2016 Charity Centurion – Summary

by pinstripeowl

Goodness, it’s over, this year’s Charity Centurion with James Webster –  100 pieces of art and poetry in roughly 30 hours, uploaded to an album on Facebook (I’ll try and find a more easily shareable link soon).

We’re planning on selling these to raise more for Macmillan, along with last year’s for Shelter – so we’ll figure out a decent way to show them online. Thank you so much to all those who supported us with prompts across social media and donations (here’s that link to the Charity Centurion Just Giving page). We couldn’t have done it without you.

Things I learned throughout this process:

  • High chairs and low tables do not a happy back make, and by Sunday night I had even more sympathy for copy-monks than I had already.
  • I finally managed to get a handle on the Chinese ink stones I’ve had since uni and not managed to use to my satisfaction.
  • The J. Herbin ink bought from Cult Pens way back when is still lovely and I need to supplement the reds/pinks I have with more blue/green/browns.
    • On that note, I still adore that site’s “Deep Dark Red”, which is the colour of blood.
  • Other stationery note, Papermate’s Ink Joy Minis, bought in a pack from Ryman for a few quid, are amazing.
  • In keeping the initial prompts more hidden than last time, the works were more related to each side as autonomous entities away from their source. Which actually worked out quite well because it allowed them to flourish a lot more.
  • We had a lot more Classical prompts this time around. Which was interesting (and often involved research!)
  • When sleep deprived, Webster’s poetry is fabulous.

Did something fun to the prompt ‘You’ve got it all backwards’ – claiming it and writing a short text piece, forcing Webster to do art (~meta~). Ended up with a four panel cartoon from him, and a nice way to approach the suggestions with a different perspective.

Speaking of doing things with a bit more background prep, there were one or two homages – to old art deco posters, old postcards, and reference books. Should do more of that, I think – as publishing itself is such an interesting and varied visual medium.

I also used one or two pages from a job-lot of old learning-to-read books I bought for this weekend, but didn’t end up using much from. It’s always more satisfying keeping pages removed to a minimum and seeing what you can make from the text in the discarded edges.

Three more favourites under the cut:-



On the days you feel like you are sinking
Take a deep breath
And dive.

Look around
Appreciate the shipwrecks for what they are
The treasures of lives spent in adventure.

Dive deeper
Until the light flees your eyes
Good riddance
The sun has lied to you too long.

When you reach the bottom
It will explore you with its tentacles
It will linger for you are beautiful.
It will anoint your eyes with ink
So you can see.

Take your time.

Then let the burning in your chest
And the hand of your diving partner
pull you up
And on the days you feel yourself sinking
For you know what awaits you.


The Mountains in the Rings of Saturn

As the armature spins its final descent
An ice particle impacts the hull
We tense
Our eyes projecting vectors
Ring to spoke to gap to ring
What we’re here to see
Hidden behind the maths of terror.

But the approach arcs true
Basecamp crunching
A crab-like vice around the crag.
We breathe.
And let perspective catch up
This peak a dagger
Aimed at the planet’s heart.

I stroke one hand down the moonlet’s spine
Climbing it will be more like falling
But gravity is still the enemy
We dig the spikes deep
Hoping to make a fool of it
And avoid meeting atmosphere.

Later we will think “how beautiful”
But now
The only beauty
Is ragged breaths
and steady hands.


The Awkward Teenage Years of Monsters

I never got the hang of living in another person’s space

I longed for the cocoon of “in” bed
Not the casket of “under”.

I found hiding in a human’s distended shadow
Beyond claustrophobic
My claws always split through at the fingers.

It was almost nice to know you felt the same
Never able to be your own thing
Your atoms rearranged by observation
All except for your teeth
How you must have hated sight.

When I wrapped you round my eyes
You gave me shape
Slipped down me like skin
An outline to call my own.

I gave you options
My darkness a canvas
For you to shape.

We needed pictures.
Tried out new postures and poses
I liked our attempt at “normal” best.

I still go to that photo booth sometimes
But only at night
When I know I can have it to myself.