Saturday, 29 February 2020

Burn the Furniture to Heat the House - Joe Shaw - Lime Street

Burn the Furniture to Heat the House

Joe Shaw

Burn the Furniture to Heat the House brings into relief the brief glimpse of stability that occurred between two defining moments: the fall of the Soviet Union and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In this optimistic time, a disconnection formed between the precariousness of the world and ourselves, and we became complacent, imbued with a false sense of security. The sculptures in this exhibition are about the abrupt end of this complacency, the surge in ad hoc/insecure modes of living, a scrabble for resources, and the artists’ place within all this.

Joe Shaw (born 1990, Mansfield, Notts) is an artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne who makes performative sculptures and installations. His works use recognisable, everyday objects and often plastic or low quality materials to comment on the mechanism of disposability built into post-millennium society. Shaw’s lo-fi aesthetic and materials draw attention to the increased precarity surrounding modes of employment, housing, politics and our natural environment. The sculptures are used as a vehicle to both scrutinise the art-world and spoof fragile masculinity using a language of dry wit and black humour.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Bibliotherapy: the power books have to heal you

"Bibliotherapy – the prescription of books as a remedy to ills – has been around since 2013, when the Reading Agency charity published a list of books that GPs could offer to patients, tackling topics from depression to dementia to chronic pain. Since then, 1.2 million readers have borrowed the scheme's books from libraries. 

It's so successful that it's about to be extended to children as well. Winifred Robinson discusses how it works with Professor Philip Davis who studies the effects of literature at Liverpool University. He's the author of a book called Reading for Life, having researched its effects on dementia, depression and worked with reading groups in prisons and homeless shelters."

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Eyesore progress by marginendeavour

On Sunday we reached a milestone in the creation of our Eyesore billboard; we finished covering the billboard frame on the back of the board. 

We have to do a few small tidying up jobs on the back before we give the whole surface a coat of varnish to protect it from the outdoor elements. Following that, we will need to build the structure that will hold the board in place. We intend to make the board detachable from the structure so that it can be easily moved.

Monday, 24 February 2020

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

My memory of the film version of this epistolary novel, is, as per usual when it comes to remembering films, near to non-existent. I certainly don't recall it having such an emotional impact on me as the book has. 

Written in the first-person, Charlie who is in his first year of high school, leads the reader through some difficult times in his life. His simple style of narration is easy to follow and heartfelt, making it hard not to become attached to his endearing personality. Charlie navigates us through his ups and downs with friendships and relationships with his peers, teachers and family.

Despite not experiencing many of the situations that Charlie shares, his experiments with drugs and smoking are one example, I was able to relate to a lot of his thoughts and observations. 

It was at the end of the book, in the afterword, that I came to properly realise the extent to which the book has a power to help the reader. This has made me really reflect on how I want my own writing to have an impact in the world. 

Lemniscate - Žilvinas Kempinas

I'm gripped; mesmerised; in awe of the beauty of a loop of magnetic tape snaking round in a figure of eight as it is propelled by two fans. It prompts me to reflect on what it's like to be in an effective partnership; each half doing its bit to help the other half; pulling its weight, so to speak, working in tandem, a pair, a team. As one diminishes, the other steps in.

Thursday, 20 February 2020


I often find myself thinking about time;
how time flies,
how I need more time,
how precious time is,
how time can go fast but also slow,
how to make better use of time,
how we know when is the right time,
how much time is worth,
how we measure time
and so on.

I've been feeling the pressure to be productive, fill my time and avoid wasting time.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

NewBridge Writers Group - Session 4 - Where do I want to be?

The aim of this session was to work through step 2 of The Writers Guide: Where Do I Want To Be?

I struggle with the notion that it is not self-indulgent for me to spend my time writing. I have a tendency to prioritise other things, things I consider to be more productive, useful or relevant to the world. I also feel unconfident in my own abilities - I have not been educated as a writer, I am dyslexic, am not well-read and am inexperienced. I don't think I have the 'right' to call myself a writer.

