Kate Horsley Menu

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The Mask Series

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KateHorsley

Recently, I participated in an international wet plate series called The Mask Series.  The project was coordinated by Shane Balkowitsch who assembled 150 alternative photographers from over 25 countries, making the series the largest international wet plate collaboration since Frederick Scott Archer first invented the process in 1848.  The goal is to raise awareness for the technique and also create a collection of plates for exhibition in a gallery and publication in a book. The prop used in each image is a vintage Czech M10 gas mask. 

I enthusiastically signed up for the mask project and looked forward to mask coming my way.  But I wasn’t prepared for what an emotive object the mask would be.  When I tried the mask on, it was stifling, haunting.  I imagined gas attacks, nuclear explosions, air raid sirens.   

My idea for the masked baby came from imagining my Dad, a baby during WWII, wearing the  ‘Mickey Mouse’ masks used by children during the war.  The relatively large size of the Czech mask gives the picture a more ominous feel, as if the baby is weighted down with adult problems.  The sins of the father.  I took a couple of test shots to establish exposure.  The ambrotype I submitted to Shane was also a test shot and in fact, I was getting so frustrated with my images, I was about to throw the towel in after I took it.  But when I saw it lying in the cyanide solution, I quite liked its eerie feel. 

You can read my account of the process here.

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Wetplate Photography Event at Lancaster

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Wetplate Event21st June 2013 12:30 pm 5:00 pm

Lecture Theatre 3, Furness College, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YG

Discover the 19th century art of wetplate collodion photography, in which images are taken on tin and glass. See the process in action and have your portrait taken on tin with a Victorian camera!
  • 12.30 pm onwards, Furness: Tea, coffee and soft drinks served.
  • 1pm – 1:30 pm, Furness LT3: Introductory talks about spirit photographs, post-mortem photography and cartes de visite by Dr Catherine Spooner, who specialises in Gothic literature and culture and Victorian literature and portraiture specialist, Dr Kamilla Elliot. Alternative Photography expert and artist John Brewer will discuss the wetplate collodion process.
  • 1:30 pm – 5 pm, Furness LT3: John Brewer and Dr Kate Horsley (writer and wetplate artist) will take portraits for the rest of the afternoon.

 

pdf-iconDownload PDF poster.

This event has been organised in collaboration with the Lancaster Department of English & Creative Writing and the Lancaster University Photographic Society.

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Moving Worlds: Crime Across Cultures

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Crime Across Cultures I recently wrote an article called “Interrogations of Society in Contemporary African Crime Writing” for a special edition of the journal Moving Worlds. Crime Across Cultures, edited by Lucy Evans and Mandala White, “seeks to examine how discourses of crime and criminality are produced in a global context that extends well beyond the cloisters of Orwell’s English middle class. We ask how writers and cultural practitioners from around the world have diversified the crime writing genre, moving beyond the detective novel in order to experiment with a variety of media including short fiction, television, performance, visual art and graffiti.” My article examines the conflicted role of black detective figures in the novels of Botswana writer Unity Dow, Ghanaian-born crime writer Kwei Quartey and South African writers James McClure and Deon Meyer.  I look at criminals who are casualties of wider traumas, cultural rifts, established systems of control and deeply embedded belief. For more about this special issue of Moving Worlds, go to: http://www.movingworlds.net/

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Results of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Competition

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Sentinel Literary QuarterlyI recently judged a short story competition for Sentinel Literary Quarterly and they have just announced the results.  A lot of fantastic stories were submitted.  I enjoyed the variety of literary styles and genres represented, ranging from crime fiction to sci-fi to comedy.  The six winning stories are very different in style, but they all take a courageous approach to their subject matter and in each, the quality of writing as well as structure and characterization, is strong. The First Prize Winner, Sarah Evans’s ‘Glittering Girls’, tells the story of Sofiya, a young girl caught in impoverished circumstances who dreams of the city, where ‘fluorescent lights turn night to tinted day’.  The story combines a dystopian setting with telling details of Sofiya’s worlds – real and imagined – and has the timeless atmosphere of a fable.  The narration is stark, pulling us into the fluctuating current of Sofiya’s emotions as she leaves her drab home behind, not knowing what her ambition might cost her.

