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The Suitcase Is Just Too Heavy

What a journey… we keep trundling across the South West and Wales with our suitcase bursting with art and craft materials – too heavy for me to really carry and far too big for my mini height at 5’1 – luckily today I am co-facilitating with a much taller (6’3) I Am All Stories worker.

We are sat in the car, with the rain battering the windows waiting to be able to get into the building for our next workshop.

Who will we meet today, what little bits of their story will come out as we all sit around the table chatting and creating – and what will everyone make?

We are feeling so lucky to have been able to enjoy this journey, to meet so many people, and also collaborate with organisations that are doing the most incredible working supporting those most at need in our society – big shout out to all the community organisations making a difference to people’s lives!!!

And big to shout out to our funders, Arts Council England and Big Lottery Fund England and Wales who have made all this possible!

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I Am All Stories; The Wind Touched My Neck

I Am All Stories; The Wind Touched My Neck

Its been very difficult to find this prompt. Now that I have I wonder what will become of it.

The Wind Touched My Neck

The wind touched my neck and I turned

To face the source to feel your breath
To watch your sleeping eyes flciker

The deep dream from REM had started
You would be facing your horrors
To leave them behind on waking

…..

The wind touched my neck and I turned
Hoping to see you there again


Another ghost had passed me by
We were friends, it whispered my name
In tones similar to your own

The wind plays tricks when it wants to

….

In the vacancy of lost hours
When the night brings back memories
When I recall your body’s warmth

When I feel your ephemeral touch
When daytime feels so far away

The wind will touch my neck again

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Meeting People Is Why We Do This

After receiving funding at the beginning of the year we have been working away behind the scenes to plan our workshops and plan dates that suit the organisations we are partnering with. As well as sending out hundreds of creative prompts in the post to people across the UK and beyond – we were excited to send to Ireland, Italy and France to name a few!

But the time finally came where we got to step into different spaces with different people in real life and share a couple of hours with them. Each participant received a hand decorated envelope and support to create something – and what people have created has been incredible! We have been overwhelmed by the creativity, people’s generosity and vulnerability and for the gorgeous conversations we have all had, sat around tables covered in craft materials, paints and glue!!!

We look forward to workshops that are coming up over the coming months and the opportunity to meet new people, hear more stories, and watch as people get incredibly creative!!!

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Privacy Policy

Iamallstories – Privacy Policy

Our contact details
Address: 52 York Place Newport np20 4gd
E-mail: hello@iamallstories.com

To spread creativity in the world we need to reach out to people, and that’s why we ask people for their email address and sometimes address on social media and our website….

We only ever collect contact information, name, email address, address….

All information collected is not sold on, and if you have kindly offered any information to us it will only be used be I am all stories or promptcreative which is a partner to I am all stories, which also provides free creative prompts…..

If you have any questions please get in contact…

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A little look back

A little look back

 

As we re-launch this project with funding and already over 700 people signed up to receive prompts in the post we thought we would offer you the option to have a little look back at where it all began – please scroll over the ‘Project History’ Menu to see posts and pictures from when the project first began!

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I Am

I am


As I am now
Because of who I was
Before when I was less than who?
I am

New man
No lonely child
Sitting on cold sandstone
Whittling sticks making soldiers to fight
Battles

Against
Life’s oppressors
Brutalizing children
And I followed vengeful pathways
To find

Numbness
Waiting in walls
Built up as protection
Until they all came falling down
Outside

Stepping
Into new ground
A fresh revelation
We all fought back, giving out to
Survive

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Memories

Memories.

 

Something that’s such a blessing, but for me it’s like a curse,

A loop on replay in my mind, repetition of a verse, 

A years worth of memories that could fit within a life time,

Encapsulated and merely summarised within this short rhyme,

So much betrayal, abuse and countless lies,

I can’t forget any of it, no matter how much my heart cries, 

I feel them with all my senses and relive them like they’re present,

It’s my very own version of a personal depressant, 

I have flashes in my minds eye, it distracts me like a phenom,

But I don’t delight in its company, it poisons me like venom.

 

I hear your pathetic excuses and it strikes within my animus, 

This is one situation where I don't wish to remain magnanimous, 

Something just wasn't right, I felt it throughout my being, 

Then I stumbled upon the evidence, it was that which sent me fleeing, 

The dirty sheets, the yellow top, the change in your behaviour, 

In pleasant memories of past, I can now no longer savour, 

Got me questioning all of it, and how you're inherently feral, 

But removing myself from you didn't get rid of this level, 

Of ultimate betrayal, the recollection of all remains, 

A combination of bad memories that'll leave my heart stained.

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Tesco Extra Bulls Bridge May 2020

Tesco Extra Bulls Bridge May 2020


Keeping a sort of two metres distance
Under the sun we’re following
The S bend of crowd control barriers
It’s shorts and t-shirt hot
Our families have been reduced
To one solitary representative individual
Allowed to shop alone


I have a mask but it’s around my neck
no-one else is wearing facemasks yet


We take six steps forward then wait
A ripple running through
A crowd which shuffles then settles
Back into uniform array and
I find relief in the shade
Of the bounteous cherry trees
Whose blossom blesses all beneath
With a floating snowdrift
Of pale pink petals

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The Inspiration Behind The Project

The inspiration behind the project

This project was an idea born out of the pandemic, people talking while in lockdown, imagining the world we wished to see going forward. Creativity cannot stop, it is in all of us, everywhere we look, it is the central part of being human and exploring who we are and the world we live in. This project has been created with that in mind, to offer creative moments, to inspire creativity, offering opportunities to explore creativity together. This is a project that says, ‘we will still be creative however hard, we will still be creative whatever the world looks like, we will still find inspiration however complicated that may sometimes feel.’ And through our creativity we can provide uplift, we can shape the world in which we wish to live, and we can change the paths of others and offer the possibility of hope and joy.

In every one of us there are so many ideas, so many life stories to be drawn upon, so many creative moments just waiting to be heard and seen. Every life has a unique journey, a journey that if asked can create unique and amazing moments. There is untapped creativity that sits in our memories, our dreams, our emotions, and our conversations, spoken and unspoken. It is in every one of us, whatever our background or life experience, we have an infinite ability to be creative, just sometimes we forget it.

Our Aims:

• We aim to inspire people to be creative, opening creative spaces for people to step into, offering new ways of thought, new creative journeys, and opportunities for people to discover their brilliance in creative ways. Always looking to inspire creativity in all people, whatever their experience or background.

• We aim to create a collective movement, where we can explore creativity together, and through this have a greater understanding of creativity, inspiration, and possibility.

• We aim to lift the veil on the creative process. So much creativity is done in isolation, so much is unseen, but we all walk the similar human journey of trial and error, of ups and downs. We will fail, sometimes will come up short, and we will have triumphs and moments of euphoria. With this project we wish to open up the creative process to everybody, and in so doing humanise the creative process, allowing others to walk similar journeys and be inspired and through that inspiration find the bravery and courage to be creative themselves.

• We aim to create an online space of brilliance, beauty, ideas and experimentation. To create a space where people can touch, read, view, experience and explore creativity in all its forms, offering colour, thought, brilliance, beauty, honesty and uplift. A space that people could connect with, and in so doing immerse themselves in creative moments and share in creative thoughts with other creative minds.

• We aim to be part of creating a more creative world. Creativity and the arts should not be something that is on a pedestal, creativity should not be for some of us, but for all of us. This project says you do not have to be experienced but just be creative. Be creative, react creatively, snatch those 10 minutes to create, be creative in your interactions, in your movements, in each moment explore, experience and live in that moment. Make it part of your everyday life, try things you would not normally try and see things you would not normally see, explore, encourage, engage. Together, just by committing to a creative moment we start to build a more creative world.

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Why Get Involved?

Why Get Involved?

