Here we are at the project in envelopes.

Over the past year, I’ve been working with artist Lawrence Epps on a book of chance, a collection of creative and critical writing called the very last time. It launches at Firstsite in Colchester on 12th September in conjunction with the preview of AGAIN, a new participatory installation from Epps exhibiting this autumn at the British Ceramics Biennial.  AGAIN centres on an arcade coin pusher, altered by the artist and stocked with thousands of porcelain and terracotta coins which the viewer can take away and pocket – or gamble and enter into a wager with the artwork.goldenno

The book is no less of a gamble and has arrived out of the nerve and nous of the contributors who each decided to toss the golden NO I posted to them, attached to a letter inviting them to write a section of the book. On the other side of the coin, a terracotta YES.  

Some of the writers even posted a picture of the coin on the back of their hand, dull red YES up, to prove the decision was, despite what it might look like, out of their hands. They would write; chance had it. I received YES after YES and while it quickly became tempting to run more of my life according the way the penny falls, the texts that started to arrive on my desk spun outwards to loss, desire, prayer, pricelessness, low ceilings, betting slips.  It seems we are already standing at the penny falls, waiting for the great cascade, watching for the trickle-down, hoping for a YES. 

© Lawrence Epps 2015

© Lawrence Epps 2015

Around the book’s green baize, then, are poets, artists, academics, an archaeologist, a psychoanalyst, a valuation expert, a bookmaker, a mudlarker.  I am enormously proud to announce the contributors:

Geoffrey Munn Managing Director of Wartski, jewellers by appointment to the Queen, and Antiques Roadshow expert examines a valuable ball of whale bile

Joey Connolly, poet, asks how the bookmaker feels about the dogs

Dr Richard Kelleher, Assistant Keeper Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge talks coins that sweat and currency that forgets

Esther Leslie Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, finds Walter Benjamin in the video arcade

Viktor Mazinpsychoanalyst and curator of the Freud Dream Museum, tosses the non-Euclidean coin

Tamarin Norwood, artist and scholar, writes to the last word of casino design: PERCEPTION BEATS REALITY

Marie Toseland, artist and Open School East associate, measures the elastic horizon of desire

And two new translations from Anna Gunin and Anne Marie Jackson.

Thank you to all the writers for taking a punt on me.

Please do join us for the launch of both AGAIN + the very last time at Firstsite.  Coins will be falling from 2pm and there will be readings and performances from our contributors once you have lost all you have won on AGAIN.  For more information on the launch event and how to get to Firstsite, please see the gallery’s listing.

Following the launch, the very last time will be available to purchase online, in some gallery bookshops and at the British Ceramics Biennial shop.  Please get in touch via the contact page if you have any questions.


AGAIN + the very last time has been made possible with the generous support of the Arts Council England, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the British Ceramics Biennial, Potclays, Wysing Arts Centre and the Firstsite Associate Artist Bursary Programme.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is the eve of National Poetry Day, when taken aback words must eat themselves up and poets put on their best hats just to doff them at each other.  As the door to the grotto has now been locked and I am blinking at the surface, it is time to move onto the next project with my Jerwood / Arvon Mentoring Scheme team.

Pushing off from National Poetry Day with the incredible Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson and Ian Dudley, we are spending the month writing a collapsible tanka correspondence.  Today, Deborah makes the first twist of the Rubik’s Cube, writing the opening lines of a tanka sequence that Ian will continue tomorrow and I will join on Friday:

tanka1The completed sequence will consist of both this linear conversation over thirty days AND each of our voices which can be heard in isolation as three parallel ten-line poems.  For instance, my poem will appear amongst the noise from @hollycorfield.  Deborah and Ian’s poems can be found at @debrisstevenson and @dudlian, respectively.  To manage the construction of this and to have the conversation in public, we will be talking to each other on Twitter, using #OCTANKA where the whole collaborative work will grow just to make sure everyone knows this is a digital engagement, you know.

Once the month closes and the poem stiffens up, I will post parts of it up here and we will see what sort of kraken we have awoken from the Octanka.  Until then, Happy Poetry Day!  And see you here.

archipelagoSince September, I have been running weekly walking and writing workshops around Spike Island, a real/unreal island in the middle of Bristol.  Mapping walk over walk and working in collaboration with each participant, this project has been gathering itself under the name Spike Archipelago.


