Image Credit: Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by Allison Symes.
A group of regional writers took part in the Winchester Discovery Centre’s 10th anniversary celebrations on Saturday 25th November.
The authors taking part were:-
Richard Hardie (Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords)
Heather Chamberlain with Woofbot, her lovely dog puppet and character from her Happy Bottom series aimed at young children. Heather was also at the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair and it was lovely to talk to her again. It was also nice to meet her husband, Gordon.
Sally Howard and Catherine Griffin (Secret Lives and More Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford)
Richard Frankland (author of thrillers including A Cast of Hawks and Shadows in Sunshine).
And, last but not least,
Allison Symes (From Light to Dark and Back Again).
A nice mix then of YA, children’s, adult, short stories, and flash fiction writing was represented here.
The event was from 10 am to 4 pm and the authors’ section was just one part of this.
In the main part of the Centre was the Winchester Fusion Choir who sang (beautifully) at regular intervals.
The Red Cross had a stand near the front entrance and there was a stand by Winchester Action Against Climate Change. There were family craft workshops (though I didn’t get to see these myself) and crazy science experiments with the Mini Professors. That sounded fun.
The great thing with the Choir was, it didn’t matter where you were in the Centre, you weren’t going to miss them! But their choice of material was fun, including probably the most upmarket version of Happy Birthday I’ve heard, and their voices were great, so thank you all. Singing is not usually part of an author event!
Book groups were also advertising their “wares” – well, it is a great place for that!
So I think it safe to say there was an eclectic mix of people celebrating the Discovery Centre’s 10th anniversary!
Birthday cake was given out to all who visited (and to the authors too. We appreciated this. We also appreciated the tea and coffee too so many thanks to the Winchester Discovery Centre staff for that).
Alice Kettle Exhibition
During a quiet spell in the authors’ section, I popped upstairs to the Alice Kettle exhibition where her works with embroidery astounded me for their imagery and depth of colour. No photos from me I’m afraid (I wasn’t sure if I could take any and, if in doubt on this point anywhere, I don’t!) but if you get the chance to pop along and have a look I’d happily recommend it.
My favourite was probably The Sea. The colours are intense and the imagery vivid. It’s not a form of art I’ve really come across before but I enjoyed this. I love art of most kinds because the imagination shines through whether it is through craft work, writing, music or what have you. I appreciate this point far more now (a) I’m older and (b) I’m writing!
Discovery Centre staff had volunteers showing younger visitors around as they had to find pictures put up on the walls. Most people remember the “burnt cakes” story with Alfred, and rightly so, it always makes me smile. My sympathy has always been with the annoyed housewife!
However, it should be recalled Alfred was a highly literate man especially if you judge him by the standards of his day and he wanted to encourage this in his realm. What is now the University of Winchester used to be the King Alfred College (for teaching). He had a library of his own. It is right we remember a man who was ahead of his time in many ways (and we owe him, not that monster, Henry VIII, the beginnings of our Navy too).
A raffle was held as part of the Discovery Centre’s celebrations. Gather any group of people together for long enough and there usually is a raffle! (I speak from long experience of church fetes etc and having had a raffle myself as part of my cyberlaunch earlier this year. All good fun and I hope the winners enjoy their prizes).
Richard Hardie held a story time and talk session. His book stand display included his Sherlock and red and green hats and, of course, Excalibur. Well with his books tapping into the Arthurian legend, Excalibur had to turn up!
Where the authors were, in the children’s section, meant we were off to one side but there was a regular flow of visitors, some of whom came over to see what was going on, some didn’t. (This is just the way of things!). It is also the way of things there were either loads of people in the section or barely any!
Some took cards and others bought books (thank you, all!). What we hope is that profiles are raised – our own, our books and that of the Discovery Centre.
It was encouraging to see parents bringing their children in to borrow books, to read some there as well as to take some home, but I’d have loved to have seen more of the upper age range here. There are some fantastic books for YA so where were the YA?!
To be fair, this is an issue that faces all writers of YA/crossover fiction. It also faces the libraries. How do you get people into reading who are not currently doing so or gave up on reading because it suddenly seemed not a “cool” thing to do anymore?
I must admit I hope this is where flash fiction might help (and not just because I write it, honestly!). I’ve been aware for a while it could be a useful way of encouraging more reading because you’re not asking people to commit to too much in one go, especially in terms of time, and this could be a way into books for some.
Find a way in to reading for people and leave them to it! It was a magical moment for me when books “clicked” but something has to set off that initial spark. The trigger for that spark, appropriately for something so creative, does differ from person to person but once it’s lit, generally there’s no holding back! It is a question of finding the right trigger.
Despite having worked in Winchester for years, and passing the Centre countless times, I had not been inside the building before. It is lovely and I’ll look forward to visiting again. I loved the clock in the children’s section with the quotes from classic works of children’s literature coming from it. Thought that was so appropriate.
What do I hope comes out from the event? Obviously further book sales for all of us taking part in this (this is where taking cards can be useful), but it would be great if there were increased numbers of visitors to the Discovery Centre.
More reading and checking out the exhibitions there can never be a bad thing.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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