This project has been created with the creator at the core, it’s about offering you the time, inspiration and permission to explore your creativity in a way that is engaging, new and with freedom. As creative’s we know how hard it can be to find the space, beat the creative block, feel brave enough to do something you’ve never tried or just find new excitement in what you might have done for years.

I Am All Stories is about combating creative challenges – you will be asked a question that your brain will uniquely answer, and that you will uniquely respond to, drawing on your life experience and using your unique ways to explore it.

Some people may ask, what does creativity offer me in the ‘real world’ – when we explore creativity, we have to connect with ourselves, overcome challenges, believe in ourselves, learn to adapt, and be spontaneous to name just a few things – and these are tools that translate into almost every life experience – by learning these tools doing something we love we then have them in our tool box for any situation we may need them in!

The team at I Am All Stories have a foundational belief in the power of creativity and it’s ability to, affect the world in positive ways, change lives, heal people, inspire play and ultimately offer people the space to explore, be and exist in themselves and with others.

Creativity is very individual, but it is also nice to know that there is a community of people exploring creativity at the same time as you, just in their own unique way – and that is a part of this project that we think is really beneficial. Whether it’s just knowing other people are exploring prompts at the same time as you, or if you choose to look back at this site and see what people have done, or choose to wait for inspiration from other people’s creations, we believe that this sense of doing it together is of real benefit to each individuals personal creative potential.

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Documenting Your Creative Process

Documenting Your Creative Process

 

Below are some practical suggestions on how to collect beautiful moments and document your artistic journey for when you share it with us, and the community, on the website or social media. We are looking for anything that you are willing to share with us, from your creations, your ideas, your everyday life, your interactions with others, your deepest most personal thoughts, or the colour of your paints. There is no right or wrong, nor too much or too little.

1. Think about capturing the first thought you have when you see the prompt – a handwritten note, a voice record.

2. Without revision put down the first ideas that come into your head on paper.

3. Put a timestamp on your camera and make sure you’ve got at least one picture a day.

4. Make short diary entries about your creative journey – handwritten? Typed? Recorded?

5. Write down five words that have been triggered by the prompt.

6. Write lists. Lists about things you want to do, lists of ideas you’ve had, lists of moments or creative thoughts.

7. Think about audio – just say a few words, capture and forget – you could do this at random points or just when it feels like an important moment.

8. Think as though you were writing to a trusted friend – what is the process making you think. What is your day and life making you think?

9. What have I learnt, what have I thought, what have I noticed differently, what do I see, what do I do, what have I said today that was important, what made my heart flutter, what made me feel alive, what made me feel more awake, what was the one thing of note that crossed my mind – all these can be answered through handwritten notes, typed notes, recorded voice, video etc.

10. Self-reflection – capture your last thoughts of the day.

11. Look at things and take photos – capture them in different ways. When taking photos take them at different angles, zoom in and zoom out, do the same with videos. Learn from the process and try to see things in new ways.

12. Things to photograph: Your workspace, your notes, your creations in process, your completed creations, video your movement, video your journeys, take pictures of your cup of tea or coffee, your pets, other people’s pets, trees, your shoes, your hands, your creative tools, your doodles or sketches etc.

 

Closing thoughts

What if you could reach up and take pieces from the sky, collect moments from the world, catch conversations touch and keep colours, and keep emotions in bottles, shelves stacked high with different feelings.

What if you could see your life, your physical journey stretching back through time, what if you could walk back along the path you have taken. Every step, still physically there to be revisited.

 

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Contact

Contact Us

If you need to make contact with us you can use the contact box below or email us at: hello@iamallsories.com – you can also send us a message on any of our social media platforms.

Please bear with us as we are a really small team, but we will get back to you as soon as possible! Thanks!



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    Submit Creations

    Submitting Creations and Being Highlighted

     

    Submitting your creation on the website is really simple and you can do it by Clicking Here!

    Please also share your creations on all your social media platforms, tagging us @iamallstories and using the #iamallstories – this means we can see what you are doing and so can everyone else in the community.

    Remember when you upload to the website you will need to have all your files, and any text you want to include ready, maybe you would like to include some images from the process.
    • For Video you will need a URL (this can be Vimeo, Facebook or Youtube)
    • For images you can upload them straight from your device.
    • For written text you can paste up to 5000 characters, or for longer work you can upload a PDF or Word Document.

    For any submission there is a maximum of 10 media uploads (eg: word docs, images, audio etc) and in addition a maximum of 5 video links.

    When you upload your creation it would be lovely to hear a bit more about you, your creation or your process ~ here are some suggestions of what you could tell us:

    • Tell us the journey from first seeing the prompt to the final creation?
    • How are you creative?
    • When have you felt your greatest moment of creative breakthrough?
    • What is your most treasured possession and why?
    • Describe yourself?
    • What keeps you awake at night?

     

    Things you might want to include in your submission:

    • Pictures/video/audio files of your process.
    • Doodles or sketches.
    • Personal diary entries
    • For more suggestions click here.

     

    We will endeavour to highlight as many people’s creations as we can but we can’t promise what you submit will be shared on the site so please remember to share on social media so the whole community can see what you have done. We cannot wait to see everyone’s creation!

     

     

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    Help

    Help

    This project is exquisitely simple, We have created beautiful and thought-provoking prompts. Open-ended questions that should connect with your creativity, moments to creatively step into and explore in any way you choose.

    Once you receive the prompt what you do next is up to you, but we do get asked a lot of questions so we wanted to try and answer some of them below.

    Q. How long should I take on the prompt?
    A. This is totally up to you. Some people take 10 minutes, some people take days or months, whatever feels right for you is right.

    Q. Do I have to do anything particular with the prompt?
    A. No, do anything in any creative art form. Any creation or exploration is brilliant. There is no right or wrong, just explore, create and do.

    Q. Why do you suggest documenting and sharing your experience and creation?
    A. Because you, as a creator, and others seeing your process can learn from your experience – documentation can be one photo or a photo every five minutes. By documenting and sharing your process you give it life in the world and in turn inspire others to also be creative.

    Q. I have created something that I would like to be highlighted on the website/social media, how do I share it?
    A. You can submit your creations to be highlighted on the website by clicking here. We can’t highlight everything as we only have a small team, but we would love to see anything you create at any level and we will do our best to share it. To be highlighted on social media please @iamallstories mention us and use the hashtag #iamallstories so we and the rest of the community can see what you’ve done and we have the opportunity to highlight you on our social media. Please always send/show us what you have created we would love to see it, even if we can’t share it.

    Q. Does anybody ever do the prompt twice?
    A. Yes, absolutely, people sometimes do the prompts a number of times exploring different ideas and nuances of creation. Sometimes it is interesting to come back to a prompt a few months later to see how you may have changed and how your reaction may change. It can also be interesting to explore the prompt using different creative disciplines.

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    Receive Prompts

    Would you like to receive prompts in the post?

    Here’s how:

     

    Receive 2 free prompts in the post by emailing us your name and postal address to hello@iamallstories.com

    We are able to send these free prompts to those who want them thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and The Arts Council England.

    You will receive 2 prompts in the post that will encourage you to think and engage with yourself/the world/your creativity in new and exciting ways. We then hope that once you have created you will share on social media, or with those around you, to help spread the creative ripple!

     

    Receive prompts in the post every month and support the project

    If you would like to receive prompts every month you can support the project on Patreon ~ by doing this you are keeping the project alive and giving yourself permission to explore your creativity in different ways. A little gift that gives you the permission of time and space to explore your creativity, yourself, the world or anything else ~ every month!!!

    As well as valuing yourself you will be supporting this project with such generosity, allowing these prompts to be sent to others who may not have the funds to afford them themselves, allowing these prompts to be sent to people who may not normally explore the parts of themselves that these prompts encourage you to explore!

    You also support us to continue supplying creative and well-being programmes to homeless groups, youth organisations, mental health support charities, refugee centres, and women’s refuges.

    To sign up click here!

