Caleb Carter’s writing is about vividness and rhythm. He is the founder of online curatorial, thebigship.org, which seeks exciting and experimental writing about films, music, books and art outside of the traditional canon, is home to the “self-destructing gallery”, Little Prayers, and features interviews with artists on the fringes of their fields. Elsewhere, his work has also been published in The Independent and The Quietus. When he isn’t imbuing criticism on weird artists with the weirdness that they deserve, he writes poetry, short stories about cowboys, cults, and corpses, and is working on a novel about a manor house haunted by forgetting.
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The Big Ship is a new movement of art writing for the internet age. This means adopting an artist’s attitude to reinvigorate what most people accept as criticism, often using the art as a springboard both for deep and provocative inquiry as well as fresh and punchy stylistic experimentation. With regards to the chosen art, this means embracing change, discarding the canon, and embodying the type of curative spirit that will cut through the noise. Nowhere are these site-wide efforts more evident than in the popular Little Prayers, the “self-destructing gallery” that refreshes 5 pieces of art and 5 pieces of art writing each Monday. Because of their quick and temporary nature, these vignettes are regularly some of the most experimental, vibrant, and personal writing on the site. With the support of New Writing North, The Big Ship will be giving these temporary fragments a permanent home, in a serialized volume for readers to carry in their pockets: a prayer book full of art and words to make every reader’s day a little more curious.
Hazel is a freelance writer and creative practitioner based in Newcastle. Her fiction has won and been placed in several competitions, and in 2020 she was shortlisted for the Bridge Awards Emerging Writer Award, she is represented by Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg Associates literary agency. She has recently completed her debut book of short stories, and is now working on a novel.
Hazel has an academic background in history and classics and is interested in writing fiction which explores this, along with a good helping of mythology and folk horror. She is passionate about increasing historical engagement through the creative arts.
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Hazel is working towards designing, developing and delivering a series of creative writing workshops which will engage with the collections in local museums and heritage sites. These workshops will use artefacts, their history and wider mythologies to inspire creative work, and will in turn encourage a creative approach to understanding the past.
Hazel Soper is a visual artist that uses video installation to explore ecofeminism and folklore, drawing threads from the past to the contemporary issues women face. Her work has been shown both nationally and internationally, including at NeMe, Limassol (2019); AIR Gallery, Altrincham (2018), the Baltic, Gateshead (2021) and most recently at her solo show at OUTPOST Gallery, Norwich, (2023). She is also a curator, leading on projects that focus on emerging artists, and breaking down the hierarchies and pedagogy surrounding engagement with contemporary art.
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Slop Projects is an arts organisation working to promote contemporary rural art, whilst challenging inaccessibility of the arts sector in rural areas. Often in the countryside, physical access to art can be limited due to isolated locations, lack of transport and information, and economic barriers. Many exhibitions that are available to view present commercial and idealised perspectives. Slop wants to show the real issues, complexities and lives of artists with rural connections, and provide an opportunity to share exciting experimental contemporary work that is often overlooked. Slop strives to bridge the gap between visual art, creative writing and music to create fun and welcoming exhibitions, events and publications for everyone.
Ilisha Thiru Purcell
Ilisha Thiru Purcell is a poet based in and from Newcastle upon Tyne. She studied English Literature at University College London and has a diploma in Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Practitioner Training. Her poetry has appeared in Popshot, the podcast Less than two percent and is upcoming in The Butcher’s Dog and Nature Nurtures Anthology. She has created work for the Association of Anaesthetists and is a member of the collective Brown Girls Write who released their first anthology Sanctuary earlier this year. Ilisha won a commission to perform at the 2023 Newcastle Poetry Festival.
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[Content warning: reference to sexual violence]
My project explores trauma, sexuality and landscape and will culminate in the exhibition of a short poetry film. The film will consist of a sequence of poems that I’m writing which are inspired by the classical Tamil love poetry, akam, a form that utilises specific landscapes to signify different aspects of romantic relationships and the inner world of nameless lovers. I’m writing these poems in English and merging aspects of the Tamil landscape with that of the North East, in part to reflect my mixed Sri Lankan and British heritage. The poems will take the viewer/reader on a non-linear journey from the experience of sexual violence to a celebration of sensuality and intimacy, with these experiences mapped onto the landscape of the body and the natural world.
The film aspect is a new creative direction for me and I’m excited to collaborate with other artists to create a survivor-led, trauma-informed piece of work. The film itself will be mainly shot in the North East and there will be no human bodies in the film, only natural bodies of land and water, so what is centred is the survivor’s/survivors’ narrative. This project is incredibly important to me due to its personal nature and what it will add to the discourse surrounding sexual violence and sexuality.
