What an amazing photograph! I saw it on my iphone on Twitter yesterday – the first Twitter communication for a week, having been hidden away at Totleigh Barton – an Arvon centre in Devon. I was on an arts writing course supported by Visual Arts South West. (VASW)
I felt like the Christ the Redeemer statue myself – alive and electric with a stimulated brain!
The course was specially devised for, and attended by, 15 South West UK artists. Arvon is renowned for supporting poets, novelists and play writers, but never before had they hosted a course specifically for people working in the arts. It was brilliant – challenging, moving, tiring, refreshing and motivational. The tutors offered range – Cherry Smyth writes for Art Monthly and is a poet, Christopher William Hill a playwright and children’s writer too. Charlotte Higgins also came along from the Guardian and shared with us her experience of being an arts journalist and even braved the torrential rain for a walk. Thank you to all of the tutors for being there – it was a privilege to share a 15th Century farmhouse with you all.
I’ve always been slightly resistant to poetry, but found myself writing some. Apart from here, on my blog, much of my writing is for a specific purpose – catalogues, press releases, funding applications etc. Due to the very nature of those things, I rarely write humour – so I tried that too. This is all taking a while to assimilate, so I shan’t share anything with you yet – but maybe later in the week. I am not unlike the sodden fields, we can’t soak anything more up, we need to let things sink in first.
But I will share how I survived the lack of internet and mobile phone, because it was amusing and farcical in many ways…..
Picture the scene – rolling devon countryside, wintery flooding and endless downpours. A one-track lane leading to the Arvon Centre, pitted and collapsing under the rain and the traffic ploughing up and down it. It’s night time, the rain carries on trying to find room in the ground to settle, but until it does, splashing from pathways and sploshing continually. The heavy thatch of the farmhouse wept continually in despair at the weather – even when the rain stopped temporarily, from inside, the water continued to drain through in an endless stream of drip drip drip. Four of the group decided contact with the world was imperative (it goes without saying I am one of the four). We piled into a car and drove slowly up the hill, over two cattlegrids. We crawled along in the car through the dark night, looking for a signal to magically appear on our mobiles. We turn up a little junction and yes, we have signals!!! “2 bars, 3 bars, oh no, down to one bar – hey, have you nicked one of my bars?” All 4 sit in the car, holding up their phones all facing one direction. The light bounces off their faces, their anxiety palpable as phones begin to chime and ping. Eventually we are satiated and the road saturated. After much 3 point turning to avoid the slippery muddy edges that would have left us stranded, our driver managed to rotate the vehicle and we headed back down the hill. Replete. Smug and just a little bit ashamed that we cannot cope without our gadgets. We had managed about 4 hours!
Sadly, I can’t say I felt lightning strike when we got online. No exciting emails, no worrying text messages. I didn’t try again, ok, I did walk up a couple of times, but in reality, life below at Totleigh Barton was more exciting and rewarding.