However, I do know the impact that writing can have on people, and I do feel a difference when I have had a productive writing session. It feels great to empty my brain onto the page, to share stories and to see ideas emerge, mutate and develop.

Exercise 1 begins with asking what it is that we want; not just the big goals but those critical basic needs, the personal and practical, that are vital to moving our writing forward and building confidence.

What You Really, Really Want?

In order to Just Write we need to understand what that infrastructure of support needs to look like for us. We need to understand what we need right now to help us select the right help and identify the work we need to do right now.

We can set writing goals – 2000 words a day, submit to 7 agents by July – that’s what we want but we need to look at what we NEED to write in order to really get it done.

So you’re going to treat yourself like a character. Think about your full spectrum of needs as a writer and human with a life and commitments: you might want to believe in your writing; you might be lonely as a writer; you might need time; you might need to fix your laptop and clear a space to write. You might also want to set up a website, submit more, get an agent. All are valid. (Remember want means desire and lack. Don’t forget to think about what’s missing that will enable you to write if you could get it.

Task 1: A list! What do I want and need to write? 

Start with a clean page / blank screen.
Draw 2 columns on the page - one is What do I want and the other is What do I need to write?
Set timer for 10 minutes.
And write without stopping.
Now you’re going to sort those needs into a hierarchy to help you tackle them.

Task 2: What are you afraid of?

So now you have your list of wants, we are going to go deeper and find out what you want but may be afraid of doing.

Writing is a risk; a massive undertaking. Because we have everything to lose without a safety net. Because we don’t think of ourselves as writers. Because we expose our true thoughts and feelings.

If we want to dream big we have to work out what scares us and why.

So the task is this:

List ten writing goals you are frightened of, believe aren’t for you or are beyond you and ask why.

Choose one that you would secretly love to try but you’re too scared to and add it to your hierarchy of wants.


Copy Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with segment headings onto a big sheet of paper. Make it big! Triangle of Writerly Desires
Look at the needs you’ve listed in your freewriting and sort them into the best fitting segment of your hierarchy of needs.


Here are some examples: 

Basic Needs: material / logistical - I want a new laptop, to clear the landing as a place to write, get a routine to give me time to write, I need money. Train the dog to allow me to get some work done. 

Safety needs: physical / psychological - I want to eat better and exercise so I’m not too tired to write. I want to feel positive about my work. I need to look for a new job that isn’t so draining. I need to get a cat, all writers seem to have a cat. 

Belonging / affiliation - I want to join a Writers’ group, I need to surround myself with more people who believe in my work. 

Esteem needs: competence, recognition, skills - I want to do that course on Folkore, I need to research where to submit to and submit more in order to build a profile in my genre, I need to sort out my website properly. I need to be seen. 

Self actualisation achieving full potential - I want to get that first draft done, I'm ready to submit to an agent. – The goals we often find e.g. submit to agent / publisher are here but just look at how much needs to happen below to achieve them.

Using the triangle identify any gaps, for example have you thought about belonging – do you want to reach out to other writers? SHARE – TALK US THROUGH WHAT YOU’VE

Task 4 - Make space to listen to your fears and doubts.

Doer Vs Don’ter : The Personal Narrative

I don't know about you but I am my worst enemy. I have the ability to come up with an idea and immediately disregard it thinking it's not worth pursuing. It is literally like having 2 voices in my head. The doer and the don'ter. I'm not very good at letting them have a reasoned discussion. It always seems that the don'ter overpowers the doer.

One tactic I have developed in order to overcome this is to pretend that I am talking to a friend. I replace the don’ter with the dependable; the response that I would give when talking to a friend. This inevitably tends to be more reasoned and rational.

Here’s a typical chat between doer and don’ter:

Doer: I’ve had this idea for a short story that I want to write.

Don’ter: Stop right there. Why would other people want to read your story? It’s far too self-indulgent. All you think about is yourself. You don’t even write well. There are so many people out there who are more eloquent, more experienced, better at spelling and grammar and have more interesting stories.

Doer: But I feel I need to write this, if only for me.

