Handpicked arts, theatre, music and entertainment goodies courtesy of Wells Maltings director, Simon Daykin.
Welcome back to the Lockdown Lowdown, my short digest of things to satisfy your cultural hunger whilst staying safe at home. You can’t come to us – so we will come to you!


Here’s this week’s digest of delights:

You Give Me Fever
We start with an obvious one. The Sea Fever Literary Festival shares a birthday with Wells Maltings, and we’ve been right behind its development. This year, we worked together with the Festival team to take it online. Ten events, two weeks, over 600 minutes of fascinating, poignant, thought provoking and sometimes controversial stuff: four were pre-recorded, and six were live – all broadcast in October via Zoom.

If you weren’t with us in October, now is your chance to enjoy all ten events at your leisure. Just hop over to our YouTube channel, click, sit back and enjoy. All quite different, all well worth watching.



Susannah Self


Tapestry on the keyboard
We love working with composer, musician, opera singer and scholar Susannah Self. Her piece QUILTSONG appeared with us in 2019, and her new  project (as North Sea Opera) ARTEMISIA, based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi the Renaissance painter, was scheduled to premiere with us in July. It will re-appear of course.


Maria Marchant

Her recent piano composition QUILTSCAPE III was performed last week by Maria Marchant in a live broadcast from London’s Blüthner Piano Centre. Maria herself said about the piece, “It reminds me of a bespoke tapestry, multi-layered and full of verve and surprises!” and she’s absolutely right. Just over 4 minutes of loveliness.

See Maria Marchant perform QUILTSCAPE III here:

See Susannah Self’s introduction to the piece here:


200 years of care and dedication
2020 was designated as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Now, of course, the combination of 2020, NHS frontline workers, and even the word Nightingale has different connotations, but the need to mark and celebrate has never been more important.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton City Archives have launched a virtual exhibition to celebrate nurses and midwives with The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. It’s a poignant and historical look at the contributions and roles of nurses and midwives, and in those faces, we see hope and dedication.

Take a browse here:


Reflections in the forest

Khady Gueye

Head west, and the Forest Of Dean Sculpture Trust has been collaborating with artists and writers Khady Gueye and Zakiya McKenzie over the last three months on a new poetry commission. SOIL UNSOILED is a poem that explores themes drawn from the lived experience of Khady, a local resident and native of the Forest of Dean, and the racial inequalities that she and other black people have faced and witnessed in rural communities.

The Sculpture Trust has also this year worked with writer Alec Findlay, commissioning a poetic essay ON NOT WALKING, a personal account of his experience of disability – living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E) since 1991, and the severe impact of Coronavirus, since March 2020. The text reflects on walking (and not walking), experiences of pain and limit, and creative acts of witness, documented via his trips via e-scooter along his local cycle paths.


Live for live
We are dedicated to keeping live performance alive during the current circumstances, as are hundreds of companies and theatres around the country. Here are a couple of my recommendations this week for stunning digital theatre experiences, depending on your time and to an extent your pocket.


At The Globe, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s feminist Olivier Award winning smash EMILIA from last year is being shown online on a pay-what-you-can-basis for the next fortnight. Well worth seeing, and made affordable too.

The amazing Jermyn Street Theatre’s ambitious live streamed theatre experience 15 HEROINES – fifteen plays from 15 female playwrights, retelling stories about women from classical myth – draws to a close this weekend, with the final three plays available to watch live.



Beasts in the east
Finally, a quick reminder that November is Norwich Film Festival month, and until 29th is promoting an impressive 150+ short films to watch online, at very modest rates. I’m still working my way through, but PETRICHOR certainly deserves its best British film nomination, and THE SONG SPARROW is completely charming. As for THE HOLE – well, see for yourself…



That’s my Lockdown Lowdown selection for this week – come back again in a week or so for the next.

Stay safe, be strong and be kind