I wanted writing to have a visual presence around the campsite during my residency, and to create an activity that any visitor to the campsite could join in with, regardless of how much time they had available. I loved the creative connotations of the word canvas, and the links it made between the rows of tents in the campsite and the sails on the boats visible on the sea’s horizon beyond.  The idea of using canvas to write on came up during a chat with Annie, Mac and Alyson during our planning session, and in the end I decided to set up a washing line of words on site, which people would be invited to add to using blank triangles of canvas, marker pens and pegs.  Have a look at the poster here…..Poster for poetry line 

I’d mentioned my idea to Pete and Debs when I arrived on Sunday, and they both really took it on board.  I’d originally thought the line could be set up outside the project van, but when it came to setting it up the following day, Debs suggested I put it outside reception, in a fantastically central position on site.  I added the first triangle of canvas, with the word ‘sea’ written on it, then sat back to see what would happen (no pun intended)……

 the first item on the poetry line


Despite the rain, our line began to grow steadily, with the help of Pete and Debs encouraging new arrivals on the campsite and visiting locals to go and add a word to the line.  I had wondered beforehand whether it might be possible that we’d end up with a collaborative piece of writing, or one long sentence, so I was really interested to see what people would contribute.  In the end, the line became a collection of separate words, and although the temptation was there to try to shape them into the beginnings of a poem or a story, after chatting to Mac a couple of days into my residency, I decided to leave the line (or lines as it had become by now) as it was. As the edges of the triangles began to curl up in the rain, Debs and I began to talk about ironing the canvas at some point later in the summer, and making it into bunting, but more about that later.

Here’s how our poetry line grew….

sea / gulls  / play…the first day

sea / gulls  / play…the first day

Poetry line day 2

after a day

Poetry line day 4

by the last day of my residency