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ART FIX: Quirky flat residents focus of local author's first novel

ART FIX: Quirky flat residents focus of local author's first novel

Friday 27 August 2021

ART FIX: Quirky flat residents focus of local author's first novel

Friday 27 August 2021

A mysterious landlord, an elderly basement-dweller, a young woman with a "bruised heart" and other quirky characters living in a block of flats are the subjects of a local author's "feel good" first novel.

Every Friday, Express presents a selection of online and offline exhibitions, performances, workshops, events and other historic, creative and delicious content to help islanders get their weekly dose of culture.

Here’s this week’s offering…

'First impressions and second chances'

Video: Dreena's first novel will be released on 31 August.

Local author Dreena Collins explored a new genre for her first novel, ‘The Landlord of Hummingbird House', which is being released on 31 August.

As she is used to writing short stories about the “grittier, modern-day challenges that people experience”, the story of "first impressions and second chances" proved to be a challenge for Dreena with its “feel-good” vibe.

“It’s an attempt to do something completely different, which is why it is under a pen name [Jane Harvey],” she said. 

“This one is uplifting, there’s still a good element of realism but it’s more accessible and more positive. It’s a fairly light read but it still has realism and grit to it. It starts like a chick lit sort of book, but I hope I have turned some of those references on their heard.”

Dreena says the novel, which features a “broody, arrogant, grumpy man… a Mr Darcy type of character”, was fun to write. 

The story focuses on the residents of Hummingbird House - from newcomer April, to the “mysterious landlord, Dai, the solitary ex-chef Paul, and the elderly lady who lives in the basement, Betty. It was inspired by a previous short story which focused on a couple who lived in the same block of flats and kept “missing” each other. 

“I started thinking about luck and chance and how you cannot control everything in your life,” Dreena said. 

Pictured: Dreena has previously published short stories.

While this is Dreena’s first novel, she has previously published six collections of short stories.

Writing has been part of her life since a young age. She took up creative writing as part of her English literature degree in the 90’s, during which she was taught by author Patricia Duncker whom she describes as “inspirational”.

But then life took over and Dreena says she stopped writing as regularly, until about three-and-a-half years ago when she set herself targets, deadlines and word counts so that writing would become a habit. At first, she says she didn’t even know if she should even share any of her writings.

“I trained to be a teacher, I had a child… Life gets in the way, and you put things on the back burner,” she said. “Three-and a-half years ago I said, if I do not do it now, I will never do it. I have been writing constantly since then.

“My advice is do not wait, you will always kick those things in the long grass. It’s never a priority but actually, there’s never a good time, so just go for it! Most people are incredibly supportive which is lovey, the help and support from people I do not know has been amazing. It’s good for your mental health to have a hobby.”

Inspiring women of Jersey

To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Soroptimist International Jersey is inviting local students to create illustrations for a book on ‘Inspiring Women of Jersey’.

The club has commissioned local author, Penny Byrne, to write the book, which will celebrate 16 women.

It will include JSPCA founders Frances and Charlotte Wilson, philanthropist Lady Florence Boot, surrealist artist and resistance fighter Claude Cahun and her partner Marcel Moore, as well as conservationist Frances Le Sueur.

Budding illustrators aged 14 to 21 have been invited to enter a competition to provide illustrations for the book which will be launched on International Women’s Day next year as part of Jersey Women’s Refuge Inspirational Women of the Year Awards.

To enter, they have been tasked with creating a “stunning illustration” inspired by the life of one of the 16 women. 


Pictured: The 16 women who will be featured in ‘Inspiring Women of Jersey’.

Those interested in taking part can join a free creative workshop on Saturday 2 October at Jersey College for Girls. Hosted by Jacque Rutter, Director of Creative and Performance Faculty, it will give students the unique opportunity to be mentored by an artist - Karen Le Roy Harris and Eliza Anna Reine are joining - in the creation of their illustrations for the competition.

All funds raised through the sale of the book, which is being sponsored by Mourant, will be split between the Jersey Women’s Refuge and Brightly.

Illustrators should register by 17 September for the free workshop and the competition. Final entries will need to be submitted by 4 October 2021. 

Travel back in time


Pictured: Families are invited to a “truly immersive experience” at the Georgian House.

As the school holidays draw to a close, families are invited to experience 16 New Street in a totally unique way today between 10:00 and 13:00. 

As they pass through the front door of The Georgian House, visitors will feel like they are stepping back in time to a bygone era. 

Using their senses and their imagination, they are invited to explore the three floors of the house and look in on the servants and family members as they prepare for a summer ball.

Below stairs Louisa the Housekeeper will be busy making wig powder and toothpaste in the Georgian kitchen; while upstairs in the Drawing Room Mrs Journeaux and her sister will be learning a new dance for a summer ball, accompanied by live music, and right at the top of the house the children will be practising their deportment with their grandmother.

The “truly immersive experience” is part of the celebrations hosted by the National Trust Jersey for the tenth anniversary of the Georgian House.


Tunes with a view

DJ Stefunk will be back to his "favourite Djing spot” on the terrace of the Watersplash on Monday 30 August between 14:00 and 21:00. 

Joined by the Jersey Funk All-Stars and a collective of DJs and musicians, he said the event should be “a proper reunion after two years” and invited islanders to come down to make it “a very special one”.


Filmmaker's competition shark-cess

Film-maker and photographer Tom Webster recently won a competition to create a two-minute film telling the story of “a challenge that has been faced or overcome by them, someone they know, or a fictional character”.

Tom travelled to Fuvahmulah in the Maldives - known as ‘Shark Island’ - earlier this year with Jono Allen to tell the story behind the setting up of Fuvahmulah Marine Foundation, which aims to protect the local marine ecosystem and dive sites on the island.

Whilst there, Tom spoke to local resident Lonu, and heard about his incredible rescue of a whale shark that had gotten entangled in rope, which became the subject of his film, ‘Lonu’s story’.

Despite going up against many "touching and creative" in the contest hosted by Kolder Creative, Tom's film was selected as a winner alongside three others.


Walking through Autumn

Elms National Trust _-_Main_House_-_Spring_2013.jpg

Pictured: The Elms is one of the many sites the festival will visit.

The National Trust for Jersey’s annual ‘Walking through Autumn’ festival returns from next Wednesday (1 September) to Sunday (5 September).

The festival provides 27 walking opportunities on National Trust lands and properties around the island, such as The Elms, Victoria Tower, Jardin D’Olivet, St. Peter and Fern Valleys and the Fief de Bellozanne.

Participants can also enjoy themed walks such as ‘Sorel Point and the Enigmatic Choughs’, a ‘Seabird Trail’ along the cliff paths to Grève de Lecq, a walk at ‘Evensong’, town trails and parish walks.

Each walk will be led by a walking guide or specialist and is tailored to a specific area or site.  

“We’re fortunate to have many wonderful sites and buildings in our care and what better way to enjoy them, but with a walking festival,” Donna Le Marrec. Marketing and Events Manager for The National Trust in Jersey said.

“What sets this festival aside, is the opportunity to experience ‘behind the scenes’ such as access to a particular site or to somewhere not normally available to the public with really knowledgeable guides.  We’re very grateful for Jersey Water’s support, as without them this activity wouldn’t be possible.”

All walks are free for National Trust members and £10 per walk for non-members.                                            

Missed last week's Art Fix? Catch up by clicking HERE.

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