Don’ter: There you go again. It’s all about you, you, you. There are so many more useful things that you could be doing with your time. Things that will help others, make a difference.

Doer: You’re right. I should be less selfish and leave writing to those who are qualified and talented at English.

Here is the alternative conversation using my ‘tell it as though you are talking to a friend’ technique.

Doer: I’ve had this idea for a short story that I want to write.

Dependable : That’s great! Go for it. I look forward to reading it.

Doer: But I’m not sure that it is any good.

Dependable: You won’t find out if it is any good if you don’t write it. Once you write it, then you can make the decision about whether it is any good. Take it one step at a time.

Doer: But I feel selfish for writing. There are so many other things that I should be doing that would make a bigger difference.

Dependable: Writing is not selfish. It is important that you do it for yourself. If you care for yourself, you will be in a better position to be able to care for others. I see a real value in that.

Doer: Thank you for supporting me, I am going to begin to write it now.

It is normal to have doubts and experience difficulties. It is also important to listen to these doubts as we can learn from these and understand ourselves better. It is also important to challenge ourselves and work through our difficulties. These are experiences we can use in our writing. The role of the dependable is to be able to give a reliable and unbiased response. To avoid the tendency for black and white thinking and rationalise. Recognise the doubt and respond appropriately.

For example

Doer: I have had an idea for a short story and want to write it but I can’t because I need to be a good parent to the children.

(Note that the doer thinks they can’t be a good parent if they write the story. It is one or the other; black and white; all or nothing)

Dependable: It’s great that you have an idea and want to write. I know that your children are very important to you and you take your parenting role very seriously, but you can still be a good parent if you write your story. Think about it, could you write when the kids are at school? Or in bed? Could you use the time when they are at out of school club to write? Could you take it in turns with other parents to look after a group of children, and so each of you gets a chance to have some time to yourself whilst knowing that the kids are safe and happy? There are plenty of ways to be a good parent AND write your story.

Write a conversation between the Doer and the Dependable. Remember, the dependable is the character that gives an honest, measured, realistic and reasoned answer. The dependable is your best friend.

Tell your buddy what the doer wants and what the dependable says. Swap. Compare.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Illuminating the Self - Andrew Carnie

Andrew Carnie’s work for Illuminating the Self "reflects on the CANDO project’s scientific and engineering aspects whilst also considering some of the ethical and moral questions surrounding it. 

At Vane, Carnie is showing the video work, A Tale of Two (2019), which consists of a series of ‘bouquets’ of USB programmable word fans, each with texts in blue and red that reflect different aspects of implants and implantation. The texts are in part taken from documents on the legal, ethical, and emotional aspects of implantation: they are in part derived from texts on ‘Everyday Cyborgs’ – people with attached and implanted medical devices such as artificial joint replacements, pacemakers, total artificial hearts, and limb prostheses – as well as Carnie’s own writing."

It is this work that I am particularly interested in, probably because of the potential for me to use this kind of technology for text work. I'm thinking of the possibility of being able to create word clusters that resemble mind maps that would grow and trigger further word clusters.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Out of The Blue - Susan Aldworth as part of Illuminating the Self

"On display at Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery (18 January – 9 May 2020) Aldworth’s principal work, Out of the Blue, represents the experiences of people living with epilepsy through art and the cutting-edge brain implants being developed by the CANDO project to try and control focal epilepsy."

Over fifty people living with epilepsy contributed their highly personal experiences to Out of the Blue. They came from all ages, diverse backgrounds, and from as far afield as Kenya, the USA and, of course, the UK. For many, it is the first time they have publicly shared their feelings, either as a sufferer, or carer of someone living with epilepsy.

This was followed by a successful national appeal, which found 100 experienced embroiderers and needlework specialists who volunteered to assist Aldworth sewing the testimonies of people living with epilepsy onto 100 items of Victorian underwear using UV threads; to represent the hidden nature of epilepsy, now made public through the embroidered words.

Inside the space, the garments have been attached to pulleys and motors, which shake in the manner of an epileptic seizure, while UV and blue lights shine onto the work to illuminate the wording.

