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Ferry Tales Project Sails Solent with Wightlink

Steward Tony Edney and Ferry Tales Wightlink steward, Tony Edney, with part of the Ferry Tales display

27 December 2017  Wightlink’s customers see for themselves how ferry travel has inspired songwriters, poets and musicians.

The fruits of a creative arts project on Wightlink’s Lymington to Yarmouth route have been shared with Islanders and mainlanders this winter.

Wightlink has welcomed songwriters, poets and musicians on board its ships over the last two years to gain inspiration for artworks on the theme of arrivals and departures. Now, an exhibition stand featuring photographs and poems inspired by cross-Solent journeys has been on display at both Lymington and Yarmouth and on board the Wight Light ferry.

“Wightlink’s customers were fascinated to see for themselves how their conversations with the Ferry Tales team were turned into artworks. We valued the opportunity to take part in this project and were thrilled by the results,” says Wightlink’s Operations Director Daryl Palmer.

The Ferry Tales project, led by Robyn Bolam with Lydia Fulleylove, JC Grimshaw, Dom Prag and photographer Mark Lanigan, was funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and concluded with exhibitions and concerts at Dimbola Museum & Galleries and the Lymington Arts Festival earlier in 2017. Guest writers Philip Hoare and Maggie Sawkins also took part.

Thanking Wightlink staff for their welcome and support, Robyn commented, “Taking a Ferry Tales display to and fro on the Solent was a wonderful end to a project that reached a lot of people on both sides of the water.”

Ferry Tales Display in Ferry Terminal

Following on from its time in Lymington, the Ferry Tales display is currently being enjoyed by travellers at the Wightlink terminal in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight – and it will, eventually, sail on a ferry!

If you haven’t managed to see it yet, and are passing through the port, please look out for it.

Hyem: Robyn’s new book of poetry

Our very own Robyn Bolam has written a wonderful new book of poems called Hyem, meaning Home.  It is an excellent collection of Robyn’s emotional and vivid poetry. It was published on 26th October by Bloodaxe Books. You can order a copy through either of the following sites. The Guardian bookshop is offering a small discount and Blackwells on-line, a larger one.

Buy your copy today at  or

Guardian Bookshop   or Waterstones




Ferry Tales exhibition on the Ferry

Wightlink have kindly offered Ferry Tales exhibition space on one of their Lymington to Yarmouth Ferries. If all goes to plan an exhibition of poems and photographs will be launched at the end of September 2017. More details to follow.



Ferry Tales Concert 22nd April 2017

There was standing room only at Dimbola Museum & Galleries on Saturday 22nd April, when approximately 50 people celebrated a year of the Ferry Tales project with poetry from Robyn Bolam and Lydia Fulleylove, music by Dom Prag and JC Grimshaw (accompanied by Kath Grimshaw on violin) – and special Ferry Tales perceptions from guest writer Philip Hoare.

Some of the audience had travelled from Dorset and Hampshire, others had come across the Island from Newport, Bembridge and Ventnor, and many came from West Wight. Dimbola was a perfect venue on a sunny day, with the sea shining through its windows and ferry tales, poems and songs within. The voices of some of the hundreds of ferry passengers, who shared their words with the Ferry Tales team by writing on luggage tags given out on various ferry routes to and from the Island, could be heard in poems read by Lydia and Robyn, who also read several memorable ones of their own – about personal ferry journeys and voyagers on the Solent, from Jane Austen to today’s Islanders and visitors.
Dom Prag sang his evocative ‘Chain Ferry Blues’ and ‘Young Man on a Ferry’ as well as poignant songs with lyrics created by participants in one of the Ferry Tales writing workshops, while JC Grimshaw took the audience on-board to relax and drift away on a tide of uplifting tunes, or to sing along with his beautifully haunting songs based on local stories, such as ‘Sally don’t you weep’ or ‘Take me Home Bosun’.
It was a wonderful afternoon. The Ferry Tales exhibition of photographs by Mark Lanigan, poems and music, runs until 1st July at Dimbola, when it will transfer to Lymington Library for the Lymington Arts Festival on 6-8th July. There will be another free concert in Lymington Reformed Church at 7pm on Friday 7th July, with guest poet, Maggie Sawkins and the Ferry Tales team.All are welcome – it will be worth travelling to be there!
A CD and a special Ferry Tales anthology are available to buy in the shop at Dimbola Museum & Galleries.