Kym Deyn is a writer and fortune-teller based in Newcastle. Their work is widely published in anthologies and magazines including Butcher’s Dog and Popshot, and was selected for the Primer’s Nine Arches scheme. Their microchapbook Fee Fi Fo Fum was published by Broken Sleep last year and their pamphlet Dionysia is forthcoming with Verve Poetry Press in 2023. They are a winner of the 2020 Outspoken Prize for poetry and have been shortlisted for awards including the Bridport Prize and the Creative Futures award. In 2021 they received a DYCP to develop their queer audio drama work, and have an anthology horror radio drama called The Elvet Mysteries on spotify. They are currently writing a novel with help from The Novelry as part of their Octopus Scholarship programme.
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The Braag, an arts and literature community interest company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, has received funding as part of New Writing North’s Young Creatives scheme to publish poetry and speculative fiction chapbooks.
The Braag CIC is a non-profit named after a Northumbrian trickster spirit. Formed in October 2020 The Braag supports writing and culture in the North of England, with a focus on underrepresented and marginalised writers. Alongside running various events in person and online, The Braag is the home of a well regarded literary magazine, Carmen et Error, which showcases the best of strange microfiction and poetry in multiple micro-issues every year.
The Braag has been supporting writers in the North East of England for almost two and a half years, and will be drawing on this experience and a deep understanding of the local, national, and international creative landscape to showcase an exciting combination of established, emerging, and unknown writers alongside each other. Writers from the North East of England are particularly encouraged to submit to the new press, but authors from across the country are welcome, with the aim that creativity is drawn into the North East, and young and emerging writers from the area are exposed to some of the best writing the UK has to offer.
Kym is receiving a bespoke package of mentoring to respond to the project’s needs.
Born and raised in Northumberland, Lily is an avid writer, university student and chocolate fudge enthusiast. She won the New Writing North Young Northern Writers Award in 2021 for her story ‘Lovestruck’ and was part of New Writing North’s Amble young writers’ group from age 12, inspiring her to study literature and creative writing at Newcastle University and to write her first novel about ink-based magic and time-travelling warriors. For the last two years, Lily has been a part of Arts Council England’s Youth Advisory Board, influencing their policies and reports, and more recently she’s joined Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Young People’s Forum to help raise awareness to young people of environmental issues in the area, combining her creativity with her love of Northumberland’s natural spaces. Lily likes writing about forests, found families and girls who blow things up.
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Wild Stories is a project that aims to combine nature and fiction. Through a wide range of outdoor activities and creative writing sessions, the young people taking part will learn about climate change and nature-based solutions through stories, inspiring them to write their own stories that imagine a wilder future. Their time in nature, as well as the stories they read and write, will encourage them to care about their local wild spaces and to help protect them with a skill often overlooked in the fight against environmental loss – creativity!
The young people will go out into some of Newcastle’s best woodland spaces and take part in some fun outdoor crafts and learn some bushcraft skills. They will then work together on some creative writing exercises, as well as writing their own stories about their thoughts and feelings about their local wildlife. This will culminate in an anthology of creative pieces about nature and climate change, all written by the Wild Stories participants! This project is about encouraging young people to see their creativity as a way of imagining a better world, a way of helping people empathize with nature by rewilding the things we create. One little story can make a big difference.
Louise Page is a writer and artist from Northumberland. They make work about their experiences of being a disabled, queer, genderfluid person. Their mainstream books have been published by Scholastic, whilst their single-edition Artists’ Books have been acquired by the Wellcome Collection. Their short films have been commissioned by Random Acts, and exhibited by the Royal College of Art. BBC News described their podcast “New Women” as “smashing the box of disabled feminism”. Their play “Gaze” sold out at Northern Stage. They have written about film and culture for the Guardian and Little White Lies. They currently have a feature film in development with BFI funding, and are working on a documentary funded by OKRE; as well as developing a new picture book, and looking to move into illustration.
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I will be writing a graphic novel that looks at Jane Austen, grief, and disability. It will be fictional, but based on my own experiences. It will feature a disabled woman processing her grief by listening to the Austen audiobooks her late relative loved. Whilst listening, they will literally take flight, in the form of a bird, travelling through the worlds of Austen’s books. I will write and illustrate the graphic novel myself, using modern embroidery to tell stories set in Austen’s world.
Nothing is set in stone yet- but the characters that have always fascinated me in Austen are the ones on the fringes. The eccentric Mr Woodhouse, the bookish Mary Bennett, and all of the other strange side characters that many people forget about. I am an outsider myself, and I like the idea of gathering all of the fringe Austen characters at some kind of Outsider’s Ball.
