Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

21st July 2012

A FEELING OF FREEDOM

After a wonderful party to mark the 25th birthday of the gallery at Castlegate House. Thank you to all who came, wished me well, ate the cake, drank the Cocky Blonde , tapped their feet to the band and learned to juggle and eat fire!

An American friend was staying with us and was horrified as I drove her along the A591 by Bassenthwaite village. 'Hey' she screamed 'as she saw the above notice. 'Are you guys cat torturers or something? That's horrible!' They have reflectors in the States, not Cat's eyes!

It was great to hit the road after the party and swoop down the M6/M5 to Dartington in Devon and a different world.This festival of words and ideas is held in a beautiful setting around the sheltered mediaeval courtyard of the Dartington estate dominated by The Great Hall.

It draws writers and audiences from across the world. In the writers' dining room that first evening I found myself sharing a table with Tariq Ali - journalist, human rights campaigner and Dr Brooke Magnanti alias Belle de Jour. Poet Simon Armitage was on an adjoining table with a troop of Far Eastern poets. Conversation and debate ricocheted around the tables. It was a surreal moment.

My talk on Percy Kelly - the man who couldn't stop drawing - was very well received. PK is now known and loved around the UK and beyond. There were several people at the talk who had bought his work unseen from the Little Gems exhibition and were taking the opportunity to meet me, tell me how much they loved the work and learn more about him. One of the other writers, Jules Goddard, was keen to tell me about the 500+ illustrated letters the family own which were sent over many years by Percy to his father Herald who was another friend who tried to help him.

Christopher Sykes from the Yorkshire Wolds spoke of his friendship with David Hockney and the writing of his biography and Michael Bird talked about his encounters with artist Sandra Blow. The place was humming with ideas when I dropped the room key in the office and I learned that the President, Roy Hattersley, had cancelled his talk later in the day because of ill health. My friend Andy Christian was being 'persuaded' to fill the gap with a talk on Winifred Nicholson whom he knew very well thirty years ago while teaching at Carlisle Art College. I quickly offered him my images of her paintings that I had shown in the exhibition at Castlegate House in 2006 and set off to leave - again. Just up the road I remembered that I also have a 15 minute film of Winifred and an interview with a thirty year old Andy Christian. Michael reminded me that for once I didn't have to get back as he turned the car round. I am a free woman now, relieved of all responsibility. It's a great feeling.

So instead of Roy H and a talk on Republicanism, they got Andy and me on Winifred N. I suspect I was the stand-in for his dog who attends all his talks!

The first exhibition by the new owners opened last night at Castlegate House. It was rather strange approaching an opening from a different angle. Everything looked new and different and that's how it should be.

So I am now in our house above Bassenthwaite looking up the North face of Skiddaw contentedly writing this. My web site as a writer is new - www.chriswadsworth.net - and in the process of being added to and perfected. From this I will keep you posted about progress towards the next book, any talks I am giving as well as my triumphs and disasters. My e mail address chris@thepinkegg is also new and I will always be glad to hear from you.

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