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Last Dates…



See above for our last few Venus Papers tour dates – with Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre this Thursday, Nov 23rd – and Bloomsbury Theatre, London, next week, Nov 29th. I’ll also be sharing an extract solo performance in Hastings on Nov 30th…it would lovelier than lovely to see you at any of those dates.

More pics and chat to follow…

Off the Shelf in Sheffield


Press Release

The Venus Papers comes to Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival.

October 13th, 2017


Tickets (in advance): £6/£5 (concs)

Venue: DINA, 32A – 34 Cambridge St, S1 4HP




Image: Ambrose Musiyiwa

A new theatrical poetry show of arrivals, departures, landscapes and journeys, written and performed by Lydia Towsey.

“One of the new, intriguing voices of her time.” 
Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, MBE

“Absolutely spectacular” Jo Ivie, Poet in the City

The Venus Papers

What if Venus, the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, washed up on a beach at this moment in time?

Experience tales of 21st century women – every-woman, immigrant, traveler, outsider – in a time of social, cultural and political turmoil and change.

The writer / performer Lydia Towsey states: “The Venus Papers is about how we look – at ourselves, each other, and the world – and how others influence the way we do so…from marketing and the media, to representations of women and the (fe)male gaze, to the political machine.

I’m writing and performing as a poet, and also a woman, a life model, and a new mother; someone who is a part time NHS employee, and who has a previous experience of an eating disorder.  I use humour, satire and wordplay as well as poems and movement to explore these themes. Taking Botticelli’s Venus as a starting point – the first recorded example of a female nude painted and exhibited life size – and also, someone arriving on a beach, naked and vulnerable – the show engages with society, politics and culture, including the European migration crisis, Brexit, and other issues that are unfolding and affecting us all in our daily lives.”

Directed by Rachel Mars and Nick Field
Paintings by Scott Bridgwood
Music by Dave Dhonau and Ola Szmidt
Choreography by Louise Katerega
Design by Kate Unwin
Curation by Melanie Abrahams
Photography by Ambrose Musiyiwa
Produced by Renaissance One
Developed through funding by Arts Council England

Lydia Towsey is a poet and performer who has been featured on the Spoken Word All Stars Tour, Decibel, Freedom Showcase and Beyond Words’ U.K. tour of South African poetry. A former International Artist-In-Residence at Theatre Royal Stratford East, she has for the last six years been posing as an artist model, challenging notions of the ‘passive nude’.

The Venus Papers poetry collection is published by Burning Eye Books (2015)
Show and Tour supported by Attenborough Arts and Writing East Midlands.
Funded by Arts Council England.
Twitter #VenusPapers

Grants for the Arts logoAttenborough Arts Centre logo

Venus Dates of Late


Venus_Papers_to sum 2017_HR BVenus_Papers_tour to summer 2017_eflier

The Venus Papers at JW3, London


Thanks to all who made it down to The Venus Papers at Jw3 – and to the remarkable Helen Ivory, Dzifa Benson and Julie Felix. Pictures below, it was a real privilege.

The Venus Papers at JW3


venus-banner JW3

This Thursday (June 29th, 8pm) we’ll be bringing The Venus Papers to the wonderful JW3, London. This latest outing will be our sixth tour date, and we’re REALLY looking forward to it. As well as presenting Venus (in all her 6ft cerise shell, forest of lightbulbs, looping, cello-ed, fluted floating) the evening will also include stunning performances from two of my favourite writer/performers – Helen Ivory and Dzifa Benson – and the legendary singer/songwriter, Julie Felix.
JW3 itself, also looks pretty lush, with a well stocked bar and array of suitably classical soft drinks, beers and cocktails – ‘Old Fashioned’ and ‘Cosmopolitan Mediterraneo’… to sparkling water, tonic and ‘Eager Juice’… If drinks were a mix tape.
All in all, we can’t wait. The van is booked, the set is ready. Ola has her loops and David has his cello. Come if you can, it’ll be really lovely – look, here’s a link to some films and interviews – and here’s some more on the amazing Dzifa, Helen and Julie.
– See soon, Lydia.
Dzifa Benson


Dzifa Benson was born in London to Ghanaian parents and grew up in west Africa. She does four main things – writes, performs, curates and teaches. She has performed her prose and poetry nationally and internationally at venues such as Tate Britain, Southbank Centre, Glastonbury Festival, the Houses of Parliament, on tour with the British Council in South Africa & UK and at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris. 

An experienced workshop facilitator, she has run writing workshops at the Royal Geographical Society, the British Library and Apples & Snakes in schools and for the creative industries. She has been a music reviewer for the Guardian, reporter and specialist researcher for the BBC.

