For the month of April 2022, Metal presents Essex Writers House, a popular annual programme hosted at Chalkwell Hall in partnership with Essex Book Festival. Across the month, we look forward to hosting a range of in-person and online events, workshops and sharings for writers across our brilliant county.
Essex Writers House invites anybody interested in writing to take part, from beginners to established authors, book lovers to families, and storytellers of all kinds.
Being anchored to Chalkwell Hall, the events, partnerships and workshops offer views across the Thames Estuary (from the attic studio which houses our Writers Hot Desks), cosy spaces for informal sharings and access to the beautiful surrounding grounds of Chalkwell Park, with settings which offer plenty of space and inspiration to celebrate the written word.
We invite everyone attending the Writers House for a hot desk, event, workshop or sharing to bring along a book to swap. A big book exchange to discover stories and titles you may have never read before!
If you are a small book club, writers group or belong to a literary collective and you would like to get together to discuss and write in the house during the month, do get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chalkwell Hall sits in the grounds of Chalkwell Park, tended by the brilliant parks team of Southend City Council. Metal have a number of interactive activities in the park which are suitable for all ages.
The Little Free Library is a mini bookcase situated outside Chalkwell Hall. Browse the library and take or leave a book. Thank you to all the members of the community who regularly use and restock this Little Library.
Behind Chalkwell Hall on the decking is a Listening Bench which holds audio clips from one of our Netpark Stories. Pop by, listen to the bench and download our new app The Storm Cone. by artist Laura Daly to discover the digital ghost of forgotten Chalkwell Park’s bandstand.
Hidden in green corners of Chalkwell Park are a series of Geocaches, found via a GPS orientated treasure hunt via the free app. Enjoy hunting for ‘caches’ from the park and across the country!
The desks are back! A popular feature of Essex Writers House are our Writers’ Hot Desks, offering two free spaces for writers of all levels to find peaceful inspiration in our Attic Studio. These bookable, accessible hot desks are available through the month of April, with Estuary views and the park on your doorstep.
This year, the desks are named after two historical Essex figures whose stories continue to inspire new works by writers and artists based in Southend on Sea.
The desks are accessible via lift from our ground floor and there are bathrooms on all floors. Chalkwell Hall has a ramp at the front entrance.
(BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT!)
Please note – we are restricting bookings to a maximum of two days per writer, to ensure that the opportunity is afforded to as many writers as possible!
In partnership with English PEN, Essex Writers’ House are delighted to welcome Norman Erikson Pasaribu as our international Writer in Residence at Chalkwell Hall.
Norman Erikson Pasaribu is an award winning writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction from Indonesia. Dubbed by English PEN as ‘part of a long tradition of queer Catholic writing’, Norman is one of most the most celebrated young writers in Indonesia today. Throughout Norman’s residency, they will be writing in the house and engaging with our programme. We are delighted to be hosting them in Southend, a stay supported by English PEN.
You can follow Norman through our socials : @MetalSouthend #essexwritershouse
Netpark is the world’s first digital art park, based in Chalkwell park. Experience the park in a whole new way, guided by artists, storytellers, musicians and poets. With 10+ immersive artworks to discover, there’s something for all ages to enjoy.
For Essex Writers House we have recommended 5 Netpark apps to get you started. Designed to inspire storytelling and to get lost in your imagination, the digital world and the outdoors!
To discover the works:
Let technology bring you closer to nature.
Discover more at www.Netpark.zone
Did you know – Essex has more Book Clubs than any other county in the UK? Come to our mass gathering of Essex book lovers.
Join the Big Book Club for one night only! A free, friendly sharing of Blood Brothers by Willy Russell. Don’t worry if you have not read the book, come along anyway as our host, actor and writer Anne Odeke, will share a live reading from the play.
A modern classic and now a hit musical, the story follows Mickey and Edward, twins separated at birth exploring social class, nature vs nurture, friendship and loyalty and much more. This is a current GCSE English Literature text and we invite students alongside readers and writers from across our community.
Join artist Joanna Sperryn-Jones on the launch of Reciprocity Forest, her new Augmented Reality app for Netpark digital park in Chalkwell Park, highlighting the impact that trees can have on our emotional wellbeing and health.
The app enables you to follow virtual leaf trails through the park using your device, whilst listening to narratives about the trees. You’ll then design and add your own leaves for the virtual Reciprocity Forest and then view it in AR. Joanna will discuss the inspiration and process behind developing the project as part of her residency at Metal. Reciprocity has been developed in partnership with Dalby Forest and supported by Forestry England and EIRA, a Research England financed initiative, the University of Kent and the University of Essex.
Throughout the day there will be opportunities to go out into the park and experience the Reciprocity Forest, guided by the artist.
An exhibition of drawings and app designs from the artist will be running in Chalkwell Hall throughout the Essex Writers House programme in April. If you’d like to see the exhibition and try the app but you can’t make this date – email us at email@example.com for a booking.
All are invited to an evening of mini-talks and short soap-box shout-outs that put a spotlight on diversity, writing, words and storytelling. Hosted in partnership with Essex Cultural
Diversity Project (ECDP) and Essex Book Festival, the event will bring together people who want to champion and celebrate diversity in the arts and in our communities, share the work they do with others, and collectively celebrate strong diverse voices. Free food and refreshments provided.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the In Other Words – Book Launch, Talk which was scheduled Wednesday 20th April will be postponed until a later date. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, if you’ve booked onto the event we will be in touch with information of when the event will be rescheduled.
Join us in all things party related where we will not only attempt to have a party, with classic snacks and retro vibes, but will also be asking local writers to bring their party penned stories, poems and prose. Hosted by Jo Overfield, this event is a chance to have a bit of a writers’ do in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with good tunes and good people.
