ONE ARTIST´S VIEW: Seamus Kelly shares his vision


by Seamus Kelly

¨I received an email from the group secretary of Touchstones Creative Writing Group (TCWG)  asking me if I would be able to facilitate the next session in October 2015 as their erstwhile facilitator, Norman Warwick, would by then be officially retired on Lanzarote. Norm had recommended me apparently and of course I said yes and created a workshop for the group.

Since then TCWG have called in a number of writers to facilitate their sessions and I’ve delivered brand new workshops every few months for the group.

Yesterday I walked through those doors and delivered a workshop about Time and Place in writing.

Seven years and over 20 workshops where I’ve seen members come and go. We used technology during the pandemic, we’ve met in various rooms including the galleries whilst open to the public. I can honestly say that its been a privilege to work with the members and to see how they’ve developed over the years.

Norm writes about arts and culture, in Lanzarote, Rochdale, and around the world, on his blog ”All Across the Arts, Sidetracks and Detours” at

All Across the Arts continues to deliver arts and cultural stories, inspiration and events in Rochdale, curated by Steve Cooke with a twice weekly column in the local papers and online at

So as Norm celebrates 7 years of retirement in Lanzarote, where he is embedded in the local writing and cultural scenes, I celebrate my own 7 years of working with TCWG.

Every year has offered great projects and challenges that have been great to be involved in.

This year, on 22nd April, for instance, The book produced with Falinge Park Writing Group was made available online in a special dyslexia friendly version as well as a standard version.

The dyslexia friendly version uses a coloured background and a font specially designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia.

You can download the book, Free of Charge, by clicking here HERE

I have since enjoyed an amazing summer running workshops as part of the HAF (Health Activity and Food) working with young people from age 5 to 11. Your Trust Rochdale, the borough’s cultural and leisure trust, had asked me to deliver sessions following feedback from sessions I had previously delivered for HAF last Summer and at Easter.

I delivered a total of 13 sessions at schools and libraries in Darnhill, Heywood, Middleton, Smallbridge and Kirkholt in Rochdale, and were attended by between 12 and 22 young people at each.

Each workshop involved storytelling, with a new series of children’s stories I have been developing, learning about a topic, creative writing and drawing and colouring matching the themes of each topic. in some sessions we also shared some poetry and children produced some of their own.

The workshops were titled:

My Ocean Adventure, My Space Adventure, My Minibeast Adventure, My Dinosaur Adventure and Endangered – Creatures at Risk

All of the workshops were very well received and when a 7 year old on my final session (one of My Ocean Adventure sessions) said ”That was a really good story” I couldn’t have been happier.

The workshops are all now available for schools, and other groups, and are suitable for anyone from 5 to 11, including children with special needs. Each session can be run over one hour or two hours depending on ages and needs of the group.

I’m always happy to discuss the sessions I offer and availability and can also prepare bespoke sessions as required for all age groups for age 5 upwards.

I was pleased to announce some new workshops to learn the techniques of linocut printing and to produce some of your own prints.

There were two sessions available:

Weds 29th June from 12:00 to 15:00

Fri 1st July from 18:00 to 20:30

The sessions covered the kinds of image that can be produced, the reversal of the carved images and basic techniques including; transferring images onto the Lino, safe cutting techniques, line and pattern making, applying ink and finally printing onto paper.

All equipment and materials were provided and participants were able to take home their own completed prints and carved Lino blocks.

Workshops were limited to small groups (maximum 6 people) and the cost was £30 per person payable by cash or card.
Please email to reserve your place.

Future sessions will look at more advanced techniques including using more colours with rainbow rolls and jigsaw prints.

Advice about the range and quality of equipment and materials available will be provided and, although I may be able to advise on suppliers, I am not able to supply equipment and do not have any arrangements with suppliers

On Saturday 16th July I was selling a range of my Handmade Linocut Prints, Greeting Cards and Giclée Prints (left) alongside other local artists and makers.

I spent the afternoon inside, out of the sun, busy mounting a some more of my Handmade Linocut Prints ready for the fair at the weekend.

The coffee shop, which does a very nice range of homemade baking, will be open to provide refreshments for visitors. Having recently had a morning coffee (and scone) at the Coffee House I can recommend it as a lovely venue in one of Rochdale’s forgotten architectural gems.

Horse Carrs was built for Thomas Watson, a silk manufacturer and benefactor of the town of Rochdale. Thomas Watson moved to Rochdale from Garstang and developed a highly successful silk velvet material that was considered even better than the French cloth. The house retains lots of original features and one of the rooms includes artefacts, photos and information about the history of the house and the Watson family. Why not pop in to browse and buy local art, enjoy the house and some refreshment. Come and talk to me about my artwork and prints and the creative workshops I offer.

On 2nd August a brand new project was launched in Littleborough, the brainchild of artist, and writer, Liz White, who realised that many older people and people with visual impairments are not able to access poetry. Based in Hare Hill House I delivered a series of 6 two hour workshops using the Park, House, Littleborough and their history for inspiration. Our photograph (right) shows the contributors at the launch of the book.

The participants contributed poems to a collection which was produced as a large print book suitable for readers with visual impairments. The book was distributed free of charge to local people with visual impairments. Participants had been supported in writing poetry in terms of style, language, poetic forms and technique.