The project culminates today at Spike Island, the gallery, with a special and free workshop for writers and artists who work with text.  After a final exploration of this strange slip of land, participants will work together and with the project’s archive to compose new work which can then be turned into miniature viewfinders, little guides for looking, for sharing our point of view.


This project also marks the beginning of the end of my residency at Spike Island and is supported by Arts Council England.

Come sightseeing with me, one last time.

Spike Island
133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX
For how to get there, click here.

Sunday 1 December,


TOTEM, gallery guide (detail)

TOTEM, gallery guide (detail)

My 15-part poetic narrative antilabe is now installed as part of Corinne Felgate‘s show TOTEM at AirSpace Gallery in Hanley, which also features collaborative works from Florence Peake, Camilla Emson and Marcus Boyle.  Drawing on the motives of the Lunar Society, Felgate’s installation explores the potential strengths and frailties of collective artistic dialogue, within the wider conversation about the legacy of the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent.


My narrative is being projected across Felgate’s installation, flickering absently through itself in randomized order in an alcove.  It is also available in full and all at once in the gallery guide.


totem2TOTEM: Trajectories in Tragedy and Triumph is at Air Space Gallery, Hanley until October 26th, 2013.  Felgate’s installation was recently showcased in the BBC’s review of the British Ceramics Biennial and in a-n news, amongst other places.




© airspace gallery

I have been selected by AirSpace Gallery to compose a new work of fiction to sit alongside a major new installation by Corinne Felgate, TOTEM: Trajectories in Tragedy & Triumph, opening later this month.

The installation [above] responds to notions of power, success, failure and resurrection within the British ceramic industry.  Felgate has invited three artists – Florence PeakeCamilla Emson and Marcus Boyle – to collaboratively construct an array of floor-to-ceiling totemic stacks, built from biscuit and hand cast pieces found onsite at the former Spode works in Stoke-on-Trent.  The installation keeps a keen focus on their collaborative relationship, and collaboration’s role in Felgate’s own work.

My 15-part text was commissioned to specifically respond to their collaborative structure and will be revealed with the launch of the British Ceramics Biennial and TOTEM, which is a partner show at AirSpace Gallery.  I am excited to be a part of this, which adds a second and split voice to my presence on the Spode site as an EXPLORE artist.  In a way, the two works speak to each other as well as Felgate’s installation, as I test the process of writing, and in fact, reading, as a collaborative act.  The process has produced a strange and thrilling thing that I am really looking forward to sharing with you.

In the meantime, final preparations continue for the installation of my poetic sequence stoc at the Spode site next week.  If I tell you now that it’s one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever taken on, I hope you might start to get as twitchy and heartened and excited as I am right now.  I’ll be back shortly with some preview images.  Until then, please bite nails and settle stomachs for me.

© Gemma Wright

© Gemma Wright

AMC PosterArtist Meets Curator see their first project open this week with a three day show in the Edwardian Toilets on Park Row, ‘Here more concentrated, sparser there’.

Working in print, sculpture and animation, Gemma Wright‘s work investigates the relationship between image and object, creating optical landscapes of mathematical shapes inspired by the interior of this intriguing locked location.

Artist meets Curator invited me to write a new text for the show. They suggested I read Calvino’s Invisible Cities, from which the title of the show is taken, and take a look around the site – a private public space lost in the middle of Park Row where old perfumes still swill out of a cabinet where blank postcards are still stacked up, waiting to send someone a story that always ends with ‘Wish you were here’.

I started to think about spaces in the city opening and closing, a flickering array, chattering stomata.

I started to think particularly about fritillary flowers, which can still be found growing wild in spaces where the soils have not been disturbed, in woodland, wetland and ancient meadows, but are otherwise tended in gardens. And so they grow “here more concentrated, sparser there”, suggesting how we might map out those columns of soil that have stayed still and those that have been turned over, ploughed over, paved over.  Plus, its bizarre chessboard patterning matches the Edwardian toilets’ Ennerdale tiling, so there was this sudden tessellation for me.

Fritillary start to sprout up at this time of year.  I had tip offs that they were appearing at Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton and in private gardens, but no one had seen them closer to Bristol in parks or woodland yet.  I googled and walked and peered under hedges and I had just about given up on having a cutting of some of these strange chess flowers at the reading this week when I walked into the garden at the back of my house where the motorway meets the railway line and the culverted River Frome runs under our feet.  There they were, three solemn bells, looking at the ground.