Want to share your work? Bring along a short piece of writing, on the theme of ‘parties’. Whether it’s prose, an extract from a novel or a scene from a script – it’s up to you!
Due to unforeseen circumstances the talk Insight to Publishing, which was scheduled Tues 26 April will be postponed until a later date. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, if you’ve booked onto the event we will be in touch with information of when the event will be rescheduled.
Writer, researcher and curator Elliot Gibbons will host a session on writing with and against archives, stemming from his extensive research into uncovering queer histories of Southend. Participants will be urged to deconstruct derogatory newspaper clippings to write alternative narratives, with time to analyse language, discuss and share in an informal and supportive roundtable.
This half day course run by Maria Solecki is designed to equip those new to writing short films. You’ll leave with an understanding of: the role of the short film; the role of the screenwriter; what makes a great short; and mistakes to avoid. Come and explore the power of short form storytelling!
Writers attending the workshop are invited to stay from 2:45pm to join ESSEX FILM COLLECTIVE members for relaxed networking drinks at Metal in the park. Meet local filmmakers of all disciplines and who knows… you might find the next person you want to work with.
Writers can bring an existing project to develop or just an idea. Basic writing experience useful but open to anyone with an interest in writing for the screen.
All Stories is a mentorship programme that offers free mentoring to talented writers from underrepresented backgrounds who are unable to pay for such support. Essex Writers’ House has partnered with them to offer this opportunity to get feedback on your work from expert children’s book editors Libby Hamilton and Lucy Rogers. All successful mentees receive a 1:1 mentoring session and a fee of £50 to support their work. Open to anyone from an underrepresented group. 6x slots available for picture book writers and 6x slots for those writing middle grade/young adult fiction.
With a suitcase filled with stories and fun activities to bring them to life, join us for a very special Easter storytime for children aged 2-6, their siblings and grown-ups.
Hosted at Chalkwell Hall by the Storytime Specialists from the inclusive, independent bookshop and social enterprise, Jacqson Diego Story Emporium in Westcliff, that belongs to every child who has imagined a story.
Great stories need amazing characters! Bring objects to life with the power of your imagination and learn how to illustrate new characters, developing their backstory and outfits as you go. You’ll leave the workshop with a fully formed character, ready for a story!
This workshop is designed for families, suitable for all ages, particularly 7+ year olds with an interest in art, design and storytelling.
About Sarah Judd
Sarah Judd is a children’s illustrator based in Chelmsford. She loves painting cute, comedic characters and telling the stories of forgotten history within her community. Sarah studied BA (Hons) Illustration at UAL Camberwell College of Arts, London and is currently working towards publishing her first children’s book.
A 3 day extravaganza for 9-14 year olds, offering young writers the space and opportunity to develop writing skills through fun workshops led by professionals, with a different guest author visiting each day. All activities will encourage children to develop their work in a way that suits them individually. Sign up for 1, 2 or all 3 days! All materials provided, along with a copy of the guest author’s latest book. Limited spaces for each day, booking is essential.
You can book one, two or all three days. There is a single day rate and a subsidised rate for children who are attending the full three days.
The price is £25 for each single day or £68 for all three days.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Please let us know which days you require and your child’s name and age.
We will confirm by email that there is space on the required dates, with information on how to pay and a form detailing contact information etc. to be brought with you on the first day of attendance at the retreat. Additional forms will be available on the day.
Blown Fuse Theatre bring their interactive theatre tour to Chalkwell Hall.
In Her Shoes is an immersive installation experience for one, exploring the concepts of identity, stereotypes, and relationship to home.
Your 20-minute adventure begins as you step inside a shoe shop built for one. With former Bata Shoes employee Joan as your guide, you’re transported through time and along the way, you’ll meet real women from Essex, past and present.
As if by magic, the shoeboxes will transport you to the Bata Shoe Factory & Estate, the Marconi Factory, Kynochtown, and the Thames Explosive Works. You’ll visit Zimbabwe, Jamaica, and Southend Seafront in an intimate adventure that asks you: what is an Essex Girl? Will you take a walk In Her Shoes?
Learn even more about women from Essex and add your voice to the conversation at the In Her Shoes ‘Story Station’. Interact with prompts that surround the installation, read about other women from Essex and record your own story for our growing archive.
Rice & Peas is a three course, three act immersive dining experience inspired by true events. Grenada, 1948. Figgy & Edith enjoy a meal together the evening before Figgy boards The Empire Windrush to set sail for England, both of them blissfully unaware that they will not see each other again for two years. When Edith arrives in London, 1950, Figgy has been slaving away to prepare a special meal for them, but within her, Edith carries an explosive secret that threatens to tear apart their dreams of the Motherland. With a menu designed by Executive Chef, Jon Bentham, (previously head chef for Gary Rhodes, and the man Tom Kerridge credits with teaching him how to cook) Rice & Peas allows audiences to share three delicious West Indian courses with this couple over the course of their life, and in doing so discover the heartache and courage it took so many to start a new life in Great Britain.
About Mia Jerome
Mia Jerome is an actor, director and writer from Essex. In 2021, Mia founded Blouse & Skirt! Theatre Company to celebrate stories, songs, performers and puppets from the African-Caribbean diaspora.
The first major production for Blouse & Skirt! is Rice & Peas – a three course, three act immersive dining experience inspired from Mia’s family history. Prior to a career in the arts, Mia worked in restaurant management for over fifteen years, Rice & Peas is a combination of her entire skillset, and she looks forward to bringing such a unique theatrical dining experience to Essex audiences.
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