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Supported by NHS Tayside Community Innovation Fund
THAT's Remotely Interesting     No. 07
 
Welcome to seventh 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.

David's seventh challenge was to photograph - 'Light and Shadow'
Zoe's seventh challenge was to focus on - 'From a Picture'
The challenge this week was about using an image to get the imagination fired up. The beauty of this exercise is that we are surrounded by images, whether they’re photographs, artwork, adverts, images in newspapers or online and we can plunder these images for our writing. I have a collection of what I call “orphaned photographs” that I have collected over the years in junk shops and I like to use these pictures and imagine who is in the photos. What are they thinking? Who are they with? Who is taking the picture? How did these photos end up abandoned?
 
It’s very easy to replicate this exercise any time you’d like to write something but maybe don’t have an idea. The internet, of course, is very useful for finding all sorts of images that should spark the imagination. There’s one particular website that I love called
www.foundphotographs.com which I think you’ll find very useful. Just be careful you don’t lose hours to wandering around looking at pictures of strangers! You also don’t need to stick with photographs. The world of art is extremely useful for generating ideas too. Have a look at the art available on websites like The Tate or MoMA or similar and have a browse. There are sure to be works of art that set your ideas off.
 Zoe
Gosh, twenty years ago. The five of us escaping from our parents, school and whatever else we were meant to be doing and going into the forest behind our houses to get lost and be free. Or so we thought.
 
The forest no longer exists, it has become an estate of some fifty houses for low income housing and is full of children running about like we use to do but on tar and concrete, not the soft earth.
 
There on the left is Billy, Bookworm we use to call him, because if he was not with us, he had his head in a book. He did well, now been the vice principal of a new school in the next county. Next to him, Sean, brother of Sam, the third one along. He was always following us around, not really a member of our group, but since Sam looked out for him, he was always nearby. Sean and Sam’s father had a bit of a temper, more so when he was out of work, which was quite often as he was in the building trade and that industry was having some hard times those days. The boys tried to keep well away from him as he would incite Sam to answer him back and then clop him for doing so.
 
Then there was Mathew, always a fag in his mouth, none of the rest of us fancied cigarettes for some reason but Mathew was addicted. The girls loved Mathew, sent him letters, hung around all over the place hoping he would talk to them, or just smile even, but what none of them realised was that Mathew was painfully shy when it came to girls. So much so, that when he noticed them he got so tongue-tied that he started spluttering and blushing as red as a tomato. He soon got over that when he left school and is now a successful estate agent.
 
Then of course there is moi, the one taking the photo. It was always my ambition to be a photographer and that’s what I am today and have done very well. In fact, all of us have succeeded, Sam and Sean have a thriving builder’s yard so I think the father made an impression after all.

 
Moon
I like how you’ve used the photograph as a vehicle for the photographer to have a walk down memory lane. You’ve given a good overview of the characters and a suggestion of the power dynamics. What you might like to do next is write a scene from the past, in the past. I’m intrigued by the brothers’ relationship with their father and feel there’s a story waiting to be told there.
For this week's challenge, Light and Shadow, we looked at how subjects are
affected and changed by light. Inspiration was provided through a
favourite Halloween trick of holding a torch under the chin to create a
spooky face and making shapes in the shadows cast by sunlight on a wall.

It's a challenge that provides a lot of room to experiment with a range
of subjects and technical set-ups and once again we were delighted with
the responses.
David
Various objects featured with ornaments and household appliances presented in a different, very atmospheric light. Gardens and the shadows cast by the sun were also put to very effective use.
Hurry up and take the stupid picture, will you? I'm freezing and Liam's posing like he's got a six-pack. It's a two at best! Why he thinks she'll be impressed beats me. There’s Eric with his ciggy, if he lit it he'd just cough and splitter and look idiotic.

Why did she just appear and with a camera too? Girls are just silly and she's spoiling our fun, goofing about as usual, sitting round the fire, drinking the booze Eric got. Made me feel sick but I pretended to like it. Tough being the smallest, Liam and Eric are always teasing me and I think my bro is getting fed up with me tagging along. 
 
I Like her dog, wouldn't be tongue-tied talking to it!  Did she arrange to meet one of the others here, very convenient just appearing exactly where we are, this deep in the woods. And what’s with the hair swishing and silly giggle? Maybe the dog didn't just run off.
 
Be good if it's Eric she fancies. He scares me always bragging about how tough he is and the things he's done, as if! Don't like that we always do what he wants.
 
Think I'll go, Mom will be home from work and dinner should be ready soon. They can all just do what they want, I don't care!


Bev Malcolm
You’ve done a great job of capturing the character’s voice here and he conveys the feelings many of us had in our teens of frustration and how it feels to be in a group. I’m particularly interested in the way the character sees Eric and the power he holds in the group. I think there’s potential for you to develop the story further perhaps with an incident involving Eric’s boast and threat of danger.
There was also a great theatricality to many images with shadow puppets, selfies and an instructional video teaching children how to make a cave among the submissions.
Well here I am again.  How do I get myself into these situations? All the time!  I really should’ve seen it coming. But Woody (James) had been so persuasive and it almost sounded fun.  Almost. 
 
