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Supported by NHS Tayside Community Innovation Fund
THAT's Remotely Interesting     No. 03
Welcome to third issue of THAT's Remotely Interesting, the Newsletter of Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust's 'Creative at a Distance' Programmes being run online during these unusual times.  Our featured programmes are; 'Shared Photographs' being led by David P Scott and 'Writing From Home' led by Zoe Venditozzi.

Each Newsletter features examples of the participant's responses to the different challenges the programme Leads are setting, along with some general feedback and guidance.   A larger collection of the work produced for each challenge will also be available to view on THAT's Facebook page, each Thursday - Sunday.

David's third challenge was to photograph - 'A to Z'
Zoe's third challenge was to focus on - 'Developing Characters'
Thanks to everyone for a fantastic week of submissions to our third
photography challenge 'A to Z', with a great range of letters and subjects represented.

There were several photographers who got up close to their subjects
exploring the rich details found in everyday objects.

Good Morning Everyone!

 What a pleasure it is to have all the lovely pieces of writing coming in over the course of a week. This week's challenge was about getting deeper into the characters that have been created and we had some really strong pieces of writing where we explored lots of different types of people. Reading though the ways that people have detailed the character's lives, families, houses and pasts has been fascinating.


Developing Characters: 1

She always has:

  • Mobile phone, however, it is not switched on, which tells us that she isn't a 'phoneaholic' so is self-confident not needing repeated validation.
  • The e.reader, a surprise gift from her husband of 5 years, shows us they're romantic.  Also practical. Being a voracious reader never having to worry about having something to read made her doubly happy on receipt, Thoughts of him are always present when she picks up the device.
  • A gold signet ring on her right hand has been passed down the female line of her family since the time of her great grandmother. It is often gazed at. Family and its traditions are very important as well as the love felt from its presence 
  • A small, but bright, keychain torch for safety also brings reassurance and shows she is practical and has common sense. 
  • The final item is a battered, buttersoft leather shoulder bag. A 21st birthday present from her parents who, knowing her dislike of regular handbags, bought this. Being able to wear it close to her body feels like a security blanket and is great because all the necessities of everyday are inside.  


The door to the kitchen opens onto hi-tech granite, steel and glass. Not much of a smell, yet, but it's early. Everything in its place and a place for everything. Very organized! But this allows the passion and love for cooking to flow. This room is not sterile and soulless though. The gaze falls on the myriad of colours and patterns of the textiles, very uplifting. Soon the room is filled with the aroma of the coffee maker, the result of which is placed on the small table in front of the window. There to sink into a comfy chair and gaze at the garden, small but full of colour, to smile at the antics of the birds on the feeders, and at night to wonder at the myriad of stars and the progress of the moon.  An oasis of peace and calm. A shelf groans with the weight of the recipe books, from her Grandmothers to ones which have appealed in the bookshop.  

What will be today's cooking adventure, something cozy and familiar or a new adventure? Whatever, total relaxation.

Bev Malcolm

Through her writing about this character Bev has suggested some really fascinating aspects of her past with the descriptions of the signet ring and the birthday present handbag. Also the description of the kitchen!
I'd love to spend time there.

Gardens provided lots of inspiration and photographs featured the plants, ornaments and animals that inhabit them.
Developing Characters: 2

