Yesterday, I ran a workshop for the excellent Todmorden U3A Writers' Group - what a SPLENDID set of women they are! Really enthusiastic, talented and lively. It was a joy to be with them, and I really hope they will continue to write more Watershed pieces and send them in for the Cliffe Castle exhibition. Here they are very busy round Glenys dining table (we met at her lovely house rather than me having to haul myself up a couple of flights of steps at their usual venue!).
Then, in the evening, I went to see the very good community choir here in Hebden Bridge - Calder Valley Voices. I am really excited cos they would love to work with me to produce the libretto and music for a choral piece about the Watershed - how great is that?!! It'll make a fabby part of the Cliffe Castle exhibition soundtrack. More on this as it develops...
It's been grrrreat working with Mark Wharton (film-maker) and he's done a superb job of putting together the day I spent up on Ovenden Moor with deaf children from Thorn Park Deaf School. Check it out on YouTube:
We had a lovely time catching up with each other on 5th July at Saddleworth Museum at the opening of our Watershed exhibition. It was great to see the inspirational Sue (who set up Canalside Quilters - one of the groups I've been working with at the museum), the lady quilters, and quite a number of the writers I've worked with. Peter (the SUPERB museum curator) had put on a great spread for us, and done a brilliant job of organising and hanging the whole exhibition. And it was really nice for us all to see members of the public coming in and going round the exhibition - and Intently reading the poems and studying the artwork. Thanks soooo much to Watershed Artsit-in-residence for Year One of the project - Sally Barker - for stepping in with an ace display of photos of her artwork up on the moors. People were completely fascinated with her tiny people!
The highlight of the exhibition for me, was seeing the stunning textile pieces that Sue (above) and Shirley (below) had been inspired to produce as a result of my Watershed workshops with them. WELL DONE both of you!!! Sue and Shirley have also written pieces (a poem and a story) about their needlework - and that's brilliant for me to see too - the interconnection of creative writing and textile. I'm really hoping that other ladies from Canalside Quilters will be inspired to produce pieces for the Cliffe Castle exhibition that starts at the end of September.
Isn't my (usually v v skinny and boney) ankle a delightful heather colour! I don't know quite how I managed to do so much damage (broken ankle and all the tendons ripped out) just coming down awkwardly from a 4-inch-high stone, but there you go - I've obviously got real Injury Talent! Am in plaster for the next 5 weeks at least, and so this is somewhat curtailing my Watershed work.
However, Peter (Saddleworth Museum curator) and I got the Saddleworth Watershed exhibition sorted out, and I am being driven down there tomorrow to hold a celebratory event with the various groups I have been working with there: Oldham Cafe Writers' Group, Saddleworth Arts Festival workshop participants and the Canalside Quilters group who have produced some STUNNING textile pieces for the exhibition. (I'll put up some photos of the exhib later in the week.)
I had to postpone my workshops with the Mytholm Court ladies and Thorn Park deaf school, but went ahead yesterday with the performance for Hebden Bridge Arts Festival to celebrate the work I've been doing with the residents at Mytholm Court and with skateboarders from Hebden Bridge. Despite my ankle and crutches, I did a rap version of a poem the skateboarders and I had created; got the audience doing their own writing - about their thoughts on moorland, and on watersheds in their own lives; showed the fabby DVD of me working with the Thorn Park kids up on Ovenden Moor; shared various sections of the soundtrack that Bill (BBC soundman) and I have produced for the Watershed exhibition; played a lovely soundscape of the Hebden Bridge skatepark with interviews with teenage skaters that Bill and I had recorded; and shared a selection of the poems I have written about the Watershed since starting this project.
These two photos show some of the audience busy with their writing task. It always amazes me that I simply need to tell people that I am a writer, and complete strangers will - at my command - pick up pens and immediately start trying to express themself in writing - great stuff!!
This is a lovely poem that Dave wrote straight off the cuff.
Dave (pictured above) was born and bred on the Kent marshes and is clearly still coming to terms with being married to a Yorkshirewoman (shown v busy on the right!) and living up amongst our strange language!:
I am a flatlander
barely above the sea
who left the low places
and high thinking
(and perhaps long drinking).
The cry of the curlew
now the shriek of the moorland.
The murmured words,
lost glottal stops and
now the flűd
(flood rhymes with food?!?)
of broader, higher words.
A longer view,
not of the sky,
but from the sky
but still that curlew cry
calls me back.
Well done Dave! And a big thank you to all the audience, and to Rebecca from the HB Arts Fest who looked after me so well - and to my very long-suffering partner Janina who had to zoom back home cos I'd forgotten the paper and pens....how on earth can I call myself a writer?!!
Char March - I'm a freelance writer and tutor. I am Writer-in-Residence for the Pennine Watershed Project, and this blog takes you through some of the work I've done in that role