     

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    About

    About

     

    I Am All Stories ~ A Creative Journey Through Prompts

     

    I Am All Stories is about sending people creative prompts through the post ~ ideas that will allow people to think in new creative ways, words or images that will offer people space to think differently about their creativity or themselves or engage in creativity for the first time!
    All prompts arrive in bespoke artistically decorated envelopes, as we believe in the benefits of receiving something physical through the post!
    This project is about reacting to a prompt we send you, and then if you want to, sharing your creations, explorations and process with a growing collaborative community!
    Here’s how it works:
    • You receive a prompt that will encourage you to think and engage with yourself/the world/your creativity in new and exciting ways.
    • All you have to do is react to the prompt however you want.
    • Once you have a creation you can share it on social media, inspiring others to be creative and helping to spread a creative ripple! And you can also upload your creations to the I Am All Stories website!
    If you decide to support us on Patreon you will be engaging with and supporting this project with your creativity and financial support – this allows us to grow this creative community and also supports us to continue sending prompts through the post to those who want them!
    You will also support us to continue our work with homeless groups, youth organisations, refugee centres, and women’s refuges, providing creative and well being programmes.
    We have been overwhelmed with the interest in this project and touched by how many people have told us that the I Am All Stories prompts have felt like a lifeline!
    We are delighted to have received funding from The Arts Council England and The Lottery Community Fund!
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    Life Story

    Prompt: Tell us your life story in 30 words.

    Thoughts before creating:

    Shipwrecked me – emotions I did not want from memories I keep at arms length…

    Tell us your life story in 30 words…

    If only it were that simple. Condensing 64 years into 30 words, one for each two years.

    I have struggled with this and it is no one’s fault but my own.

    The Creation:

    I cannot tell this particular story in thirty words:
     
    Widnes son
    words blind dreamer
     
    owa’ Barry’s the clever one
     
    I bobbed in his wake
    a school somnambulist                            dreamed my first poem at twelve
     
    until till I.C.I.                                                  bad poet for many years
                                                                            
    cold reality
    woke me up
     
    a tradesman?
    a fitter...forever?
     
    NOT ME
     
    my parents thought me puddled
    giving up a good job for this
     
    but I threw myself in                                                   started to get the hang of it 
    and I swam                                                                   got serious
    and Marjons opened my mind
    and I met my wife
     
    then Somerset by accident
    I had intended to return to the North
     
    Comm. Ed to social services
    seconded social work student                                                 still writing
    to hostel manager to network manager
     
    father once
    then twice
    and two years later 
    widower                                                                                     it kept me sane
     
    LOST
     
    no career trajectory now
    poor paul 
     
    LOST
     
    wrong time                                                                                  Fire River Poets
    wrong woman
    wrong marriage
     
    a hell I fought my way out of                                                     and I wrote
     
    slow rebuild                                                                     First book: Burning Music
    amazing children 
    through all this I held their horizons open                          
    you can be anything
     
    right time                                                                            
    right woman                                                            
     
    I met my third wife                                                                    
    happiness 
    two children at university
    redundancy                                                                       
    twenty four years services
    shown the door
    resulting bitterness
     
    scuffled                                                                                Juncture 25
                                                                                                Blessed By Magpies
     
    then back to Marjons
    student support
     
    a poet in Torquay nearing his retirement...

    Thoughts/notes post creation:

    I make it 50 lines but don’t believe me dyscalculia makes numbers interesting and has gotten worse as I’ve got older.
     
    There you have it.
     
    Phew! 
     
    That was difficult.
     
    Two areas I did not want to revisit my first wife’s death, though I think I have come to terms with that twenty six 
    years on, and the bad second marriage. I have difficulty believing she was not a bad person. 
    When I think of her at all.
     
    I have to say this was the most difficult prompt I’ve ever had, and I know that I made it so.
     
    I almost gave you 30 poems but I thought that was cheating.
    
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    What would it feel like to scream until your lungs had no air?

    Prompt: What would it feel like to scream until your lungs have no air?

    The creation:

    I wander up higher

    Until I feel far from the ground below.

    Reaching out blindly 

    I think about then

    The transparency of us

    The derelict building we hid our grief 

    The taste of desolation, it’s rotting… it’s putrid in the back of my throat.

    The stench of air unwritten.

    I feel my saliva fall from my chin

    vanity evanescence’s 

    Muscles twitch

    Skin itch

    I blame the madness on the constant

    The merry-go-round that stinks of old vomit and foolish fun

    ashes under my feet, cravings contort the sky is barren

    winter is haunting summer and spring

    I wander alone 

    My breath a whisper 

    An Echoing stranger

    I meant to say I miss you

    But I scream ‘I miss me more’ 

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    The Game

    Prompt: What have you always wanted to tell someone?

    The creation:

    Did I ever hurt you when 

    I lay in your arms

    Did I ever hurt you when

    I made you laugh again and again

    Did I ever hurt you when

    They forced me to hate you

    Did I ever hurt you when 

    You cheated again and again 

    Why was it easy to break me

    All I did was be honest I never played the game

    What did you gain from this

    I never told anyone about it, I never played the game – accept half the blame 

    Did I ever hurt you when

    You gave me that flower

    Did I ever hurt you when

    I’d listen and not ever judge

    Did I ever hurt you when

    You kissed me without permission

    Did I ever hurt you when 

    You just blamed it all on me 

    Why was it easy to break me

    All I did was be honest and I never played the game

    What did you gain from this

    Shut up and realise that you’re not perfect too 

    Shut up and see that I was part of you

    And I never played the game 

    Accept half the blame

    Notes:

    Opened this one and it opened up an old wound. When I was younger and a teacher was very unfair to me. Would love some justice there but instead I’ll be creative. 

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    The smallest bravest thing…

    Prompt: The smallest bravest thing…

    The creation:

    Notes/thoughts:

    This prompt made me feel warm inside, almost nostalgic, even for the present. Pretty much immediately I knew I wouldn’t be able to whittle it down to one thing, and used it as an opportunity to delve into a whole range of circumstances and explore my perception of where bravery lies throughout all I know. It reminded me of all of the humble but mighty building blocks of our existence and experience, spanning multiple contexts. Perhaps we forget how brave even the tiniest of things we have mastered could be perceived… is an acknowledgement of this, of our lowkey grandeur, a stepping stone to enhanced self love?

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    You are here – bonfire burning brightly.

    Prompt: Picture prompt – you are here:

    The Creation:

    Notes/Thoughts:

    My first instinct was that I was in the photograph itself, namely as the campfire, instead of behind the viewfinder of the camera. Often I think about the fascinating grandeur of fire, imagining if it could teleport spontaneously – huge infernos displacing suddenly from somewhere inside a lighter 300 miles away. Fire is so powerful – from the way its domestication revolutionised our history, to the destruction it can cause. The essentials of balance. Intoxicating to stare at – perhaps the most accessible form of visual magic? I feel baffled that fire as a form, wherever it exists, is identical. Once it comes into fruition, fire is fire. The element is born and consumes the space. Perhaps that’s why it feels so ancient and precious to sit around the campfire, to stare into the flames. It is an eternal window into every place it has ever visited. My lack of indecision about where to place my focus when looking at the photograph is perhaps testament to the potency of fire. I felt instantly excited to become fire through my words and explore that space. Perhaps in the future I’d like to extend this concept into a short story.

    A scan of ash:

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    You’ve just arrived. It’s all new. Where are you and how does it feel?

    Prompt: You’ve just arrived. It’s all new. Where are you and how does it feel?

    The Creation:

    The stunning views stretched for miles as they bumbled along the bumpy roads, each field lay like a tapestry on either side, tinged with multiple variations of green. As they moved around the windy bends, Violet saw something ahead of her, to her surprise, Joanna pulled into the side of the road next to it and said: “Father said I should show you this”. 

    Violet looked out of the window at the white mill, the building stood tall at about 25 feet. Its glorious sails stayed silent in the spring stillness. 