The Second Prize-winner, ‘Memory’, by Paxton Avenue, explores a father-son relationship through the lens of reverie.  Building up layers of careful detail to create a darkly nostalgic mood, this story is readable and compelling.  The writer uses the five senses to lead us between the past and the present, shifting between seasons and years, between childish and adult impressions: ‘As a child, barely taller than the door handle, the boy woke into a high-mooned summer night’.  The story ends on a bitter-sweet moment, beautifully evoking the narrator’s sense of loss. The Third Prize goes to a piece of historical fiction by  Jim Kroepfl, ‘Spirit of the Pike’, which excels at natural description and skillfully conjures a far-off time and place. The main character, Kannihut, hunts a pike, his thoughts and movements echoing that of the elusive fish.  The story is built up moment by moment to create a vivid sense of Kannihut’s experience and the writing throughout is taut and captivating.

The three Highly Commended stories,  Julie Swan’s ‘Mind How You Go’, Joan Dowling’s ‘Cold Comfort’ and Andrew Campbell-Kearsey’s ‘Dying to Speak’ are all engaging tales that share a darkly ironic vision of life.  ‘Mind How You Go’ creates a futuristic world in which a tour-guide hosts a journey through the mind of a killer.  ‘Cold Comfort’ fuses the narrator’s wrenching grief to melancholy visions of her lost child returned to her, cleverly leaving the reader uncertain of whether or not this it a ghost story. ‘Dying to Speak’ is a darkly comic tale of illness, paranoia and eventual epiphany about the narrator’s tragic condition.

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Sentinel Literary Quarterly Competitions 2013

sentinel champions 10 cover

Look out for New Short Story competitions at Sentinel Literary Quarterly, including the African Prisons Project competition judged by Alison Lock and the Quarterly Short Story competition judged by me.

SENTINEL NIGERIA ALL-AFRICA SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2013

Closing Date: 28-Feb-2013

Theme: Open

Length: 1500 words maximum (Excluding title)

Prizes: N35,000 (1st), N20,000 (2nd), N10,000 (3rd), N4000 x 3 (High Commendation).

Fees: N450 / £2.50 per story

Publication: Yes. In Sentinel Nigeria Magazine

Judge: Judge Dibia

Enter online or by post here.

SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY SHORT STORY COMPETITION

Judge: KATE HORSLEY

Closing March 31, 2013

Prizes: £150, £75, £50, and 3 x £10

Publication: In Sentinel Literary Quarterly Magazine.

Fees: £5 per story, £8/2, £10/3, £12/4

Enter Competition here

AFRICAN PRISONS PROJECT SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2013

Judge: ALISON LOCK
Closing Date: 20th March 2013
Prizes: £100, £50, £30, £10 x 2 + publication in Excel for Charity News Blog
Entry Fees: £5/1, £8/2, £10/3, £12/4 (Enter as many stories as you wish)

Enter online or by post

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Seventh Quarry Magazine

Seventh_Quarry_2Two of my poems, ‘On Mending a Lost Letter’ and ‘Blue Plums’ have just appeared in Seventh Quarry Magazine and it was lovely to get my copy of it in the post and read some of the fantastic writing featured in there.  Here’s one of the poems of mine that was published in Issue 17, Winter 2013:

On Mending a Lost Letter

The paper’s yellowed, but the watermark’s

still plain, hand-made, sheer as a stocking.

 

Some perfume – Blue Waltz maybe – mingles

with ink that has turned grey from time.

 

He lines the pieces on linoleum,

tallies shred with shred, matches threadbare

 

ribbons of words, mends a g’s curve

an n’s bend, holds up the whole, reads her

 

round hand, lays his face against her

old address and hears the paper sing.