Anthology and CD ready for Ferry Tales launch on 22nd April

Everything is ready for the launch event at Dimbola Museum and Galleries on 22nd April at 3.30pm. The Ferry Tales team been working hard on finalising the anthology of poetry and photographs which is a superb collection of the poems written by the Ferry Tales poets and the many people who contributed poems and ideas to the project. It also contains a sample of the images Mark Lanigan created for the project.

Songwriters JC Grimshaw and Dom Prag have done a wonderful job creating a CD of exceptional songs for the project.

The dead-line for submitting poems to be considered for the Ferry Tales poetry anthology is Monday 20th February. All poems posted on the Ferry Tales website will be considered but, unfortunately, we are not able to include everyone in the anthology.

Agreeing to allow your poem to be posted on the website will be taken as also giving permission for it to be published in the anthology, if selected. Poets will keep copyright of their individual works.

It will still be possible to submit poems for the website after 20th February.


Saturday January 28th 2017

If you’d like a chance to get together for a ferry trip with Maggie and some of her Portsmouth workshop participants, you are welcome to join them on the 1pm ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight on Saturday 28th January 2017.Please book a ticket individually with Wightlink as this is not an official Ferry Tales event but an informal gathering of Ferry Tale friends.

The car ferry leaves from the ferry terminal in Gunwharf Road, Portsmouth (PO1 2LA), which is about a 10 minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour rail station. Please allow plenty of time to get there as foot passengers need to be ready, with their tickets, at least 15 minutes before sailing (according to the website).

Maggie will offer some suggestions for writing that you can try out on the boat – the crossing takes 45 minutes. Once ashore, you might like to join others for the short walk to nearby Quarr Abbey with its inspiring grounds, art gallery, bookshop, visitor centre and teashop (open until 4pm). Maggie will come back on the 5pm crossing but there is also one at 4pm if you prefer an earlier return with Robyn, Mark and Dom.

Robyn Bolam, Lydia Fulleylove, JC Grimshaw, Mark Lanigan and Dom Prag are all planning to join Maggie for what promises to be an inspiring day!


Lydia Fulleylove and JC Grimshaw will be travelling out on the 12 noon ferry from Fishbourne to Portsmouth on 28th January, so if you are on the Isle of Wight and would like to join them for a round trip, returning with Magggie & co. at 1pm, you will be very welcome. There will be opportunities to write on both legs of the journey! Again, please book a ticket individually with Wightlink as this is not an official Ferry Tales event but an informal gathering of Ferry Tale friends.



Thank you to the crew and passengers on the 11.00 and 12.00 crossings between Lymington and Yarmouth yesterday. Special thanks go to the Captain who made us welcome and made an announcement about the project, to the Bosun and his crew who were friendly and helpful, and to all the passengers who joined in and gave us their thoughts, ideas and, sometimes, artwork to inspire our poems and songs. We’ll be back! Robyn & Dom

12th July 2016


Poetry,Paintings and Song

Paul Armfield, Robyn Bolam and Lydia Fulleylove (l to r)

Lymington residents were invited to a free evening event at St Barbe Museum as part of the Lymington Arts Festival and the St Barbe Summer Exhibition. Ferry Tales poets Robyn Bolam and Lydia Fullylove read poems inspired by the exhibition and Paul Armfield performed songs based on paintings entered into the 2016 exhibition.



Poetry,Paintings and Song-7

Poetry,Paintings and Song-8Poetry,Paintings and Song-3

Robyn and Lydia also picked the winner of the open poetry competition and the winner was Anne Summerfield for her poem Tulips in June which was inspired by the painting Still Life with Tulips by Victoria Garland.

Poetry,Paintings and Song-13

Anne Summerfield and Mark Tomlinson

Poetry,Paintings and Song-22Mark Tomlinson, Museum Director, welcomed the visitors and performers to the event and awarded the prize to Anne. Robyn Bolam, Ferry Tales Poet, explained the project and encouraged the audience to submit poems via the web site and to meet the artists on their forthcoming ferry crossings.