    ​”Where are we?” Violet asked. 

    “Allerton, this is a rather famous mill” Joanna spoke with pride. 

    “What’s it used for?” Violet asked walking closer to it and looking up. The beautiful building seemed to lay barren and statuesque, like an adult in a room full of naughty children. It seemed to have engulfed memories and worn its injuries with broken glass and litter. 

    “It WAS a working mill. But was used as a Home Guard during the war” Joanna walked closer to the building and touched the walls. 

    “It’s really beautiful,” Violet said leaning over and touching the white stone. “No one ever talks about the war anymore, don’t you think?” Violet said quietly almost like she was talking to herself.

    ​”It’s not a subject people feel ready to talk about”, Joanna suggested picking up a dandelion and blowing it into the air.  

    “No, but don’t you think we should talk about it. I mean it happened. It hurt. We survived…”

    ​”Yes, but many did not” Joanna bit and Violet sensed that Joanna wanted quiet from her. The windmill looked out over rolling fields, a perfect landmark for travellers to find in the dark.  

    “Come on,” Joanna told Violet reaching for her hand. Violet took it, their fingers entwined for a second and Joanna let go like she had been hit with a stone. Violet stiffened with rejection and followed Joanna reluctantly towards the door. Using her elbow, Joanna pushed hard against the wood until it moaned and opened. She grinned as Violet looked on with astonishment. 

    “Are we going to rob houses?” Violet asked with a concerned look on her face. 

    They walked inside the mill; the ceilings low on their head made it feel claustrophobic. They climbed the stone steps all the way up until they could go no further. Upon coming across a broken bottle on the top step, Joanna put her hand up to stop Violet in her tracks and used her foot to move the glass out of the way for her. Violet felt her cheeks crimson and she nodded a thank you. Joanna held her hand out for Violet to hold as she pushed up into the loft area, together they stepped towards the window and looked out. The view was mesmerising, it was as if God had taken everything from the Earth and then resuscitated it, gently placing everything down with perfection so that all of the organisms were buzzing with harmony and grace. Joanna looked over at Violet and saw the smile on her face reach her ears. Violet felt Joanna look at her and in the pit of her stomach, she felt the most delicious jolt of something she had never experienced before.

    Notes:

    I was immediately transported to this part of a chapter I wrote for a book I am in the middle of writing. It just made me think of this moment.

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    If you were to forget everything you had ever know what would the world look like?

    Prompt: If you were to forget everything you had ever known what would the world look like?

    The Creation:

    I awoke with a start and an end and a strange sensation bubbling in my stomach. I had been sinking into a dream of a great river emptying. Every drop was returning to the sky. My hands screamed as they shrank, whilst memories  of 10,000 years of progress disappeared like wisps of smoke on the wind. Although I remained locked to the fixed point of the present, the future had altered it’s course and was no longer flooding ceaselessly towards me. I was being cast backwards down the tide of time, observing as the present moment of a moment ago un-happened, drifted away from me and un-became a speck on the horizon. I was swallowed up, pulled home into the nothing, every moment returning once again, returning and returning endlessly, forgetting and forgetting until there was no separation any more between the present and the future, between this thing and that thing, between one being or another, between the stars and the planets, all separation un-separating, all of everything returning to a single strand of light in an infinite darkness, a great re-merging between my Self and the universe. Landing in the warm glow of the primordial soup, I awoke.

    It had been a very strange dream. I observed my hand. A smile appeared in the centre of my palm, parted it’s lips and sung in falsetto: ‘Before I learnt to forget what I am I was here in the place where there is no separation. I have forgotten how to differentiate my hand from my arm and myself from another and a planet from the cosmos. We began as a oneness, we began at the centre of all creation.’

    Perhaps I had not awoken after all. Come to think of it, my room did look rather different. In fact I was not in a room at all; to even conceive of the idea of a room now seemed impossible. I was in an indescribable state which was also a place which was also a time, which I could most accurately describe as a vortex of colour. Colours and shapes. There were no objects, no places or people. Only a ceaselessly shifting vortex of colour, sound and sensation that danced for me, in me and through me. To be quite precise I think I would say that I was the vortex, or rather it was me, or even better it was everything, or everything was it. There was no me in separation to anything else here. It was the only thing, and it is the infinite ‘thing’.

    I attempted to observe my hand. I felt a flash of pink and the dancing shapes swirl through me. The high resonance of the falsetto vibrated from my innards. ‘Learn to forget and you shall see the world for what it is. One great dancing vortex of colour. Remember to learn to forget.’

    In the centre of the vortex there was a no-thing. This no-thing was in my centre (for the vortex was me, or rather I was it, or rather I was everything, or rather everything was everything) and it was the fixed point of the present around which everything swirls and whirls. In this no-thing separation is inconceivable- no-thing can not be separated. I observed the no-thing. There was no progress here. Or conflict, or prejudice, or consumption, or judgement, or envy, or hatred . There was no separation. With no separation comes no difference.

    Remembering that at the source there is no difference, I danced. Everything danced. Everything was dancing, always. Everything I had learnt had made me forget to see it that way. I needed to forget what I had learnt in order to remember to forget. To dance in the space of nothing. To see everything dancing, all at once.

    Entering the nothing, I forgot again and again and again. Until there was nothing to forget. And no need to remember.

    I observed the universal hand as it sang from the soul ‘In my beginning and my end there will be no-thing. Awake now and remember to forget separateness. I sing my song through you as you sing yours through me. Awake now and remember to forget again.’

    I woke up and remembered nothing.

    Notes/Free writing:

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    Freedom

    Prompt: Explore freedom in any artform.

    Freedom -Video Creation:

    Freedom drawing:

    Freedom music:

    Freedom writing:

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    The Explorer

    Prompt: This starting sentence is your prompt: The wind touched my neck and I turned…


    The wind touched my neck and I turned; the beautiful frost still bit the end of each naked twig. Leaving it vulnerable to nature’s teeth.  The smell of pine whizzed up my nose. It reminded me of Christmas. Maybe even a specific Christmas. Yes. When I went to see the family in The North Shore. I smiled at the memory, breathing in it. 

    I kept walking through the woodland, my mind racing with thoughts, coming and going out like broken waves. Each one felt different. I thought about when we would all be huddled around the dinner table, as mom delivered food in abundance. Delicious hams and transfat delights all somehow gloriously forgivable. I thought about the conversations, wine induced political debates. Some of us so liberal that we didn’t know how to listen, and some so far right that it scared me. Fuck, it scared me so much.  I never knew my brother had such strong opinions. But then I so did I. But they were so desperately opposite that it felt like whoever we talked about anything seemingly important it was like trying to build a puzzle from the beginning, but realising that half way through you didn’t have all the parts. We just couldn’t make it work. 

    I sat on the ground, the soil hard from remains of winter burdens. I took my boots off and rubbed my feet for a second, enjoying the moment of peace. I’d been walking for two days, through Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in Washington state. I’d never really stayed in one place for long. My need for new images I think came from my father. He had been in the navy and moved from England to Canada before any of us kids were born. He had always said to me “don’t ever do anything you don’t wanna do”, and so I never did. I never got the office job, I never stayed still, I never worried about taxes and accounts, because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. My brother jimmy, he did the opposite. I don’t think I ever saw him without a glass of whisky in his hand. I don’t think I could imagine him and his wife smiling with their eyes during their annual holiday card. Sure, they would smile, making sure all of the family knew about their new Lexus, or that they had all gone camping under the stars in the summer. My brother had sadness dripping from every single pore. If you could see his heart it would be in six separate parts, hollowed out. He wasn’t always so sad. I know that. 