Five Items carried by Richard West: 
  • Rifle.  My constant companion and literally, life-saver and the saver of other lives.  Not the first one I have had.  I acquired it from one of my platoon when he died... I had spotted it and seen how much better it was than mine, seemed to fire better and more quickly and sat in my shoulder better making it a better fit.  It is soothing to have it with me – not only for the obvious reason, but it is a responsibility to keep it clean, the tender, small circular motions calming me.
  • Copy of the Bible.  I am not a particularly religious person and fell away from attending church a few years ago but having something to read in long periods of nothing, alone with my thoughts releases me from the grim reality of my surroundings.  It has also calmed others when I read it out loud.  My mother pressed it, slim, cool and leather-bound, into my hands as I left home.  How I have managed to keep it all this time I do not know.
  • Matches and cigarettes.  The army staple, even more important almost than food.  Didn’t smoke much before the war but like every other soldier, rely on these to keep my nerve and combat the boredom.  I did have a lighter for the first few months but lost it, either in the slippery mud or perhaps I gave it to a comrade to light his own cigarette.  It was a Christmas present from a dear friend.
  • Photograph of my father, mother and sister.  Taken that same Christmas, we stand and sit poised for the camera in our sitting room staring bright-eyed and hopeful at the camera, fidgeting allayed and looking forward to our delicious, colourful Christmas meal.  My father looks imperious, my mother calm and happy, my sister mischievous.  I barely recognise myself.
  • Letter dated 15 July 1915 from a person called Phil.  The letter sits like a lining in my uniform jacket pocket.  It is rain-stained, mud-stained, tear-stained and blood-stained.  I cannot number the times I have taken it out, held it and turned it over and over before putting it away again.  I no longer even need to read it as its contents are so well-known, I can recite them in my mind.
Where I spend my time
 Up until my current predicament, my home has been the foul-smelling, nauseating, fear-riddled trenches of France during WW1.  The rats are everywhere, feeding off the debris of human life and death – from the bodies, human waste, bits of food.  Everything is rain-soaked, mud-soaked, horror-soaked.  My companions blend into the mud with their uniforms the same colour as the walls of the trenches – only movements distinguish them or the odd small light of a cigarette.  Everything is grey, grey, brown and grey.  Feet are wet, soaked and blistered.  Hands that shake so badly they can hardly handle rifles, eat food, do up a button.  Faces and eyes that plead to go home or just be anywhere other than here.
Yet somehow there are moments of black humour or a laugh rises into the air or there is the sound of a softly-whistled tune.  But mostly we must be quiet and show small moments of kindness to each other amongst the large-scale plan of death and destruction.

Fiona Backhouse
This is such a strong piece of writing and immediately drops the reader into the character's awful world. There is a lot to think about here and I'd definitely like to read a story that he is in.

Lastly, a few photographers looked beyond their immediate surroundings
to capture scenes out in the wider world.

Thanks to everyone who took part, can't wait to see the results of
Challenge 4!


Developing Characters: 3

  • Sitting here thinking what are my treasured possessions and I would have to say my handbag is certainly one. I've had the same design now for 30 years or so, a half moon shape, that fits snugly under my arm with straps over shoulders, quite safe where no one can grab it. Mind you I do not have to worry too much now of that, but there was a time when I had to be careful all the time. The bag zips from side to side so if I need a carry bag it does for a few items, and of course it carries the rest of my necessary bits and pieces I need. 
  • My lipstick! What would I do without that? In its little chinese case which holds two sticks and has a little mirror inside. It's very important to start the day with your lips on, as it gives your mouth a cherry dressing.
  • Then there is my purse which holds a lot but is very contained, it has all my money, in card form and some cash, my passport for ID and in case I want to get away, my phone and photos of my family. There are some stamps local and foreign, I love to post cards when I’m visiting somewhere else, and of course the various cards for shops and a VIP one my library card, what would I do without that? Such joy I derive from visits to the library to return or collect a new book, read the newspapers, use the computers or just go to the Cafe and talk to Tricia the waitress and have a cup of tea, depending on what time of day, I may have lunch, always satisfied as I generally have a new read under my arm.
  • I also have a shopping bag that rolls up into nothing when not been used, a vital piece of kit these days of reducing plastic. 
  • And last but not least my shorthand notebook and pen, essential, I do not go anywhere without it It has my shopping lists, my musings, my sketches, my drawings, phone numbers, things I must do, everything and anything. It all started when I began work and I needed to remember so many things that different people needed and all in different departments. In those days there were no computers so not to get muddled I got into the habit of a shorthand note book, mainly because if you wanted to give someone a note you could easily tear out a page and when I’d finish a page I folded it up and secured it with a rubber band so I could reference it if need be.
Well there you have it, my life in things.

The place I spend most time is my garden. I go into it as soon as possible in the day, I sit on my bench with a table beside which holds my notebook, radio and phone. A short distance is a small shed which houses some pots, trowel, rake, garden gloves and gardening bits and pieces, so when I fancy a little potting it’s all ready for me. 
When I sit I have the smell of roses wafting past or when the wind is up I have the smell of the sea. One thing I have not learnt is bird sounds, I recognize the seagulls and their sounds but not all the smaller birds that come to visit my roses but no matter they still bring me joy while I sit making my notes or phone calls. This is such a beautiful, calm place to be.


I can absolutely imagine seeing this character in the library and enjoying a conversation with her in the cafe. I love what Moon did with the description of her early days of working and her ongoing use of the little notebook.

I'm looking forward to seeing your descriptive pieces in the coming week. Have fun and take care!


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Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust · Ardler Clinic · Turnberry Avenue · Dundee, Dnd dd2 3tp · United Kingdom

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