Maria’s 9th blog – How do you draw a line?

This is my last blog as Fabrica’s Spring show animateur. Can you believe it?

How do you know when something is really finished? You’d think for writers it would be when it’s published – but even then…not necessarily! Do visual artists find it any easier or harder to say: that’s it I’m done?

Actually there is still a bit more uploading to do and one of the volunteers is going to make a page with the handwritten answers people wrote at the gallery, so I will be around a bit longer and if you haven’t answered my questions yet you could still put a comment in.

In Polish books the contents page usually goes at the back. If I had to write a contents list for my residency I would be blogging forever.

Last week was incredibly busy. More serendipity – I was asked to teach a conference of secondary school teachers at the British Library for their current Writing Britain exhibition. The theme: writing about place, and my section – guess what? – Waterlands. Fragments of text and sounds from the exhibition are swirling round in my head: Graham Greene’s ‘dark poison bottle green’ water round the Pier, Kennneth Graham quoted as saying the river is a babbling procession of stories ‘taken from the heart of the earth and told to the insatiable sea’..Alice Oswald’s ‘river mutterings’..the crossing of water leading us to transition or transgression, destruction or cleansing…all the lost and found voices of the sea.

You can hear the voices of the young people at Allsorts Youth Drop-In on their own page. They came up trumps : with individual and collaborative writing and recordings of answers to my 3 questions. A huge thank you to Tracey at Fabrica for making this happen. I am still painfully slow uploading anything, but I have, to my surprise, enjoyed the techie side of my residency. There is something very liberating for me as a word-person in playing with actual images (even my amateurish holiday snaps) and sounds. I recommend wandering along the seafront or wherever you live with a digital recorder switched on.

I managed to squeeze in some last minute dressing up at the Queer Writers Fabrica evening which incidentally was a lovely meeting of minds, more pictures below.

One of the Queer Writers brought in an amazing poem by a young Syrian poet Tal al- Mallhouli in prison, you can read it on:

At one of the Open Houses I met an artist from Chile making scuptures from black, leathery seaweed (

In between panicking about finishing off my residency I also thought about what it means being a poet-animateur among visual art folk. In the U.K especially you are forced to specialise far too early – arts v science – and in the arts world we often get stuck in our own constituency. Poets talk to other poets etc…My grandfather called himself an architect-artist and saw no contradiction there, no ‘either or’. Talking to some of the artists who’ve come into the gallery I see many like to cross over between different genres/media. One of the best things I saw in the Fringe this year was Mark Hewitt’s scrublands down in the old police cells of Brighton Town Hall, a performance which included music by Peter Copley and projected images, paintings and video sequences. ( A raw study of inbetweeness, combining humour and seriousness.

But it’s all happened much too fast and I can’t quite believe I’m not going to be living and breathing my residency anymore. I feel too close up to draw conclusions. I’d like to do it all again slowly. Everything has been like little streams then bigger rivers flowing towards that insatiable sea. And now I’m sailing off towards somewhere else.

Thank you to everyone at Fabrica for your friendly help and generous supplies of halva. Thank you to Fabrica’s funders for the opportunity to work and be paid – it’s not very English to mention the vulgar subject of money but I don’t know a single artist for whom this is not an issue.

Most importantly thank you, dear reader, for taking part and interacting with me whether by reading or writing or both and especially if words aren’t really your thing. Sometimes I’m not sure words are my thing either, despite being totally obssessed with them! They seem too small or too clumsy – pebbles hurled at the sea in frustration. But trying to do something with them is humbling, exhilarating – that rollercoaster ride somewhere on the border between impossible and maybe.

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