    I put my boots back on and started walking up the sloping woodland. Wrapped up in my water proofs, I wandered with pensive precision through the mass wilderness until I reached the opening, in front of me were views so far reaching that it didn’t even look real. The echoes of bird song broke the sky, the greens and red and whites like hand stitched quilts made for the valley offering sanctuary below. I called myself an explorer, that was my JOB, to explore. Letting my beard have a mind of its own on my face, I ate what I found in the forest, knowing the difference between deadly and edible, I took the berries from my pocket, placed them in my out and gently chewed them. My body ached with movement but there was a blissful feeling with each step into the unknown. Governments in Canada and America talk about freedom like they own it, as though by getting up and putting on a suit every day you are buying your freedom. I knew freedom didn’t cost a thing. Jimmy, my brother disagreed. The last time we saw each other he said something. We both said some things. It was my father funeral. He had been 65 and it was only 28 days ago.  I stopped against a tree and felt my gut ache like someone had kicked it with lead boots on. I took a huge breath in and held my hand to my face. Thinking about my father. Dressed in his navy uniform. Always so neat, no crease. His neck twisted by the belt, his body swinging in the silence of all our grief. My mom had found him. A letter next to his empty glass that still smelt of Jamaican dark rum, ‘I love you all. I’m free’.

    I stood still against the creaking tree and moved closer to the edge of the canyon. My brother’s words repeated in my head “you did this. You and your fucking freedom”. His sad eyes like dead stars. My stomach ached again, the inedible berries starting to work, I moved closer to the edge, and closer. I felt the wind hitting me hard, coming fast, slamming against my face like slaps, Christmas, all that talk, dads laughter, my mother’s kindness, the lights from the tree, the smell of pine, the wind felt like it was going through me, inside me, my brothers words, my brothers words, my brothers words, and then everything went dark. 

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    Earliest memory of colour.

    Prompt: Part 1: What is your earliest memory of colour? Part 2: Use this Colour in your creation.

    I thought about my early memories and could remember the bamboo wall paper of my parents flat when I was 2 or 3 years old, in Worthing West Sussex. Then I remembered the removal van’s electronic Tail Lift when we moved from that flat, to a bigger house around the corner.  The removal van had panda branding.  Panda’s & Bamboo!  Weird… Both images in my mind were blue, maybe a faded blue. 

    I’ve been using salt dough recently, my grandma taught me how to make it when I was a kid.  It’s a cheaper and a more DIY version of clay, it doesn’t half dry your hands out though.  I decided I would make a blue panda tile, like a kitchen or bathroom tile, I like tiles.  I started making it but I could tell early on that it was absolute poo.  I got distracted and made a selection of sushi instead. I guess I rebelled against the brief.  That’s ok though?

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    Crystal Palace Blues

    Prompt: Split a poem and finish whichever half you want.

    Creation:

    Crystal Palace Blues

    unexpectedly an iguanodon

    take in its botched anatomy

    how it sadly sheds its concrete skin

    nothing that ever lived looked like this

    truly it is a terrible lizard

    The original poem before it was split:

    A car with one headlight,

    the near side,

    fitful, flickering at best.

    Unexpectedly butterfingered when it came to love,

    dyspraxic even,

    he dropped hearts.

    Women remained an irrelevance to him,

    men fared no better,

    a human solvent

    he sundered ties expediently,

    so the path of his life was strewn with debris,

    disgruntled ex-lovers,

    metaphorical corpses with too real knives in their backs.

    But how he can talk,

    silver haired, silver tongued

    dangerous.

    An iguana basking in the flash light glare.

    The splitting of the poem:

    A car with                               one headlight,

    the near                                     near side,

    fitful, flickering                                 at best.

    Unexpectedly butterfingered    when it came to love,

    dyspraxic                                                      even,

    he dropped                                 dropped  hearts.

    Women remained an               irrelevance to him,

    men fared                                             no better,

    a human                                                 solvent

    he sundered                              ties expediently,

    so the path of his              life was strewn with debris,

    disgruntled                                        ex-lovers,

    metaphorical corpses with too     real knives in their backs.

    But how he                                            he  can talk,

    silver haired,                                      silver tongued

    dangerous.                                       Dangerous.

    An iguana basking in                the flash light glare.

    Split poem part 1:

    A car with

    the near

    fitful flickering

    unexpectedly butterfingered

    dyspraxic

    he dropped

    women remained an

    men fared

    a human

    he sundered

    so the path of his

    disgruntled

    metaphorical corpses with too

    but how he

    silver haired

    dangerous

    an iguana basking in

    an unexpectedly metaphorical iguana

    butterfingered from all the marijuana

    Split poem Part 2:

    one headlight

    near side

    at best

    when it came to love

    even

    dropped hearts

    irrelevance to him

    no better

    solvent

    ties expediently

    life was strewn with debris

    ex-lovers

    real knives in their back

    he can talk

    silver tongued

    dangerous

    flash light glare

    Notes:

    This has been a challenging prompt. I decided to chose a poem I did not really like, one that had not worked that well. I then sliced it down the middle and that was when the problems started. Should I really just complete the lines? Would I not just remake a poem I was unhappy with? How precisely should I follow the prompt?

    This is my literal response:

    A car with the doors open

    the nearside indicator’s

    fitful flickering winds down the battery

    unexpectedly butterfingered, self conscious,

    he dropped his act.

    Women remained a mystery,

    men fared worse.

    A human cold fish

    he sundered all ties

    and the trajectory of his life

    came down to a big car

    nowhere to go and no one to go with.

    I liked the iguana possibly because it rhymed with marijuana and wrote doggerel.

    I thought of something like I am The Walrus, a stream of consciousness but, honestly, did not think I was up to it.

    Then the idea of an iguanodon, that led me to think about the crumbling dinosaurs at Crystal Palace, that led to something I’d read about the artist hosting a meal inside the dinosaur.

    My daughter telling me she’d seen the sculptures recently also was floating around as was the news I’d recently read that they are in need of repair.

    All of the above led to:

    unexpectedly an iguanodon

    all concrete and jumbled anatomy

    the toad skin is cracking

    this terrible lizard is well past its sell by date

    This is a post about the meal: https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-victorian-dinner-inside-a-dinosaur/

    I think I have stumble on something here that will repay exploring.

    31st December 1853

    Robert Owen sits in the head

    of the half built iguanodon

    manages seven courses

    toasts their Majesties and knows

    nothing before was as good

    as powerful or as wise or

    capable of remaking this world in their image

    I also turned the other half of the poem into this:

    Dangerous

    When it came to love

    his life was all dropped hearts,

    bitter ex-lovers,

    each with a real knife in the back.

    He was at his best, silver tongued,

    appearing to care until he didn’t any more.

    I think this sticks to the spirit of the original poem well. If there is a criticism it is that it is all tell and no show.

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    In Poetry…

    Prompt:

    in poetry we dance

    because its easier with words

    to knit new rhythms

    every time we speak them aloud

    i side step the expected

    to juxtapose an image

    the significance of which

    i hope will elude you

    and remain just a sequence of letters

    ink stains on a page

    to which you lend your own history

    such invisible connections

    are the fleeting moments we inhabit

    Notes:

    In poetry we dance because its easier with words than rhythm to slide from a solid word and pass the at this point I realised I needed to write longhand, a screen is not my natural medium for poetry composition.

    I had seen Abigail’s poem and the prompt had set me thinking about hive minds, the comprehension gap between life forms and Another Roadside Picnic, the book that inspired Tarkovsky’s Stalker, one of my favourite films. I was going down the line of incomprehensible bafflement or this hive mind that looks at one fo the humans through the eyes of the insect and ponders how much they look like their mother and describe her relationship to the hive mind. It would have probably been nothing like that when it was finished.

    When I opened envelope 8 I was pleasantly surprised to find rather a splendid piece of [Chinese brush? And] ink work.

    I started to get down my impressions on the screen but it never really works for me. I suppose I am too much of a digital immigrant.

    This poem was difficult to end. I am still not sure that the end fits the body of the poem. If the poem is about the act of writing and the significance that the reader brings to it, which is what I drew from the image, then does the end work?

