Wandsworth Council invited me to create a new short story, based on winning entries to their photoWANDSWORTH 2012 competition.
The photoWANDSWORTH 2012 prize-giving event takes place from 5.30 to 7.30pm on Monday 23 April at Wandsworth Town Library, 11 Garratt Lane, London SW18 4AQ
Join us over a glass of wine to hear me read from my new short story, written in response to twelve selected entries to the competition. Prizes will be awarded for winning photographs in three categories: first, second and young person award.
The selected images with story excerpts will be displayed as a show-reel on library computers and across the road at Southside Shopping Centre, as projections. The projections will remain at Southside until the end of the Wandsworth Arts Festival, May 27. The full story will be available to download from www.wandsworth.gov.uk/photocomp with printouts for all those attending the event.
Please RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is a short reflection on creating the story:
First of all I had to come up with a series of prompts for the competition. The aim was to inspire entrants to create images that would in turn inspire me to write a new short story. I chose 4 themes that I hoped would help me create a coherent plot and allow entrants a fairly free reign:
1. Arrival of a Stranger
2. A secret is revealed
3. Demanding an answer
4. Looking for a way out
I was struck, looking through the 12 selected images, how many of them were of people with their faces turned away from the camera, or partially obscured. Then there was someone running in the fog, frost on a playground, the blurred edges of a scene from Wandsworth Common, a hand reaching into a bag, lost objects by the river – all of which gave me an overriding feeling of loss and mystery, of things being just out of reach and not quite knowable. So I started to plan a story that would explore these emotions in its plot, and in the atmosphere of the story itself. Having made this decision, I then used the individual photographs in different ways – to suggest emotion, character, plot, and location. So the man sitting alone on a bench I imagined as the story’s narrator, waiting for a woman who never turned up. The hat and shoe by the side of the Thames became the narrator’s lost children. The runner in the fog became a dream, symbolic of loss. The car driving over Chelsea bridge at night gave me my final scene. I also tried to embed the very idea of photography and the theme of seeing or not seeing within the story, borrowing imagery and language from photography to further explore the themes of the story.
I would like to thank Wandsworth Council for the opportunity to be involved with PHOTOwandsworth 2012, and the competition entrants for giving me such rich material to work with.