St Edmunds Chapel
On Sunday MARCH 8th 2020 from 2-4.30pm at St Edmund’s Chapel, Priory Road, Dover CT16 1BB
Empowering Women Through Drawing and Writing
A Creative Workshop for Women and Girls of All Ages
With artist Joanna Jones and writer Fiona Beddow
Make your Mark … Find Your Voice …
No Drawing/Writing Ability Required – Come As You Are!
Scheduled for International Women’s Day, and conceived as part of the St Edmund’s Chapel cultural programme, the focus of the workshop was to give women and girls the opportunity to ‘find their voice‘ through experimenting with mark-making and creative writing.
It was hosted by visual artist Joanna Jones and Fiona Beddow, a writer of novels that champion brave and independent girls in the lead role.
Joanna and Fiona supported the participants through a creative journey, from tentative mark-making … to bold creative expression … to fearlessly crafting words into a personal and poetic statement. By the end of the session, each participant had created a visual work that was unique to them, plus a ‘statement’ piece of writing that grew out of that artwork. Each participant’s pair of works were made into a diptych, and put on public display in the Co-Innovation Gallery (Stembrook Shopping Centre) March 9th – March 14th and Dover Library March 16th – March 21st.
The 14 participants all came in pairs – mothers and daughters and friends and spanned three generations of girls and women.
The chapel was completed in 1262 by the monks of Dover Priory to serve the nearby cemetery for the poor beside the Maison Dieu as a wayside chapel or chapel of rest for pilgrims on theit way to Cantetbury . It was just outside the enclosed part of the medieval town.
Joanna said: This building has survived the dissolution of the monasteries, the Restoration, 400 years of secular use as a storage place and smithy, the shelling of 2 world wars and a plan to demolish it to widen the road in the 1960’s. It wont surprise you to learn that the only names that are passed down to us in connection with the chapel are the names of men: Edmund of Abingdon, Richard of Chichester, Father Tanner in the 800 years of turbulent human history that this beautiful chapel has witnessed.
Our female story of resistance and survival is ongoing as we again and again have to re-claim our right to speak, be seen, have our own opinions and rights over our own bodies as well as influence over the way our societies are structured and governed.
But today, on International Women’s day, we are a group of girls and women FILLING this beautiful sacred space together.
And with us are the women who came before us – our mothers our mothers’ mothers, our fathers’ mothers and their mothers and so on. If each of us added together the women through the generations of our own geneolology over the last 800 years and then if we added all those together we have a lot at the back of us.
I want you to breathe and as you breathe feel your breath filling out your whole body.
I want you to feel that resilient female power behind and within you as you find the courage to make your first mark on the piece of paper in front of you.
Take your time – this is about you developing, in what ever way you will, something that starts with one mark that then leads to another and so on.
There is no right or wrong, there is no one to please – just start somewhere and see where it leads you.
After a break for refreshments at the Mean Bean cafe, the participants started to find words to go with their visual piece and Fiona encouraged them to create a bold piece of writing.
By happy coincidence, the philosophy of St Edmund, which inspired Nicola Dunsbee’s Five Words series at the chapel, also underpins this workshop. St Edmund said, “Five words well said are better than five thousand said without devotion.”
Fiona encouraged writing confidence by demonstrating that writing doesn’t have to be florid or ‘clever’ to be of good quality: to quote George Orwell, “Never use a long word when a short word will do.” She also encouraged the group to tap into their natural sense of rhythm to make their written work more powerful. She reminded us that women are creatures of rhythm, and led a writing exercise to explore how combining words with similar sounds or rhythms can increase the potency of what is being said. The group then referred to their drawing work for inspiration to produce a personal and reflective piece of writing.
The resulting diptychs are a potent testament to the strength and quiet courage of women, and worthy of exhibition in the Co -Innovation Gallery and in Dover Library.
Really concentrated workshop with a lovely group of women on International Womemns Day 2020!
Very lovely venue, and a very nice challenging workshop – thank you!
Thankyou! Such a lovely gathering full of spirit and humanity.
I guess that says something about the place and about you both.
I am currently leading a lent reflection and it so beautifully flowed in my mind between those 2 experiences. Deep warm breathe in strange times. Thanks and go well until we meet again.
It was a really enjoyable afternoon!
I really loved it – I had no idea I had all that in me!