    I think it needs to go away for some time and be looked at in several months.

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    Confluence

    Prompt: You are falling through the water until you touch the river bed. What is there?

    Creation 1:

    Confluence

    There is a bike frame, on its side half buried in the ooze.

    I have opened my eyes and the light from the surface makes the scene ripple. There are rocks and a fine layer of silt that my motion disturbs. It hangs like icing sugar in the water.

    I know that I have to breathe, that I cannot stay down here for long, and the thought makes my chest ache.

    Then there is the cold and a fear that hypothermia in water is a gentle death, but how does anyone really know? Can death ever be gentle? Perhaps some can. It would depend on how invested in this life you are.

    I hit the river bed and push off towards the light. My clothes are heavy and my shoes feel as if they are made out of lead. The water is a set of currents I have to push through. I image the weave of the water holding me in place, at the bottom of the river.

    I break the surface, gulp in air and wonder what has just happened?

    The water is cold, flowing fast but the shore reachable, I think. I strike out for the boulders and the sand beyond. There is darkness under the trees. Silence save for the rushing water and my limbs slapping the surface.

    Always the same and never the same twice.

    I move through unique combinations. Split second relationships that tumble and roll over and are gone.

    It is cold and the river shallows out enough to grab the rocks and drag myself on to the land. The sand clings to the wet cloth and my shoes hold more water than they ever kept out.

    Where am I?

    How did I arrive at this point?

    I have no idea. Then a memory lazily moves through my mind. Trauma can make you forget. Some newspaper article about people unable to recall the moments before the crash. They remember getting into the car but nothing after that.

    I do not even have that much. I can remember the water, the dappling light, the bicycle frame under the velvet silt. An urge to breathe and kicking for the world of air.

    Nothing more.

    How did I get here?

    Where is here?

    Why that solitary bike frame in this wilderness?

    I stand on the bank and think I need to take off my clothes and air dry my skin.

    The sun is past its zenith.

    Creation 2:

    as I slept

    I lived underwater

    not an uncommon dream

    no longer pinned by gravity

    but cast free like a bird in the sky

    experiences the ease of flight

    I swam through REM and

    awoke with the sun

    my body strangely weighted

    beached in tangled sheets

    Notes:

    This prompt was more difficult. I felt I was going off on a tangent.

    Initially I let the words write themselves. I thought I could pick words/lines out of the paragraphs and make a poem but I was uneasy with the idea. I was focussed on the water, on what happens after I see a bike on the river bed. Part of me wanted a logical story, something that hits the ground running and is relentless. I cannot write like that.

    I let the words unwind until they ran out. Then I closed the computer down and thought tomorrow will offer another avenue.

    What was at the back of my mind was that I did not want to generate a list poem. They are overdone and just not me. There can be a grandeur to repetition but generally I don’t think they work.

    As I cooked the evening meal the idea of breathing underwater popped into my head. I think it came from a Murray Head song from the 1980s, but I’ve just spent half an hour trawling through lyrics on line and I cannot find it. I’m sure it’s on Restless

    There was also another lyric from the same album about Venice and the sea coming up through holes in the square after midnight

    Terrible stuff really but you had to be there to enjoy it.

    Anyway the idea of breathing underwater was zipping round my head.

    This morning as I did Tai Chi it started to come together. Four rewrites later I had a poem. It was not the prompt you had given but I think it works.

    Though I am left with the question why I could not look at the riverbed? The bike could have been the start of something urban but for some reason I spliced it with a river in the wilderness. I was thinking the Pacific north west, Oregon or somewhere like that.

    It could have as easily been Widnes or Birdgwater and a bike would have fitted the location. I once saw a number of bikes in the silt by Bridgwater library when the river was low. It was as if this was the place where you slung your stolen bike into the river. A gift for a Celtic deity, long forgotten but with still enough clout to demand obeisance once in a while. Perhaps it was the tears of the bikes owners that were the real offering? The Celtic gods demanded much, especially as the Romans rampaged the country. Take the Lindow Man for example.

    Would we have been better off without Christianity? If we had stayed with our Northern Gods and the Saxon Wyrd? I suspect so. But that is not the point of the prompt…

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    Postcard prompts

    It’s amazing what you can get for £5.99! Okay plus £1.50 postage but you get my point….

    100 beautiful old vintage postcards that I assume have been collected from museum trips, or bought on holidays, people collecting mementos from galleries, being snared in the gift shop as you walk out of another special day…

    And there they were, listed for £5.99 for a hundred plus beautiful vintage postcards. The strangest collection from Napoleon to Rembrandt, copies of famous artistic creations but also historical figures, playful cherubs, moments of countryside and abstract daubings that I’m sure are exceptionally famous, but my knowledge and reading has not yet learned of their importance.

    These postcards in time, whether abstract or not, will join our envelopes to become story beginnings, artistic prompts, artistic challenges rethought. Moments from the past, moments chosen by somebody else and arrived with us to change the lives of others.

    And as they sit by the Sellotape and string and artistic books that I never seem to have the time to read, these postcards, these vintage moments, call to me to be used to change perceptions and pathways…

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    What were we thinking?

    (Video to come)

    What were we thinking when we wrote this prompt?

    he holds up a mirror

    tells me to look in the glass

    left is right and I’m left handed

    secure in my penmanship

    even if I cannot read half of what I write

    this could be the counter earth

    always half a hidden orbit ahead

    the other side of the sun

    right is left and I favour the right now

    so I’m looking for a second mirror

    to make it all better again

    hoping to avoid that infinity thing

    left is right is left is right is

    all too much for me

    so I stare and stare

    and normalise what I see

    a man in a mirror

    looking back at me

    Notes:

    I have to confess that this prompt was easier for me than some of the others.

    As soon as I read it I thought of a man holding a mirror. The the word mind games popped up.

    I know that what ever I write will cast light on my process, which is the point of the prompt. Like the Rorschach Test I will see what I think is there.

    I used to facilitate a poetry group, Juncture 25. We met twice a month and the second time was always to undertake a poetry workshop. I probably took responsibility for most of the sessions but tried not to dwell on the prompt before hand. I came to like the idea of writing something in a set time and I faced this prompt in exactly the same manner.

    It’s strange but when I start to write I have the first line or two clear in my head and surrounding them a number of ideas. In this case I was thinking about an old 1960s science fiction film, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun [https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064519/]. It is a very bad film. I think there are also a set of dodgy old science fiction/fantasy books by John Norman about the idea of a counter earth. I seem to remember reading the first back in the early 70s.

    The other image that was floating about was the cover of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma, not I hasten to add that I am a fan. But there is that mirror which is different in every reflection on the lp’s cover.

    Those were the influences for the poem. The knack, though, is not to think but to write and let those images/ideas just swirl around your skull.

    As a poem I think it works. I shall post it next Friday on my blog. Then it will go into a drawer for a couple of months. Then when I look at it again I will see the flaws more clearly.

    I just found the line that prompted me to think about breathing under water. It is off Murray Head’s Restless – the track is Maybe Tomorrow and the line is As buildings roll by me, I dream of a life in the ocean- so there’s nothing about breathing underwater in it!

    Not that it stopped me. I sometimes get lines because I hear the words of a song incorrectly.

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    Paintbrushes

    Paintbrushes hate me. They always have. I never care for them properly and in turn they punish me by fraying and becoming hard or bent or both… They watch me in their aged water judging my chaotic lifestyle as they start to discolour up the handles.

    These frayed, hard, bent brushes telling a story of a fast but somewhat forgetful mind, daubing paint with so much purpose. But as quickly as I started I will stop… leaving chaos behind me and the paintbrushes judge me I swear.

    Today I am trying to use my broken paintbrushes to create chaotic swipes to be adorned by words, using metallic paint to give purpose and meaning.

    And another 25 envelopes are done, waiting for their homes, there is urgency and energy in each and every one, I can feel it… they are almost moving on their strings waiting to be sent out.

