July 2017 ~  Modern Art Writing Competition


First Prize

On the City-Lit River

by John Murphy

We lift our oars and let the current carry the skiff for a while. To our right, the city, silhouetted in the early morning. Mischa has never seen a city before — she’s too young.

A light from the wharf slices across the face of the water, shimmering, dancing.In the city: cobblestone, safety, lemon meringue.

I feel something collapse against my back. It’s Mischa, asleep. I lower my oars.

Five hundred more miles to go.

© John Murphy 2017

John's Feedback:

I do like this, and it paints a picture in my mind which is fairly different from the painting which inspired it. I want to know more, too. Is Mischa really very young - under 10, for example? Or has she led a sheltered life in the wilds and never had to travel for work or other business? And why are there five hundred more miles to go? You see, there's great potential here, just from your 75 word vignette.

Without wanting to impose my style on you, I would've preferred ‘To our right, the early morning silhouette of the city.’ Same number of words but less clumsy.

I think I'll have to have some lemon meringue, now that it's in my head.

~ Bern Ross

Highly Commended

It was tough to find an overall winner for the great selection of high quality pieces that were sent in for July. We ended up requesting a tiebreaker and John Murphy's response earned him first place.

We would like to highly commend these other entries:


by Marie Gracie

Tabitha had long understood that sometimes the fields felt red. They were the long, bad days and Mother always went out.

Tabitha would wait and look after her sullen big sister, Jilly. One morning the red became visible. Mother departed and never returned.

When it oozed through the door, smelling rancid, Tabby stayed patient. But once it started growling, she was defeated.  Jilly rocked with closed eyes, her fingers in her ears.

Tabitha packed.

©Marie Gracie 2017

Inspired byBig Red Landscape


A story in 75 words is a challenge in itself. Not many people know that.

And Breathe

by Fran Egan

Red lights cover the windscreen. The sound of brakes hastily applied. Slow, slower, slowest and stop. Fingers drumming on the steering wheel, lips bitten in anguish.

‘Come on, I need to get there, come on!’

Inch by inch, like a swollen slug meandering up the garden path, the car in front begins to move. And breathe…

Make progress and turn left; fifty yards more and I’m there. Welcome to South Downs Maternity Hospital.

© Fran Egan 2017

Inspired by the painting Traffic

Flowers To Hide In

by Bethany Bartlett

She knew he was coming.

She knew the feeling of security that the long grass provided was false – they’d been here a thousand times together. Still, the red poppies seemed to bend towards her almost benevolently – how are you? Isn’t the weather nice today?

She tried not to think of the last time they were here – the taste of cherries, his pupils strangely wide –


He had found her, and she still wasn’t ready.

© Bethany Bartlett 2017

Inspired by Flowers to Hide In



Lost the June Winning Fiction? Find it HERE


Thank you to EVERYONE who took part. See THIS page for details of the next contest