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‘O the mind, mind has mountains': Ad Hoc Creative EXPO

April 29, 2015

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

ad hoc crwativeWe’ve read the above many, many times over the years in our shared reading groups across the country, with a vast range of reactions being evoked. Now a new and exciting multimedia project will reenvision Gerard Manley Hopkins’ words to be showcased on a grand scale.

Ad Hoc Creative, a collaboration between Bido Lito! Magazine and Ad Hoc Property Management, presents Ad Hoc Creative EXPO, celebrating the buoyant artistic community within Ad Hoc properties across the UK and Europe. The very first Ad Hoc Creative Expo is bringing together musician and composer Bill Ryder-Jones and visual artist Marco Lawrence to produce a brand new immersive audiovisual installation which will be presented for one evening only within Calderstones Mansion House, where we’re building our International Centre for Reading.

The poem No Worst, There Is Noneas featured in The Reader Organisation’s anthology Poems to Take Home,  has been selected by Ad Hoc Creative EXPO as the inspiration for the new installation, to be presented at the end of May. The meeting of Hopkins’ words, Ryder-Jones’ music and Lawrence’s vision all within Calderstones Mansion House makes an ideal and engaging combination, marrying the power of great literature and shared reading to the ability of creative energy to create beautiful new ideas in a reimagined space. A section of the Mansion House is part of the Ad Hoc scheme, which allows people to live and work within properties at a minimal cost and play a part in bringing treasured buildings back to life.

bill ryder jones

Bill Ryder-Jones

Bill Ryder-Jones, previously of The Coral and now a solo artist and much-sought after producer said of the project:

“I’ve been jumping between producing, playing shows and working on the next album for over a year now, so I’ve been hoping something like this would turn up. The chance to revisit a different way of writing – and also to indulge a side of myself – was too good to pass up.”

while artist and Head Printer at the prestigious Print Club London Marco Lawrence said:

“I’m always interested in incorporating rhythm and narrative in some way into my work, so I’ll be seeking to expand on these themes. And I’m interested in what this new platform allows me to achieve. Equally, I’m excited to be making work with Bill Ryder-Jones. His work is beautiful, thought-provoking and even eerie sometimes. It’ll be tough to match and marry visuals to his audio, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Marco Lawrence

Marco Lawrence

It’s extremely exciting for us to be a part of this project and to have Calderstones Mansion, our new home for readers, playing such a role in fostering a strong artistic community in Liverpool along with the work of Ad Hoc Creative.

The first Ad Hoc Creative EXPO – the only chance to experience this exclusive installation – will take place at Calderstones Mansion on Thursday 28th May at 6pm. Entry is free, but due to limited capacity registration in advance is essential. Register for free tickets at

Find out more about Ad Hoc Creative and keep up with developments on Ad Hoc Creative EXPO on their website and Twitter: @_ADHOCcreative

Featured Poem: When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted by Rudyard Kipling

April 27, 2015

For our Featured Poem this week, we’re looking to what lies beneath as The Big Dig gets underway at Calderstones Park at our HQ in Liverpool. It’s the very first time the park has been opened for historical excavation, and we’re keeping our ears close to the ground – figuratively speaking – as for the next two weeks our volunteers will be taking up their trowels and hoping to discover some ancient artefacts that might give us an indication of the earliest settlers to the area.

Our team were so eager to get underway that the digging started earlier than expected at the end of last week – you can keep up to speed with all the latest developments over the next two weeks @CaldiesMansion on Twitter or by taking a read of The Big Dig blog:

We might have chosen a piece from the ‘Earth poet’ William Wordsworth, but instead we’ve been inspired to whizz from the past right along into the future with this poem from Rudyard Kipling, which speaks rather grandly to the cycle of life we find ourselves a part of. We’ve also a feeling that our hardworking diggers will need their rest and a lie down (perhaps a little bit less than an ‘aeon’), so this will hopefully do the trick in providing something to relax with.

When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted

When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!

Rudyard Kipling

Bungee Fest comes to Calderstones

April 24, 2015

“Jump and let’s build our wings on the way down” – Ray Bradbury

Bungee FestCould you swap Poe or Potter for a plunge, or substitute Lewis or Lessing for a leap? Want to take the title of Wuthering Heights quite literally? This summer we’re going to heights as before unreached as we bring Bungee Fest to Calderstones Park.

