june 2018

21jun16:4017:10Sylvia Crawley - Writing the Mudscape: Lives at the Fringe of the Sea16:40 - 17:10 B: Studio 1

Event Details

Mud has a poor reputation. In literature it evokes images of criminality, disease and poverty. Its horizons, whilst a haven for the natural world, are usually passed over in favour of more dramatic vistas. Mud is relegated to the backwaters of our minds.

My reading of mud is to to examine the way it permeates our lives both literally and figuratively. I will seek to examine mud as a landscape, its relationship with people and nature.The silts of the Medway and Thames estuary around the Isle of Sheppey have provided the backdrop for industry and recreation, food and defence. I will draw upon my writing to explore the role mud plays in defining the identity of the island, its capacity to conceal and reveal the past and its interplay with the sea whereby deposits of silt alter the nature of the coastline. This paper will explore the marginal spaces between the high water mark and the sea; flat expanses where human and animal traces are washed clean by the tide and much of the mystery lies beneath the surface. I will delve into the history and culture of the island in order to shape my creative response to place and pose questions around our emotional connection with the muddy landscape.


Following a career as a history and applied art curator, Sylvia Crawley is now a PhD student of Creative Writing at Keele University. Her thesis, ‘It Smells Red like Thunder’ explores our sensory responses to place through the medium of a novel and geopoetic writings. It aims to challenge the traditional hierarchy or sight and pose the questions of how an approach to place through touch, sound, smell or taste might alter the way in which we feel connected to it.


(Thursday) 16:40 - 17:10


B: Studio 1

Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EN