    But the dirty paintbrushes sit, still waiting to be cleaned.

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    Sit in a public place

    Prompt: Sit in a public place (cafe/bar/restaurant) and listen to a conversation going on a round you.This conversation is your prompt to create.

    Notes:

    I went out this morning to collect the veg box from Jack, the greengrocer. I had not been out since Monday. There was a five person queue. I stood in the sun not speaking to anyone, no one was near enough for a conversation.

    A food truck pulled up in front of the local shop. The woman driving asked whose was the car the truck was blocking in and no one knew. I watched her unload fragile boxes [and drop one], fascinated how she piled them onto the sack truck. It was a complex game of stacking with rules only she knew. Eventually, satisfied she had met the arcane requirements of the manual handling protocol, she tipped the truck back on its two wheels and pushed the booty inside the shop. The man in the cab meanwhile unloaded armfuls of food in bags and walked them inside after the driver.

    They drove away as I was served. I gave Jack a paper with our address and my phone number on it. He asked if this was enough food for two vegetarians for a week. I assured him it was and thanked him.

    On a concrete bench outside his shop I transferred the produce into a rucksack and a shopping bag, suddenly conscious of the amount of fresh food on display.  I thanked him again I told him I’d be back next Friday.

    I walked into the convenience shop and the woman behind the till, who I had never seen before, shouted at me to stand outside and hadn’t I read the sign? Of course I had not.

    So I waited until I could enter and bought spices and what tins there were for sale.

    I then walked home, social distancing. Two people thanked me for standing aside on the narrow pavement.

    As I crossed the road and entered my gate I could hear the birds sing.

    We are living in a time of silence.

    People are making extraordinary humane gestures all around us.

    I give thanks.

    I think I need to put this prompt aside for the duration.

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    Oh why can’t I sleep?

    Oh why can’t I sleep? The world is, or if they’re not asleep they are being incredibly quiet with their lights off. Only my light is breaking the constant darkness of an otherwise sleeping city.

    4am. I’ve been lay in bed for three hours not sleeping… So it is time to change the energy if nothing else, before I go totally insane. I get up and move towards the kettle as though in a daze, hoping there is still enough long life soya milk in our supplies cupboard.

    It was our opinion that the panic buying was not necessary at the beginning of this crisis, something that in the current time I’m probably regretting as I have been living off the strange leftover food that others decided, even in their panic, they could not eat. Off brand unusual jars of who knows what. But we do have some long life soya milk left, although the biscuits have gone… They are always the first to go.

    So I sit with a cup of tea thinking of how best to start artistic journeys, how to open spaces, how best to connect with people’s creativity, and at some point even this feels too exhausting and I go back to cutting out pictures from newspapers for the day to come…

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    The Ritual Of Tea

    Prompt: The Ritual of tea/coffee.

    THE RITUAL of TEA

    Choose a cup you like; that sings to you; one you can imagine fitting your hand; that will compliment the colour of the liquor

    Use the best quality leaves you can afford; good tea will stand multiple infusions; inferior tea will lead to an inferior experience

    Use fresh water every time

    Do not overfill the kettle

    Warm the pot

    Add as much tea as you need

    Wait the correct length of time; this will differ tea to tea

    Pour into your cup

    Look at the liquor, it has a beauty all its own, contemplate that beauty as you savour the brew and give thanks to God

    Repeat as often as necessary

    NOTES

    When I saw the word Ritual on the envelope I thought of tea [I do not drink coffee]

    Tea is one of life’s rituals, it needs to be done well, with time and respect but we have condensed it into a bag, favouring those blends which give a quick colour and strength to a cup.

    I only drink loose green teas, I warm the pot and give the leaves due respect.

    To a tea obsessed individual like me, this is an easy prompt.

    I am going to do something different, I like the idea of a collage

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    Newspaper cuttings…

    I got up early to get the Sunday morning papers before they sell out, and obviously essential food supplies to justify me venturing out into the world.

    Everything is so strange, people queueing 2 metres apart outside the store, no one really meeting each other’s eye. Even couples seemed to be talking less, maybe it is the blue surgical masks that seem to be the latest anti-coronavirus accessory along with the blue gloves and worried looks.

    When I finally do get my newspaper’s home, making sure I have washed my hands so much that my knuckles have now gone red and dry, I flip through endless stories about the apocalyptic world we are living in, the financial disaster that will befall us all as soon as the virus is over, pages of headlines full of panic, isolation, pandemic, massive letters spelling a world of disaster.

    As I sit here away from a world that I am starting to miss, it is my job to turn these letters into dreams, these words into possibilities, these moments into something more creative.…

    Finding the magic in the madness….

    And pushing that magic.

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    Black with grey

    It makes me think of age and wisdom, embossed letterheads and halls with high ceilings that would of housed great meetings in years long passed. It makes me think of grey hair born of age and knowledge and stressful times lived through.

    It makes me think of black suits and dresses – for interviews and midnight balls and a morning at a wake.

    With the years age brings we are at our most brilliant even though we start to fade, the deep knowledge we now possess makes use the strongest we have ever been even if it has taken a lifetime to learn, black and grey.

    Grey from living a vivid life, from living life to the fullest. Lessons learnt from noticing the world going by, the world that has probably changed us as much as we have changed it.

    Time has ripped and frayed our edges, but inside we are as solid as ever. As time passes we set the scene as others write the script.

    The question is what now, what moments to project, what moments to share, and as you sit with the knowledge to change the world, ask yourself, will you?

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    Rips

    And I ripped paper into smaller pieces, scraps of magazines and newspapers once communicating stories our lives through print, now demonstrating energy and decay through their new ripped form…..

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    Splashing ink

    I open a box and it is full of coloured inks.

    I must have been about 15 when I first bought some of these inks, that feels like a very long time ago now.

    Thinking back in time of the people I used to know back then and I wonder what they’re doing now. I haven’t used these inks really since I first bought them, although I have done too many projects, but these pots of ink have never really been needed until now…

    Some of them I didn’t even buy but found when I was helping to clear an old abandoned school, it was the strangest thing, this school had obviously been fully active and then one day the bell had gone for the last time and everybody just left and never came back. There were still jumpers on the back of chairs, old pads and workbooks, cups in the canteen, but the people had gone. I was part of a youth project and they told us we could take anything we wanted as long as it was going to a good cause, it was like a playground, us desperately trying to unscrew tables to get them down flights of stairs, running pin boards and swivel chairs to the van that we had rented for the day.

    And in one of the cupboards was a box of inks, I couldn’t believe it, their incredible colours still so vivid just sitting there in a cardboard box.

    They stayed with the youth project for a number of years until eventually even the youth project came to an end, and as I packed up the project, a project that had run for seven years, I came across this old box of ink which nobody else had claimed.

    They’ve moved with me from house to house, I’ve moved too many times, work and life always too chaotic, maybe I get bored too quickly, I’m always looking for the next amazing thing to be part of.

    And now these inks are scattered across my desk, my sad brushes daubing colour onto crisp white envelopes, the rubber of the pipettes getting old but still keeping the contents wet and bright.

    So I am colouring and painting, inside and outside of the lines, as I always do, creating shapes and imagining others.

    Splashing the ink.

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    Stencils

    We have a little yard adjoining the house, a yard that I thought would probably be sufficient when we first moved in, but since isolation I’ve started to wish it bigger… Saying that I can see the flats down the road with no outdoor space which makes me count my blessings.

    The dog is hiding from the sun, pleased to be outdoors, me with my spray paints lined up on rickety old wooden furniture.

    I’d been rummaging in the cellar the day before, looking for a skipping rope to try and stay as healthy as I can, and I came across spray paints from a past arts project.

    So here I am in the yard, envelopes lined up. Colour turning white crisp paper into golden shapes, the aerosol spray dancing in the light, patterns forming gold on red. Me desperately trying to create a fixed idea, the world is having none of it, so I just enjoy the abstract patterns and the possibilities they might bring, black on red, red on gold.