Over two days, Bungee Fest will combine live music, stalls, great food and refreshments with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a 150 foot bungee jump. The first event of its kind in the city, we’re hoping that the sun will be shining and that lots of thrill-seekers and onlookers alike will join us for what will be a weekend to remember.

By taking on the staggering feat, our bungee-ing daredevils will be part of a much bigger picture. All the proceeds from Bungee Fest will go towards our fundraising target for Calderstones Mansion House, where we’re creating an International Centre for Reading and a community base for people to come together, build healthier communities, make friends and find employment. Through Calderstones Mansion, it’s our aim to give current and future generations the opportunity to discover shared reading, improve wellbeing and extend the pleasure and power of reading for all.

A great summer day out in the Park, an unparalleled opportunity and the chance to support a vital cause – who could ask for more?

Tickets for Bungee Fest cost £80, including admission fee and a donation to the Calderstones Mansion project. The brave amongst you will also receive a goody bag for taking part (as well as the exhilaration that comes from having jumped 150 feet). Snap up your tickets straight away by heading to

Find out more information about Bungee Fest by contacting or visiting our website:

We’ll be bringing you more about Bungee Fest in the coming months, so stay tuned…

Featured Poem: To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley

April 20, 2015

The sun is shining and we’re enjoying seeing birds flitting from tree to tree at our HQ in Calderstones Park. Their songs make a wonderful accompaniment to our working days – we wonder whether they might want to join in some shared reading?

In honour of our feathered friends and the joys they bring, this week’s Featured Poem comes from Percy Bysshe Shelley with this particularly lovely ode to those that scope the skies.

To a Skylark

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of Heaven,
In the broad day-light
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,

Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and Heaven is overflow’d.

What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a Poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

Like a high-born maiden
In a palace-tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden
Its aerial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:

Like a rose embower’d
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflower’d,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-winged thieves:

Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awaken’d flowers,
All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

Teach us, Sprite or Bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus Hymeneal,
Or triumphal chant,
Match’d with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest: but ne’er knew love’s sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

On Monday 20th April, learn how to unlock young people’s love of literature

April 17, 2015
“I didn’t do reading before, but it’s fun and I love it now. Reading aloud is better than in your head. It’s like you’re on an adventure, you can understand more aloud.” –
Looked-after child, reading in a one-to-one session

On Monday 20th April from 2-5pm, discover how you can inspire a love of words and reading in young people, from tiny tots to teens!

Join Up for Arts, championing arts participation and volunteering in Merseyside, and The Reader Organisation, pioneering an exciting new way to engage with literature through shared reading groups across the UK.

Highlights will include:

  • An extract from David Almond’s award-winning book Skellig, read by BBC Radio Merseyside’s very own Roger Phillips
  • Top 10 Tips for reading with children and a Q&A, brought to you by practitioners from The Reader Organisation
  • An opportunity to see shared reading in action, in The Reader Organisation’s end-of-talk taster sessions
  • Information about the new Liverpool Families project, and how you can get involved in reading with disadvantaged children across the city.
Book your place

Spaces are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment. Contact the BBC Radio Merseyside ‘A’ Team on 0151 794 0984 to book a place, or to leave your details to find out more.

Venue address
BBC Radio Merseyside
Liverpool One
31 College Lane
Liverpool, Merseyside L1 3DS

Mental Health in Context

April 16, 2015

*EDIT: This event is now SOLD OUT*

Mental Health in Context
Tuesday 21st April, 5.30-7.30pm
The Women’s Organisation, 54 James Street, Liverpool L1 0AB

Introduced by Vice Chancellor of University of Liverpool, Professor Janet Beer

featuring a guest appearance from Jeanette Winterson, in conversation and reading from her work

with Professor Rhiannon Corcoran, Dr Jane Davis and Dr Eleanor Longden


Jeanette Winterson will be speaking about how literature was an alternative in her own experiences with mental health

This inaugural event of a new research group at the University of Liverpool will showcase real-life research in the University for the City in vital areas of human well-being.

