As part of Almanac Arts and RISE Festival, Liverpool-based poet Helen Tookey was commissioned to write some work in response to an exhibition. She chose Shanghai Sacred (photographs by Liz Hingley, with Cheng Hangfeng) showing at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool, 7 June – 28 September 2019. Once written she thought it would be an opportunity to show or present the work in a way that somehow spoke further to the exhibition.
She asked me if I’d be interested in making an artistbook to hold the work. I’ve really enjoyed making books to fit to other people’s work in the past and jumped at the chance to work with an extended piece of Helen’s work.
It was a series of fragmented prose pieces, prose poems and poems that entered into an eerie space of a field she walks in Liverpool. There is a sense of the hidden, the dark, the dying and glimmers of past threaded through the work. We discussed ways of coming to the work, how it might unfold, and how it would interact with the work it responded to, and what form might the structure take to best reveal or conceal the text. Our first work bench was a pool table which gave us the space and perhaps the playful eye to muck about and find a way of setting the work with remarkable ease. We seemed to have similar sensibilities towards the work which made the conversation and questions smooth and energising.
We decided on a drop down scroll that offered a neat, simple-to-read form, that could either be contained within a hand, or fall in a long cascade that the reader would have to follow, succumb to. It seemed elegant, surprising and uncluttered. In many ways, an echo of Helen’s work.
When Helen first approached me I was feeling rather overwhelmed by other projects so said I could design and mock up one then show her how to cut and paste the work. She embraced the job brilliantly, made 30 editions that are now out in various hideyholes in Liverpool for people to discover, like the world of the field, the footsteps of each panel that tread through it.
Earlier this summer, 2019, the National Oceanography Centre and Sefton Council approached me to work with them on creating a narrated coastal walk along Crosby’s shoreline, north of Liverpool. The plan was, through bringing together science and the arts, to raise awareness of shoreline change and coastal hazards, to actualize and make intimate the sense of movement and uncertainty that occurs along the coast. The poems capture changes in land use, coastal processes, shoreline management and observational techniques. They are located at five points along the Crosby shoreline, and can be heard in any order. By becoming more aware of changing coastal conditions, we hope people will act as advocates in shaping how communities better prepare future change.
You can download the GPS waypoints and MP3s here or watch them here, accompanied by pics if you can’t get to the beach.
The project, Building coastal community resilience: preparedness through poetry, was funded by AGU Celebrate 100 grants.
The rest of the team can be found on twitter: @Wirewall_NOC @GreenSefton_
I am currently being funded by the NWCDTP to research creative and critical approaches to writing about the sea. This includes exploring details of marine biology (with a particular interest on what can’t be easily seen: plankton, deep sea life, and man-made pollution) and my phenomenological experience of the sea. I am working from the University Liverpool.
Recent writings related to this project can be found on Liverpool University’s Citizen of Everywhere blog and Literature and Science hub.
You can listen to a 15 minute talk I gave in Durham late 2017 about short-sightedness and becoming here:
The Seventh Door is an audio walk set in the centre of Aberdeen, taking you on a walk through time, space and your imagination.
You can download audio tracks and map here
Commissioned by Aberdeen Performing Arts, as part of their Stepping Out Project, written in collaboration with Maya Chowdhry
Launched at SPECTRA festival, Aberdeen. February 2017
Triptych exploring the fragility of life by examining the impact of climate change on the Indian subcontinent. Installation includes interactive poetic sculptures, that use both sculptural extension and augmented reality to illuminate anthropogenic climate change. Collaboration with Maya Chowdhry. Exhibited at Menier Gallery, London as part of GFEST. November
Project website: Ripple
Climate change has become climate chaos, and even 75 miles inland is not safe from the sea. A series of short spoken-word performances will submerge you in this new world with its own history, populated by seemingly familiar people, places and stories. But as with all future scenarios nothing is certain…
While you can download the walk map here, you might be as well to use the ordance survey leisure map OL21 as a backup. The walk begins at Marsden Park, HD7 6ER
Download and listen to the story here: audio files
Or download the viewranger app to listen in situ
I made a limited edition artist book incorporating images from Talya Baldwin’s original artwork. If you’d like to buy a copy, please get in touch
An archival project aimed at uncovering hidden stories of life and death on Morecambe’s Home Front during WW1.
An exhibition, made by Lisa Wigham, will tour the Bay towns in summer 2015.
Project website: Time and Tide