“The idea is to present the hidden experience of epilepsy on garments usually obscured beneath our clothes,” explains Susan. “The installation brings the experience into the public domain. The threads fluoresce under UV light, effectively mirroring and representing the optogenetics employed in CANDO’s remarkable work.”

“The entire piece is programmed to move in the neural patterns and pathways associated with epilepsy. The movement will become increasingly synchronised and, once fully aligned, they will collapse onto the floor. Slowly, the clothes will start to move again, and restore themselves into their original configuration,” Aldworth adds.

The significance of the 100 embroiderers and 100 items of clothing is also poignant, as epilepsy affects 1 in 100 people and uncontrolled seizures can have devastating effects on people’s lives. Out of the Blue seeks to highlight the experience of living with epilepsy and create a discourse about the ethical and personal implications of the CANDO implants."

Despite there being a slight technical problem with the mechanics of the pulleys, meaning that they were not moving at the time I saw the exhibition, I found this installation visually stimulating and thought provoking.

The garments had a ghostly presence in the space, unified by their lack of pattern or colour. This placed emphasis on the words. The careful and intricate labour that went into producing the work is suggestive of an onerous time-consuming task, one that is challenging and overwhelming in itself, rather like how I imagine the experience of living with epilepsy is. Each embroiderer interpreted the words (written by someone living with epilepsy) in their own way and created unique designs for each and every garment. The UV light literally illuminates our awareness of the condition and references the CANDO research in a non-overly scientific manner. I really respect the way that Aldworth has respectfully used the experiences and personal responses of others to form a very powerful installation.

The limited edition Artist’s book containing the full text of the testimonies alongside 64 photographs by Peter Abrahams of the embroidered garments, is a beautiful document providing a deeper level of understanding about the experience of epilepsy. Similarly, the embroiderers' notes that can be read in the gallery also offers us an insight into the experience of another group of individuals who are fundamental to the project. It is clear from these accounts that being involved in this artwork has had a profound effect on them.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Illuminating the Self - Susan Aldworth and Andrew Carnie - Hatton Gallery and Vane Gallery

Illuminating The Self began in 2017 when artists Susan Aldworth and Andrew Carnie were invited to make an artistic response to the research being conducted at Newcastle University, namely the CANDO (Controlling Abnormal Network Dynamics using Optogenetics) Project. 

In the brain, nerve cells generate rhythmic activity or ‘brain waves’. In many neurological diseases these rhythms are disrupted, producing abnormal patterns of activity. In epilepsy, abnormal activity can often be localised to a small ‘focus’, which then spreads causing a seizure. Epilepsy affects 600,000 people in the UK and uncontrolled seizures have devastating effects on patients’ lives. Nearly a third of cases fail to respond to conventional drug treatments and may require surgical removal of the focus. However, surgery may not be suitable for all patients due to irreversible damage to necessary brain functions.

This CANDO project proposes an alternative treatment using a small implant to modulate abnormal activity and so prevent seizure development. The implant provides precisely timed stimulation by continuously monitoring brain waves via implanted electrodes and modifying them via implanted light sources. This requires that some cells within the focus are genetically altered using a safe virus to make them sensitive to light. The goal of this project is to create a successful first-in-human trial in epilepsy patients.

The exhibition is the artists' response to spending time studying the complex computer modelling that tests thousands of different scenarios, observing the animal experiments that are essential ahead of any human trials, and lengthy discussions with legal experts about the ethical implications of this kind of technology and what it might mean for all of us.

"The question of how we construct our sense of self and how it might be changed by the integration of biotechnology within the body has been central to discussions for Illuminating the Self. The artworks in the exhibition navigate the scientific and technological aspects of the project alongside the intensely human experience of epilepsy."

"For Andrew carnie this has meant focussing on the inner workings of the brain, how they are disrupted during a seizure and how gene therapy and the CANDO implant might modulate this disruption. Susan Aldworth has responded to the inner feelings and experiences of those living with epilepsy."

