• The Path
  • Brave New World: Be Good
  • Water
  • Ogre
  • A Spiritual Portrait of Donald Trump
  • Grief
  • On the Doorstep
  • Hydra
  • Behemoths
  • Injured Syrian
  • The Kitchen
  • Puppets
  • Brave New World: Free! Free!
  • Brave New World: The Savage
  • Explorers
  • The Wave
  • Carnival
  • Margerita
  • Paper Spiral
  • Behemoths & Bunker
  • Woken
  • Seasons
  • Descent
  • The Comedy Dance of the Marionettes
  • Search
  • Day & Night
  • Uprooted
  • The Town
  • Falling Star
  • Confrontation


  • In the Valleys of the Sea

    • “If all things were turned to smoke, the nostrils would discern them.

    • If to air, then touch. If to light, the eye.

    • If the world were turned to milk, or honey,

    • The tongue would trace through it both territories

    • Of bitterness and sweet, and constellate

    • A rainbow where they met. And if the world

    • Were thunder, the ear would breed a thunder

    • In it, and crib it in a residue of silence.

    • The world is fire.”

    • Read more »

    In the Valleys of the Sea is a verse play based on an ancient Greek myth, the story of Demeter in Eleusis.

    Six months ago the Greek armies came, invaded Nira’s country, killed her husband. The land lost its name, became a principality of Greece – now Nira and her three children live in an occupied country.

    Six weeks ago, the drought came. The wells dried, the crops withered, one by one the animals succumbed. The family began to starve; Demara, Nira’s youngest daughter, a baby, is soon very ill – dying.

    And then the old woman came.

    It was Iambe, Nira’s middle daughter, who spotted her out in the fields, stumbling, bleeding, delirious. Iambe and Kallithoe, Nira’s eldest, brought her into the house.

    There the old woman babbles nonsense. She tells them she is the goddess Demeter. Her daughter was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld; now she searches the earth for her. It is she that has called down the drought, and has vowed it will remain until her daughter has been returned.

    In the Valleys of the Sea is a verse play in three acts. It is going to be adapted into an opera by composer Ed Scolding.

    Read more »

  • Short Operas

    “Wind rags
    the smooth cloud;
    fins break
    the calm water;
    a million edges
    bloom within a circle.”

    • Wreckage of Dreams

      Night. A small raft, adrift on the sea with a dead engine, is alone under the moon.

      In March 2011 seventy refugees fled Libya, heading for Europe across the Mediterranean. A few days into their journey, the engine died…

      Read more »

    • On Harrowdown Hill

      In 2003 a body was discovered in an area of woodland known as Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire. It was identified as that of Dr David Kelly, who had been at the centre of the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ scandal during the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq…

      Read more »

    In 2012 I entered two scripts into English National Opera’s Miniopera competition; both were selected as finalists.

    Both of the scripts have been released to the public domain; several musicians and composers have already produced works based on them, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend performances of some of them in London and Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Follow the links above to download either script in pdf or text format, and to listen to some of the pieces they have inspired.


  • He Holds His Bottle In Both Hands

    He holds his bottle in both hands. His dog

    Is by him. Blankets. From the shoulders down

    He is massy as a stone; like a stone

    He has the task to shrug off wind, the rain

    That eats him drop by drop. Dirt occludes him,

    Dirt impervious to rain has been ground

    Into the ground of him; he knows, so he

    Places the cup before him for the coins.

    Once villages with plague did much the same.

    Beyond the door nailed shut, the lintelled coffin

    Hatch crossed in red, whose angel was absent

    To halt the destroyer that hopped the threshold;

    Beyond the path (green with three days’ grass);

    Beyond the houses and the sprawl of the disease

    They found a stone with a hollow, a cup

    In its bone, like a newborn infant’s skull.

    They filled the cup with water, left coins there;

    The traders came and took them in exchange.

    Left bread, such medicine their science could afford.

    So the village, closed, hingeless as a stone,

    Still maintained a commerce with the world.

    They went so far and no farther: they shared,

    So as not to meet, a mutual orbit.

    He holds his bottle in both hands. He raddles

    His blankets round him, strokes the dog. Then

    He dips his fingers in the cup, feels the copper

    Laid there to bait silver; they come back wet.

    Winner, 2nd prize overall, Ware Open Poetry Competition 2015

  • Three Stromness Acrostics


    Forward and back roof-raddled the cat,

    Round and around rolled the moon,

    And Venus and Mars in a carafe of stars

    Noodled the night’s afternoon.

    “Kaleidoscope cat, my syrup, my fat,

    Liminal lynx” – said the moon – “my love

    I see that your eye waxes, wanes, as do I,

    Now a crescent, now plump as a dove.”

    “Render me puss, oh answer me this:

    Or my dark or my light find you nice?”

    “Ah – I like you best when you are half-dressed.

    Dim – for the sake of the mice.”

    Gray’s Noust

    Grim sea, ink on this wild night,

    Rise. Wind, prepare a nib, an edge of

    Air and frost. Black sea, come. Write

    Your secrets on the lapped lids of the town –

    Satisfactions only for the birds.

