October 14, 2010

Where I write.

This was a homework assignment for Jeremy Treglown's Writing and the Practice of Literature class. Loved writing this.

Describe a place where you write. Don’t talk about yourself or your writing. Approx 500 words.

N.B: I’ve taken slight liberties here and briefly described my writing materials, though not my actual writing, simply because it somehow made it more fun, and somehow made the landscape seem more alive, because you could see it playing an active part, having an effect. I kind of hinted how the landscape might feed into the writing process itself, but without explicitly mentioning any act of writing, because for me the two things are somewhat inextricable Hope this isn’t breaking the rules too much.

Where I write.

There are trees. The sunlight dapples down through the broken canopy, and casts shuffling glares upon a laptop screen or a plain white sheet. Their leaves wave shushing in the wind, a constant whispering conversation that simultaneously inspires and comforts. Listen deep enough, and the creaks and groans of wooden bodies struggling to bend closer to talk are evident. A pen lies cushioned on luscious green grass, a duvet of uplifting strands glowing in an orgasm of chlorophyll. A cat lies sunning himself on the plastic darkness of a picnic table, and the house hunches grumbling in the background at its abandonment. The sky is blue.

*

There is a sweet, pungent scent of fallen plums swarming in the air, a warm taste of sticky refreshment. Willow leaves litter down, a swirling mass of delicate dancing to skip in time with ideas. The grass is tired now, stems bending under the weight of a season’s energy, heads nodding in the start of slumber. A breeze ruffles the coats of the bushes, who huddle together in premature wariness. The paper has moved position now, travelling from the shade to the centre of the space, glowing a dull gold in a gentler sunlight. A feline gaze pierces each movement and stillness from the gritty bed of the patio, the last place to retain its heat. The sky scatters itself with grey.

*

Bare withes rattle, and nude twigs scrape, but their protests can barely be heard. There is a notepad on a windowsill and a cat licking blue from his paws. A sharp spike of frosted feeling blasts through the gaps. The glass looks out onto a space remembered, but which has to be waited for. Which has to be reawakened. There is no sun now, and the pen sleeps on a new bed, glittering metal in a silver-white glare. The estranged sky throws confetti for its wedding day.

*

The sky bears stretch marks now of a pregnant blue, straining clouds of purple. Pages lie scattered over a woodwormed table as the kettle whistles its nursery rhyme. Yellow eyes stare out of a mud clear flap, and a black tail flicks. A pen lies lidded on the tabletop in readiness for its green pillow. And there’s a key half turned in the lock.

***

This is a different space now: different contours, different smells, a whole new concept of what it means to be. There are different sofas here, less metaphorical cushions, and the words that fill this place are not the work of one person. It’s… cosy. And warm. Reminiscent of other warmths, other comforts, but not quite the same. There is glass, though – again – this time more glass than before. It boundaries two sides of the space, giving an illusion of freedom. And it looks out onto something much better. There are people telling stories out there – grey brown bodies clustering so close in their hushed conversation that leafy heads of hair intermingle, a million undyed shades of green. There is a paper pad on the table, and its sheets are no longer white. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay there for long.


October 05, 2010

Art: Miscellaneous

And finally a slightly more random collection of my pieces that don't really fit anywhere else.

Monochrome guitar - watercolours.

Coloured guitar - watercolour.

Guitars - coloured chalk, coloured pencils, watercolour.

Celtic Cross - pencil.

Tiger cub - biro


Art: Flora and Fauna

One of the artists whose work I fell in love with whilst studying for my A Levels was Georgia O'Keeffe. I loved the way she focused so intently on her subjects, and how she would often paint them from such a close viewpoint that often it was not entirely clear what the subject was. Although some of these pieces are more straightforward drawing than those, some of them start to explore similar ways of working. I had not long being using oil paints at this stage, and was astounded at how good they were to use, so a quite a few of my pieces for this were painted using oils.

