My recommendation this month has to be Picasso on Paper at the Royal Academy. A breathtaking exhibition that demonstrates what
a genius Picasso was – not just on paper but on canvas, in bronze, in media of
all kinds. I hadn’t expected that the exhibition would bring quite so much together.
Particularly wondrous to see films of Picasso at work. Make sure to see it
(once safe to do so).
– John Simmons
The Mirror and the Light. Obviously!
Films: Rocketman, Knives Out, Bombshell, Three
Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (finally), Judy, Official Secrets and Le
Mans 66 (it was a long flight).
– Lisa Andrews
Clean Prose is London’s first co-working space for writers. It hosts events and workshops and
has a communal area as well as quiet desks for writing. Not cheap, but you can book a free trial and also
get a pass that’s valid for a few sessions a month.
I also recently discovered The Bookseller podcast, a
monthly round-up of news from the publishing and bookselling world. It’s hosted by Cathy Rentzenbrink and is really worth listening to.
– Jill Hopper
My current reading project is re-reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which is
hitting very close to home and reminding me of the power of fiction. I’m
re-reading it for a module I’m teaching on at London Met about genre fiction.
The module has, in the past, felt a little distant for students who aren’t already
genre fans, but I think the situation we find ourselves in right now is making
particularly science fiction, speculative fiction and dystopian fiction seem a
lot more relevant. I also started This is Going to Hurtby Adam Kay before we knew the severity of this
outbreak. It’s a humourous nonfiction novel about his experiences as a junior
doctor that’s also taking on new relevance! Lastly, I’m recommending to my
students that they return to the books that they loved as children and
teenagers. Reading an old favourite can be comforting and calming in anxious
times. It’s like reconnecting with that childhood friend who you fall right
back in with, even if years have passed since you last spoke. We know the souls
of our favourite books and they are part of the fabric of ours.
If members are looking for writing
exercises in the face of social distancing they could try this one
that I’m suggesting for my students:
Take a picture, or make note of something everyday,
particularly if this thing, image or event causes you to feel fear, anxiety,
worry etc. This doesn’t need to be something special or extraordinary; it can
be an ordinary object from your home. Then do a quick, 20-minute writing burst
about that object that is funny, silly or outrageous. The crazier the better.
Bonus points for sharing the photo and an excerpt of
your writing on social media with the hashtag #socialdistancestories
This is an exercise that both helps with creativity
(the 20-minute minimum is essential because research has shown that it can take
up to 19 minutes to break into a creative ‘flow’ state) and can support good
mental health by strengthening our ability to reframe experiences.
– Sinead Keegan
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