Regular Marvels explores alternative ways of understanding people’s experience of art. Begun in 2011, its first phase ended in 2015, when I began a project about participatory art, A Restless Art. It resumed in 2019, somewhat to my surprise, when a small creative writing project I ran at Attenborough Arts produced a book, I Remember Leicester. Now that A Restless Art is also published, I’m returning with pleasure to thinking about creative work, but I don’t know yet what the next project in this series might be – I’m open to ideas…

Regular Marvels was a response to two paradoxes I felt about my recent work:

  • If art is important, why is it not accepted as a valid way to understand arts experience?
  • If people are important, why not write about their experience in ways that they might read?

Over five years, I imagined, researched and produced five books, in partnership with arts organisations or others interested in the idea. Each one deliberately focused on an aspect of artistic life that is not much valued by the contemporary art world. Each also shaped set out to be not just arts-led but collaborative, exploratory, open source and socially engaged.

All six books can be downloaded from this website as PDFs (just click on the titles below). Printed copies are also available at £10 including postage, while stocks last: just email me through the contact page if you want one.

2019 I Remember: Leicester, a collective text inspired by Joe Brainard’s 1970 book, I Remember, with photographs by François Matarasso. Published by Writing East Midlands.

2015 A Wider Horizon: Creative Arts East and Rural Touring  looks at a programme to bring the arts to rural Norfolk and Suffolk, and asks what lessons it has for the arts and the future of community development.; with drawings by Rosie Redzia. Published by Creative Arts East.

2014 The Light Ships: Church, Art and Community in the Lincolnshire Fens  looks at  village church as a focus of art, culture and community memory at a time of diminished religious observance; with photographs by François Matarasso. Published by Transported.

2013 Bread and Salt: Stories of Art and Migration draws on the experiences of artists who have migrated to Europe to ask questions about identity, value and culture’s claimed universalism; with collages by Bill Ming. Published by Vrede van Utrecht.

2012 Winter Fires: Art and Agency in Old Age explores how the practice of art, whether professional, amateur or occasional can change the experience of aging by strengthening our capacity for agency; with iPad portraits by Mik Godley. Published by the Baring Foundation.

2012 Where We Dream: West Bromwich Operatic Society and the Fine Art of Musical Theatre is the story of a wonderful, but also typical, amateur theatre company that has been thriving since 1937 and the West Midlands town that gives it life: includes a 15 minute film by Ben Wigley. Published by Multistory.