Arts and Letters Report: November/December 2015

By Jennifer Ann DAVIES

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser



A book about hope and human resilience……again and again people who have been through terrible, unimaginable horrors……can smile…tell jokes, they can be compassionate to others. They look to the future. The human spirit is amazing……Author Jo COTTERILL “Looking at the Stars” Penguin Random House UK 2015

“Once, when I was little, I had a story book.

A real book, with pages and pictures…

It was about a mouse who was a detective, and he went

everywhere looking for clues.

I loved that book so much….

It was old and battered….Potta had found it

on a rubbish dump.

I treasured that book –

not just because it was a thing
that belonged to me,

but also because it gave me a glimpse of another world.

Amina, the storyteller – p.246:Ch.17



Angharad PRICE, author of “The Life of Rebecca Jones” posits a poignant portrait of ‘home’ – of ‘place’ – relaying her story of a tiny rural community in the Maesglasau valley in Wales, where her family has farmed the land for a thousand years.

Delivered with haunting dignity and simple intimacy, this beautiful work of fiction was an instant classic when first published in Welsh! –

I wish to insert, here, the fact that I am having difficulty finding Australian works which give readers/viewers a sense of beauty, of hope, of place, of timelessness and of rich histories. One element of this absence is the sheer ‘youth’ of our own beautiful country – yet there are other elements and my hope is that more Australian writers, and more Australian women, in particular find their ‘voice’, to present, promote, posit the beautiful, the hopeful, the vital sense of ‘place’ and can tell us tales that are timeless and rich……..

Angharad PRICE, born near Caernarfon, is a novelist, critic and translator, as well as a senior lecturer in Welsh at Bangor University. One thematic strand of her work is that of a connection with or love for one’s native area, celebrated in poetry. One such poet, the author’s Uncle Baldwyn, was a favourite. The following is in praise of his native area’s beauty – the symbology is simple, evident and evocative.

The Pillow

The pillow’s a white altar – slowly

The day’s late sacrifices smoulder,

And light smoke rises softly

As dreams to happy realms.



“SISTER” written by an insightful woman, Rosamund LUPTON (Piatkus UK 2010), engages the reader from first to last page! Suspense crackles and twists and turns proceed thick and fast – however, this is blended, unusually, with a touching poignancy that brings tears to your eyes, and incorporates, for example, a startling verse from ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ Christina Rossetti (1830-1894). This novel is an emotionally gripping and rather frightening debut from Lupton, and is very, very clever. The ties that bind two sisters are indelibly, amazingly, interesting……


I have had Russian visitors and have been gifted the most beautiful, precious copies of Pushkin’s poetry and prose; children’s tales, told for Aloysha Tolstoy! – a range of other revered writers and Chekov’s plays!

Of particular interest, is the Foreword to Chekov’s plays. Chekov is posited as “…the gentlest and most impersonal of all the great modern dramatists….” who, though addicted to ‘culture’, and endeavouring to combat the encroaching mediocrity, vulgarity and illiteracy of his times, did not want to generate further hypocrisy or falsehoods, and promoted, by the content of his works and his own behaviours and attitudes, “…a mystical compound of humanity, decency, kindness, intelligence, education, accomplishment and will…”. His plays, then, express life through subtle construction, everyday dialogue, and an electrically charged atmosphere in which even the most casual words and actions assume great importance.

“What makes his work great is that it can be FELT and understood not only by any Russian but by anybody in the world.” Leo TOLSTOY.



There are many wonderful ‘end of year’ events in the Art world – however, most are yet to come!

This week I will attend the opening of the exhibition: ART MAGIC: THE CLIMBING TREE by Hiromi TANGO – an internationally recognised artist who creates large-scale installation works, most usually developed in collaboration with local community groups.

Hiromo has worked in liaison with local artist, Hayley GILLESPIE, and the exhibition will be housed in the Loft!

Once installed, the sculptural installation will extend floor to ceiling, with sprawling branches and brightly coloured tendrils that will continue to ‘grow’ throughout the exhibition. (20th November 2015 – 7th February 2016). Gallery visitors will be encouraged to create environmental elements that will be progressively incorporated into the magical rainforest!!!! Lots of fun!!


Blessings and Magick for the Christmas Season!


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