Artichoke and Magnolia heads in basket - oil paints.

Flowering plant stalk - pencil.

Flowering plant stalk in colour - coloured biros.

Assorted stalks - pencil and biros.

Snail - coloured biros.

Forsythia blossom - oil paints

Forsythia blossom section - oil paints.


Art: Trees

This has always been, without a doubt, one of my favourite subjects to study in art: trees. I think they're beautiful, and I love trying to capture that on paper. Here are a few of my studies:

Pine tree - pencil drawing

Purple pine - coloured pencils

Purple pine version 2 - inks.

Silver birch - biro.

Silver birch contrast piece - oil pastels and black pencil.

Cut-back willow tree - pencil drawing

Willow tree - watercolour and gouache.

Chesnut tree, I think - biro.


Art: Vanitas

After a night of no sleep and subsequent boredom, I've decided to upload some of my old artwork from GCSE and A Levels etc, because hey at least it'll be interesting to look at, and in some cases might make the blog look quite pretty. Although not in this section. 'Cos it's all vanitas pieces here...

Purple vanitas - oil pastels.

Graveyard vanitas - acrylic paint.

Celtic Tree of Life Vanitas - oil pastels.


The Empire

Undergrowth crawls,
an army of tendrils
creeping forward in slow advance,
tramping beat too quick to hear,
a legion's wages paid in sap.

Front line edges forward,
spiralling round in a pincer movement
to trap the enemy —
strangled in the greenery,
never blooming.

At the base the foundations are set,
white roots twisting deep
into a warren of sub terrestrial paths,
cutting off supplies to the host
and leaving no rations.

Green clad soldiers climb
And the bindweed empire devours.


The Narcissus Poppy

I wrote this piece a long time ago in an Introduction to Creative Writing class given by Peter Blegvad. It was a free writing excercise, where we were told to just write anything as fast as we could without stopping - whilst also including certain words and phrases that Peter threw at us during the allotted writing time - but that we should try to make sure that it was not completely incoherent nevertheless; it had to have some sense of underlying meaning.

This piece does not really make any kind of logical sense when seen on the page, not helped by the lack of actual punctuation (see original written formon undergrad blog), but I knew that it did have a feeling of having an underlying meaning linking the different elements of the poem together, and that it was vitally important that the piece be read in the right way. For ages I was reluctant to actually do anything about this, frightened that I would get it wrong and frightened of judgement, but I have reached a point now where I have read it through so many times that I feel confident in my reading of it and hopeful that other people will be able to take some sense of meaning from it. Oh, and I've finally given it a title.

So here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwX9OjXTiBg

The image used as the background to the audio track is a photograph of a narcissus that I took whilst walking round Hampshire and Wiltshire, subsequently edited in Photoshop Elements.


New year, new course, new start.

Well, after loving the use of a blog as a tool for the expression and experimentation of my stories and ideas as an undergraduate (http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/sarahcuming/), I felt that I couldn't resist the temptation to set up another one now that my old account has been disabled and I'm embarking on a brand new, part-time course. After having gone through three years of the English Literature degree, I am now on the wonderful Masters in Writing course (seriously, it's giving me chills at just how awesome this is), part of the Warwick Writing Programme, and brim-full of excitement for the years ahead. The course may not truly have kicked off yet, with meetings and classes so far focusing solely on introductions, general info, and admin issues, but tutors and classmates seem like a genuinely lovely bunch and I fail to see how things could go anything but brilliantly (well, bar the occasional personal artistic crisis, but what creative student isn't going to have one of those every once in a while?).

All in all, things are looking positive - despite the lack of job, the tax, all these silly little worries that I have to think about now that I'm a "proper adult", haha - and I'm getting geared up for a year of bloody brilliant learning. Life is good.

Photograph of one of the beautiful yellow roses in my back garden.

Photograph of one of the beautiful yellow roses in my back garden this summer.


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