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So that's it, I've finished my residency with George Street Bookshop – and what a pleasure it was. I engaged 100+ people over the course of several weeks, meeting folk of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. We shared stories, went for a weird walk, made lino prints, and created new flash fiction which we then performed in the bookshop. It's been a true delight.

I discovered so many interesting stories in Glossop, from strange spectres to unexplained sightings in the local hills... you can find out more about what I got up to in this dedicated project page: In Search of The Strange. Check it out!

I'm so grateful for the opportunity and have come away feeling inspired – not just in my creative work and ideas, but in my approach to participation and audience engagement, too.

Annnnd... I've got one last thing coming up with the bookshop. Watch this space!

In the meantime, check out this zine I made bringing together a selection of flash fiction created by participants at the writing workshops:

Some exciting news! I'm so pleased to share that I've been awarded an artist residency with George Street Community Bookshop in my old haunt, Glossop. (A residency in a bookshop is a bit 'dream come true' territory for this book nerd.)

Starting on 24th September, I'll be spending time in the bookshop and local area until late October. During which I'll be immersing myself in the stranger side of Glossopdale in the hope of creating new works (written and print) inspired by unusual local stories.

At its heart, this is a participatory residency where I hope the local people will join me in a process of story hunting, storytelling and collective mythmaking. Which brings me to my first happening...

Bookshops for all – In search of the strange (drop in)

When? Saturday 24th Sept

What time? Drop in anytime between 10am–12pm or 2-4pm

Where? Upstairs at George Street Community Bookshop, 14-16 George Street, Glossop, SK13 8AY

What's it all about? I'm on the hunt for the magical, mythical or downright strange stories of Glossopdale – and I want to hear from you! Drop by the bookshop to share your local stories: from ancient myth to contemporary folklore; unexplained objects to haunted hotspots; or perhaps a bit of local history... Whatever it is, drop by the bookshop, pull up a pew and share your story with me. While you’re here, you can also try your hand at the magical art of map dowsing. Perhaps you'll 'divine' a strange site for us to explore in the local landscape.

(I'd also like to audio record a few ‘oral histories’ to form part of an archive for the project. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be recorded if you don’t want to – but I may ask 😀)

What if you can't make it?

If you can't make it but still want to share a story, you can fill in this short 'story collection' survey here.

I can't wait to hear your story!

A bit more about my residency

As a past resident of Glossop, I became fascinated by the local lore: strange lights skipping across the Longdendale Valley; Devil’s bonfires igniting the landscape; whispers of hauntings and ghostly sightings. Many of these local legends have been documented in folklore, but how is it they came to be? And what if we took inspiration from these tales and the richness of the landscape to dream up new myths, together?

Through my residency, I'm hoping to explore the strange, peculiar and uncanny side of Glossopdale’s rich and curious history. From Celtic stone heads and centuries-old customs, to contemporary folklore. I’ll delve into the local landscape through books, conversations and creative exploration, and use this research as inspiration to create new written works and illustrations. During this journey, I'd like to invite local residents and latent storytellers to join me in this process of exploration, discovery and creation. Drop by the bookshop to chat to me and share your strange stories or local knowledge, help map hotspots or hauntings to be explored, or pop in to make some myths of your own!

I'll be releasing more event dates soon, but here's an idea of what to expect over the next few weeks...

Part one: In search of the strange – where I'll be chatting with the locals and exploring the landscape to collect, unearth and document the unusual side of Glossopdale. From ancient myth, to contemporary folklore, to supernatural sightings! (Drop in to the bookshop, or join me on a "weird walk" of the local area.)

Part two: Collective mythmaking – where we'll be using local stories, creative documentation and books from the shop as inspiration for new creative writing and printmaking. (Writing and printmaking workshops to be announced.)

Part three: Compendium of tales – archiving and sharing stories either through print, digital archive or live event. (Watch this space as things unfold!)

I'm one of three selected artists as part of the 'Bookshops For All' artist commissions 2022 Along with Morag Rose and Lois Blackburn, with thanks to George Street Community Bookshop.

Today is World Ocean Day, so I thought I'd share a sea-inspired poem I've been working on. I'm still not sure if it's finished, but it feels as good a day as any to share it.

It started with a photo my mum sent me. My folks have recently moved further up north, to a flat overlooking the Wyre estuary. It's a vast landscape, as beautiful as it is bleak (on the not-so-sunny days). It's also scattered with shipwrecks near the dockside; vessels run aground, sloughing their skin and merging with the landscape as if they were always meant to be there.

Here's my mum's picture. To me it looks like a vast rib cage erupting from a grassy boneyard... Eventually I'd like to make a lino print inspired by this image, but for now I thought I'd write about it.

I'm still enjoying experimenting with AI as a writing prompt/partner at the mo. So, I scribbled a few sea-faring sentences inspired by the photo, fed these into Inferkit (AI text generator), and got a jumble of interesting responses. I took four random lines that I liked and these became the intro (and springboard) to my poem. I then fed the whole thing back into the text generator, and after a jumble more lines got an interesting title.

River in a dead sea bed

The smell of soap

goes with me to the sea

the moisture of your breath

on my eyelashes

the whisper of your name

a cold carapace

Thus am I pitched

tempered by your weightless echo

till the salt in the air

whips at my back

sucks at my hair

sea ants to the honeydew

No song can bring you to the shore

quite like a storm

the mad tangle of it

the smell of wet dog

where mosses now grow

in the tender, heavy stillness

of my peace

And the bones meant for you

now a house of splinters

wrested from a cyclone

and woven with brine

a relic, here

a rib cage yawning

They will read your words

in the skin of my fingers

taste the scent of you

in the fork of my hair

savage and probing

as a snake’s tongue.

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