With June, true summer begins. John Clare’s lines from A Shepherds Calendar (June poem) capture for me not only the sights and sounds, but the feeling of the month.
We are enjoying being back in the studio after our maytime excursion to the Ice House in Holland Park, where my Watermark exhibition was the first show of the summer season. This month, I’d like to give you a tour of the exhibition, to show how it worked in that beautiful space.
This image of one of my driftwood sculptures was on posters throughout the park, leading to the Ice House.
The entrance to the Ice House.
The exhibition had 60 works in clay, handmade paper and driftwood, in two rooms, a square entrance hall and a round inner room like the inside of a great pot:
All of the work was connected by the theme of water, in the poems, in the materials, in our bodies, and running through our lives, from source to sea.
Source was the first work in the exhibition: made from Thames driftwood, with the lettering of the text carved and incised with the woodgrain:
Implicit in each beginning is its end.
A dish made from a slab of clay, with the perhaps unwise inscription:
I am the poem of earth said the voice of the rain
Living water, a waterfall in clay with a vivid text by Vita Sackville-West flowing down like leaves down a stream.
Into the inner room, and in the middle, a Persian garden with goldfish and a large pool bowl, The voice of the river, with a beautiful text by Frances Bingham:
I am the voice of the river singing in your dreams
A lullaby of waters, a litany of streams
The first group of works around the circular space had several artist’s books made from a single sheet of handmade paper torn and folded into a continuous sequence of pages. The idea is that the image works both as a whole, and page by page in the book:
This form of book, where the text moves round in a continuous circling flow, and the paper, though shaped by hand, retains its wholeness, has for me some structural relation to the pots thrown on the wheel, and the spiralling setting of their text. I enjoyed showing visitors the way that the book opens page by page, and then reforms into a whole image.
The next group of works included some more of these artist’s books, including one called Inland, with a beautiful text by Wordsworth:
and a tall jar and paperwork, with texts by TS Eliot and Virginia Woolf:
On to the middle group:
where the central work is Tree-river-river-tree:
Here the image in four parts develops with the text, in a four-way reflection.
My own image reflected in the glass of the frame, as I photograph a paperwork with one of my favourite texts:
I am the daughter of earth and water
The next group in the inner room centres on another artist’s book and a group of Water vessels:
Because I love, there is a river flowing all night long
And the last group round the circle included two driftwood sculptures:
All things, with a text by Vita Sackville-West:
and Stream wash away, with a text by Kathleen Raine:
and Love flows, a tall bowl with a beautiful text by Frances Bingham:
In the middle of this circular inner room was a long cabinet containing concertina artist’s books, opened out to their full extent:
with Kingfisher, a brilliant text by Richard Price, in the end frame.
We return to the outer room for the last groups in the exhibition:
These pots and paperworks were shown on the brick chimney-piece of the Ice House, and included a group of Three phosphorescence pots with white-gold lustre:
three bowls with Valentine Ackland’s poem Idyll, written in Spain during the Civil War:
and six spheres with 9ct gold lustre:
And then the final group of works, or coda:
An artist’s book Coda, with text by Matthew Arnold
Another waterfall in clay, with text this time by Valentine Ackland
A pair of artist’s books, with beautiful texts by Frances Bingham:
And, finally, on the open door, the last work in the exhibition:
A little further
we will see the sea
breaking into waves
(George Seferis, translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard)