Anyone game for a ‘Surrealist Revival’?


Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” 

– Salvador Dali

“How do I generate writing ideas?”

…is one of the most frequently asked questions at  Collab Writers meet ups.  The answer we give isn’t what you will read in a ‘How to write‘ text book. Much of ‘Consequences’ (the collaborative work of Co-Founders Alford and Griffiths) is what they call ‘downloaded.’ And by ‘download’ they are not referring to ‘The Cloud’. They are talking automatic writing, the writing style favoured by the literary, intellectual and artistic Surrealist movement.

When we think of Surrealism, we often think of the 1920s/30s movement showcased by Salvador Dali, Andre Breton, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning and countless others worldwide. Breton led the movement and dreamt up the Surrealist Manifesto so that artists would play by a number of rules and pull in the same direction.

So what has this got to do with Collab Writers and more importantly you?

It has everything to do with us and it could help you to add individuality, depth and intrigue to your stories.

Co-Founder Jennie Griffiths believes that automatic writing enabled the duo to embrace a fantasy world of the subversive protagonists whose streams of consciousness do not conform to language convention. And their actions are surreal, juxtaposed to reality, often defying logic. In the same way that Collab Writers have disrupted the Victorian parlour game Consequences, they also want to disrupt traditional story telling.

Collab Writers encourages you to discover your inner (subconscious) voice and rather than trying to adapt it to a set form of stories that are already out there, create your own journey and style of storytelling.

“The trick is letting go of the fear of having to conform to type to get an audience (and publishers) interested. For too long we have buried the rants and unconscious streams of pseudo consciousness that were the poster child of the Surrealist artists. In the world we are currently living in it is high time that we cast off the shackles of conventional storytelling and dig deep within for ideas and inspiration.”
Jennie Griffiths, Co-Founder Collab Writers.


Streams of pseudo consciousness pervade the Art world

If you are the kind of person who wants hard evidence of how this has worked with examples of the commercial success of surrealism, you don’t have to look far for evidence of  successful subversive artists and writers. Lewis Carroll’s Tales of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would no doubt have been part of your childhood reading. Whilst he may not have been an official member of the surrealist movement, his writing and illustrations were undoubtedly channeling the subconscious coffers of his vivid imagination, in defiance of logic and creating new words.

William Blake was another of the great poets and artists to have inspired the Surrealists  of the 1930s and been a commercial success. The Tate Britain has a treat in store for us this September with a William Blake exhibition where you can check out Blake’s surrealist success story, long before the movement took it’s name.

Practice downloading your unconscious consciousness by playing ‘Consequences’ 

Collab Writers are keen to encourage a revival in subconscious storytelling and awaken (within those of us who are game), the revelry of the Surrealist movement. Conscious that we live in an increasingly ‘real’ world with popular TV shows that focus on ‘real’ lives, we may need to tread the path of a diluted form of surrealism that weaves the subconscious through structured stories making them more interesting and multi faceted. It’s time to blend our imagination, conscious and unconscious ideas to embrace the ideologies and inspiration of the 21st century. We leave you with a thought provoking quote from Michael Richardson in the Dedalus Book of Surrealism 2: The Myth of the World:

“Surrealism, then, neither aims to subvert realism, as does the fantastic, nor does it try to transcend it. It looks for different means by which to explore reality itself.”

To explore reality through different means, in the spirit of the surrealists why not come and play the game of Consequences the first Thursday of each month at the Library. Our next event is on 5 September – we do hope to see you there.


Collab Writers Networking from home

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives: During the Lockdown – join us FREE at our Virtual Monthly networking on April 2nd 19:00 – 20:00


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