Having just delivered a project, Climate Worx, a series of creative writing workshops looking at our planet, our environment and climate change I was delighted to see the announcement, this week, that the theme for National Poetry Day 2022 (NPD22) is the “Environment”.

For National Poetry Day in previous years I have run poetry workshops and delivered performances for libraries, schools and writing groups. This year´s theme promises to deliver lots of inspirational and thought provoking poetry.´

With a lifelong interest in all things environmental and a degree in Ecology I always relish the opportunity to help spread appreciation and understanding of our natural world through creative writing, art and photography.

With that in mind I currently have a range of poetry creative writing workshops which focus on the environment and include sessions suitable for all ages from 5 upwards and with any level of experience in creative writing. Most importantly we can have fun whilst flexing our creative muscles and sharing the experience with others (hopefully in the room rather than only via Zoom).

Sessions for the day itself were booked for two hours in the morning, the afternoon and the evening (depending on travel times) or half or full days. Poetry written in the workshops was recorded on audio with a digital file provided to share with your group, family and friends.

For those who preferred a more permanent and physical record of their work it was possible to run a series of workshops in the weeks before 6th October from which the work produced could be collected into an attractive book and the work could be performed at an event on or close to the NPD22.

With NPD22 then still 7 months away slots were nevertheless booking up up quite quickly

Over the past couple of weeks in December I’ve been editing submitted poems, selecting poems for publication, designing the layout and creating the cover for our large print anthology. After all that creative and technical work I now enter the easier, but tense, phase of waiting for copies to arrive through the post.

The book, draft cover shown here, (left) was launched on Friday 2nd December at 11.00am where some of the twelve contributing poets read selected poems. There was also the opportunity to meet and speak to the poets.

Refreshments will be provided and copies of Poetry in the Park will be available to take away.

All are welcome to attend at Hare Hill House, in Hare Hill Park, Littleborough.

posted 2 /12 Many thanks to all of those who attended our launch today. Extra thanks to Nick from Hare Hill House for making us so welcome and set up to room for us, and I especially admire the upside down Christmas Tree.

With tea and coffee and a table of home made cakes, proving that some of our poets are also excellent bakers, the 40 strong audience (right) settled down to listen to an introduction from Elizabeth White, Chair of Create and Connect who organised the project. Elizabeth spoke about the motivation and aims of our project, the reasons for producing a large print poetry book and thanked our sponsors “Crook Hill Community Benefit Fund”.

Eileen Earnshaw, a superb local poet, and I shared a couple of poems each to give some idea of the range of styles and subjects that we write about and then each of the other poets who took part in the project read some of their work from the newly published book.

The participating poets are; Denise Greenall, Eileen Earnshaw, Elizabeth White, Graham Haynes, Julie Woodrup, Marilyn Allred, Nic Holliday, Ray Stearn, Sandra Buckley, Susan Benton and myself.

Cllr. Janet Emsley, Deputy Leader of Rochdale Council, always a staunch supporter of the arts and her local community in Littleborough, read a poem on behalf of Elizabeth White and also expressed thanks to the sponsors and her hopes that we will continue to see such community based creative projects in the future.

Cllr Janet Emsley (left) , Seamus Kelly (poet and facilitator), Elizabeth White (Create and Connect)

The book, and the readings, were very well received and copies will be distributed free of charge to people experiencing sight loss, Rotary will include them in Christmas parcels and they will be distributed to care homes etc. and through MeetUp at Hare Hill House.

Next week we will be releasing copies online, freely downloadable, including a version using colours and a specialist font to make it more readable for people with dyslexia.

Elizabeth White said “the launch was really successful, the poets read from their work to a very appreciative audience. Being able to offer a large print poetry book is amazing as there are very few published in this format. A quick glance inside one of the boxes of books ready for tomorrow’s launch.

It is always exciting opening that box and holding a copy of a brand new book in your hand. This one is a special one being produced as it is a large print anthology helping to make poetry accessible to older people and those with some visual impairment.

photo 3 The work has been inspired by the workshops that the writers attended at Hare Hill House in Littleborough. I have been really looking forward to the participating poets receiving their copies, seeing their words in print and sharing some of their poems at the launch.

It has been a great event and project, I have been very impressed by all of the writers and thoroughly enjoyed running the workshops and editing the anthology.

EDITOR´S NOTE Reading all this from Seamus actually made me feel quite nostalgic for the people I used to work with and the various locations we worked in. I will always feel proud of the venues and people I used to work with, many of whom,, according to this missive from Seamus, are obviously still going strong.

I am fortunate, though, to have retired to an island with its own fantastic community arts scene. A couple of weeks ago, in fact, I paricipated, as the only English representative in The Lanzarote Poetry Festival, a three day event held in the capital. You can read an account of that event in our easy to negotiate archives of more than 800 articles, The article, Versos, Volcanoes y Viento, was posted in both English and Spanish.

Meanwhile regularly hearing from Seamus of all the poetry and creative writing in Rochdale, and of the Borough´s jazz scene from Steve Bewick´s Hot Biscuits radio shows on mix cloud and the reports from Alan Lawless on the live jazz music scene at The Reform Club in Chorlton as well as so many other disciplines all across the arts from Steve Cooke, in his Rochdale Observer Pages (now also available on line)  is a continual source of real joy that we are able to share with readers around the world.

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