Category Archives: Surrealism

More News about Snapshots of the Apocalypse

This week my book of fiction, Snapshots of the Apocalypse, had its first independent media review up at The Indiependent in which it was described as ‘piercing, dark and wry’ and a ‘sublime blending of wit and critique’. I had a piece published on Why Magical Realism Rocks at Leslie Tate’s writer blog. My book is also now available as an ebook at Fly on the Wall Press.

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News about my new book, Snapshots of the Apocalypse

A lot happening last week. The zoom launch of my book of dark, quirky short fiction, Snapshots of the Apocalypse by Fly on the Wall Press. The Leicester University Creative Writing blog kindly featured the book here. My essay ‘Fabulous Fiction in an Era of Falsehoods’, which mentioned the book in a broader discussion of the importance of speculative fiction, was published at Nothing in the Rulebook here.

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Snapshots of the Apocalypse – New Book of Dark, Quirky Short Stories.

How exciting that my first book of short fiction, Snapshots of the Apocalypse, is being published by Fly on the Wall Press in January 2022. It’s now on preorder from my lovely publisher here.

‘In these dark, witty short stories, Katy Wimhurst creates off-kilter worlds which illuminate our own. Here, knitting might cancel Armageddon. A winged being yearns to be an archaeologist. Readers are sucked into a post-apocalyptic London where the different rains are named after former politicians. An enchanted garden grows in a rented flat. Magical realism meets dystopia, with a refreshing twist.’



Some praise:

An iridescent, compelling collection. Darkly magical in all the right ways.’- Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch and Speak Gigantular

‘Tales of the unexpected… a refreshing and humorous collection illuminating the author’s vast imagination and gift for merging people, place and politics in well crafted stories. Wimhurst’s cultural allusions and social commentary might make you laugh or glance sideways, but there are always sparks of human hope amongst the dystopian debris. One ticket here please, open return.’- Emma Kittle-Pey, author of Gold Adornments and Fat Maggie.

‘Katy Wimhurst finds hope in dystopias; colour in the bleakest of worlds. Her art is in combining charming whimsy with weighty social issues and, in the balance, delighting and surprising her reader. Her rich imagination and fresh, clean writing is, at all times, a pleasure.’- Petra McQueen, founder of The Writers’ Company

‘These are fresh and exciting pieces, and I loved the sense of these unsettling off-kilter worlds, reminiscent of M John Harrison’s You Should Come With Me Now (Comma Press). I think readers will enjoy the author’s skilful balance of wit and playfulness with dark and frightening things; magical realism with a melancholy and often chilling twist.’- Anna Vaught, author of Saving Lucia and Famished.

‘Katy Wimhurst’s stories are enchanting. They appear beguilingly simple yet contain layers of meaning and mystery. Although often comical, each story has a hidden steel core – an environmental message that we need to cherish our planet and be compassionate to one another. She specialises in dystopias – in societies overwhelmed by the threats we fear – but even here the endings sound a positive note. We remain enchanted.’ – Dorothy Schwarz, author of Behind a Glass Wall and Simple Stories about Women.

Buy it Here

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Artwork from Lockdown

During lockdown, I started taking photos of ordinary objects around the flat and using multiples of them – sometimes three, sometimes more – to create artworks. Some photos were of utensils like spoons or forks, others were close ups of glass vases or even soap bottles, chosen for their colour. From the latter I created kind of abstract triptych works. #photography #art

Glass close up
Broken Purple Glass
Spoon
Spoon and Fork
Glasses
Close up of Glass Vase

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Evelyn Williams: Revelations of Inner Experience

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Perhaps because of events in my personal life, I find myself drawn to the Welsh artist Evelyn Williams (1929-2012). She pioneered a singular art of visionary and poetic power, albeit one that did not fit neatly into any art-historical box. She was largely neglected in her lifetime by the Art Establishment, although her paintings were admired by other artists and writers, including Angela Carter and Fay Weldon.

In the 1950s, when Evelyn Williams began her career, the art-world was a preserve of men and of male representations of women, many of them erotic. Female figures abound her art, with pale, oval faces, simply dressed or naked, their hair like the twisted skeins of embroidery silks. Even where naked (not nude), though, the figures suggest vulnerability rather than eroticism. Her subject, the most universal one of all, is human experience and human relationships – en masse, in groups, couples, or alone. This focus on human relationships isn’t domestic or cosy; indeed, the atmosphere in her paintings seems to oscillate between calm and disquiet. 

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Williams’ art is centred round deeply felt narratives, which reveal the hidden, interior world of their subjects. The narrative can be suggested by something like the cup of a hand to a face, or by something more substantial – a woman sleeping in a woodland clearing, an almost fairy-tale image. The pictures are often stark, with strong contrasts of light and darkness. Themes of loneliness and alienation recur. 

