Friday, 22 December 2006


Clevedon Pier, North Somerset, December 2002.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Of pockets and post-its...

Here are the rest of and the ghosts so silver's current projects. I will add more as they occur and update on the existing ones as they develop, including start locations and dates for treasure hunt stories, and new miniature books that are returned. We always welcome feedback, as well as your ideas about memory, place and stories...

Pocket pieces.

For this project I write fragments of stories or stand-alone sentences on old torn bits of A4, or old receipts, so they look like the sort of thing anyone would find in an uncleared-out pocket. I then go and put them in the pockets of new clothes in shops, so that people can create a history from a seemingly new garment. I developed this idea and began to leave notes in people's pockets as they walked along - almost like a reverse of pick-pocketing. There have as yet been no contact details left on these pieces of paper as I think in this case anonymity is key to truly interacting personally with the reader - almost as if the note could have been somthing they left themselves and forgot about, and with the stories left in new clothes an identity could hinder the creation of an imaginary history of this garment. I believe that the imagination works most fruitfully when triggered and encouraged rather than directed or controlled.

Post-it notes series.

This is my longest running project started about four years ago when I was living in a small town in Dorset, and first became interested in new ways of illustrating my writing and interacting with the reader. I split up stories in fragments on post-it notes and flyered them around the town in both obvious and unusual places. I then went back to see what had happened to them. Sometimes they had simply washed away, but once one had been put up on a notice board and old ladies were discussing it! I love the idea that people can find part, or the whole, of a story, but it doesn't matter which; each fragment has the potential to interact personally with its finder in that moment. I use post-it notes as they are normally purely functional stationary that you would expect to find something such as a discarded boring list on. This again subverts our expectations of the things we discard or find on a daily basis - our expectations of when we are going to discover a story or read a work of fiction.

Treasure trails and following pieces.

The post-it note series made me think more about how the reader collaborates with the writer in how the work eventually fulfills its potential. By finding the work in its site-specific context the reader is an integral part of its completion. I moved to Berlin then Paris and decided to see if I could get someone to follow fragments of a story as I left them whilst walking around the city, exploring its stranger less known parts. Could the physical act of this site-specific storytelling and the location of a fragment help the story be communicated in a way that partly overcomes the language barrier? By making the reader part of the process of the story, and possibly leaving them to be the conclusion of the story, I was in a way letting them create a story from the remnants of my ideas - almost like echoes of what it might have been, but that any number of new interpretations were equally as valid.
The Treasure trail pieces are just a slight variation of these following works. Here clues are left dotted around the city for a person to find and create their own story illustrated by the places they have discovered. At the end of the trail I leave something significant to the story I wrote. And the ghosts so silver is planning a series of secret treasure hunts for next year where we will arrange a start location and leave details at the end so that we can have a record of all the stories created from different interpretations of the same story read/ objects found.

Ephemeral graffiti.

I get continually frustrated with the potential of graffiti as a way of presenting creative writing, but how it is so often about tagging, identity and permanence. My ephemeral graffiti uses materials such as glitter on snow, leaves, twigs and swirled dust and mud to write a phrase that could connect a person with that place in a specific moment. Its anonymity and ephemerality is important. It is not about marking, but interacting with a place and being part of its natural process of change.

The miniature books project.

As well as a forum for new writing and incidental strangeness this website will outline the projects which and the ghosts so silver has been working on over the past few months.

The idea with the miniature books series is to create a story that would only truly be complete if found; to illustrate it by the person's experience of its finding. Miniature books are made and a line from one of my existing stories is written in the front to become the first line of the story in the book. The "and the ghosts so silver" address and a stamp are then put in the back of the book with instructions to please complete and return if found.

So far books have been hidden at a story reading in Bristol, the Port Eliot literary festival in Cornwall, as well as in random places in towns and villages across the country. Next month they will be hidden in and around an art gallery in Belgrade as part of an event I will also be reading at - the books in this instance will contain lines from my reading. It is always a delight to open the envelopes as they are returned and see how people have taken a line that was originally meant one way, but for them it has become something completely different - the trigger for their own story. I hope that by finding these books people will think differently about their surroundings and expectations of random things they might find in the street; that they might realise that stories are threaded through even the most mundane parts of our lives.

I am planning to expand this project across Europe to create a library of lost and found books. I have also been particularly thrilled with the creativity of some of the books completed by children, and and the ghosts so silver will be looking into how to use this project, amongst others, for what could be seen as incidental/accidental site-specific writing workshops for our youngest collaborators.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Whispers, they wreathed around her...

House breaking (excerpt from "We lay here slowly sinking").

"I am beginning to map the city through which parts of my life I have left there. I pass places and when I do this I am sometimes able to leave things behind, but I know that also in a way I have lost these things, like diaries a mother burned or a head that’s got old; you know they must be somewhere, but if they’re destroyed or forgotten, who’s going to remember them? I do not know if anyone will ever find these things once I’ve left them behind. If this ever happens.
Would they batter at the windows? These memories. Shake them like a wind that had got trapped the wrong side of glass. It could be violent in there if they were of you. Cold and blowing against each other. Or the heat of those feelings – maybe it would be more like them – hot hot heat. Burning. But the glass wouldn’t crack, melt, blow out with a sudden gust. It could all just be quiet; be peaceful after all. It was the remembering that made them active, behave in this way. Without me perhaps they’d stay still, and the room would be very light – white with bright sunshine, but not too warm. It would be clear. Just a large sash window and a wooden floor. If I went inside I would float invisible – I could not really be there.
I like to walk away from these houses once I’ve filled them. I don’t break in – if they are truly empty I maybe test a window or push at the back door, go inside and sit a while and think out all I thought that day. I write it down if it gets very complicated – leave a note tucked into the skirting board. But mostly I just rest my hands against an outside wall, push my nose against a window and breathe gently – memory swims in that way in moist patterns, absorbed as they dissolve from view. I wonder if these houses get lived in again. Whether the new person breathes in what I left alone there. Maybe my memory swims round their heads – makes them wake up sometimes and wonder. And if not, then I think it would just condense and trickle to the floor – seep sideways to the walls – hide itself in bricks and mortar. It could expand then ‘til the house was riddled with memory, ‘til it shook with unheard quivers when the wind blew too strong. This is not a sign of weakness. They are now stronger from within."

Welcome to and the ghosts so silver, where stories are left to be found; to be stumbled across in an everyday world; to illustrate your day as you leave the house and go to work, potter along to the shops for a newspaper or a can of drink. As the reader it is you that can bring our stories to life - the ones we have lost, echoes and memories, things that have been hanging around for minutes or years just to be found and brought back again.

Over the next few days I will lay out our projects - the things we do to place these stories in your world, trigger a history you did not know you had, a new relationship with the city or countryside you walk through. Places are talking to you, you just have to listen a little harder to the quiet things...