Sunday, March 02, 2008

Abingdon Arts Festival 2008 - First Events

After month's of planning through the busy Christmas period, and the dark days of winter, the Abingdon Arts Festival burst into life on a bright, brisk, swirly day in Abingdon, centred on the Guildhall (at the other end of Stert Street from the shop).

The start of the day saw artists descend on the Guildhall for the Bigging Up Holbein event (more on that later). They were upstairs in the Abbey Room - we were downstairs in the Roysse Room - a wonderful old schoolroom at the bottom of the building.

It was very fitting that first up was children's author and illustrator (and Abingdonian!) David Melling. He gave children and adults alike a master class in drawing some of the weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit his books, including the cabbage-smelling, oily-skinned characters which feature in his latest collection of books: Goblins!


After trying their hand at a bit of drawing on their own (and a few prize draws to win Goblins goodies) David drew an enormous dragon and everyone helped to draw what they felt it would eat - it was great fun, and now we have to find room to unfurl it somewhere in the shop!
David passed around his sketchbook, told a few of his stories, and stayed to talk to fans and aspiring authors alike.

Whilst this was going on, the ladies of Dunmore Pre-school started setting up all kinds of crafty items on tables at the back, and we effortlessly (!) segued into our "make-a-card for mother's day" event.
This was a supervised card-making glueing and sticking extravanganza, which was fantastically planned by Lindsay and the team, with plenty of things to make a vastly superior Mother's Day Card - stick on shapes, coloured card, poems and even vouchers for things like tidy bedrooms, washing up and hugs - rounded off with a camoflaged bag to smuggle the final creation past Mum and into the house for the big day.
Everyone had a great time, and it was the perfect way of harnessing all that creative energy and inspiration from David's event into a little masterpiece for little ones. We'll definitely be doing this again.

There was a fair old amount of clearing up to do - before getting the room ready for our final event: an audience with Barbara Trapido.

James single-handedly held the fort in the shop, so Nicki and I could both watch the event as well. We welcomed Barbara and over 50 guests to the Roysse Room for what turned out to be everything we hoped for when Barbara originally agreed to appear at the Festival back in November.
Some authors are very slick when appearing at events, whilst with other authors you know this isn't their forte and they would much rather be at home writing. But with Barbara, you have someone who is by turns laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, painful honest - but utterly compelling.

We heard about her torturous writing regime, the characters that inhabit her books, her writing life and experience with publishers. Best of all, we were treated to extracts from her next book - and she generously stayed to talk to the audience, sign books - and then came back with us to the shop.

James and Simon helped pack up, then were able to leg it upstairs to watch the piecing together of Holbein's "The Ambassadors" which took place at 4pm (much more of this over on the Abingdon Blog - but here's our picture of the artists in front of the finished picture:

We drove back to the shop, decanted all our event detritus, and helped to finish what had been a very busy day back at 36 Stert Street. Abingdon definitely had a feeling of a place buzzing...

As with many of our events, it was a lot of work, but well worth it. I'd like to thank David, the Dunmore Pre-school team and Barbara for giving up their time and helping to make a very special day - and also, to Alison, James, Maurice and Simon who worked very hard throughout the day - both at the Guildhall and in the shop.

Next up tomorrow night (Monday evening) we welcome Spread The Word-shortlisted authors Angela Young and Eliza Graham to Mostly Books at 7.30pm. We predict a big future for these two first-time authors, and both are in with a good chance of taking the Book To Talk About Award for 2008. It should be a very exciting event.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, Great stuff. Sorry I missed your painting the Mothers Day Card. Can I in turn say there are other pictures of Bigging up Holbein on abingdonblog.co.uk.

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