Looking at Art – Ekphrasis

Last Friday morning, award-winning writer Laura McKenna began a six-week workshop on creative writing at the Crawford Gallery in Cork. The two-hour session flew fuelled by the creative air in the gallery, Laura’s inspiration and the energy of my fellow participants.
Laura titled this first workshop, looking at art, thinking of the image, finding the idea. To use her words: paying attention to paying attention. Along with three separate room based exercises she also unleashed us into the gallery. Our mission: to sit with a painting and allow the imagination to roam: through the painting, outside the frame, into the painters mind, become part of the painting itself. Then write something engendered through this contemplation of art.
Visiting art galleries is something I always intend to do – when I get round to it. Writing in the gallery, really looking at a work on display and then sharing with fellow workshop attendees creates a very different artistic space.
Pens scribbled furiously, laptops practically combusted, the two hours flew by, as if an unseen someone propelled the big hand forward faster than real time.
What an enriching way to spend a Friday morning, sequestered in this city centre oasis from the mayhem of capitalistic ‘shop till you drop’, frenzy. Unlike other workshops I’ve attended the time was well structured and focused, without stifling the imagination. Rarely has two hours been so well spent, or spawned the beginnings of three possible stories.
The challenge now, is to work on them and shape them into a coherent narrative. At least one kernel will be expanded during the week in time to return to this innovative workshop next Friday.
Happy writing.

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