Sisters, Swans and Swords at the Bowes Museum…

It was a brisk and bright day on Saturday, as three of the Elementary Sisterhood gathered at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, for a day of events…


First up, we hosted our own readings and discussion event in the beautiful Jubilee Room, which is definitely a close contender for “nicest room I’ve ever done a reading in” (the room in York Library, where we’re launching our second Ricardian anthology, is also up there).

It’s always nice to listen to others talk about what inspires their writing, as well as what’s coming up next for them, and I particularly enjoyed reading about Abelard and Heloise.


It’s one of my favourites of the Kindred Spirits Shorts I’ve written so far. There were also a couple of really good questions from the audience, about the perception of historical female characters in fiction, and how that changes, and whether the ‘happy ever after’ ending in fiction is always the most realistic version of events.

After lunch, Alex hosted an interesting workshop on female characters, and after a fun game of character-creation, I found myself writing about Julie Pond, an 80-year-old crocodile hunter with a great sense of humour (I suppose you might need one, in that line of work!). Combining this with a visit to the exhibition featuring interpretations of the “Death of Lucretia” made for an interesting piece of flash fiction, and something which might, after a bit of work, become a short story. Although, she won’t be 80 in my story. Not wanting to sound ageist, but there probably aren’t many crocodile hunters still active in their eighties, and less again at that age going on a first date to an art exhibition, which is where my story ended up! There will be editing, but the idea is definitely something I’ll be sticking with…

The Death of Lucretia

For the final part of the day, Penny and I headed out into the museum itself, just in time to see the wonderful silver swan, the exhibit the museum is probably most famous for. We didn’t hear the talk, but got to see the mechanism start off, and the bird catch its lunch – a gorgeous, glittering fish.

There is so much to see in the museum that we actually left the last couple of rooms to do next time. With our annual passes, we are planning to revisit in spring, and see the exhibition of pre-Raphaelite arts which is in the pipeline. There was time to see the Lego replicas of some of the most popular items though, and some of the more modern pieces, which had been created by artists inspired by the Bowes museum, items in the original collections, or the materials used by the artists represented. As a wind farm nerd, I loved the below set of drawings on paper, of various turbines. Just shows that modern items, and interpretations, can be as beautiful and interesting as their historical counterparts!


I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Bowes in warmer weather, and exploring some of Barnard Castle too – there’s a link to Richard III after all, and that’s always a great excuse to do anything!

Don’t forget, you can still buy the Sisterhood Anthology from Amazon here, in either ebook or paperback.


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