I have long held the belief that if you are in a position to help someone, you should, and this a mantra I will continue to work to. Long before the city of culture 2021 bid surfaced, I made it a priority (of which I pride myself) to make myself accessible and on hand wherever possible to help those creatives in need of advice. I do not preach or critique (as I am of the belief your work is yours and should not be tailored to suit) merely offering practical advice and moral support. To that end, I have been into countless schools and social groups, delivering readings, workshops and one to one advice, and long may I continue to do so.
Holly Madew is an artist from Stoke on Trent, whom I have worked alongside on several projects. I knew her mother from my days in the office job, and when I sent out a call asking for locals to volunteer to be a part of my film The Legend of the Chained Oak, Holly and her mother attended, turning in a performance worthy of their place in the final cut.
Since then, I have kept a close eye on her development as an artist, and I am honoured that she agreed to illustrate my short story Gyll’s Whel, and supply the cover art to my third collection Neverlight.
Last night’s opening of her debut exhibition EXPOSED, was the result of many hours hard work, and I was honoured that she asked me to supply prose and poetry to accompany each of her paintings. I have not written to a given image before, and I found the process challenging and rewarding. Who’d have ever thought it: me, a poet?
The opening was attended by both the Lord Mayor of Stoke on Trent and Newcastle under Lyme, as well as a large number of friends, family and lovers of art.
I am delighted to report that the artwork and the poetry/prose were well received, much to my relief. Having had no experience of art exhibitions, I was worried that my efforts would (rightly) be overlooked set next to Holly’s stunning paintings. I was pleased to hear that this was not the case.
It felt good to support another, especially one who had supported me in such a professional manner, and I was proud to see her night succeed. The Stoke on Trent creative scene gained a new star last night.
With that done and dusted, it is time to return to my desk in my back room office, for the novel calls, reminding me that it will not, no matter how much I wish it to, write itself.
Photographs courtesy of Jennifer Weatherer