Maud Webster (she/they) is a multidisciplinary creative and researcher, originally from Norwich but now living in Newcastle. Maud’s particular creative focus is the intersection between the built environment, culture, design and communication.
They graduated from Newcastle University’s Architecture and Urban Planning course last summer, and now work at Newcastle’s new Centre for Architecture and Cities, The Farrell Centre, and dabble in freelance graphic design and writing projects on the side.
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This project aims to produce audio walking guides focusing on the urban history and design of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The theme of ‘guide’ one will translate existing research on the Rise and Fall of Newcastle’s public toilets (1850s – today) into a piece of mapped narrative non-fiction storytelling. The history of Newcastle’s public toilets is surprisingly vast and interesting; it reveals several factors in the development and subsequent decline of these facilities, including the impact of gender, work and consumerism.
Interviewees relevant to the theme will be introduced as the tour progresses to add texture and variety to the audio, and careful consideration will be paid to the soundscape and accessibility of the tour. The audio tours will be accompanied by a short mapping pamphlet with the aim to offer an alternative way to access the tour or additional material to support the listener.
Oisín Liam Power is a writer, filmmaker, and software developer, holding a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. His work often explores the intersection of arts and healthcare and has earned him multiple regional writing awards, including Theatr Clywd’s Daniel Owen Young Writer of the Year.
A collaboration with oil painters Ben Larsen and Jacob Gourley, Oisín’s debut BBC Arts short film, “Mary Lost Her Battle,” offers a personal account of his late mother’s experiences with inflammatory breast cancer and challenges the conventional “battle” language used to describe cancer narratives. After premiering on BBC4, the film’s positive reception – particularly from those in the healthcare community – motivated Oisín to create further work aimed at educating people about palliative care.
Oisín has since partnered with organisations including Heard, Rockall Films, The European Association for Palliative Care, Arcus Animations, and Barnardo’s. Working alongside these partners, and drawing from his own experiences, Oisín is excited to continue creating work that sparks conversations and helps drive positive change.
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Set in a fantastical world, “Stagborne” (working title) is a series of comic strips that will offer bite-sized reflections on children’s palliative care and shine a light on the aspects that often remain unseen. Featuring four main characters – a Robin, a Badger, a Girl, and a Boy – along with a large ensemble cast, this series aims to represent and celebrate a diverse array of children. The characters will emphasise the importance of everyday moments and experiences, showing that unwell children are children, first and foremost, and the relationships that they have with their parents, siblings and relatives are just like in any other family.
The primary objectives of Stagborne are to educate people about children’s palliative care and to serve as a practical resource for healthcare workers. The comic strips will be uploaded to social media to broaden their reach, make them easily accessible and to pave the way for an animated film on a similar theme.
The creative team behind Stagborne includes writer Oisín Liam Power, artist Leonardo Vega, and graphic novelist Hannah Berry, working in collaboration with the charities Heard and Barnardo’s. These charity partners will foster close interaction with professionals working in children’s palliative care and individuals who have lived experience, hence enriching Stagborne’s authenticity and impact.
Rachel Dickenson was born and raised in West Denton, Newcastle and has been passionate about acting and creative writing all her life. She’s taken part in many small productions around the UK and abroad, which has fuelled her passion for storytelling and reaching all kinds of audiences.
Rachel studied an MA in Theatre and Performance at Northumbria University, where she was able to hone her craft but also learn about the challenges of including and engaging certain communities in the arts. She became very passionate about making a difference in this area.
After graduating in 2019, she qualified as a French teacher and worked in secondary schools, before shortly moving over to Prison Education, which she had felt herself gravitating towards for years. She truly enjoys the challenge of engaging her learners, giving them confidence and helping them to gain qualifications and reach their goals. She’s seen the remarkable difference that the men’s achievements can make to their self-perception and aspirations for the future. Rachel believes that prison should be a positive experience and prison leavers should feel better equipped to lead positive and purposeful lives upon release.
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Acting Right Now is about making meaningful art with people in prison. With a strong focus on scene-devising and script work, the project’s primary aims are to develop an appreciation of acting as an art form to help the men see acting as something that can improve their lives, confidence and interpersonal relationships, as well as something that can give them a creative outlet and a means of expressing themselves positively. At Acting Right Now, we believe that the cornerstone of making great art is nurturing your own voice and believing that it deserves to be heard. We think it’s time to appreciate what others have to say, unearth new narratives and tell fresh stories with pride.