Hollie McNish is Artist in Residence for the Chester Literature Festival and is turning Storyhouse into a poetry book.
Between 12 – 19 November, Chester Literature Festival returns to the city for its annual celebration of words and ideas. This year, Ted Hughes award-winning poet Hollie McNish joins Storyhouse as artist in residence – her poems, ideas and interventions will be installed across the £37m arts venue.
McNish, who first visited Storyhouse 12 months ago for a hard-hat tour with artistic director Alex Clifton, said:
“This place is so perfect; mixing theatre and library and cinema crowds together in such a beautiful space. I hope it works! I don’t think there’s anywhere else like this in the UK.”
During the weekend of 18 – 19 November, visiting Storyhouse will be like stepping into a poetry book, as Hollie’s poems and stories fill the entire building for people to read, enjoy and share.
Gigantic poems will be installed across Storyhouse’s walls, floors, balconies and toilet doors, as well as a ‘Postcard PoeTree’ – a life-size Wisteria tree will be set in Storyhouse’s majestic art deco foyer. Free poetry postcards, ready for children and adults alike, can be written and hung on the trees branches, to be posted for free by Hollie each night.
There will be poems echoing through toilet cubicles and paper poetry roses for festival goers to give to loved ones at the end of the weekend. As well as within the building, an Emergency Poet, a real-life ambulance service will be ready to prescribe a poem to meet any ailment festival goers face.
Two digital installations join the bill as Storyhouse’s 10 metre big screen, flown in on the original 1936 proscenium, will screen a live performance of McNish accompanied by the Dutch Metropole Orchestra. Plus, an hour long reading from Nobody Told Me, her Ted Hughes prized book, filmed especially for Storyhouse from McNish’s armchair. Adults are invited to listen to the film’s audio through wireless headphones.
Alex Clifton, artistic director said: “We are thrilled that Hollie has joined us as artist in residence, her programme is celebratory, fun, provocative, tender, sad – so many emotions. Storyhouse welcomes a raft of communities every day, so many kinds of people who we hope will connect with Hollie’s words.”
All of Hollie’s installations are free, and no booking is necessary. On Sunday 19 November Hollie will be in the Garret Theatre discussing her latest poetry book Plum.