"The exhibitions of Illuminating the Self attempt to give us insight into cutting edge and complex neuroscience, and convey a sense of pioneering research on the brink of breakthrough. They also aim to increase our understanding of what epilepsy is and what it means to live with the condition. Their main concern however remains to encourage visitors to ask their own questions - about the science, the technology, the art and about themselves."

Lucy Jenkins, Curator of Illuminating the Self

Hatton Gallery
18th January - 9th May

Vane Gallery
16th January - 29th February

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Testing Situations | Experiences of dementia, assessment and art

Over the last year, artist Charles Harrison and the Testing Situations team have been touring around the UK to learn more about people's experiences of being tested for dementia.

The Catalyst: National Innovation Centre for Ageing. 

Testing Situations presented an exhibition of learning from the tour featuring artworks from Clive Smith, Dan Moxam and a newly commissioned film titled 'Margaret' and supporting imagery by film-maker Harry Lawson. 

The main event featured presentations from project lead Charlie Harrison, social scientist Emma Harding and collaborator Mhari McLintock followed by screenings of 3 artistic films made by, or in collaboration with people living with dementia. 

The afternoon session included a participatory workshop and group conversations with around 60 attendees, both individuals and groups from North East.

I didn't attend the event, but saw the exhibition, and was particularly moved by Harry Lawson's body of work about his late Grandma, Margaret, during her last 4 years living in residential care. The film includes footage taken by Geoff, Harry's father of Margaret in her bedroom and scenes from the rest of the care home that was later filmed by Harry. It shifts between tender, intimate interactions between Margaret and Geoff and more routine observations of life in the residential home. As the UK population is living longer, more people are living in residential care, and this film gives an insight into life in a residential home. 

I felt privileged to witness the loving scenes between Margaret and Geoff, in which Geoff gently strokes Margaret's hands and tries to make her comfortable. I was gripped by the Geoff's patience and care in the way he spoke and handled his Mum, and though highly personal, the film did not seem invasive.

The more general shots within the home give a good impression of the rapport between Harry and the residents. Harry is happy to engage with the residents, some of whom make a point of being on film. As I watched one woman ask Harry if he would like her to introduce herself on camera and then go on to tell a little story, I notice that I'm smiling, for the residents are being treated respectfully as individuals who are valued.

Eyesore progress by marginendeavour

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The NewBridge Writers Group - Session 3 - Creative Exercises

The focus of week 3 was to look at the structure of a story and introduce a few writing concepts / guidelines / tools such as Bochner and Rigg's 'What Stories Should Have', Freytag's Pyramid Plot Diagram and Natalie Goldberg's 'Earn the Right.

1. Write a Letter to Your Happy Place (15 minutes)

A positive exercise that is good for warming up.

Think of a place that you love to be and tell it what makes it so special for you. How does it make you feel? Describe it. It does not have to be ideal, but does need to have some personal significance to you.

2. What makes up a story? (15 minutes)


"The author should introduce the characters in the story with enough information that the reader can visualize each person. This is achieved by providing detailed descriptions of a character’s physical attributes and personality traits. The main character determines the way the plot will develop and is usually who will solve the problem the story centers upon. However, the other characters are also very important because they supply additional details, explanations, or actions. All characters should stay true to the author’s descriptions throughout the story so that the reader can understand and believe the action that is taking place—and perhaps even predict which character may do what next."


This could be a physical space or a mental space, it could be an event that has happened. It is the situation that the characters are in; the location of the action. Landscape, scenery, buildings, seasons or weather all help provide a sense of the setting.


The conflict is central to the plot; it is what the characters are attempting to resolve. "The main character is usually on one side of the central conflict. On the other side, the main character may struggle against another important character, against the forces of nature, against society, or even against something inside himself or herself (feelings, emotions, illness)."


Temporal words generally refer to time-related transitions. They can be single words e.g. 'tomorrow', prepositions e.g. 'for', or phrases e.g. 'before long'. Temporal words help the story to flow.

"Sometimes narratives are linear, beginning at the start and concluding at the end of the narrative, sometimes they are cyclical, when they begin and end at the same point. Other times films jump between past present and future which can create suspense whilst the audience waits for all the ends to be tied and the events to be pieced together."


