Wealden Literary Festival (Sat 29/Sun 30 June, 2019)
“One of the highlights of this year’s fabulous Wealden Lit Fest was today’s spirited, generous and enlarging discussion between Tanya Shadrick, Jessica J Lee and Nina Powles on increasing diversity and the breadth of stories in nature and place writing. Inspiring.” Irreplaceable author Julian Hoffmann
As writer-in-residence, ran workshops on childhood place – using words from Jay Griffiths’ classic book Kith: Riddle of the Childscape as starting point: ‘one’s square mile, the first landscape we know…Amor Loci’.
Festival-goers were invited to share their words, voices & stories between their time spent with a line up of fine nature/place writers including Raynor Winn, Adam Nicholson, Horatio Clare, Emma Mitchell, & Naoko Abe.
Joined Jessica J Lee and Nina Powles of Willowherb Review in a panel discussion on diversity in nature writing (Beyond the Green and Pleasant Land), before chairing the last talk of the weekend: Authors Neil Ansell (The Last Wilderness) and Dan Richards (Outpost) on wild places.
If one does not lie back and sum up and say to the moment, this very moment, stay you are so fair, what will be one’s gain, dying? No: stay, this moment. No one ever says that enough. Always hurry. I am now going in, to see Leonard, and say stay this moment…” Virginia Woolf
Sussex-based writer and artist Tanya Shadrick – Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and creator of the Wild Patience Scrolls – was in residence for a one-day celebration of diary-writing at Monks House, the home of Virginia Woolf.
During this drop-in afternoon event she read from Woolf’s diaries and invited visitors to spend time writing in the grounds.
Ahead of the event, Tanya wrote for National Writing Day about her reasons and techniques for writing about place.
Field Notes from Warnham was a one-year collaboration with sculptor Will Nash at this mid-Sussex nature reserve, in an ACE-funded project for the Horsham District Year of Culture. Gathered notes on the flora and fauna through the changing seasons, worked with visiting school groups, and collected also perspectives and stories from visitors to the Reserve: this informed sculptural works for the site and a display for the visitor centre.
“I’ve always loved the artist’s hut and never been in. Then today you appeared in the doorway! I felt your warmth and kindness. Just so many lovely words and pictures to enjoy.” Open Day visitor
During her residency at Bucks Mills Cabin, Tanya moved between books and poems set by the sea, her own thoughts about growing up on this coast, and stories collected from visitors. These words were set around like a bird’s bower, inspiring those who spent time there to write as well.
The Cabin (belonging for years to painters Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards) is — like the tiny island on which the Moomin creator Tove Jansson and her partner lived and worked for decades — a powerful symbol of female dedication to a simple life of creative practice and closeness to nature.
“So beautiful. There is such a grace in your writing.” Aurélie Baudrier, Head of Communications, Jan Michalski Foundation.
An inaugural-year recipient of a residency at this leading European foundation for writing and literature, staying in one of 7 new architect-designed ‘treehouses’. The Foundation describes its mission as being “to foster literary creation and encourage the practice of reading.’ The residency was awarded so that the intensely-local Wild Patience Scrolls could be completed in an international context.
“Elegant, humble.” Dr Martin Shaw, mythologist and story-teller
‘You looked so steadfast and I felt held by your presence…May you continue to spread your alchemy.’ Pool goer
A mile of writing on scrolls of paper as long as the country’s oldest lido. Swimmers and those who encountered the work online were asked to consider this: When did you feel most wild and free?