Sunday, 25 September 2016

Ekphrastic Writing Challenge

As most of you know, I love taking my own photos, especially for illustrating the blog or on other social media - safer too as there's no copyright issue. My writing is often inspired by the art and photographs I view in galleries and it seems there is quite a long tradition of one inspiring the other.

Front of Kelvingrove
The best example in my own case was a challenge our writing group was set many years ago on a visit to the wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, which I've no doubt mentioned before. The lovely lady and member of our writing group who led the session passed away a few years ago but we've never forgotten this challenge.

We were all given a piece of paper on which was written a single sentence suggesting the kind of inspiration we should seek from any of the paintings. Mine was to find a villain. In the end, I chose a wonderful portrait of a woman who became my villainous female main character in a short story The Artist's Wife. While waiting for everyone to choose, I sat down on  nearby chair with my pen and notebook and the words started flowing. The story eventually went on to be the winner of a national competition.

It's not the only time art has inspired one of my stories, articles or poems and it won't be the last, but this was the most meaningful and I'll always be grateful for such an inspiring day.

So here is an online publisher, Rattle, that offers an Ekphrastic Challenge each month for poetry, if anyone wants to have a go - you even have the chance of winning a small monetary prize! Some photos and illustrations will be more inspiring than others but even if you don't write poetry, it might suggest the start of a story for your own use.

Good luck and let me know if art or photography inspires your own writing.
Rosemary

10 comments:

Wendy's Writing said...

I think paintings and photographs are a wonderful inspiration for stories. Unfortunately I am no poet so I'll have to pass on your 'Rattle' suggestion. For those whose rhymes don't sound like primary school offerings, it sounds a great idea.

Francesca Capaldi Burgess said...

I also like to take lots of photos wherever I go. I use them for settings and story ideas, and as you say, to avoid copyright issues on social media. One of my competition wins, for a piece of flash fiction, was based on a painting. Thanks for the information on the writing challenge, Rosemary.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for your comment, Wendy - at least you can use them as inspiration for stories!

Hi Francesca - thanks for commenting! That's great about the flash fiction win - you're more proof that art inspiration works.

Julia Thorley said...

I'm in the process of compiling a book of short stories, one of which was isnpired by a painting in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham University.

Teresa Ashby said...

What a lovely building. Paintings can be so inspiring :-)

Joanna said...

I think photographs and paintings are hugely inspirational and many a story has developed from them. That's a beautiful building in your picture, Rosemary. xxx

Sneha said...

It's lovely to encounter your writing -- Indeed, sometimes a photograph does swirl up into emotions to form its own catharsis!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's great, Julia - all the best with it!

Thanks, Teresa - Kelvingrove is even more stunning inside!

Thanks, Joanna - glad you find art inspiring too!

Thanks for your comment, Sneha.

Rae Cowie said...

What a great outing, Rosemary. I too find photographs and paintings inspirational. At a recent meeting of the Aberdeen Writers' Room, we were given photographs (portraits) taken by the American photographer, Diane Arbus, which I loved and inspired me to create the bones of a short story - and I'm not a natural short story writer! : )

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