Alison Bell - Textile Artist

My friend and wonderful textile artist Alison Bell had a residency at a local secondary school last year and you can see some of the results here. The first thing to leap out at you is the fabulous use of colour. It may seem at first glance rather un-Scottish - this is after all, perceived to be a country of subtle landscapes, misty hills, grey skies. But then Scotland isn't all subtleties, as anyone who has witnessed gorse bushes in full bloom, marching foxgloves or a heathery hillside can testify. The eye can be dazzled here, as well as lulled.

Have a look at Alison's own website. I find her work exciting, original, but most of all inspiring. While I'm never tempted to interpret it in words - the pieces surely speak for themselves - it always, somehow, makes me want to go away, reflect and write. Which is one of the reasons why these loose collaborations between people involved in various artforms interest me so much - not that you have to be working together - because creative people are so often people who value their solitude - but that in freely responding to another person's work you may be lucky enough to find the insights gained influencing your own practice, whatever that may be.

Three Cheers for Philip Pullman

and the other children's writers, in their stand against the proposal to vet them before they are allowed to undertake schools visits. Read about it here although it was all over our media yesterday - part of a growing tendancy to see all adults as potential paedophiles. Visiting writers usually work with large groups of children. Since most of them are not qualified teachers, they should not be left alone the kids - the teachers are meant to stay in the classroom, not slide out to do a bit of marking. I do very few schools visits - and when I do, because of what I write, I tend to be working with sixth years, so it's no big deal if the teacher occasionally leaves me alone to get on with it. But on the other hand, it's not good practice either - the best classes have been well prepared by an interested teacher, who knows the kids well, and can prompt questions or participation if things go a little slowly. That way the visit is beneficial for all concerned.
But why writers - who, as Pullman is quick to point out, mostly earn much less than he does - should be expected to pay yet another stealth tax, inspired by little more than irrational panic is beyond me. On a scale of risk, the possibility of being abused by a visiting writer, who usually spends his or her short session in the school working with large groups of children in very public places, must be on a par with the possibility of being struck by a meteor while waiting for a bus.
At this rate, they'll be telling us that our kids should never be allowed outside the door - you never know who might be watching.