26 Fruits


Atlantic crossings

My guest blogger this week is Faye Sharpe. I’ve known Faye for a few years since she came on her first Dark Angels course up in Moniack Mhor. She’s since joined in enthusiastically with everything to with Dark Angels and 26, developing her own writing in the process. She is now heading a 26 project – 26 Atlantic Crossings – that links 26 visual artists from Prince Edward County in Canada (where she comes from originally) with 26 writers from the UK and Ireland. It’s a great project and Faye writes about it below.

Canada – The land of opportunity

When an opportunity came along to work on a creative project with someone I love who is far away, I grabbed it – with hands, head and heart.

Canadian painter, Joanna McFarland is an artist of wide open spaces, places and ideas. She is a member of Prince Edward County Studio Tour, one of Canada’s longest running and most diverse. For one weekend, every September, artists from ‘The County’ open their studios to the public to meet them in their natural habitats. She is also my sister.


We discussed how not many people outside of Prince Edward County, that island-like peninsula on the north-eastern shore of Lake Ontario, know about PEC or the Studio Tour. “How can we get the word out that there are wonderfully creative people here? That artists’ work must be seen and heard? How can we spread the word?” We wanted a project that brought us together – artists and writers; Canada and the UK.

Via Skype, Joanna introduced me to Wendy Matthews, from the PEC Studio Tour. I told her about 26 and how our writers have brought museum artefacts, storybook characters and children’s drawings to life through prose or poetry of 62 words exactly. We call them sestudes. Why 62? 26, the number of letters in the alphabet, in reflection.

Hands up for Canada!

The call went out and 26 Atlantic Crossings was born. We randomly paired the artists and writers in the time honoured tradition. We pulled names, written on a slip of paper, from two bowls – one bowl in Ontario, one in Surrey – and by Skype we celebrated each pairing with a raised glass and a shout of Cheers!

52 people met, via email, mid-Atlantic. Each artist provided an image of their original artwork. Then their paired writer, using the theme of Atlantic crossings, responded. Would it work? We worried. We need not have. A cross fertilisation of creativity ensued. A kind of hybrid vigour arose.

Make a connection – and make it personal

It is the nature of artists and writers to connect, emotionally, with their work. Their aim is to captivate their viewers and readers, to stir up feelings in ways that are sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious, sometimes intended, often unexpected.

When 26 visual artists and 26 writers came together to share a theme on which to hang their work, connections crackled. Feelings surfaced. Yearnings bobbed.

Deep yearnings – of love and nostalgia; longings to settle down and to venture forth; sentiments of patience and endurance; hopes rooted in loss and loneliness; the awe of exiled souls and attention to home and family despite a constant readiness to leave or arrive; grave desires to embrace the unknown; the keenness of sentimental journeys, abandoned lives and lost loves; whispered salutations and joyous greetings; regrets for opportunities taken and missed, freedoms claimed, won and lost.

26 Atlantic Crossings – The Exhibition. The E-Book.

The result is an exhibition of the original artworks (paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glassworks, woodworks, metal works, jewellery) and their sestudes at Books and Company, in Picton, Ontario. It opens Friday 22nd August (7 to 9pm) and will run over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 23rd and 24th, 10am to 5pm).

An e-book with the images of the artworks and their sestudes will be published by 26.org.uk and will be available for free download on 22nd August. Sophie Gordon, one of our writers, gave us a wonderful design.

After the exhibition, the artworks, with their sestudes, will return to their original studios for the PEC Studio Tour, September 19th to 22nd.

Faye Sharpe

To read more about culture, heritage and living a creative life visit The Secret Archaeologist

2 Responses

  1. What a brilliant idea Faye! I can’t wait to get my e-book. Or is it ebook? Or Ebook? Or, or…?
    Love it. You must be thrilled. Plus the joy of doing with your sister.
    Good on you,

  2. bigbrandjohn says:

    Wonderful idea and so pleased the project crossed the pond.

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