“Come on Nick!” he pleaded, “You haven’t been out with us for ages.  Not since…well…you know.” 
 
“I know, but…” I hesitated.
 
“But nothing.  See, no reason.  Bring your camera too.  You’re always much more relaxed when you have that thing and you capture your random shots.  It’ll be good for you to get out the house. And besides, we are going to the clearing and you love it there.  Dex chose that spot just for you,” he added. 
 
Nothing.  I had nothing.  No excuses, no reasons, no words of plea. “OK, give me a sec to grab my things.”
 
The five of us have been friends since the end of Primary School.  They were always the cool kids and hung around together all the time.  And I, the loner, the misfit, longed to be part of their group but just never quite got it.  But then things changed.  I guess they felt sorry for me. 
 
It was after that first incident with mum that Woody made the first move, he came over to speak to me in the playground the morning after.  I guess he could hear the commotion going on across the road; hear my cries.  He didn’t say it but there was something about the way he spoke to me, I could just tell he knew.  He asked me to join them for lunch, and that was it.  We became ‘The Crew’ as we were nicknamed.  Woody, Dex, Gav, Ross and me.  And I loved it.  I had a place in life, a purpose and a means of escape.  Woody became my protector and his house my hideout when things got too much at home.  And they did.  Often. I’d been lost without him.
 
As I grab my things – mobile phone, wallet, knife, EpiPen, photo of my sister (a little kiss for good luck) and camera, we can hear Dex sounding the horn.  Never a good sign.  He is so impatient when he is in his mischievous mood.
 
“Hurry up, you know what he’s like if we leave him waiting too long,” Woody pleaded, “one of us will be at the end of his prank!” 
 
He was right.
So here we are two hours later, and I hate to admit I have enjoyed myself.  Well, until Dex let his mood take over.  We had wandered through the woods to get to the clearing, having a laugh and a joke; my camera filling nicely with snaps of the trees, flowers, insects and the candid shots of the lads, always my favourite, always filled with memories.  Woody had been the butt of the prank this time. Dex had found some insect-filled leaves and shoved them down the back of Woody’s shirt.  Dex knows he hates bugs.  But I have to admit, the sight of Woody dancing around, screaming, trying to get them out, was hilarious.  The first time I had laughed in… months.  I’m glad I managed to snap the photo just as Ross and Dex stole Woody’s shirt.  Another snap for the memory pile. 
 
But what’s up with Gav? I wondered.  He’s been distant today.  And he’s usually the first one to side with Dex and get in on the jokes.  I wonder if the others have noticed.  Of course they have. 
 
“Oi, What’s up with your face, Gav?” Dex bellowed, “you’ve been a right boring git all day.” 
 
“Stuff.” 
 
That was it.  His answer.  Stuff.  But there was something about that word and the way he said it that seemed to change the mood. 
 
“When?” asked Ross, almost a whisper. 
 
“Dunno.  I just have to wait for the call.” 
 
“Tell him to F Off,” shouted Dex, “He said the last time would be the last.” 
 
“I know, but.” 
 
Then silence.
 
But what?  Who?  What happened the last time?  What’s going on?  Does everyone know?  I guess that’s what happens when you have been out of the loop for a few months.  I looked at Woody, his eyes wide open, colour drained from his face, pacing back and forward on the spot.  He looked at me and shook his head just slightly. 
 
Later.  I knew I would get the answers later.


Michelle Cassidy

This is a skillful depiction of your character where the reader can sense that something has happened but doesn’t know precisely what. It definitely makes me want to know the backstory and I’d love to see you develop this further. I’d like to know why the narrator is out of the loop and what on earth the others are speaking about! Keep going!

Alongside this week's challenge, two participants who missed last week
managed to catch up and shoot an additional set of images on the theme
Through the Looking Glass. Here is one from each series, a beautiful
jeweled still life and clever set-up with a red car.

Thanks to everyone who took part, it was great to see so much
imagination and technical ability on show.
Looking forward to the next and final week!
David.
I was desperate for a fag! Tom is such an arsehole, fitness freak, girl magnet, prancing around shirtless. The other two hangers on! Just look at the simpering look on Joe’s face. As for the twerp Billy, always larking about, playing the fool.
 
I don’t know why I hang about with this bunch of nerds. I’ve made up my mind. If I set fire to this bracken here, I’ll be a hero. No initiation necessary, I’ll be a shoe-in for the Mayfield Cru Gang.

One match is all it would take.


Mary Simpson

Although this is brief, you convey very well the dynamics in the group, and I enjoyed how the story takes a sharp turn at the end with the threat of arson as an initiation. I’d love to see you develop this further. How would the other characters react to such a reckless act? Would the narrator immediately regret his decision, or has he done it before? Lots to think about.

The work that participants created this week shows how great using photos can be. We had rich and varied ideas about characterisation that could all now be developed into longer pieces that tell a bigger story. 

I'm looking forward to our final challenge.
Zoe

We hope you have enjoyed this seventh Issue of THAT's Remotely Interesting
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