Bob and Roberta Smith RA, produced a screen print: There is still art there is still hope. I bought it in the form of a card after I had visited this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. This year the choice of works was coordinated by Grayson Perry and I found it a joyous and inspiring place.


Royal Valkyrie- Joana Vasconcelos- which dominates the entrance to Central Hall

The Exhibition prompted me to watch a BBC documentary about Rose Wylie. I was able to see for myself a sample of her work – African Barber Shop Sign. Wylie sees the world in a distinctive way. Her work is attractive as well as perceptive. From reading and listening to interviews about her, she seems immersed in the world in which she lives. She is an avid learner and, like David Hockney who is also in his eighties, constantly develops her art. Though she has always been an artist, there was a time when she concentrated on other things- bringing up children, supporting her artist husband for example- and only received public acclaim during her seventies.


Rose Wylie in her studio 2014

The series of documentaries included by one of an artist I had never heard of- Tacita Dean. I haven’t viewed any of her work but now I know something about her I will look out for her. I missed her exhibition at the Royal Academy by a week. What I find inspiring is the fact that she too follows her obsessions, not knowing where they will take her. She revels in the fact that she doesn’t know where she’s going. It took her 20 years to start/complete her experimental 35 mm film, Antigone. She describes it as a meditation on blindness- including her own metaphoric blindness. The film is in two intersecting parts- one being Ann Carson reading her poem Antigone and the other an actor playing Oedipus who, having blinded himself, wanders in the desert with Antigone.


Tacita Dean in her studio 2014

That, in a sense, describes how I write. Stumbling in the dark, being helped along by numerous Antigone-like persons.


Five Grand- Luke Wade

James Davies, the poet who led the Poetry School on-line course during the summer, suggested on our final session that we might like to do something we hadn’t done before. Two examples I found useful. 1. Richard Long carried a stone from one place to another, a journey which took him several years and 2. In Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s The Lovers, the couple began by walking from different ends of the Great Wall of China towards each other.

Writing another novel is commitment enough in itself without embarking on a further long project (though though the poem is not finished yet so it may take longer than I would like!) but I carried stones and shells I had brought home from Bridlington beach and took 13 of them and placed them in Leamington. I had no idea where I was going to leave them when I set out. I wrote a few words and took a photo at each spot. The result was interesting if unfinished.


River Leam into which I dropped one of the stones from Bridlington beach

In Triggering Town, Richard Hugo argues against writing from what you know. ‘Give up what you think you have to say and you will find something better.’

I have to start with myself, that’s all I have, but the poem and indeed the novel, are not me. By the end I hope I am not there  and instead the ‘unknown destination’ – poem or story-  has been revealed.

References: The photos are of artworks I took at the Summer Exhibition. The photos of Rose Wylie and Tacita Dean were taken from Wikipedia.


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