Archive | May, 2012

Discover the paintings of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, the artist who inspired StAnza poets

30 May

A major exhibition of paintings by one of the most significant British artists of the 20th century will open on 8 June at Fraser Gallery St Andrews – part of a year of celebration of the artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, who was born in St Andrews and whose vivid paintings and prints inspired StAnza poets at this year’s festival.


The exhibition, “A St Andrews Modernist – Paintings, Drawings and Prints by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham 1912-2004” – which will open on what would have been her 100th birthday – will include a range of the abstract works for which she is renowned and has been organised in conjunction with the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust which is based at her home at Balmungo House.

 This is a major retrospective of an artist who is now recognised as an important one in the history of British Modernist art, associated with the influential artists of St Ives, where she also lived and worked.  According to gallery owner Roderick Fraser, the show gives ‘a perfect snapshot of her achievement as one of the finest painters and draughtsmen of her generation.’  

One of StAnza’s most innovative and exciting new projects this year, organised with the Trust, was an all-day workshop at Balmungo House. Our festival blogger, poet Stephanie Green, attended the workshop, which was led by StAnza’s Poet-in-Residence, Lavinia Greenlaw and focused on relationships between poetry and art. Find out more about her experience here.

Balmungo House

And there was more inspiration last winter for Canadian poet Karen Solie, who gave a stunning reading for StAnza, alongside John Burnside, during her time as inaugural holder of the School of English/Barns-Graham Charitable Trust International Writer’s Residency.

 The exhibition takes place at Fraser Gallery St Andrews, 53 South Street, St Andrews between 9-30 June 2012.

Photo of Balmungo House by Stephanie Green

Relive StAnza’s best moments on our website

24 May

Afternoon tea with Jackie Kay: one of the memorable moments at StAnza 2012

We have just uploaded  a gallery of delightful photos  from StAnza on our website here  so you can relive the best moments or find out what you missed at this year’s festival. With the Image being a festival theme and St Andrews having had an important part to play in the history of photography, it’s very appropriate that these recollections are visual.

There’s also a selection of our reviews to browse through – by writers from the Scotsman, the Spectator and the Skinny among others. But there’s more to come: we’ll be uploading our podcasts very soon – so you can sample readings again by the outstanding poets who made the festival so memorable.

Photo by Stephanie Green.

Poetry raising funds for charity

4 May

A poetry charity night is being held in Glasgow to raise funds for to support Oxfam’s work with rural communities. The event, supporting the project Old MacDonald had a Farm for Africa, will take place on Friday 18th May at 7:30 pm at the Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street, and it promises to be a memorable evening, with a great line up of poets taking part. Confirmed so far are Liz Lochhead, Alasdair Gray , Douglas Dunn, Bernard MacLaverty, Aonghas Macneacail, Rab Wilson, Gerrie Fellows , Miriam Gamble, Peter Mckay, Gerry Cambridge, Tawona Sithole, Robyn Marsack, Eleanor Livingstone, Lesley Duncan, and Jim Carruth.

It is a very special night and for a very good cause. The event will be limited to only 100 people. Tickets cost £10 and can be bought at the Oxfam Bookshop on Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow, or by phoning 0141 248 9176 (ask for Gillian).  For more information e-mail or to make a donation visit

Talking nonsense

2 May

One of our most successful Past & Present events some years ago was when Annie Freud, talking about T.S. Eliot, was paired with Janice Galloway, talking about Lear. Those who enjoyed that, or missed it, might be interested in an essay series on BBC Radio 3  this week. Sara Lodge from theUniversity of St Andrews (who took part in another very successful StAnza event on Robert Louis Stevenson) has been involved in creating a week long series to celebrate Lear’s bicentenary. It is being broadcast this week, with a different essay each week-day evening  (Monday 30th April to Friday 4th May) at 10.45 pm. There is also the ‘listen again’ facility on iPlayer, available via the Web. Sara’s own essay was broadcast on Monday 30th – it is about Lear, Romanticism, the sublime, and loss. The other contributors are Matthew Bevis on Tuesday, talking about Lear and the ‘story’ of nonsense in the Victorian period; Robert Crawford on Wednesday, talking about Lear’s acoustic and his literary legacy in the work of T. S. Eliot and others; the art historian Caroline Arscott on Thursday talking about Lear’s landscapes and his pictures of tortoises; and the cartoonist Ralph Steadman on Friday, talking about what he and Lear have in common.

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