Why does the author want the audience to read this story? What will the reader get from it? What will they learn? Is there a lesson to be learned from the story? How has the character changed? What has the character learned?

Think of a story you want to tell

Write the 1-5 list

Use these prompts to identify these elements in your story

3 Narrative arc (15 minutes)

- Get a big bit of paper and draw the dramatic unity pyramid (also known as Freytag’s Pyramid Plot Diagram

- Introduction
- Rising movement/action
- Climax
- Falling action
- Catastrophe

- Compare with the 3-act structure

- beginning
- middle
- end

- Map your story idea against these points

4) Earn the Right (15 minutes)

Read Natalie Goldberg's 'Earn the Right' 
"You have to earn the right to make an abstract statement. You earn this right by using concrete bricks of detail. After much original detail, you can take a little leap, step away and make a statement. But you can't make a statement until you have given us a picture of it."

Read ‘Pod’ by Alex Lockwood and recognise the ‘Coruscated leviathans, suspended infinity’ only works because of the concrete names, nouns and verbs that go before.

Spend 8 minutes writing and then UNDERLINE all the nouns and verbs.

5) Dead and Dying (15 minutes)

- Write everything you know about dying. (5 minutes)
  Who died? When did they die? How? Why?

- Write what you will miss when you die. Be specific. What are things that only you know about that will die with you? (5 minutes)

- Write about the catastrophe/ending of your story (5 minutes)

Friday, 7 February 2020

Front Row - 'Risk series'

Wednesday's episode of Front Row was the last in the 'Risk' series; a series questioning the importance of risk-taking in art.



1. A situation involving exposure to danger.

1.1 in singular The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen.

1.2 with modifier A person or thing regarded as a threat or likely source of danger.

1.3 usually risks A possibility of harm or damage against which something is insured.

1.4 with adjective A person or thing regarded as likely to turn out well or badly, as specified, in a particular context or respect.

1.5 The possibility of financial loss.

In a number of interviews with people involved in the arts, Front Row has been investigating the extent to which risk is essential to creating great art.

Questions asked include

What is artistic risk?

What are the emotional risks of using your life as your art?

Why is diversity in the arts seen as risky?

What happens when artistic risk fails?

In what ways are artists risky?

How do you decide if a risk is worth taking?

How has risk changed in the past 10 years?

To mark the end of Front Row’s Risk season, the panel created the Front Row Risk List - what they believe to be the 10 riskiest artworks of the 21st century.

They considered all aspects of risk such as:

putting your reputation on the line
putting yourself in physical danger
is it always a good thing to risk offending people?
how does gender play a role in what's risky?

To view the results please visit

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

The NewBridge Writers Group - Session 2 - Turning on the tap

The focus of Week 2 was to get people started, and comfortable with starting. Alex likens his writing process to that of turning on a tap. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to turn the tap on, to get creativity flowing. The more often you do it, the looser the tap is, the more the creativity flows easily. 

1st Writing Exercise: Story timeline

Run the string out between two points and give everyone three pegs and they choose three postcards. 

On the postcards they write:
One entry from their ‘story family tree’ from the very far past, childhood, early memory
One entry from the middle of their ‘story family tree’
One entry from the near present of their ‘story family tree’

Then when everyone has done this, they hang the stories up on the line, with one end being far history and the other being present day.

Then we all stand and each person chooses one of the stories to share. They go over, and take one down, and read it out and share.


Everyone takes down ONE OF THEIR postcards and ONE FROM SOMEONE ELSE

2 minute writing task

write the ‘what happened next’ part of the story using the story on the card as the prompt.

2nd Writing Exercise: Blackout

Blackout writing is when a page of text — usually an article from a newspaper — is completely blacked out (colored over with permanent marker so that it is no longer visible) except for a select few words. When only these words are visible, a brand new story is created from the existing text.

