Spontaneity Magazine: Art matters
Everything in Spontaneity connects, is a creative response: a poem about loss might inspire a photo of an abandoned building, which leads to a short story about illicit love
Kate Powell’s I tried to draw my soul but all I could think of was flowers and One for sorrow by Francis O’Toole, the cover art for the current issue of Spontaneity
Dwelling by Marina Burnel Photography
Mother’s Developing House
by Clodagh Beresford Dunne
I never knew my mother
as a photographer
until I found her student
asbestos roof and windowless –
her very own Developing House
just beyond the coal
bunker in grandmother’s garden.
Hidden by the thick midge
hedge and twining
bines of honeysuckle
one summer afternoon
I sideslid the rustcrusted
bolt and felt the pelt
of an arachnid welcome.
Shattered bulbs crunched
on the concrete floor
must and pungence
of silver bromide
hung in air
from the rafters
with her Mamiya camera case.
Clotheslines of pegged
prints stretched from wall to wall
drying for years
above four trays
in which each latent image
was once transformed
rendered insensitive to light.
Featuring in the latest issue of spontaneity.org, Clodagh Beresford Dunne’s poem was inspired by the image Dwelling by Marina Burnel Photography. Her words – about the sometimes secret or unknown early lives of our mothers – have touched a nerve. Submissions of poetry, stories and images are fluttering into the magazine in reaction to this theme. This is what Spontaneity is all about: creative response.
Spontaneity differs from other online literary and arts magazines: it is not a print concept directly transposed to a webpage, or a simple image/words combination. It is digital at its heart. Everything in the magazine connects: a poem about loss might inspire a photo of an abandoned building, which in turn leads to a short story about illicit love, germinating further connections. It’s a genealogy of ideas. This is what makes Spontaneity unique: it uses being online to let things flow rather than stay static, making for a less traditional way to read and view an arts magazine – one that suits the amuse bouche of internet browsing. It has serious and not so serious pieces, work from established writers and those starting out, artists who exhibit and sell for a living, and those trying out charcoal for the first time. There is a mix of traditional and experimental – the overall result is a sense of playfulness and inclusivity.
There’s not only a connection between the pieces, but often between artists too. Author Elizabeth Rose Murray was an early contributor and champion of the magazine when it began, three years ago (before her bestselling children’s novel – The Book of Learning, Mercier Press – was a twinkle in a publisher’s eye). Her flash fiction in the debut issue, about a voluptuous woman’s erotic dancing, is bawdy and brilliant. It chimes with the earthy portraits of Canadian artist Shawn Vose, who came to art later in life, as a life raft and purpose. He was so taken with the story, and the connection, that he packaged up the original painting and sent it across the Atlantic to Elizabeth as a thank you – a way of turning the online experience into flesh (very much flesh in this case, if you look at the painting.
There was a risk in those early days that the concept wouldn’t come to life, since the whole idea relies on responses to make the magazine breathe. A brave first tweet announced Spontaneity was open, to its then dozen or so followers. One of those followers was writer Paul McVeigh (The Good Son, Salt), a kind supporter of people starting out. With his retweet the first rivulets of interest began. Support like this, and from established poets like Jo Bell from Britain, has been invaluable. Her poem Ad Lib, coupled with art student Kate Powell’s gorgeous illustration, I tried to draw my soul but all I could think of was flowers, in issue three attracted an incredible reaction and sparked a new wave of interest.
by Jo Bell
Forgive me. I’ve been spending time with fools,
with lean assassins and the merely mean.
I check my shoes for scorpions each morning.
I had forgotten this sweet sting: a meeting,
coffee at the riverside, a well-grown man
with an ear for wit, and nothing but the truth.
If I lean forward more than usual
in a brand new dress
we both know why.
If you take off your sweater
with a needless flourish
we both recognise the shape of you.
This afternoon I walked a different riverbank.
I wore you in my throat, my ankles, in my bones
for hours. It’s nothing, everything; it counts.
Alongside artists and writers from New Zealand, Africa, the US, South America, Russia, Europe, South East Asia and China, Spontaneity also features writers and artists local to Skerries, Co Dublin, where it is based, such as photographer Sanda Semelka and Herald journalist and writer David Diebold. Sanda has an eye for metaphor, her images inspiring responses of poetry, prose and visual art http://bit.ly/1pynrRI. And in one of the only pieces of creative non-fiction, David writes a vulnerable piece about the loss of his father. It’s fascinating and moving to engage both with local artists and others who live in different parts of the world, who all connect with the magazine.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a song, a film, a poem or a painting. All works of art have the power – if they are soulful or profound or just very funny – to fill you with energy, optimism, hope and zest." (Jonathan Jones)
Spontaneity aspires to this energy, and welcomes work from anyone, from anywhere. Our contributors all have something in common– a conviction that art matters, whichever way it comes to you – perhaps now more than ever.
Ruth McKee is a writer, and creator and editor of spontaneity.org, PhD TCD @spontaneity_art @ruthmckee