Somerset Printmakers were approached by the National Trust at Coleridge Cottage to make work inspired by or in response to poems by Coleridge. The resulting show is a great mix of figurative and abstract visual thoughts, and in conjunction with visiting this evocative little house, is a must-do visit. Detail from my print is top RH corner of the above flyer!It is a response to his poem ‘This Lime Tree bower, my prison’. What I like about this poem is Coleridge’s change of heart, from raging against having to sit in his garden rather than striding in the open air across much loved hills with his friends,(he has burned his foot badly) and then finding that actually there is much to celebrate in the small details that surround him in his lime-tree bower. My two prints aim to reflect the two perceptions of his situation encapsulated in the poem.
The ‘Art for Life’ auction, supporting the hospital arts project at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, is now live online at: http://www.artforlife.nhs.uk/art-on-the-block-2014/ . Many artists across the region donate specially made work for their annual charity auction, all of it made on supplied A5 boards. You can bid for a piece online now, then the final auction is at Musgrove Park on May 20th. My piece ‘Votive’ (above) has been a bit of a departure, using some of the paperclay pieces I made for my Nature of Mending work. And now I am working on new small tapestries for Dorset Artweeks (May 24th – June 8th) Open Studios (http://www.dorsetartweeks.co.uk/) also incorporating little shards of paperclay. More on this soon, meanwhile get bidding for Art on the Block! ‘Art for Life’ is special to me as I started the project in the early 1990’s and am so proud of how it has evolved and grown since then.
Whilst I was driving through the winter Somerset landscape recently, thinking loosely about a new print project, it occurred to me that if Coleridge had had a camera, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to use it.
Somerset Printmakers have been asked by the National Trust to mount a show of prints in May 2014 about this larger than life Romantic, poet, philosopher and journalist, in the Garden House at Coleridge’s cottage in Nether Stowey.
Although I am keen to take part, as a mainly abstract artist, I have to come at these kinds of projects somewhat obliquely.
We have chosen as a starting point the phrase ‘Wander in Gladness’, which comes from ‘This Lime Tree Bower my Prison’ a poem about friends, and about experiencing the landscape near to Nether Stowey.
Now this is the thing about Coleridge. He embraced things fully, uncompromisingly, in their enormity as well as their detail, whether ideas, nature, landscape, relationships, or language. He was a ‘both feet in’ person, never simply an observer. Hence the thought about the camera.
I love a camera, I love viewing the world framed, and through a lens. I particularly love the results to be in black and white and all tones between. I love to find a detail that when taken from it’s context turns into something else, gains a separate life of its own. This, at the moment, is what my work is about.
So I’ve been having difficulty reconciling my small observations with finding an image that connects with Mr. Coleridge, imagining him restless, ‘wandering in gladness’, communing with nature whilst lying under the stars, striding for miles across the Quantocks and the Lake District in all weathers.
The poem, Lime Tree Bower, was written when Coleridge was confined to sitting in the garden at Nether Stowey with a badly burned foot (his wife Sarah had spilt boiling milk on it; there must be a story there!) whilst his friends set out on a long rambling walk through the local undulating landscape and coastline that he knew so well, and recalls so passionately in words. Initially he writes of his frustration at being left out. But then, I realise on re-reading the poem, he is finding equal richness and joy in various minute details that can be experienced even from this ‘little lime tree bower’. Great! This is my territory! It has taken weeks of not thinking too hard about it finally to find my own starting point.
Somerset Heritage Centre project continues to be developed. More news soon. Scissors still hovering over ‘Folded Loss’ tapestry – I know where to cut now, but need to wait till I have a bit of time.
So, both shows, at Walford Mill and Barrington Court, are over, and all the work back here. Time to review things, and start into new work and new projects. My main tapestry for ‘Nature of Mending’, ‘Folded Loss’ (can be seen in the ‘Tapestries’ section) is currently hanging up in my studio as I contemplate re-making it….Many things I like about it, but I think perhaps I got proportions wrong somewhere. Might mean scissors, might mean more folding. I love having given myself permission to treat a tapestry rather like a painting, and change it radically. As for projects, am working with painter Jenny Graham, sculptor Chris Dunseath, photographer Richard Tomlinson and poet Ralph Hoyt on developing a project with Somerset Heritage Centre. Promises to be long term and really exciting, but we are taking our time. Updates will follow in due course on chopping up the existing, and bringing to life something new.
