Commission For The Wordsworth Trust
15 July 2012
I was invited by Dove Cottage (the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere in the Lake District) to make new work in 2012 to be placed in the exhibition gallery alongside the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. For this commission, I created six new works, all small in scale (no larger than the pages of the Journal itself). An analysis of the value of these works in helping visitors to engage with the manuscripts in the Wordsworth Museum was published by the Arts Council in 2012 and can be found as a downloadable PDF on the right hand side of this page (see pages 24 and 32 – 36 in this report).
In the The Wind Seized Our Breath (below), I play with an imagined relationship between the Romantic poets, contemporary concrete poets and the poetry of the Far East. I have ‘replaced’ the calligraphy of the Far Eastern poets with the individual, expressive, letters of Dorothy Wordsworth whilst maintaining the vertical form of the Japanese or Chinese poem, employing colour as an added emotional tool to highlight the feelings expressed in DW’s prose.
The text consists of words found in DW’s journal entry for 15th April 1802:
Thursday 15th April 1802
The wind seized our breath
In the 15th April 1802 (1) and the 15th April 1802 (2), I have employed a more straightforward approach, working directly and intuitively with pastel over and into the words on the page. Here I am also responding to the place the words describe – places I have walked many times and understand well.
The print The Ring, is related to the famous page from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal of the 4th October 1802. In it, she describes her feelings on the morning of her brother William’s wedding. I have focused here on two things. Firstly, on the parts of the text we can see. When Dorothy says that she ‘lay in stillness, neither hearing or seeing anything’, what was she thinking? However, two sentences have been heavily crossed out. We are not sure who crossed them out, or why and there is some dispute as to what the words crossed out say. This is the second focus of the print.
In the full journal entry, which runs over a number of pages, Dorothy describes a series of important, life changing events alongside her usual direct observations. In the two prints here below (4th October 1802 (1) and 4th October 1802 (2), I have tried to capture something of this ambiguity, working spontaneously and directly with pastels over a printed image of the manuscript.