Archive for installation

What next?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2010 by noelwilliams

Can’t really answer that question, just yet.

We took down the exhibition today. It was a lot quicker than setting it up.

And now Bank Street is festooned with the beginnings of a new set of exhibitions, part of the “Over to You” mini-festival of art. I walked around the exhibitions-in-the-making tonight, before a reading (by Simon Armitage, Sally Baker, Liz Cashdan, Jenny King and Beverley Nadin, who were all excellent, but I think the stars were probably Simon and Bev. Simon was launching his new pamphlet “The Motorway Service Station as a Destination in its Own Right”, published by Smith/Doorstop, which is the Poetry Business’s publishing arm; and Bev was accepted her righteous and rightful prize as TPB Sheffield Poet prize – she is pretty clearly going to go places, I think).

Anyway, some interesting exhibitions in the offing – but none of them mine. I suddenly plunged into depression that the place which had been pretty much my life for a month – certainly occupied most of my waking thoughts and much of my time – suddenly wasn’t my place any more. “My” spaces were occupied by alien objects. This is not something I’ve experienced before. I guess the closest feeling is when you visit a house you used to live in: an odd combination of the entirely familiar and the completely changed.

In fact, my Residency continues, which is good news. But, of course, all its immediate energy is Prospero’d into thin air, and I’ve no clear project to be working on any more.

I do have, of course, dozens of ideas which spin out of the work so far, but none are in place, and perhaps I need a rest from all this for a while. And it isn’t quite over, in any case, as I still have to produce an evaluation for ACE and deliver another 100 CDs.

I’m thinking possible ideas might be:

– to run a (monthly?) drop-in “poetry clinic”, where anyone can appear, do some writing, and ask everyone else, including the poet in residence, who might vary from month to month, for help and advice on current problems

– a network to better connect all the different poets and groups and activities which go on in the region (South Yorkshire – not merely Sheffield). Matt Black’s “Signposts” does a lot of this, but he thinks there are groups that aren’t missed and maybe a new improved e-zine might hit the spot

– personally, I would like to see more readings at Bank St. But who will organise them?

– I’d also like to read more myself, but I’m not sure what opportunities I might find now.

– I want a new audio project. “Speakers” was exciting, challenging and, I think, a pretty good piece of work in the end. I now want to do something better – perhaps something a little more musical.

– I want to take the exhibition on the road, but I’ve no experience at all in tracking down galleries or festivals and convincing them how wonderful I am

– I’d like to find a project which involved collaboration with a visual artist. In fact, by accident, there may be one with Jen, Gallery Assistant at Bank St – but what I would really like to do is to contribute to some public art, a verbal installation of some kind

– the digital poems are interesting but not as effective as they could be, partly because of the unusual relationship between reading and attention which they create. I want to find a way to use this and produce more fluid digital works.

– above all, I need to finish the Women and Warfare collection and see if anyone wants to publish it, as that was the personal driver for the whole thing

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It’s over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2010 by noelwilliams

Well, it’s March 6th, so “Exploding Poetry” is no more. We’ll be taking it all down on Monday. No more Garden of Stones. No more Speakers. No more Poetry Lounge. The White Space will be filled and the poet no longer have any office.

The last day has been quite fun, a good emblem of the exhibition as a whole: some visits by people I knew, some by people I’d never met before’ a couple of hesitant contributions for the whole, some strong adjectives in praise of the event; people wanting something like it to continue; some bursting balloons; some new poems in the stones; a long conversation about the nature of poetry, the nervousness of poets, the terrors of performance, the need to be honest and authentic.

But the best parts of the day were visits by two young ladies, Leah, who is 7 and Mila who was probably a little younger, just learning to write properly. Both of them did beautiful jobs. Mila gave me a poem with a drawing, the only visitor in the entire exhibition to do so. Leah made a poem in stones, a poem from the words of burst balloons, and a poem from the dice that went on the walls. For someone of her age, the brilliance of her work and the enthusiasm she showed for the task, would be a good model for many a grown-up writer.

It was wonderful to see the work of those two poets. Although I’ve been overwhelmed by success of the exhibition: we’ve had well over 420 visitors, some have returned, many have made a point of giving excellent and flattering feedback, something like 60 to 80 poems have been contributed for it or during it, both the readings I organised were really successful: big, attentive, rewarding and rewarded audiences.

I may never get the chance for anything like this again. Who knows? It has been an incredible month, and a pretty astounding year that’s led up to it. I am very lucky to have had the chance, very pleased at the success, amazed by the opportunities and learning it has given me, and think both my work and my understanding is so much better as a result.

Of course, I still don’t have the published collection which was the aim right at the beginning, but I do  have seventy poems I didn’t have before, and a couple of them have found publication or a prize, so I can’t really complain, can I?

I hope to keep working at Bank Street, perhaps supporting other poets and writers, and perhaps collaborating with other artists there, which I’ve now got a taste for. So perhaps I’ll see you there.

CD Update

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2010 by noelwilliams

I’ve added a major update on the CD, which is now almost ready (availble from tomorrow) at £5.00 (plus P&P).

Also, I’m adding a new page on the logistics of the audio project.

Office changes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 26, 2010 by noelwilliams

I think the poet’s office in the exhibition is probably where people have responded least. This is mainly because many visitors have simply seen it as an office, not as a site of poetry or an installation, and so have made their visit brief and superficial. Many simply haven’t seen the digital poems because they thought they were intruding on a more or less private office.

