Written on the rocks: Liz Mathews 24-25 June 2016: Norwich
‘Where Gaelic is written on the rocks’ opens Liz Mathews’ setting of Derick Thomson’s poem Donegal, in an artist’s book with clay pages called Rag/Luideag. The words, in the poet’s own Gaelic and English versions, were incised through oxide decoration into eight scraps torn from a rolled sheet of raw clay, as though carved into the rocks themselves – and then once-fired to 1260 degrees. These stoneware ‘pages’ were then stitched with linen thread into a ragged linen binding painted with raw clay slip, charcoal, strong tea and whisky, so that the poem can be read page-by-page as a book or unfolded and hung as a banner. The setting focuses on layers of meaning in the poem about the toughness and fragility of a language and culture, by reflecting the subtleties of the text in the material medium and the form of the book, and its slipcase is a cardboard box, in which the poignant lines can be packed away and carried into the future.
804 Rag / Luideag (detail, pages 1&2)
790 Rag / Luideag - Text by Derick Thomson / Ruaraidh MacThomais from Donegal / Dun Nan Gall. Banner-book made from stoneware.
819 Lines and nets. Text by Jeremy Hooker from Guests of Silence; Banner-book made from stoneware with driftwood, silk, wool and flax threads
817 This earth. Text adapted from Winifred Nicholson: Banner-book made from stoneware with driftwood and silk threads
Liz Mathews will be showing Rag/Luideag and other books with clay pages in Hot ice and wondrous strange snow, an exhibition at Norwich Forum’s Millennium Library for turn the page 2016 artists’ book fair (June 24/25). The show celebrates Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary this year with 30 books made from clay, driftwood, handmade paper and linen, as well as an assortment of found materials, setting poetry by Shakespeare and poets both ancient and modern that says something relevant and important about contemporary concerns. The Seasons Alter sets Titania’s speech from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream mourning the disruption of the seasons – words eerily recognisable in our time of climate change and environmental upheaval. The book is made from a single sheet of handmade paper folded into a page sequence and lettered with a driftwood stick in handmade inks mixed with snow-melt, rainwater, mud and dust. With each of these works, Liz aims to translate poetry into the language of material form, focusing on the layers of meaning within each text, so the words can speak afresh, directly to us and of our world.
824 By way of words: Text by Jeremy Hooker from City Walking 1. Banner-book made with handmade paper, driftwood, stoneware and slate shard.
784 Rag / Luideag slipcase-box cardboard, linen, graphite, acrylics
290 The Seasons Alter (first side detail): Text from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Artist’s book on handmade paper with acrylics mixed with summer rain, snowmelt, mud, dust