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Williams wrote that her paintings attempt to make visible an inner anguish and experience: “My work comes from my life…it will always be introspective. This is me and all I know about. I would like to show how people feel about each other, and describe how they deal with their own personal predicament, but this is groping in the dark.” She also said: “Is there a disease that manifests a person taking upon themselves the suffering of the world? What is its name? I believe I have the disease. In my case it is at the very centre of my work”.

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(c) National Museum of Wales / Amgueddfa Cymru; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

As well as paintings, she produced sculpture. In fact, in 1961 she won the John Moore prize for sculpture despite having entered the competition for painting – her masked heads, built out of layers oil paint, resembled clay reliefs.

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Williams’ work combines the vision of a poet and the empathy of someone listening with her heart. The pictures are revelations of inner experience – Keats ‘unheard melodies’ perhaps. Despite the disquiet, the artworks offer consolation and understanding.

 

 

 

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February Oodlings and Doodlings

February Oodlings and doodlings: or some things I did and pondered in February (which may or may not be true…)

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‘All Tied Up’

I saw a cloud in the form of a giant sky-turtle. I wondered about a dystopian world in which clouds are used as advertising billboards. I tweeted about imaginary essays by Jorge Luis Borges and about graveyards of red telephone boxes. I watched two mesmerising foreign documentaries, Nostalgia for the Light, and Le Quattro Volte, and wrote a song inspired by the former. I ate far too much chocolate, albeit dark, 85% organic. I sat by the river one night and spoke to a huge, gold-glowing magic fish in the water.

I celebrated writer Russell Hoban’s birthday on February 4th by putting quotes by him up around the village green and by the river. I listened to blue-tit and collared dove song each morning and wondered if birds sing in their dreams. I took photographs of knots and chains by the river’s edge and of silhouettes on a jetty; and I took a video of feet walking along a jetty. I had some funny conversations with a punning cat. I wrote most of a short story. I decided, in a pretentious moment, that reflections in windows at night intimate the real, slippery, multi-dimensional nature of reality far more than the clear light of day does. I rediscovered the beauty and eccentricity of singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.

I had an email correspondence with a friend about Keats’s art of negative capability, the ability to live with doubt, uncertainty and mystery – I concluded that I was aspirant but wanting in this respect. I spent quite a bit of the month in a bad relapse of the chronic illness I have, in significant amounts of pain, but congratulated myself on handling it with a degree of stoicism. I read an impressive surreal novel, Liquidambar, by the New Zealand writer Chris Bell. I had fish and chips at the end of a glistening road with my mother. I got angry yet again with the government for their treatment of the poor and sick, for their policies of austerity that are plunging the poor into greater poverty even as the rich stock up their coffers. I fell in love with life whilst watching the charming, gentle video of the Kings of Convenience’s I’d Rather Dance Than Talk with You.

(Note I got this summary-of-month idea from another blog I sometimes visit, tho that blog only does real events)

Cloud in the Form of a Giant Sky-Turtle?

turtle

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Annual Feb 4th Tribute to Writer Russell Hoban

“What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”

"What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”

“What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”

Every 4th February  – the birth date of Russell Hoban (1925-2011) – fans of this brilliant author write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper and leave them in public places, and/or share them online (this is the Slickman A4 Quotation Event or SA4QE, which began in 2002.)

I first became aware of the SA4QE in about 2005 from an article in The Guardian, and have done the event ever since, often leaving quotes on A4 paper around the local village green next to the river. Doing this feels playful and subversive, a fitting tribute to a quixotic writer. I like the quotes to express what I love about Hoban – his mix of poetry, profundity and humour, his ability to veer effortlessly from the sublime to the hilarious.

“It is a strange and frightening thing to be a human being, to partake of the mystery and madness of human consciousness.”

“It is a strange and frightening thing to be a human being, to partake of the mystery and madness of human consciousness.”

I also leave smaller versions of the quotes tucked under baked-bean tins and packets of biscuits in the local village shop. I like the idea, and like to think Hoban would have liked the idea, of someone picking up a can of baked beans and finding underneath a small piece of paper that reads, “What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”

As I was finishing up, a woman with a golden Labrador walked past, stopped, read a couple of the quotes and looked at me. “Oh,” she said. “Oh. Oh.”

“Yes, Oh,” I said.

She smiled and walked off. I felt it was a suitably Hobanesque encounter.

'Hear the earth, ponderous with evening, turning to the night.'

‘Hear the earth, ponderous with evening, turning to the night.’

'Rising in the moony ocean night and never, never finding never until now finding the mystery of me so long dreamt of'

‘Rising in the moony ocean night and never, never finding
never until now finding
the mystery of me so long dreamt of’

More information about the event and about Russell Hoban can be found at http://www.russellhoban.org/sa4qe

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Stuttering lights

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Dusky rainy world, lights stutter across the street, surfaces of reality slip and slide, become multiple and magical.

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