Wayfarer Arts Conference 2013

Lee Abbey, Lynton, Devon with Miriam during the freak Summer heat wave

Lee Abbey, Lynton, Devon with Miriam during Wayfarer Arts Conference 2013

I wish to compare the Wayfarer Arts Conference to the creation of a delicious meal:

  • Bring together some exquisite  ingredients (creative people, a beautiful rural location, fantastic weather, good food and Christian faith)
  • Season with a few insightful talks, arts workshops and time to contemplate
  • then  mix for seven days …..and voila, Wayfarer Arts Conference 2013!

In comparison to the staples of the UK Christian Summer conference, such as Greenbelt, New Wine and Keswick to name a few, Wayfarer’s  is unique. Its small size, the diversity of people it brings together and its rural location fosters an intimate family feel where Christian faith and creativity find an easy meeting place.   It is hosted very professionally by the Community at Lee Abbey in Lynton, Devon but manages to maintain a handmade, authenticity.

There is  a generosity of spirit by all who attend, whereby the professional artist brushes up against the amateur or by those who like to dabble in a creative pursuit once in a while. All find their place and inspiration during the week, be it during a creative workshop, a walk over the rolling hills of Lynton or through a late night chat by the bar…

For a small conference, the calibre of workshop leaders is high, this year they included: documentary film-making with FarNorthFilm,  comedy writing with Jam Carey (co-writer of Miranda, Milton Jones, Bluestone 42) and Sketching with Monique Sliedrecht  along with Guest Speaker for the week Loren Wilkinson from Regent College Vancouver.

I have attended two of the three years since Wayfarer’s  has been running. I have returned home each time not on a mountain top ‘spiritual high’, but with a warm, steady spiritual glow and renewed energy for creative endeavour that seems to get side-lined in my normal daily life. In keeping with the food analogy I began with; the Wayfarer experience is less quick, slick, carbohydrate for the creative-type and more nutritious home-cooked dinner for the creative soul: a soul that the church often forgets to feed.

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Far North Film

fnf_new_logoA shout out for brothers Toby and Fionn Watts of Far North Film who I met at this year’s  Wayfarer’s Arts Conference (more to come on WAC in a future post). Their site boasts an eclectic showcase of work covering documentary, fiction and promos. In keeping with their name, much of their work is shot against the scenic vistas of the Scottish highlands which they mine creatively, capturing its wild, rural and empty landscapes. Of particular note is ‘Ekko‘ for this scenic atmosphere. My favourite-for its comic genius-is ‘The Return of Filbert Luvalle’ – the trailer to which is below. Enjoy!

Rembrandt and Google

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Rembrant celebrated by Google

Today is the 407th birthday of Rembrandt (full name: Rembrandt van Rijn) a fact that I would have been none-the-wiser of had I not made my habitual visit- along with millions of others this morning – to the search engine of all search engines: Google.

I am most familiar with Rembrandt’s self portrait’s where he would paint himself in the likeness of St Paul, or other biblical personas – take a peek at these here

I wish these artists – who often died in relative obscurity – could come back for a day and see how famous they have become – that this morning millions have clicked on a link and been able to view his whole life’s creative output in a virtual gallery.. wowza.

A hidden gem

Stumbled across this absolute gem of a project – Stations of the King’s Cross – in an idle moment of surfing the web.
circle_line_tube stations_of_the_kings_cross_logo

I am very much an advocate of a the ‘worker deserving their wages’ but there is something else added, (integrity perhaps?) to this piece in it being not-for-profit and also in the deliberate anonymity of its creator. In the egocentric, information-saturated virtual world in which we operate, there is something incredibly refreshing, and ‘old skool’ about the artist adding no twitter address, or Facebook page to ‘like’; just a simple faceless contacts page to send any messages too. Looking forward to stumbling across some more gems like this lurking on t’interweb…

The Colour Papers – bad poetry

Colour Papers cover

Just a shout out for Ross Lawhead and Russell Thompson, authors of a humorous collection of ‘bad’ poetry- a fantastically witty read from two writers to watch.

Volume 1 is available to purchase and Volume 2 is being serialised here for free.

Jeanette Winterson in Oxford

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Despite having the highest cost of living outside London, living in Oxford does have some perks: notably, the many famous authors and all-round-interesting-people that pay the place a visit. Jeanette Winterson, author of ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’, was the latest one to stop by. She was in town to give a free lecture at Mansfield College last week.

She spoke on the topic of ‘Creativity and Inequality’. Using three definitions that the OED gives for ‘creativity’ she used these to show that to be creative is to be human: it is what we do.  She posed the rhetorical question, ‘What young child does not show delight at having a story read to them, banging an object against a surface to make a sound, building sandcastles and making marks with crayons?’ Creativity – and not just the Arts- but the broader definition of bringing into being- is a mark of being human. She contrasted this with our current society’s educational objectives that seem to be preoccupied with wealth creation, lamenting the recent propositions by Michael Gove to ditch the Arts from the proposed educational programme to replace GCSE’s.

I have immense respect for Winterson. Adopted at birth, she joined the home of the infamous ‘Mrs Winterson’ whose tyrannical ‘Christian’ care she grew up under. The spiritual and emotional abuse she received, for exploring her sexuality, at the hands of her strange adoptive Mother and the church, was just horrific. However, she has been able to draw on her experiences for her own creative endeavours, even finding in them moments of comedy.

At times, Winterson is painfully intense when she speaks, but these dark depths are tempered by her friendly northern manner, joyfully articulate about her life and how she has survived it. Books, creativity and education were this woman’s salvation – and hers was a message exhorting us to take care of our creative souls.