Her writing has been widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Poetry Review, Time Out, the Manhattan Review and Philosophy Now. In  2008, she was commissioned to take part as a core artist in BBC Africa Beyond’s cross-arts, collaborative project, Translations and was writer-in-residence at the Courtauld Institute of Art from 2008 to 2009. 
In 2011, she received an Arts Council award and wrote her first opera as a librettist through The Singing Word Opera Development workshops at the Royal Opera House. She is currently developing The Spit of Me, a project inspired by the story DNA has to tell us about identity and migration. 

Helen Ivory


Helen Ivory is a poet and visual artist.  Her fourth Bloodaxe Books collection is the semi-autobiographical Waiting for Bluebeard (May 2013). She edits the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears and is tutor and Course Director for the UEA/Writers Centre Norwich creative writing programme. Fool’s World , a collaborative Tarot with artist Tom de Freston (Gatehouse Press) won the 2016 Saboteur Best Collaborative Work award.  A book of collage/ mixed media poems Hear What the Moon Told Me was published by KFS last winter and The Anatomical Venus is forthcoming from Bloodaxe.

Julie Felix.jpg


Julie Felix is an American born, British-based folk recording artist who arrived in the UK in the 1960’s and rose to fame the same year. She became the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label, Decca Records. In 1965 she was the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert and was described by The Times as “Britain’s First Lady of Folk”.

The resident singer on the BBCs Frost Report, presented by David Frost, she was given her own TV series, Once More With Felix in 1968. Directed by Stanley Dorfmann, this was the first colour series to be produced by the BBC, and was sold to nearly every country in the world. Guests on her show included: The Kinks, Leonard Cohen, Spike Milligan, Richard Harris, Dusty Springfield, Donovan and Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, amongst others. Julie was one of the primary artists to appear at the legendary Isle of Wight Festival where Bob Dylan made his comeback appearance after an absence of 5 years – audience members include George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon.

During the height of the Vietnam War Julie sang to a record-breaking 27,000 people at New Zealand’s Western Springs, urging the Kiwis not to engage in conscription. In the late 1970s she moved to Norway where the title track of her 1976 album Hot Chocolata went to number 1 in the Singles Chart. In the late 1980s she participated in a peace march through Central America. She returned to her house in Hertfordshire, England, and began singing for Latin American refugees, for women’s and gay rights and for peace projects including protests against the war in the Gulf.

In the 90s she set up Goddess Tours, arranging trips and pilgrimages to sacred sites throughout Britain, Turkey, France and the American Southwest. A string of albums later (21 and counting) in 2008, she appeared on a BBC Four programme in which stars of The Frost Report gathered for a night celebrating 40 years since Frost Over England; Julie sang “Blowin’ in the Wind’ – having recorded a double album of Dylan’s songs in 2005, on Remarkable Records.

Julie is still singing for peace and equality – she joined Brian Eno, Tony Benn and Mark Rylance in a London concert for Stop The War.  “Don’t Attack Iran”. In June 2013, she performed at the prestigious Leicester Square Theatre to celebrate her 75th birthday.

Her star continues to shine bright. In the words of Steve Harley:

“There are those among us who just have to play and sing; to whom there can be no question of quitting; to whom their work is not a job, but a calling.  Julie Felix is one such musician…it’s a tough business, music. Only the good and the genuine last the course.”

Touring Venus


Fresh from Canterbury’s wonderful Wisewords Festival and a special performance at Royal Albert Hall, here’s an up to date flyer, including a couple more summer tour dates. I’ll be at WOMAD on July 28th – which will probably involve at least a bit of Venus. Meanwhile, we’ll be adding more dates for the full 6ft scallop shell show, soon…

Venus_Papers_tour to summer 2017_eflier

Venus in Leicester


Thanks to all who made it down for our fourth Venus Papers Stage Show tour date – which was on the fourth (!) of February at Attenborough Arts Centre. Thanks to the fantastic extended gallery space at the venue, we took the opportunity to also present Scott Bridgwood’s, linked Venus Papers Exhibition.

The stage show was attended by a capacity audience. Apologies if you were there and unable to get in – info to follow on the rest of our 2017 tour schedule, crossing our fingers you might be near enough to make another date.

Meanwhile, see here for a lovely review by Sally Jack of Sabotage Reviews

and here for one by writer, Siobhan Logan.

You can get a flavour of how it all looked by taking a look at our just updated online gallery. Here’s a quick pick of the pics – with thanks to lovely photographer, David Wilson Clarke.