20 in 15 – The Lives of Artists by Bill Mudge

photograph by Bill Mudge
photograph by Bill Mudge

A lovely and unexpected thing that happened as part of making my Over the Fields poetry map, was that I was asked to be part of photographer Bill Mudge‘s project 20 in 15: The Lives of Artists. He spent last year photographing artists at work, documenting their creative processes and working environments.

Of the project Bill says: “20 in 15 encapsulates the significance of the creative arts in our communities, giving a unique insight into the lives of creative people and what it takes to make a living from the creative process; from finding studio space to exhibiting, educating and selling work…” Please visit the website for more information and to see who else took part – all types of artists from ceramicists to composers to puppeteers!

At the point where the new map was coming together, I met Bill one hot September day, at St John the Baptist church in Old Malden, an important location on the map. He took photos of me walking through the fields, as I checked all the locations and details on the map were correct, a kind of ‘proofing-in-situ’.

photograph by Bill Mudge
photograph by Bill Mudge

Then he came with me to meet Mel, who is the genius behind the artwork and production of Over the Fields, and took photos of us working together on the final edits and proofing of the map before it went to print. It was a pleasure meeting and working with Bill; it added another perspective to my own project, allowing me to reflect on my creative processes and the environment(s) I work in, as a poet/writer/walking artist.

photograph by Bill Mudge
photograph by Bill Mudge

I am very grateful to him for being so generous with his work and allowing me to use the beautiful photographs he took, a couple of which are here, and on my web site.

You can see Bill’s 20 in 15 : The Lives of Artists at the Mine Gallery in Carshalton Village from March 5th – March 27th. Bill has also run a successful Kickstarter campaign to publish a beautiful book of the project. If you would like be at the private view of the show the last few Private View Rewards are available for snapping up. It will be a great evening and I can’t wait to see the book!


New Year

I wanted to write one of those ‘best bits of the year’ posts for 2013 but it’s all a mad blur, so as random factors pop into my brain I shall blog about them, randomly…

In the meantime my son has gone back to school today, after telling me last night on the way home from Beavers that he hates school and wants “to stay at home, watch TV and play swordfighting all day”. After various complaints this morning ranging from having to get up to why did I polish his shoes he went off quite happily.

So now I have to get back to doing what I do…what do I do…oh yes, writing and teaching…no longer studying…looking for gainful employment… gizzajob!

I am about to begin two new creative writing projects which will keep me busy for most of this year- more about them once they’re underway…

I am also now in a position to read the stacks of books that have been growing steadily whilst I have been at university. My aim is to read one a week if possible. Let’s call it a resolution. I am slowly working my way through the pile of books my lovely friend and bibliophile Annie lent me (2 years ago-sorry Annie! It has been a joy to read purely for pleasure and not have to deconstruct and analyse everything, although this is a hard habit to break once you’ve been doing it for a while.

#OWS #OccupyWallStreet Poetry Anthology

Here is a link to the Occupy Wall Street Library  blog and the poetry anthology that has been gathered since OWS’s inception.

The library was destroyed by the NYPD in the recent’cleansing’ of Liberty Park. Only 25 boxes of books have been returned; the reference section, which was apparently photographed, has completely gone.

I wonder if there is a poetry anthology in the making for Occupy at St Paul’s in London?

I will find out…

The Day I Was ‘Freshly Pressed’

I had been struggling with a sore throat and fatigue all week, and  last Thursday I needed to have a day in bed. I hoped that I would recover speedily in time for a packed weekend with my four year old son: library trip (of course); pre-school friend’s birthday party; family christening and party on the sunday.

Two days before this I had decided to take the plunge after much consideration-okay procrastination-and consolidate all my blogs (and there are several!) into this one, which had previously been primarily focused on all things poetry.

I am currently in the final throes of a degree, three years full-time, in creative writing and journalism, and my book habits are bad enough without needing the excuse of  ‘reading lists’ and ‘research.’ It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, as well as the hardest slog. Combining full time motherhood (I am a single parent) with full time studying at the age of 40 has been a challenge to say the least but worth every minute.

So, books bursting from every nook and cranny of the house, it was time to begin the onerous task of deciding which could stay and which could go. I now have two boxes to go, and more to clear, but taking stock made me think about  why I love books so much, where that comes from, and how my tastes and interests have changed over the years.