Working within the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, Mental Health in Context brings together experts in the University of Liverpool from various fields of psychology and culture to consider mental health difficulties within the broader context of the social, cultural and personal realms in order to improve the understanding and treatment of those difficulties in the modern world.

This special event, launching Mental Health in Context and showing its relation to real-life concerns in the city and the region, will highlight four major projects of major relevance to public well-being , including the development of the International Centre for Reading and Wellbeing at Calderstones Mansion. For more information on the projects, please see the MHIC website.

Jeanette Winterson, the distinguished novelist who was born and raised in the North West of England, will speak of her own mental health experiences including her fictional and autobiographical writings, including her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, her belief in alternative interventions including in particular the uses of literature, and read from her work.

“Dealing with our world is really hard work. It is hard to be healthy, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, in a world where there is so little security and so much fear. Ill health is a response, a consequence of the way we live. It should not be pushed back onto us all as a personal problem. For me it’s the relationship between mind, body, outside world, and soul. The body so often carries the burdens of mental disturbance – usually through addiction, which can be food, drink, drugs, self-harming, or the pathology of wanting to be attractive all the time. Good mental health depends on knowing that life has an inside as well as an outside. That’s why meditation is so good. That’s why reading and the arts are so good. Knowing how to be on your own is one of the keystones of mental health.” – Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette was interviewed by The Reader Organisation’s Founder Jane Davis for The Reader prior to the publication of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? about her experiences. The interview can be found online here: 

Dr Eleanor Longden exemplifies the nature of the project and the evening: she is someone who has had both profound personal experience of mental difficulties and is also a researcher within MHIC at University of Liverpool. She exemplifies the crucial two-way relation between research and reality, which is the subject-matter and purpose of MHIC. Her TED talk, ‘The Voices in My Head’, has attracted wide interest, amassing nearly 3 million views (and can be viewed here).

Places to attend are free, and can be booked here:

The Reader Organisation: a Workplace for Wellbeing

April 14, 2015

workplace wellbeing charterWe’re always keen to point out the links between shared reading, great literature and good wellbeing, but our credentials for healthy living here at The Reader Organisation have been given another boost as we have been reaccredited for the Workplace Wellbeing Charter.

The Workplace Wellbeing Charter is an opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Like the shared reading groups we run throughout the UK each week, the Charter takes a holistic approach to wellbeing that includes leadership, culture and communication, as well as health and wellbeing topics such as physical activity and mental health, promoting rounded discussions between employers and employees. The standards reflect best practice and are endorsed nationally by Public Health England, with our accreditation carried out by Health@Work.

The magnificent Magnolia tree outside the Mansion House that boosts our wellbeing

The magnificent Magnolia tree outside the Mansion House that boosts our wellbeing

Being based in the beautiful and blooming surroundings of Calderstones Park in Liverpool, we were already off to a good start (taking a look at The Allerton Oak and a particularly lovely magnolia tree provides the perfect opportunity to get into the fresh air and clear our minds) but we’re very pleased to report an overall achievement in the several categories of wellbeing outlined by the Charter.

The set of values that shape our culture and working practices both internally and externally, including ‘Great literature is at our heart’, ‘We value innovation and find ways to live with change’ and ‘We celebrate success but learn from our mistakes’, were highlighted as particularly significant:

The Reader Organisation’s values are to be highly praised. It is clear that this set of eight values runs right through the heart of the organisation and is not merely theoretical or tokenistic.

Other stand-out points included the support given to staff in their roles through methods including a personal development programme, action to encourage staff participation to become involved in physical activity and our shared lunches each Monday, bringing staff together with lots of good, healthy food.

We’re proud to be wearing the badge for wellbeing, demonstrating our commitment to encourage positive practices both inside and outside of the organisation.

If you’d like to come and work for an organisation that values good wellbeing, we’re currently recruiting for a number of jobs based at our Liverpool HQ, including a Volunteer Coordinator for an exciting new project working with children and families, a developer for our upcoming Story Barn at Calderstones and managerial positions in Marketing, IT and Operations. See our website for full details on all roles, including how to apply and deadlines for applications:


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