So I’ve changed it a little today, making it a little less like an office, a little more inviting, and also adding a small display of three “poems in progress” on which I’ve invited comment. I don’t know whether anyone will feel moved to scribble their views on my work on a post-it and append it to the poem, but as several have added to or amended my incomplete poem on the whiteboard, maybe some will.

Some new pix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by noelwilliams

I’ve just added some photos from today’s version of the exhibition. It changes daily. Today I’ve added a couple of poems by Yasamin Motamedi, and seen several new poems in the Garden of Stones. The balloons have been revitalised with some new texts, ready for the next heavy footed interactive poets.

So it goes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by noelwilliams

The exhibition has settled now into a gentle rhythm. Occasional visitors pass through. Some creep in and creep out, saying little, not doing much. Some are entranced by the poems in the audio room, and spent long periods moving stones around in the garden, or simply sit in the Lounge with a cup of tea and a poetry book.

Here’s me and Cora looking at stones:

And here’s what one visitor did with some of them:

Some great little things have happened, too. Young Dominic (15 months old, I overestimated him before) returned, making straight for the stones, although he quite enjoyed ploughing his pushchair through the balloons, too.

Last time I arrived, I found a paper airplane inscribed “poems can fly”, although this sentiment was clearly too weighty for this particular construct, as it mainly preferred to fall.

And in the middle of the Garden of Stones, a folded paper fan, inscribed “Now I’m a fan”. So, that’s one, at least.

Quite fun. That’s one of the great things about this exhibition. I can’t anticipate what we’re going to get.

Someone has also used the Visitors’ Book to write poems. That’s fantastic, but means no-one will now write in the book, as they’ll think they’re expected to coin original sentiments. So we’ll need a new one. Maybe one for poems and one for comments??

We’ve begun the rehang of the poems in the Lounge, because the overall display was hard to read, and not really inspiring people to write. What I really would like to see is every visitor inspired by what they’ve seen to offer their own contribution, there and then. A few have, and these are now on the chimney breast. We’re also going to take some pages from poetry books and magazines and display these, too, so that the impact is “poetry, poetry, everywhere.”

Meanwhile, fixed the recalcitrant monitor, so all three computers are running as planned.

And work begins on the DVD. Two thirds of the writers and half the readers have given permission to use their work, and only one person decided against it. So planning has started and, with luck, it’ll be out there before the exhibition closes.

A couple of people also suggested that we should publish the poems. I wanted a catalogue of some kind, but don’t want to self-publish my work, and couldn’t really catalogue the work till it was in place. If we produced such a thing, it would probably contain some pieces from the audio work, some from the contributions, and a few of my own, plus images from the various exhibits.

I’d be interested to know what people think: is there enough mileage in this work to document it in a brief (say 32 page) collection/catalogue?

Meanwhile (shameless plug) if you want to read a couple of pieces by me, surrounded by some excellent new writing, you could do worse than Matter, the literary magazine of the MA Writing at Sheffield Hallam. You can check it out in the Lounge and, if you want a copy, contact me, or see: http://www.makingwritingmatter.co.uk/

[Photos taken by Mary Musselwhite]

Sudden beautiful progress

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by noelwilliams

I only arrived at Bank St late today. The gallery is transformed. Katherine’s central space is now strung with her bunting, which looks beautiful. The shadows cast are gentle and melancholic. It’s strange to see my words incorporated in someone else’s work, and I can’t stop smiling each time I think of it.

The room awaits my missing texts. Hopefully I’ll be confident enough in them to release them tomorrow. I have produced a small brochure to accompany the private view on Monday, though. Sneak preview here:

Her Garden of Stones is also almost in place, too. About two thirds of my seventy poems are now inscribed, word by word, on stones laid across the floor of one of the galleries. The grey of slate and the silver sheen of the words upon them is a softly dazzling sight in itself, but when you walk amongst them, which you must (especially to inspect the delicacy of her other work in the room) you necessarily disturb the words, and create new paths and connections. It’s like being on a beach, where every other pebble reveals something to you, a word that links with the word next to it, or a puzzle about how such a word might be used in a poem, or a reminder of words you saw elsewhere in the gallery, a visible echo.

And, again, these are my words but not my words. It’s a strange feeling.

It probably won’t matter if the other exhibits fall short, because these pieces are justification enough of the event, I think, and worth your visit if you go for no other reason.  

However, the rest of the work is looking good, too. The Poetry Lounge is already very lounge-like. No poems up as yet, though more have arrived today (we need more, by the way. Inundate us). But the furniture and layout makes it a gentle, somewhat nostalgic room, the sort where you want to spend an idle twenty or thirty minutes outside your hectic day, picking up the odd poetry book, scanning the writings of others on the walls, or, perhaps, as I dearly hope, penning a few words yourself which we can add to the exhibit.

Meanwhile Michael has finished all four of the audio tracks, and it’s up to me to spend the weekend editing the video to them in the best possible way. Which is no mean feat as, by my calculation, a total of at least 480 separate images is needed.

And, finally, there’s the ghost office, the engine room which is intended as the hub of all the ideas, my home when I’m there, as poet in motion, and a space in which half-formed ideas and almost-poems are floating just waiting for visitors to see them and pull them out of the air. At the moment, this entirely consists of two computer monitors. No computers, no desks, no furniture, no exhibits. Just two monitors.

Well, you can’t have everything.

The aim is to have three digital poems writing themselves so that work is taking place with the office creating poetry even when I’m not there. At the moment, though, I’ve only one computer which happily runs the software, so things are looking a little worrying on that front.

Still, three whole days to go……………..