So while I was lying in bed I wrote a blog post about it, and then I put the computer down and had a nap…

When I woke up I looked at the WordPress ‘dashboard’ and wondered if there was some sort of glitch, or problem with my computer. I looked again and actually rubbed my eyes in disbelief, as they tell you people do in stories, I actually did. My page had received 600 hits in the time I had had my nap! There was a queue of lovely comments from people congratulating me on being ‘FP’ and ‘Freshly Pressed’ and telling me how much they enjoyed what I had written and that they identified with what I had said.

“What on earth is ‘Freshly Pressed’?” I thought to myself, vague bells ringing in my head. I looked at the front page of WordPress and there was my post.

I must admit I jumped up and down and cheered. This was very exciting, and completely and utterly unexpected. The hits kept coming and so did the comments. By yesterday morning there were over one hundred comments and nearly 3000 hits on that one post alone, plus a huge rise in people subscribing to my blog. It has been quite overwhelming and at the same time very heartwarming and wonderful that so many people have taken the time to read my post, and who feel the way I do about books and reading. I am very grateful for such a positive experience.

I started blogging in 2006, when I had a radio show on Resonance FM, The Shoe Show, a thirteen-part, weekly, fifteen minute programme about shoes. Yes, really. The blog accompanying the radio show covered the last few shows and a few other footwear-related posts after it finished airing.The other LucyFurLeaps blog, which I have now officially ended, was born when I knew I was going back to university to study creative writing . I also had a gardening blog, Roar! Earth, which charted clearing the end of my garden and setting up a vegetable patch.

After five years of blogging, and the difficult decision to invest all my energies into one blog, I am very glad I chose this one. I am taking it as a good omen and would like to say thank you to all the people who have been so kind and encouraging about my writing.

Love, Love, Love xxx

My Name is Lucy, I am a Bibliophile

A confirmed bookworm, from a very early age I would often have four or five books on the go. I read my mum’s copy of Little Women when I was about seven, and kept re-reading it again and again, along with What Katy Did, Black Beauty, Heidi…all those girls’ classics. My midnight feasts of books were tucked under my pillow ,which could get uncomfortable with too many hardbacks, but was also soothing. I was forever reading under the bedclothes with a torch and getting into trouble for it- but not that much trouble.

I grew up in a house full of books. My mother was a historian and a Jane Austen nut who kept copies of the TES for years, and my Dad has amassed a fine collection of sports biographies, especially in cricket and horce racing, as well as plenty of classic and contemporary fiction, travel writing, cook books, birdwatching manuals etc ad infitum. I get my newspaper reading habits from him too – If I can’t get my hands on a Guardian for more than a day I get twitchy, despite my online newspaper reading habits.

I am not particularly well-read. I have indiosyncratic and eclectic tastes in reading, and I am not a literary snob. At 16 I had a boyfriend who introduced to me to sci-fi and fantasy which I loved. One of my oldest friends and I used to devour Mills & Boon for fun at one point and of course like many other school girls growing up in the eighties I read a few Jackie Collins- not sure I would now though!

Over the years I’ve had lots of different interests which have been reflected in the books I have read, aromatherapy being one of them, shoes another. When I discovered I was pregnant I read about twenty books on motherhood, babies, pregnancy. There have been plenty of self-help books too, and biographies and books on pop culture.

I am not a serious book collector, although I have a couple of gems-gems for me- not necessarily for anyone else.  When my marriage ended I had to sell a large number of books but over the last three years while I have been studying the numbers have crept up again and I am now back at maximum capacity.

Something has to give…

I have hoarding tendencies but also, thankfully, a healthy de-cluttering habit these days. I absolutely hate letting books go but the bookshelves are bursting at the seams and every surface in my room is covered in stacks of books. The floor has book stalagmites growing out of it and I retrieved part of my collection from underneath my chest of drawers yesterday and blew a layer of scooby-doo-haunted-house dust off them.

Someone suggested last year that I should get rid of all my books- that they were keeping me stuck in the past. I have some sympathy with this idea but for a writer that is absolutely not possible. My books are part of the tools of my trade, they are alive with ideas.

However it is time to move some of them on to new homes. Interestingly after considering which books could go I realised how much I have changed in the last few years. My tastes in reading, my interests and my concerns have broadened in some areas and specialised in others. I am very different in some ways. Which is good. I have been trying very hard to change. The results are finally starting to show.

I am still a bookworm, and there are books on the shelf which have been there since I was a young girl, mostly fairytales. Those will remain- in some ways all that I have learned up to this point has given me the confidence and the conviction to return to my roots.