Everyone takes a torn out page provided and a sharpie/black marker, and uses the marker to ‘reveal’ a sentence from the page, blacking out all the other words, so you have just the sentence left. This sentence is the starting point of a story—it might be a completely new story, or it might be part of an existing piece the person is working on.

Write the next sentence

3rd Writing Exercise: Picking pages/words from a book:

Pick a book

Check to see what the last page number is, then pick any number between the first and last page number.

Once you find your page, then choose a number between 1–5

Find the sentence that corresponds with that number (ie. number 2 would be the second sentence).

Use that sentence as the first sentence of your prompt and write for ten minutes (or the time frame of your choosing).

4th Writing Exercise: Wikipedia exercise

Access Wikipedia

Click on the Random Article button in the top corner of the page to generate an article

Write down the title/topic/name of that article and a little information that will remind you what it is e.g. Nick Santora, writer and producer

Repeat until you have no less than 6 articles

Write for ten minutes (or the time frame of your choosing), attempting to incorporate as many of the article names into your text

Breaking the rules pieces

We discussed examples of when authors have 'broken the rules' of language as we know it.

Example 1 - Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

"Ducks, Newburyport is 1,020 pages long,
95% of the novel is made up of just eight near-endless sentences, without paragraph breaks, some of them spooling over more than 100 pages,
most of the novel is a list of statements, separated by commas, that begin with the phrase “the fact that”,
these statements are also punctuated by the seemingly random emanations of the narrator’s mind,
some of these are songs, earworms"

Example 2 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Chapter numbers are prime numbers because that is what the narrator likes
Diagrams, maps, charts, graphs, drawings are used throughout
Important sentences are in bold text
Sentences often begin with the word "And"

'Earning the right’

We circulated and discussed Natalie Goldberg's 'earning the right' concept, and shared Alex's 'Pod' short story as an example of focusing on concrete nouns and verbs, rather than complicated adverbs or adjectives, to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of a story.

"There is a sentence ‘Coruscated leviathans, suspended infinity’ which is an abstract image which I feel I ‘earned the right’ to use because of the concrete imagery used leading up to it"

'Stealing from real life"

We circulated Amy Mackelden's "Conversation four" and discussed how we feel about taking or "stealing" from real life conversations and scenarios, memories


WRITE A PIECE that refuses to use ONE common rule, e.g. quotation marks, full stops at end of sentences, capital letters at beginning of new sentences, capital letters for proper names and nouns etc…

Optional Additional Writing Exercise: Think of a conversation or a line of a conversation you can write about, and take that line, and build the beginning of a narrative story (non dialogue) around it. E.g. write about it from a narrator’s point of view.

Monday, 3 February 2020

“ one who works with their hands and their head and their heart is an artist”

“ one who works with their hands and their head and their heart is an artist”

Saint Francis of Assisi

Over the past couple of weeks I've been busy assessing the work of the students that chose the Text Strand that I facilitated and moderating the marks given to students in another Strand.

Assessing Fine Artists is tricky. There are no 'correct' or 'incorrect' answers, it is subjective and open to interpretation.

It is not uncommon for students to be confused about how they should present their work for assessment, and to get to grips with what they are being assessed on, or how to improve their grade next time. Major efforts have been made by Newcastle University Fine Art staff to try to make the assessment process clearer and the objectives and learning outcomes less 'wooly'. 

It's not just the students that this has helped. As a member of visiting staff who has not been involved in the ongoing discussions about assessment, I have found it relatively simple to understand the assessment criteria and there has been clarity regarding the process.

When approaching I found it particularly useful to recall the following 

and apply this to the marking criteria as follows

Head Work

Gathering, evaluating and reflecting on visual, text-based and contextual material; analysing and critically reflecting on one’s own and other’s work; being conceptually inventive; being intellectually exploratory; consolidating ideas and making decisions.

Heart Work

Working with commitment; participating; engaging; managing time; taking risks; working positively; being responsive; working with initiative.

Hand Work

Being productive; exploring, testing & manipulating materials and technical processes; expanding, consolidating and applying practical skills; being technically inventive; using skills in visual communication and in composing, structuring and realising artwork.