Hydra Map of Pallars Sobira in the Catalan Pyrenees
On Sunday 11 October I will make an action in the landscape concerning water for the SAO Festival organised by the Centre d’Art i Natura in Farrera in the Catalan Pyrenees. The other artists presenting work are Joanes Simon-Perret, Quelic Berga, Anna Rubio and Meritxell Romanos and Blai Mesa.
[The post title is adapted from a poem by Keats.]
Just spent a few days on Uto, the outermost island amongst 50,000 in the Finnish Turku Archipelago. I was there with a group of artists from the Frontiers in Retreat network and students and professors from Aalto University and Helsinki University of the Arts. On the long ferry journey I ran a workshop on ‘Viking Readings of the Marine Environment’ and was delighted by two participants’ intimate childhood knowledge of navigating in kayaks in the brackish Baltic sea and by another participant’s attempt to use her hair as a sensing/navigating tool. Many aspects of the island, including the boathouses were inspiring for The Water Age novel I am currently working on.
On the island Bruce Gilchrist and I ran another workshop considering how we process experience of a site through language, drawing, and mapping.
Writers including Karen Joy Fowler, Franz Kafka and Ian McEwan have used fiction to reach across the human/non-human life divide. As part of the Zooetics project, we are developing radio broadcasts inspired by Kaunas Zoo, incorporating short fiction texts by creative writers based in Lithuania. Engaging with animals at the zoo, talking with zookeepers and other staff with an intimate knowledge of the zoo inhabitants, the writers might consider animal sensorium, extinction, animal architectures and other topics inspired by the zoo. Texts can be written in Lithuanian or English.
The first part of the project will take place on Saturday 3 October 2015 10am – 12 noon at the zoo. If you are interested in participating please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with ZOO STORIES as the subject of your email, no later than 28 September 2015.
Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture is published at the beginning of October. It explores the relationship between place and creativity, with contributions from twenty-one artists and writers.
11th century fresco of Llucia de la Marca by the Master of Pedret in the church of Sant Pere del Burgal near Escalo in the Pyrenees
I am delighted to be a recipient of an Authors’ Foundation Award from the Society of Authors for a biography I am writing on the medieval female lord, Almodis de La Marche, and her sisters, Raingarde and Lucia.
Almodis was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona and acknowledged as an active participant in the rule of those two counties in the 11th century, alongside her husbands. Her sister Raingarde was Countess of Carcassonne and their younger sister Lucia was Countess of Pallars Sobira in the Pyrenees (where she was known as Llucia de la Marca). Both Raingarde and Lucia ruled as regents for their young sons, and were significant to the political strategies of Almodis.
Almodis had a very colourful life, with the monk chronicler William of Malmesbury accusing her of ‘a godless female itch’ because she had a series of three husbands, with the third one kidnapping her from the second, perhaps with her collusion. The biography, entitled Three Female Lords, will be published by Impress Books in 2017. My novel Almodis the Peaceweaver was published by Impress in 2011.
I did an interview in Lithuania late last year and thought it worth posting a link to it today since the interviewer, Aldona Steponavičiūtė, asked some excellent questions about writing and contemporary society:
If that whets your appetite at all do hunt around the Zooetics website which is a rich resource on imagining future biosphere-friendly, organic technologies. There is a glossary, bibliography, links to podcasts and to the Zooetics Facebook site.
Just returned from running a one day workshop for writers on writing with place, maps and objects at the fabulous 13th century castle of Sainte-Mere in south west France. The walled castle site with its tranquil gardens was a perfect environment to talk about how we write with a place, and to generate new pieces of fiction writing.
We used a number of objects which were dug up during the castle’s restoration to inspire our writing. This tiny head found under a beaten earth medieval floor was one of the objects. The rest of the week included workshops with novelist, Amanda Hodginson, and with publishers and publishing agents. If you want to enquire about next year’s Writing at the Castle week-long residential course see their homepage.
The next event at the castle is their fantastic chamber music festival 5-8 August.