    Name your mysteries, your underwater

    Ossuaries, the hug and knell where lipless mouths

    Urge a second deluge. Confess all, waves:

    State safe your deepest soul in midnight ink.

    The coming day will clean the slates, unread.

    Brinkie’s Brae

    Below, a segment on a patterned top,

    Runs the town. Behind, hill-hurdled, the Atlantic. What

    Is the hand that spins us but the sky, and,

    Now, this dawn, the Spring-appointing air? Winter

    Kept things close, stilled the thrumming cells with sheeted

    Ice. That age is over. The island stretches,

    Enters the uppermost sun-dabbled sea of sleep

    Spreads skein of sky of wing, and lunge of lung.

    Broad sphere, you share the moon’s illusion:

    Regarded at horizon, seeming greatest.

    Ah, but – between itself and its own limit runs the eye in


  • One Blow Breaks…

    One blow breaks these floorboards, shows the bones

    Where the dead damped down, bravely or morose,

    To be built upon. All graves are shallow:

    Worm on barrowed worm, dead on dead laps storying;

    Apartments, tower blocks as in water,

    Shown in their inverse, sinking, tend their quiet

    Occupation to the cold core of all

    Beginning; and we on the lowest floor.

    There are clouds in the crawlspace. The soft rain

    Eases, balling its fists between the bricks,

    Downward. All graves are shallow. Bald of a clock

    Still the walls show times, the years’ slippage

    Into disorder – windows seamed with mould

    And autumn leaves loose in the citadel.

    Winner, sonnet prize, Ware Open Poetry Competition 2015

  • Invocation

    The garden has been sown with dragon’s teeth.

    Summer brazens through the mulch of spring,

    Itself the chewed stuff of autumn. Beneath

    The flowers draw their blades. Trees cast leaves, fling

    Upon the lower world their cuckoospell

    Of shadow, shuddering the pollen. Warm snow.

    Thousand-coasted, million-mated world, swell –

    For the year’s yolk is in its overflow

    And over-golden, too big for any shell.


  • shaun-gardiner
  • shaun-gardiner

I’m a part-time artist, writer and graphic novelist based in Stromness, Orkney.

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. According to my parents by the time I was three they’d leave me alone for hours with a load of pencils and paper and let me get on with it.

When I was 12 my dad found me reading an issue of Batman and gave me Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which for the first time made me want to be a comics writer as opposed to just creator of comics. If you haven’t read Maus, you should.

When I was 16 I moved to the UK for my A-levels with an art scholarship. I went to a boarding school. I didn’t fit in. Aside from a few good friends and some great teachers, I hated it. Apart from the art instruction I received there, I’m self-taught.

I’m essentially to be found hunched over a keyboard or drawing board, doing art, usually in the company of my wife and fellow artist Anna. Sometimes there’s a cat in my lap.

Aside from comics, I also write poetry, short stories and, occasionally, words for operas.

In 2011 two of my scripts were amongst the ten finalists in the Minioperas competition run by English National Opera. These scripts are now in the public domain and can be used by anyone.

In 2015 I received two prizes in the Ware Open Poetry Competition, taking second prize overall and sharing the sonnet prize.

Why ‘Basement Garden’?

  • Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.
  • Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.
  • Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.

Anna playing with (the much missed) Bo in our old garden.

We used to live in the basement of a converted Georgian house in Bristol. It was cold, damp and dark. The only saving grace about the place was the garden, to which we’d escape when the weather permitted.

The garden was lovely. Our bedroom let out onto a lawn which blended into wanton overgrowth at the furthest end. A fox had its den somewhere in the tangled gardens beyond; one night I woke to see two fox cubs playing just outside our door.

Anyway, the effect of this was that I actually found myself writing out our address differently through the year. Basement flat, garden flat – winter, summer. I’m guessing the rest’s obvious.

What programs, equipment, techniques do you use?

Equipment/techniques for traditional art

Anything that’ll work. Chalks, acrylics, spray paint, ink, various pencils, pens, charcoals, collage, photography.

Weird stuff I’ve used at one point or another: dripping wax; razors; sponges; eggshells; bits of wood.

In the case of The Boy with Nails for Eyes, the images are generally composed with gradual ink washes onto pencil outlines, which are then detailed with acrylic, chalk, charcoal and pencil, then scanned into Photoshop.

Digital art

Almost everything I do these days involves Photoshop at some point. This can be a case of simply adding colour, bringing in various photographic or digital elements, or altering the original image in some more drastic way.

I use Adobe Photoshop version 9, ‘CS2’ as it’s commonly known, along with a Wacom Graphire.

(I’ve also tried GIMP and it’s great, but I’ve already paid my moneys.)


I use a free text-editor called Notepad ++ – it’s a cracker. On Android I use Jota Text editor, which is also excellent.

Desktop publishing

For compiling pages and adding text I use Scribus. It’s a free, open source desktop publisher and it’s fantastic. Without it I couldn’t have put The Boy with Nails for Eyes together at all so, if you’re looking for some completely free, powerful desktop publishing software, I can only recommend it.

Questions? Email.

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