Drawing tales

White lacy parasol in shop window

A white lacy parasol in a Melrose shop window – very appropriate for our belated warm weather.

Her son had entered the competition, so a friend asked if I could help judge in her place. The competition had been organised by a local artist with the first prize including tickets for a talk by a well-known children’s book illustrator at the Borders Book Festival which takes place next week in Melrose. The young entrants had been asked to come up with an illustration for the cover of an imaginary book of Scottish folk and fairy tales.

So there we were – a handful of us in Melrose’s bijou library – spreading sheets of paper across an area of the floor to study the entries. A bit like a game of Patience with giant playing cards. Lots of talent was evident with imaginations ranging far and wide to provide suitable images. Some were conventional with towers, princesses, fairies and monsters, while others had a more modern, perhaps more Harry Potter take on the subject.

Melrose in the sun

The Scottish Borders town of Melrose in the sun

My fellow judge and I, with encouragement from others, each selected five of the entries – five prizes had been donated by local shops and the book festival. These were laid on another part of the floor. Then the serious horse-trading began as we whittled the ten down to five and ranked them from first to fifth.

Just as well it was a lovely evening, the day probably being the hottest and sunniest so far this year, so with Melrosians firing up BBQs or pottering in their gardens, the library was luckily not particularly busy. A third section of floor was commandeered as we extracted the five winning entries, then looked over the other two sections to ensure we had made the correct selection and hadn’t overlooked a little gem.

What's down there?

Through the vennel

As the children had all drawn their wee hearts out, it would have been great to give them all prizes, but hopefully they will get a buzz from receiving a certificate and seeing their work exhibited on the library wall. Unfortunately no pictures are available so you will just need to use your imaginations and enjoy those of Melrose.

A display of scarves in Melrose

A display of scarves as colourful and varied as the drawings of the children who entered the competition.

This is the tenth year of the Borders Book Festival. Its compact form has been retained to keep its intimate nature and its unique atmosphere from its situation in the grounds of Harmony House, a beautifully restored Regency town house set within a one-and-a-half hectare walled garden with the Abbey and Eildon hills as backdrop. House and garden are in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

Glass and town reflections

Vibrant coloured glass and town reflections in the Melrose shop window

Next week I will be taking part in the book festival. Borders Writers’ Forum, an organisation of which I’m a member, has an event when some of those who contributed to its recent anthology Scottish Borders and Beyond will be reading from our work. This is the third time we’ve had a slot at the festival, previously at the weekend, but this year we’re scheduled for the opening evening with stiff competition from big name authors. Fingers crossed we get a good audience and that it stays dry. Rain drumming on canvas can be very off-putting.

Abbey and tents at the Borders Book Festival

At the 2011 Borders Book Festival in Melrose – hopefully it won’t rain this year.


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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8 Responses to Drawing tales

  1. mybrightlife says:

    Will be holding thumbs for good weather for this year’s festival!

  2. chris says:

    Lovely photos, but especially “through the vennel” (a new word for me!) and the one of the scarves. Do hope you’ll get good weather for the festival. The illustration contest sounds like a lot of fun for the children. Must have been quite challenging to pick winners.

    • Vennel, like close, is a Scots word for a narrow passage between buildings. The old park of Edinburgh is full of closes, often leading from The Royal Mile (the oldest part of the city) down to the lower level of The Mound – they seemed to like building houses on top of older houses in these days.

  3. Sheila says:

    Congratulations on having your work included in an anthology! I think I would be pretty nervous if I had to read my work in public, but I guess you must get used to it. That must have been fun looking through all the children’s illustrations too. The town looks so beautiful with the stone buildings in the background.

    • I also edited the anthology and did the layout ready for printing. Reading in front of people can be daunting but it’s a skill writers are expected to have nowadays. I have a friend who after many years of trying has had her book published and she has quite a hectic schedule attending book signings, book festivals and giving talks to all kinds of organisations. So any experience of talking about your writing or reading from it is invaluable. About to post a piece on our event at the festival – it went well.

  4. There are a couple of glass vases in the shop window i wouldn’t mind having.

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