I’ve had the best morning. My first visit as poet for Secret Severn art trail was to Both in Stitches, a collaboration between local artists Jo Clarke and Angie Silkstone. Their work is a blend of embroidery and painting and they create pieces that reflect the unique landscape of Ironbridge Gorge. This was an industrial area that is fast returning to a place of natural beauty and work like this that marries the two is something that interests me a great deal. A thread that seems to be running through my research is developing from my reading of Colebrookdale by Anna Seward. This is a poem that rails against the damage of the landscape at the hands of the ironmasters. Three hundred years on, the industrial landscape is being replaced with housing and curiously the same sense of mourning, especially in the case of our beloved red brick cooling towers, is emerging.
Back to today. I was nervous – my plan for this role is what could be called loose, and those who know me well know I am a planner and list maker, rather than someone who’s happy to just see what happens. I’ve no choice in this though, and I kind of like it.
I’ve had the normal fears of anyone starting a new project, can I do it? Am I good enough? It turns out I can do it and I might well be good enough. For Jo and Angie, today was all about preparation, measurement, planning and cutting. They’re creating a piece inspired by the Coalbrookdale Viaduct and seeing the level of precision involved in translating this structure to calico was a joy. I’ve three pages of notes, focused on the sounds, the small actions of expert hands that are going to make this piece happen. I feel privileged to have been able to see the start of this creation, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to go back a couple more times to see the progress. I’m pinching myself a bit that I’m part of this, and able to combine my love of visual arts with my love of language.
I’ve several more visits, to lino printers, potters and painters as well as graphic artists and collage makers. If each one is as good as today, I shall be delighted.
You can find out more about Both in Stitches on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/bothinstitches/posts/
And more about Secret Severn here https://www.facebook.com/Secretsevern/
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