
From a distant window the quarry beckoned;
a last frontier; a no-man’s land beyond
the snow line. Up close it looks like teeth.
They are out of bounds, beyond their limits,
amongst cathedrals of stone abandoned
to the moor. A ghost of a road
leads them to shadows where names and dates
exist between man-made scars.
There is nothing here: secretly one had dreamed that
beyond this place he would see the ocean;
a new land from which to escape. The other considers talk
of radio signals and strange night-sky activity but says nothing.
They both listen to the sound of their own breathing
and search the wind for the hum of the village.
There is nothing. The cold sets in as they search
the furthest corners where, in the darkness, they find snow;
just a tiled piece of earth no bigger than a child’s
blanket discarded by winter; alien ice
that they now dare each other to touch
to fill their pockets, scratching at the stuff as though it
might burn before they give in and run
from the place, downhill, criss-crossing
the path were invisible sheep bleat and
where ice mixed with dirt is launched to the sky
so that they blind themselves just to see where it falls
before shaking the cold from their fingertips and scraping
mud from their nails. The red flags begin to snap in the wind.
Beyond the wind sounds rush in: friends playing in the street,
neighbours shouting, cars, buses, the mill turning out
or the Earth turning, skipping a beat.
They are twelve, just. Out of time
as they run, letting the weight
of their own bodies carry them, letting the wind
rush over them as they jump the fence, jump
into light above a valley that twitches to realign
Look closely and you can just about make out the three para-gliders. Flight Dream is just one of a number of photographs that are now available to purchase online at Photo4me.com – please look at the Gallery page for more details and also new information about the launch of my Artfinder shop where a selection of paintings and limited edition giclée prints will be made available. The photograph was taken just off the Pennine Way at Marsden, West Yorkshire and features the famous Pule Hill.
At a similar time last year some friends introduced me to the wonderful music of Bill Callahan who was playing live in Manchester. Unfortunately work commitments forced me to miss the show and the name slipped to the back of my mind until a year later when, in these post-Yule tide days, I started to scour the furthest recesses of my music collection looking for something to inspire. Fortunately I only needed to get to B for Bill; music collections are like that.
I’m please to say that I’ve now re-discovered Dream River and think that the rest of the world should also do the same. Headphones ready…
Good Fences – oil on board – 20 x 20cm (ex frame). The final image from the ‘Storm’ series which is now available to purchase from Enjoy Art, a wonderful independent gallery based in the village of Marsden near Huddersfield.
The landscape is the Yorkshire Dales looking towards Ingleborough. The title was inspired by the Robert Frost poem, Mending Wall.
For a musical interlude here’s the sublime, and appropriately titled, After The Storm by Mumford and Sons filmed live at the 2010 Eden sessions (just in case you were missing the sunshine).
I’m very pleased to announce that November 2014 will see the release of a very limited number of original landscape oil paintings featuring the Yorkshire Pennines. Taking inspiration from the moors, the farms and, of course, the weather, each painting corresponds to a day of the week and considers themes of absence and loss.
In the Studio: Wednesday (sneak preview)
So as not to have to always listen to the wind and rain hitting the newly installed patio doors, I’ve been re-discovering the instrumental part to David Sylvian’s 1986 masterpiece Gone to Earth. Perfect studio music.