‘The Journey: Exploring the Nature of Mending’ opened on September 14th, at Walford Mill, Wimborne and runs until October 27th. Above is a detail from one of my pieces, made in response to a wonderful ancient Egyptian child’s dress (details on http:www.natureofmending.co.uk). Opening times for the show can be found at http://www.walfordmillcrafts.co.uk. A full colour catalogue of the show is available at the gallery, or by ringing them on 01202 841400.
I also have work in a major show, part of Somerset Artweeks 2013: ‘Make the Most’ is at Barrington Court, near Ilminster, also until the end of October. Click here for wonderful flyer MTM10
‘The Journey: Exploring the Nature of Mending’, my pet project which has been going for eighteen months now, finally comes to fruition in a week’s time. On September 14th the exhibition opens at Walford Mill. It will show new work by myself, by Jenni Dutton, Dr. Paul Scott, by Guy Martin and Lisa Earley. This has all been specially commissioned for the project. In addition is work on loan from eight other artists. Everything in the show reflects the theme: Exploring the Nature of Mending. It will be varied, classy, fun and serious. If you can’t get to see it during it’s run (until October 27) you can buy the catalogue from http://www.walfordmillcrafts.co.uk . You will need to call them to give card details, so the number is 01202 841400. I will be posting my new work on this site in due course, but at the moment you will either have to go and see the show, or buy the catalogue! Catalogue has lots about the show, and a great forward by Professor Simon Olding. More details about the project, at the project website: http://www.natureofmending.co.uk
September is going to be a big month for me. On the 14th ‘The Journey: Exploring the Nature of Mending’ opens at Walford Mill, Wimborne, the culmination of my big project that has been running for nearly 18 months http://www.natureofmending.co.uk The day before sees the opening of ‘Make the Most’, which promises to be a really classy contemporary craft exhibition at Barrington Court, a wonderful eccentric National Trust property near South Petherton, Somerset. I have been invited to loan two small tapestries (one of which is above) for the ‘Treasures of Somerset’ section, along with Mike Dodd, James Horrobin, Tom Kealy, Caroline Lytton and that national treasure of stained glass Patrick Reyntiens. Great honour to be in such company. There are also five nationally selected young contemporary makers who have collaborated with local suppliers and producers of willow, paper, wood, leather and stone to make unique installations in the house and grounds. Curated by Somerset Artworks and Craftspace, this promises to be one of the best contemporary craft shows to be seen in Somerset for a very long time. Find out more atwww.somersetartworks.org.uk/makethemost
June 7th 2013 Actually my website looks much the same as before, except that this opening page is now a blog, so that my news and work in progress is immediately accessible. And you can follow this via e-mail if you would like, by clicking on the ‘follow’ button above. I am not a daily blogger, so you won’t be inundated with my every move! At present my project, ‘The Journey: Exploring the Nature of Mending’, described below, is moving towards it’s climax of the exhibition – we start planning the catalogue next week. Do follow this in more detail via that website. I am deep in making my piece for this, of course, despite having had a year to do it all in…..
I will be reviewing the images and posting some new work on this site in due course, but for the moment, Mending rules….and strangely I have been working with paperclay (see charred, archaeologically inspired piece above) as well as textile. Watch this space!
This is a new project I initiated last year, with support from the Arts Council. I am working with a team of commissioned artist/makers, in partnership with Walford Mill Crafts and The Priest’s House Museum, both in Wimborne, Dorset. The project website is: www.natureofmending.co.uk
We are linked to Facebook and Twitter, so please follow us! Each of the five artists has their own page on the site, which they are treating more or less as blogs, so you can follow their thoughts and processes as their work progresses. The final exhibition of the work open at Walford Mill, Wimborne, Dorset on 14th September 2013.