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

19th July 2016

THE GREAT ESCAPE

The trip to Dartington Hall last week  came as a welcome respite from builders and moving house. I can't think of a more beautiful and inspiring setting for a literary festival of ideas than this place in the heart of the Devon countryside. The first thing I did after a much delayed train journey was stroll around the gardens in the cool of the early evening, then find my way to the Japanese raked garden to sit and collect my thoughts.

This was my fourth visit as a speaker but each time it becomes much more than that. It is a way of catching up with friends and fellow writers. Writing is a solitary occupation  and life is stressful so it is a pleasure to escape to hear other writers talk about their latest work.  Octogenarian Fay  Weldon, is as lucid as ever and still an ardent feminist – why wouldn’t she be? Guardian columnist George Monbiot ,held a packed Great Hall for an hour and a half without pause and without notes before being  given a standing ovation.  This man makes you think so hard your brain physically hurts. Up the next  morning to give my talk on the perils and pleasures of running a gallery to a good sized audience then staying to hear Michael Bird on  his new book about St Ives artists followed by Katy Norris, talking about the work of Christopher Wood.  Katy has just curated an exhibition of his work at the Pallant Gallery. Chaired by Andy Christian - an old friend who lived and worked in Cumbria for some years and lived at Banks Head, Winifred Nicholson’s home -  we had plenty to talk about afterwards. We all four of us had interesting conversation over dinner chatting about St Ives artists and Cumbria links. The art world is small and where writers and curators are gathered together there is always a lot of shared knowledge and experience.

In a visit of just 36 hours I gained so much  - I even managed to get help on coping with stress from neurologist, Ian Robertson at breakfast. (he’s just written a book on this -  The Stress Test; How pressure can make you stronger and harder). With my right fist clenched as advised,   I returned to the real world stronger and more sanguine.

 

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