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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tale Of The Unexpected

I enjoyed a lovely morning at Henbury School in Bristol yesterday, watching a Year Ten art class and chatting to the students as they worked. The group was given an entire day to devote to their project - individual pieces based on images from my story, Struthio Camelus.

This story featured in the 2010 Bristol Short Story Prize anthology and is a surreal tale about a man metamorphosing into an ostrich during a job interview. As well as amazing depictions of the metamorphosis, they also picked out all sorts of other details, showing a good understanding of the story.

I saw St. Bernard dogs, the Branch of the Year trophy, the company tie, the office safe, the ostrich-feet bursting through the hapless man's brogues, Emily the hapless bride's wedding-dress (one of these was a collage made from bank-notes) and the interviewer sitting at his desk surrounded by the cheese-plant and the hat-stand mentioned in the story.

They used a variety of media and techniques: paints, inks, collage, pencil and pastels. Every student had their own ideas, yet they all helped and supported one another. Their teacher, John Bennett, was inspiring and enthusiastic. He worked so well with them while also encouraging them to think for themselves and follow through their ideas.

I had a wonderful time. All the students were happy to answer all my questions and let me examine their work. They were so polite and enthusiastic, a credit to their school. All their work will be displayed at the ShortStoryVille festival in Bristol on Saturday 14th July and a recording of me reading the story will (hopefully, if I can work out how to email it) be playing in the background.

I never imagined being involved in anything as amazing as that when I dreamed up this strange little story about how the things we expect to go one way, in a straightforward direction, often divert us off course in a way we could not have envisaged. The other theme is that we should never underestimate what others might know about us, or plan to do with us, given the chance!

In a nutshell, anything can happen any time. And often when you least expect it. 

13 comments:

  1. What a fabulous day, Joanna - thanks for sharing it with us. My son is an Art & Design teacher and I'm sure he'd appreciate all that creativity! I'm so glad you're getting the chance of wider exposure for your great stories.

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  2. Meant to say - I like the new-look blog and the photo! No doubt I'll be rejigging my blogs over the summer.

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  3. Thank you very much, Rosemary. It was an absolute delight to be there. The teachers work so hard and the facilities in the Art room are marvellous compared with years ago. It was so exciting to see them each with a copy of my story and some of the sentences highlighted for reference! I can remember writing it and considering whether to bother sending it off in the end. I thought it was too strange for anyone to enjoy. So it was especially good to see it come to life like that.
    I'm glad you like the new look blog! My middle daughter has been revamping me!

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  4. Sounds an amazing experience, Joanna - how lovely to have inspired all those creative young people.
    I like your new look blog too :-) x

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  5. Thank you very much, Teresa. It is so nice to be around young people and I like writing about teenagers too.

    I'm glad you like the blog. It's nice to have a bit of a change. x

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  6. Thank you Joanna - I enjoyed this. I must pay more attention to your writing, and I do appreciate your kind comment on my own blog recently.

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  7. Thank you so much, Henry. I really enjoyed your story. It made a brilliant start to my day.

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  8. That sounds like such a fun experience and I like the reminder that you never know where things might lead (and how important it is to get work out there!)

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  9. Thank you so much, Vikki. I think one of the things I love about writing is the anticipation. I never know where a new story will take me. And then, when the story is finished, there is the other sort of anticipation - not knowing who will like it and at what point it will become successful. Maybe the first time, maybe the fourth or fifth time it goes out there. You never know when that moment when you discover you've succeeded will arrive. x

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  10. Awesome! Enjoy the ShortStoryVille festival.

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  11. Thank you, Madeleine. I've just returned from Bristol and had a magical day there. The artwork looked amazing and it was a thrill to know that my story had inspired it. Those students in Bristol have a lot of talent. And Bristol is so lovely these days, especially the harbour area where ShortStoryVille takes place.

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  12. How wonderful. And I love the new photo.

    XX

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  13. Thanks so much, Suzanne. It was time for a revamp, according to my middle daughter, who is so much better at organising things like that than I am! x

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