    Every now and again the totally still day will be caught up in a massive gust of wind, sweeping down the side alley of the house and blowing my neatly stacked, and somewhat still damp, creations all over the yard. The dog seems to be totally unbothered by this, which is a relief because I’m not sure nose and paw prints are really the artistic impression that we want to give people, although I’m sure they would be beautiful and thought-provoking in their own way.

    And as I hold the stencils up and spray, with the world so quiet, I put red on gold and black on red…

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    As the family get’s involved and the brilliant ideas roll…

    Today a little parcel arrived. I go to the door to the postman running down the street, I silently thank the postal service for keeping parcels coming and staving off this madness.

    I opened the parcel and inside were cut outs from old children’s annuals, more creative ideas that another member of the family had, staying up all night searching for creative bits on Ebay that could be used as creative adornments for the little envelopes – we are all becoming immersed in this little creative idyll, sharing lockdown and now this creative journey with each other.

    Little illustrated words, story beginnings and story endings. I wonder if the people who illustrated these pictures all those years ago are still drawing, I hope so. And now I have received what somebody else has created, rethinking and reimagining moments that even they could not have dreamed their art would be used for. And all this before they even arrive at their last destination, with a little prompt inside for someone to interpret…

    Moments to encourage ideas in others, small moments of beauty being rethought and sent into the world… Who knows what will be created, who knows where this line of creating will end…

    I cannot wait to see!

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    An artistic eye ~ Gallery

    Here is a moment to see the world through an artistic lens, breaking images down – seeing and thinking things as we create envelopes and prompts. A beautiful collection of artistic images. Moments from the projects creation.

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    Close-ups ~ Gallery

    Some beautiful close-ups, a record of the project coming together – ideas, moments, prompts/challenges being created. Envelopes everywhere, too many cups of tea and slowly working our way through the biscuits from the cupboard…

    Macaroons and creativity at midnight, life is a strange thing….

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    Art has no rules

    Art has no rules. Just a quick post.

    We found this image on the journey. Not just an image but something brilliant, a philosophy, a saying, something to live by.

    Create like you have never been told you can’t, think like you have never learned impossibility, live and create like there are no rules, no inhibitions, no right or wrong, only a stream of consciousness that makes you feel alive, that makes you feel endless, that makes you feel possible.

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    WHERE AM I?

    PROMPT: Where am I?

    WHERE AM I?

    Feeling locked in

    This one feels like a huge topic- where to start?

    I am in a room in a house, reluctant to go outside save for food and the queues that result from this activity

    Would usually start with the cosmic- milky way, spiral arm- but not today

    Were am I?

    In a state of tension

    In the middle of a crisis- hell, I hope it’s the middle, not the overture

    Were am I?

    Torquay

    Devon

    England

    Surrounded by water

    Where am I?

    In a room

    In a house that has managed to stand for 150 yrs +

    On a bent wood chair, who knows how old or who has sat on it before?

    At a desk that came from a long stay hospital in Frome for people with intellectual impairments that closed in 1986, a desk that lived in my house then my mother-in-laws bungalow in Winscombe and then back in my old house in Taunton

    Where am I?

    In sequestration along with the majority of the nation

    Self secluding in a hope of avoiding something that might not be good for my asthma

    Caught up in the anxiety of a world shutting down

    Where am I?

    In my sixties

    In a marriage

    A father

    A brother

    A son-in-law

    Tied to this net of relationships- welcoming the connections

    Where am I?

    In the middle of an art project deciding to answer this one out of character…

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    Where are they going?

    PROMPT: Where are they going?

    Where are they going?

    The sea mist is wetter than she would have imagined. It condenses on the bike and the fisherman’s jumper, she took from the shop, has a fine layer of moisture that the oiled wool is keeping at bay for now.

    Her hands though are cold and the cord trousers heavier than when she started.

    The headlight light isn’t up to much but she expected that. Middle century technology never cut the mustard.

    She knows she will not be followed. Those who are left are too busy with the details to appreciate that you just have to let it all just go, fall away, disinvest, or it will hold you. The clutter of small details that clamour for your attention will suck you in and it’s not that you then miss the big picture, you just can’t see the seams, the blurred lines between the tangibles.

    She knows as she cycles through the fog with the sea on her left and the flood defences on her right to let sensation wash over her and so she will find the path.

    There are no better worlds. No perfect place just out of sight. There are an infinity possibilities. So give thanks and move on through the gloaming.

    where are they going

    sometimes the seams show

    twilight for example

    or a wet nights velvet reflection

    on the slick road surface

    she knows the gloaming well

    and contours towards a place

    no better or worse than here

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    Dear Sir

    Part 1: Write a letter to a stranger asking them a number of questions.

    Torquay, Devon.

    19 March 1948

    Dear Sir,

    I have been given your name by a friend of a friend who, I am led to believe, you were able to help some years ago. Mr Collingwood told me you had proven effective in keeping certain events from the newspapers, obviously he refrained from describing the nature of the service you performed.

    Can you help me find someone who has not returned from the war?

    I last heard from them in 1943 when they told me they would be unable to write for some time. Five years have gone by and I have received no word.

    I need you to discover if they are still alive. If they are well and whole. I cannot rid my mind of the image of them in a hospital bed, overseas and alone. What can have kept them from returning?

    The War Office has not replied to any of my letters. They have been sent back unopened. I enclose them in this package. Can you please research the details the of their service contained in the letters?

    I need to know if they have been demobbed. I may be satisfied to discover they are living quietly somewhere, that they have a new life. Can you follow a trail so cold?

    You will see there is a list of names and pre-war addresses. Can you talk to those seven people, the best friends of the missing and piece together their history?

    Can you trace one missing person across a continent recovering from the chaos of five years of total war? Could you tell the truth from the lies that people will speak to hide their own guilt? Are you that strong?

    Not knowing is worse than news of death. Will you help me lay this ghost down?

    Yours

    P. Tobin

    Torquay, Devon.

    Notes

    Part 1

    I think the black envelope set the scene.

    I was thinking Victorian black edged mourning cards and what could I write as a series of questions in a letter.

    Then I remembered a story my father had told about World War Two. He had been in Italy with the Polish Free Army, as part of the British Liaison Unit, and there had been an ex-journalist amongst them very skilful at bartering with the Italians. He could always trade soap for wine, rations for fresh food. This guy drove around the countryside on an Indian motorbike. He drank a lot and talked about his sister.

    In the late 1940s the Sunday papers would carry pages of people wanting to contact old army pals or families wanting to locate men who had simply not come home. My father said he saw this man’s name once in a column in The News of The World and he had always wondered what happened to him.

    This formed the basis for my letter, though to begin with it was more like a detective story.

    I was thinking what would lead a human to undertake such a journey? Surely not $50 a day plus expenses? Do we have to have a connection to the lost? Or does the quest meet something in the quester’s own psyche, are they atoning for a past event?

    Part 2: Open the letter and reply to it honestly.

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    The Art Bunker

    As the self-isolation and then lockdown has taken hold on all our lives, as our self-employed work has come to a stop and our employed work has become impossible to carry out, we have turned to this project to keep our minds busy and our spirits high – We decided what we were now doing was ‘craft against the clock’ as we worked late into the evenings to see how many envelopes we could create, for our quickly rising numbers of participants waiting to receive them. As we slowly strung more and more lines of string across the walls, with envelopes pegged to them with little wooden pegs, they joined the art that was already in process in this small room, a room that is also a corridor between the kitchen and hallway ~ we quickly decided what we had created was ‘The Art Bunker’.

    So here we show you what our version of an art bunker looks like, dog sticks, fur covered blankets, muddy boots, old cups, biscuit wrappers and all. What does your art bunker look like? Please send us pictures and we will add them to our gallery. Email: hello@iamallstories.com