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Novel Cover Art

image002I’m excited to learn that Jason Anscomb of Rawshock will be designing the jacket cover for my novel.  I think his collage and design work is fab, e.g. this stylish cover (left) for Patrick Süskind’s Perfume.  I’ve had a few ideas cover-wise, mainly involving the long, red hair of the main character, Oona, floating away from her in the underwater scene, quoted here:

The boat dipped low.  The oar rolled against her fingertips, slid further away.  A wave slapped her face.  Wood groaned underneath.  She fell into the water, kicked against the boat, paddling the way Toby did when they were out on the beach.  But she couldn’t move well for the band round her chest.  She scrabbled.  Her breath hurt.  The boat slipped away.  Her head went down.  She bobbed up, mouth full, eyes burning.  The man stepped out of the boat.

She went under.  The water was so blue.  Sunshine, silver-white, above her.  The kind of day when women take their time.  The sun soft as a kiss.  Her chest on ice.  Swallowing salt.  Granny said don’t paddle past your knees – a trow will catch you!  May held her hand, screaming at the waves.

Her chest sings.  The sea is sapphires and silver.  A selkie swims up to her with green weed snarled in her hair.  Under the sea, girls become selkie wives, soft skin roughening to fins and scales.  They can never return to the human world, for their kind don’t know them again.  When the selkie comes close, she smiles and Oona knows everything will be alright, because it’s Ma and her arms are open wide.

I don’t know whether there’s some way of working all that into it (!) Maybe not…

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Review of Vanitas Exhibition

Vanitas_Double_Negative_Darkroom_4736_web

Many thanks to Melissa Tricoire for this lovely review of John Brewer’s and my exhibition at the Double Negative Darkroom, Hackney!

Here’s an extract –

“Magic emanates from Brewer’s still lifes, creating a theatre of curiosities with human skulls, candles, medical instruments, tarot cards and other memento mori. The photographer’s series of acrylotype plates entitled Fragmented Dolls is remarkable for its artistry and kookiness. In these fascinating portraits, we see star dolls pre-dating the seventies made of porcelain or cheap plastic. But their rosebud cheeks, smiling faces and blinking eyes have long been lost – the toys of old now only present a decaying form covered with cracks and chips, bathing in spookiness and grotesqueness.

Vanitas also showcases pieces by writer and artist Kate Horsley, whose multi-media art mixes literature and photography. Her tintypes merge with altered books and her wooden peep boxes create a series of uncanny literary tableaux where the viewer is captivated by such fantastical creatures as a baby-headed spider, flying dolls and stuffed animals.” Read more…

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Vanitas Exhibition

VanitasAn exhibition of unique photographic plates by John Brewer & Kate Horsley

8th December 2012  – 12th January 2013 at the Double Negative Darkroom

78a Glyn Road, Hackney, London E5 0JE; Launch event 8th December 2012

Growing out of the memento mori tradition of Renaissance Europe, vanitas is a genre of art that contemplates the transient nature of life.  Common symbols include skulls, rotten fruit, bubbles, smoke, watches, and hourglasses, all symbolizing the brevity of life and suddenness of death. In a series of unique photographic plates, historical photographic artist John Brewer juxtaposes the traditional still life compositions of the Dutch masters with haunting contemporary interpretations, challenging our perceptions of ancient and modern, the living and the dead. Writer and artist Kate Horsley merges tinted plates with the altered book and wooden peep-box, creating a series of secret tableaux, each one an intimate, private viewing.

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Podcast of ‘The Argument Man in Winter’

I’ve been doing some volunteer teaching at Start in Salford, and recently our creative writing group has been working on poems with a winter theme.  Youth Arts co-ordinator Francine Hayron recorded our pieces and did a lovely job of editing them and adding sound effects, compiling them all into a snow-filled collection. Here’s my contribution, performed by David Jones, a talented performance poet at Start.

The Argument Man in Winter:

You can read the poem here.

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