I went to Margate last week to run an Able Writers Day at Holy Trinity and St John’s Primary School. After a rollicking day of story writing with Years 1 and 2, I shambled along the sea front towards the station and was very struck by a long stretch of ‘Margate Food Stories’ murals.
These murals were painted LIVE by artist Sophie Herxheimer, in conversation with local people. What a dynamic, exhilirating, terrifying way to paint.
Sophie’s art got me thinking about the importance of location in our lives. Although I set most of my stories in West Africa, story settings don’t need to be exotic. If you write what you know, your stories will be vibrant, authentic, local and emotive. If you write about places and people you aren’t familiar with, you will produce insipid settings and flat characters. It happened in Marrakech but it might just as well have been Margate.
And how about these graven poems? Writer Suzannah Dunn did a writing workshop with local children back in 1997, and these standing stones were the result.
Those were some of the murals and standing stones I fell in love with in Margate. What about your own home town? What are the unique local memories and feelings which you could commit to wall, canvas, stone or paper?