Tag Archives: collaboration

Third year of text-art exhibition

Didi Bergman and Rew Oates performing at the launch

Didi Bergman and Rew Oates performing at the launch

Months of hard work and liaising with over 60 artists and writers in the ‘Assemblance of Judicious Heretics’ project has paid off – as the exhibition I co-curate with Barry is now up in Rochester Library, Kent, and we held a fantastically well-attended (70+ audience) launch event on 20 October 2016, where some of the writers read their poems and stories. A musical interlude was provided by Didi Bergman and Rew Oates who had set lyrics from Shakespeare’s plays to music.

This year’s theme is Shakespeare. The word limit was 500 words so that we could display the art alongside the words for the first time. My story was inspired by a quote by George Bernard Shaw “Hamlet’s experience simply could not have happened to a plumber.” Well, actually, I think it could… so here is my version of Hamlet 2016. 

Waiting for the spectre of my old man… Hamlet 2016

Three months since we put him in the ground, I’ve quit my philosophy degree to take over the family business. Uncle Claude would have sold it. The town council is all he bothers with… and my mother, she interests him muchly.

Here on the roof, the stars are bright; clear and frosty. I wish I’d paid more attention the times Dad brought me up here to look at the stars, hefting the heavy telescope through the dormer. He could name all the constellations.

“Whatever you might be when you grow up, boy, even just a plumber, don’t think you can’t experience the bigger things in life just as powerfully as anybody else.”

My mum shacked up with my uncle almost as soon as she was out of widow’s weeds – can’t say I’m happy about that, but I can’t say anything to her, so I’ll bide my time and wait till Claude slips up. Which he will; the cream faced loon.

I can’t believe she did it: Claude always had his eye on her. When she was younger, my mother was the woman they all wanted to be with, but it was Dad, a lowly apprentice at her Pa’s plumbing, heating and engineering firm that she finally chose. Claude, his older brother, had higher aspirations; Politics at university. Maybe the two brothers were always both in love with flirty Gerty. Maybe they tossed a coin for her like in a cheap story.

So my when my mate, Marc, called me up and said he’d seen my dad floating in the air above our house, I told him to do one! He swore he wasn’t pulling my plonker, so now here we are, me and Marc, freezing cold, looking at the stars. It would be romantic, if he were a girl, or if I was gay. But he’s not and I’m not, so we are just shivering, waiting for the spectre of my old man. He passes me his hipflask.

I think how nice it would be if Philly was up here, not him. Ophelia O’Hallorahan, the girl I have been in love with from age six. Philly didn’t want to go to university like me, didn’t do very well in her A-levels, so she stayed, working in the local where we supped our first pint aged 14.

Then, oh my God, angels and ministers of grace defend us! It’s my father. Floating above the eaves, see-through, eyes burning with hatred and anger. I push my friend aside, I climb out onto the tiles. Marc screams at me ‘You shall not go’, but I am already face-to-face with this shade. The eyes recognise me and no longer rage and broil, but look sad, insubstantial. Lonely.

I ask it ‘why’? Its response, and what it bids me to do, chills me more than the cold night air: “I am thy father’s spirit. If thou didst ever thy dear father love, revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.”

I will bide my time and do as it asks…

(© Sam Hall, 2016)

All the rest of the text entries in the exhibition can be read online in the new Wordsmithery magazine: Confluence.

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Seeing what you say: words inspiring pictures


Glow (c) Naomi James, 2011

Glow (c) Naomi James, 2011


‘By shooting these set of black and white photos, I want to show our state of mind as a collective, living in the city of London.’ Naomi James, photography student, UEL

I responded to a call out on the ArtsJobs website for writers to send work to inspire photography students at the University of East London. I sent a selection of work from Barry and myself (mainly from the Encyclopaedia) and was delighted that one of Barry’s pieces – a prose poem called ‘Glow’ about how it never gets dark in cities, was selected.

We went to The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club at the end of November to an event organised by the photography students and their tutors, to see the photos and read ‘Glow’. I documented the night in a short film. We were really impressed by the work on show.

Several students chose to interpret Barry’s text and I interviewed one of them, Naomi James, about her responses to the poem and how it inspired the pictures.

‘As people who live in one of the most lit cities in the world, (…) We are in a state of constant distraction. When do we ever get the chance to be in complete stillness whilst being in our ‘awake’ state in darkness? Are we afraid of the dark? Are we afraid of hearing our own voices without diversion?’ Naomi James

I have been thinking a lot about creative collaboration recently, so I think it’s great that the first year photography students at UEL are being encouraged to respond to, collaborate with and investigate other artforms from the very start of their course. It occurs to me, that so often once someone becomes a little successful in their artform that they seem to focus in tightly on that, becoming very protective of it, and lose interest in working with artists in other disciplines.

Working with artists in other fields has always been what excites me, to develop my own practice and to hopefully stimulate other’s thinking too.  Perhaps this is because my primary focus has been writing for the theatre, and I’ve been involved in a very hands-on way with producing my plays, so I have always been very aware of cross-disciplinary working. And always been willing to have a go at things I wouldn’t call myself an expert in, (including making props, hanging sets and giving notes!)

The brief for this project, part of the course was, ‘Seeing what you say’ and the photographers had to respond to pre-existing writing. A further, and more exciting, step would have been to create some new work together; a new mix of words and pictures, and perhaps there will be a possibility to do that in the future.

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i am small THE WORLD IS BIG

map picture

I attended a very stimulating workshop as part of accidental collective’s i am small THE WORLD IS BIG project on Saturday 16 April.

Each member of ME4 Writers, (a group I set up a few years ago when I moved to Kent,) cut up and reshaped the world according to something personal to them.

My map was a memory piece about all the places I’ve been on holiday.

ME4 Writers will be doing some writing inspired by the event, which will be available at the accidental collective open event on 28 May at Kent County Hall. Come along, re-make your own world and hear some of ME4 Writers’ writing too.

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