It’s the perfect supplement to the Barry Flanagan exhibition that is currently on at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Yes, you’ve guessed, it’s my short story, Ikon. Simply get the Overhear App, visit the Ikon Gallery, and download an audio file of me reading the story at the Ikon. Sorted.
I’m pretty shattered at the moment. I’m busy with the day job and I’ve lots of writing stuff to get done too. I’m not complaining, I like to be busy, but it would be nice to just stretch out and switch off for a bit. Anyway, what have I been up to? Well, writing, obviously, but not in the way I’m used to. Let me clarify that. I’ve been writing for two Apps, something I’ve never done before. Both are very interesting applications that I think a lot of people are going to love. The first I want to talk about is the Overhear App.
Overhear is an innovative way of sharing poetry and prose and bringing greater exposure to some of the beautiful spaces and places that Birmingham has. It works like this: you download the App, select your city, and then go hunting for literature. For example, my story, Ikon, unsurprisingly, is linked to the Ikon Gallery. You have to physically be in the Ikon Gallery to then unlock my story. When the story is unlocked, you will then be able to play an audio file of me reading the story. There are a whole host of files to collect as part of this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival, and you can also collect poems that were released at this year’s Verve Poetry Festival. The App is free, as is the downloading of the files. The only thing you have to do is be in the correct location to download the file. The really terrible thing is that lots of the venues serve fantastic coffee, cake, beer, food etc. It’d be just awful if you happened to eat or drink in one of them.
The actual writing work for this was fairly straight forward. I had a couple of constraints, most commissions only had one. All of the commissions had to link their story to the site where it was to be unlocked. They didn’t necessarily have to take place there, but the site must have some link to the story. The extra constraint I had was to link my story to the current Barry Flanagan exhibition that is on at the Ikon. This may sound like a bit of a bind, but I found it liberating and challenging all in one – and I like a good challenge.
I’m pleased with the story I’ve produced. It speaks about the nature of art, loneliness, and friendship between males – something we’re not very good at expressing. Do check this out next time you’re in Birmingham, and please let me know what you think.
The Overhear App is available from the App Store and Google Play.
The other App I’ve been writing for has been a very different kind of challenge altogether. Questo is a location-based App. It’s like a cross between a puzzle and a story. You have a physical starting point in Birmingham, and you have to solve clues before you can move onto the next stage of your’ quest.’ It’s a great, fun way to explore a city, to enjoy a story, and to learn a bit about the place you’re in. The challenge for me was to not only have an idea for a story, but to also plan a route through the city, and create clues that need to be solved.
I had to do a fair bit of research for this commission. There needed to be the right proportion of historical facts interwoven throughout the quest, and it had to link in with the given theme. I won’t say what the theme is, but the fact that it launches on October the 31st should give you a clue.
To be honest, the second App, Questo, has been the more significant challenge. I’ve learnt a lot about collaboration and communicating with others, but there have been moments where I’ve felt like chucking it all in. Thankfully, the Questo team have been very supportive and have guided me through the whole process.
Questo is also available from the App Store and Google Play. There is a fee for unlocking each quest. If you do try this quest, I’d love to hear how you got on.
That’s it for now. I’m going to lie down in a dark room for a bit.
You have two chances to hear me read from my latest book, Submerged, next week.
First up is City Voices in Wolverhampton. It all starts at 7:30 at The Lighthouse a few minutes walk from the train and bus stations. City Voices is one of the Midlands’ finest spoken word evenings and never fails to delight with its range and quality of work on offer. I will be selling books.
Secondly, will be the official Birmingham launch of Submerged, and it’s going to be a corker, but don’t just take my word for it check out the line-up here.
Yesterday, No.1 Daughter and I went to a marvellous workshop at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. The workshop was run by Dr Nicola Streeten and Cath Tate as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival.
We looked at visual story telling through greetings cards and graphic novels. Cath talked us through her work and considerations for greetings cards and Nicola the same for graphic novels. The two hours flew by and incorporated some fun and challenging drawing activities. The culmination of this was all of us producing our own four panel stories. The daughter and I agreed to leave our work there as a backdrop for a talk today, so I’ve recreated/completed the first panel above here.
Here are some pics of the work we produced on the night.
I’ll be reading a short story, along with a host of excellent writers, and selling some books as part of the Room 204 meet up. It kicks off at 10:00 am this Saturday, October the 6th, at the Mezzanine, Birmingham REP.
Click here for booking details – entry includes coffee and a pastry!
For some unknown reason, I always called this toy Space Monkey, but it quite clearly says Millenium Gorilla on his round badge – in reality, not in my sketch.
I’m feeling even rougher than when I last posted so ten minutes or so was all I could manage with this. It’s drawn with charcoal pencil from Tiger. They’re quite lovely to draw with, and you can get a decent black out of them. I’m not sure how well Millenium Gorilla gets on with those massive feet. It must be a bugger getting in and out of airlocks.
Whoops. I missed a couple of days due to being very busy and very tired.
I was tidying up yesterday and I found some charcoal pencils I’d forgotten I’d bought. I thought I’d give them a go today. Desperate for ideas of what to draw I asked my daughter to pick out some toys I could sketch and here they are.
This first one isn’t great – the ears are way too short. The second one is much better.