I will be reading my new story Lazarus Bell at the preview of ‘Here more concentrated, sparser there’ on Thursday at 8pm.

And a short text and short offshoot of this project will be appearing for one night only as part of Pyramid Schemes, an immersive installation of sixty 100-word fictions responding to ‘the city’ at the White Building in Hackney Wick produced by Lawrence Lek and The White Review.  That one night is the night of the 2nd May and you can book your excellent self in here.

artist meets curator

It’s been a very busy few weeks since I returned from Cushendall in January.  Happily so.  Partly to remind myself, here’s an overview of new, ongoing and upcoming work:

Artist Meets Curator
26 to 28 April 2013, 12-5pm
Preview 25 April, 6-9pm, with reading by Holly Corfield Carr 8pm

 © Gemma Wright

© Gemma Wright

Artist meets Curator is a new collaborative project in Bristol bringing together artists and curators in temporary spaces throughout the city.  Their first project in April is an exhibition of site-responsive sculptural work by artist Gemma Wright in the Edwardian Toilets on Park Row, Here more concentrated, sparser there.

Artist Meets Curator have commissioned me to read a new work for this exhibition at the preview event on the 25th April at 8pm.

After my site visit to the gentlemen’s urinals, I started excitedly researching Edwardian tiling patterns and I’m taking cues from Wright’s own research into Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1972), architecture and origami for the story itself.  Now it’s just over a month until what has to be the most strange and brilliant event you’ll see in a public toilet for a long while.

Spoonfed No.6

spoonfedArtist Meets Curator invited me to help them pitch at Spoon Fed No. 6, a micro-funding event run by Bristol-based co-operative The Collect at the Parlour Showrooms on Sunday 3rd March.

Riffing on the idea of invisible cities and storytelling, I produced a 24-line short story printed onto three origami fortune tellers.  With audience members, we opened and closed the fortune tellers according to the number of cities we had ever lived in (4, 8 and “50 million” apparently) and then collaboratively read the resulting ‘visible’ story, surrendering the temporarily lost lines.  The readers read the fractured text beautifully and, staggeringly, we won all £225 funding collected during the event for the project.

There were so many excellent projects presented that afternoon and it was an honour to pitch our work to such an energised, engaged crowd.  If you want to get involved or attend the next Spoon Fed in June, you can find more details here.

Factory Nights Publication

Factory NightsRednile Projects have recently published Factory Nights: Discovering and Activating Spaces, a catalogue showcasing the unique commissions and collaborations developed from their Factory Nights programme run between 2011 and 2012.  I’m not exaggerating to say that working with Rednile has radically changed my practice – and my life.  Being invited to attend the Factory Night at the Historic Wedgwood Institute in October 2011 gave me the opportunity to work along visual artists for the first time, and resulted in a commissioned residency at the original Spode Factory with sculptor David Booth and ceramic artist Sun Ae Kim that ran from November 2011, during the British Ceramics Biennial, to July 2012.  It was such an invigorating and challenging experience barely summarised in my brief report for Rednile (above) published alongside an image of David Booth’s dramatic concrete interventions taken during our pop-up exhibition in the China Hall in July 2012.

Penning Perfumes

© Ruby Walker

© Ruby Walker

After almost three months of sniffing and wafting and living with the risk of accidentally imbibing the mystery scent I had received from perfume and poetry collaboration Penning Perfumes, I performed my responsive poem Gliss at the Milk Thistle on 27th February, alongside the other participating poets, perfumers and at least one taxidermied fox in a bow tie.

It was all terribly glamourous and the Milk Thistle generously closed the synaesthetic circle of confusion by providing cocktails inspired by the perfumes that the poets had written poems about.  There was even one perfume produced especially by Elizabeth Moores of Papillon Perfumery in response to a poem by Bristol-based poet David Briggs.  Blimey.

Other news

Other upcoming events include Write Club Presents… at Spike Island next Sunday and Word of Mouth at The Thunderbolt on the 3rd April as well as some rich new collaborations, including a new poetry sequence written with a young US-based poet, ekphractic responses to artwork in Bristol and working with The Collect on a new performance work.

I don’t want to give everything away right now so I will return to writing my new story for a derelict public toilet.  As you do.

As you were.