On the Park
park the dogs will bark big dogs slim dogs
fat dogs lap dogs dogs you want to pat dogs
brown dogs black dogs blonde dogs pack dogs dogs dogs
try to chase a cat dogs chase another dog dogs
chasing off the birds dogs dog poo dog wee
try to chase chase where
chase me on me on the dogs
me the the will
dogs park park bark
I said I’d tell you about the time I had a poem turned into a piece of art work.
I entered a writing competition called Wherefore Art Thou? It was run by Stockport Art Gallery. There were no prizes as such, but the winning entries had their work converted into a piece of conceptual art by the artist Nicola Dale.
There was some confusion over the notification email and I wasn’t convinced I was a winner; but my friend emailed to ask them on my behalf and they told her I was, so I went along to the exhibition launch. The worst that could happen was that I would be there to support four members of my writing group who were also winners. We were rather proud of our tally: one-third of the winning entries.
By the way, don’t think I was being dozy about the email: one poor girl had been notified that she was a winner but there was no art work for her poem. She was mortified.
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the gallery but I had an unexpected WOW! moment when I turned the corner: Nicola had made physical what I had tried to do on the page. I loved it instantly.
Here is a pic for scale:
Each piece of art work had some, many or all of the words of the original texts in some form: a poem called Entwined had every word on a label attached to a long thread of wool and the whole entwined on its plinth; my friend’s poem about Guernsey evacuees to Stockport had key words on a Scrabble board. Another piece was words on t-shirts. There were also audio and video works.
I’m not a fan of conceptual art – I always think of Tracey Emin: too lazy to clean but smart enough to get others to admire her detritus and pay her a fortune for the privilege. Or Damien Hurst: pickled cow? Please! But it was interesting to see how text can be interpreted by an artist.
Another interesting facet of the exhibition was that many of the texts were inspired by art works in the gallery; then they were turned into art works themselves: full circle.
I had a pleasant surprise: the winning entries were included in a glossy brochure that accompanies the exhibition and, although only one was turned into a piece of art, all six of my submissions were printed in the brochure. But…I wasn’t happy:
- I had completely re-written one poem by the time of the exhibition and the version in print reads like an early draft.
- On The Park used coloured fonts for effect but was printed in black.
- A three-part poem had sub-headings and <gasp!> no spaces were used between the sub-headings and each first line.
- The layout for one poem was all wrong.
- The title of another was incomplete, which can obscure its meaning.
Judges beware! Don’t select my poem/s if you can’t do it right. If I say I’m a little precious about how my writing appears on the page, that’s like saying a hurricane is a little squall.
However, I was satisfied with the sixth poem, which was laid out perfectly in the brochure.
We stayed a couple of hours at the launch and I had a glass of wine to insert spine so that I was able to read out On The Park to a bunch of strangers. It got a decent reception, thank goodness. It is a poem intended for children and needs to be read aloud for effect. It came from a workshop at the art gallery last year about rhythm, run by the Scouse poet Terry Caffrey.
Here are some of the other installations*:
*See! Right there! That’s exactly what I’m talking about – you can install toilets or light fittings or new kitchens, but art?
We asked the gallery if they would sell my piece but they said ‘no’. This is where the Hub comes in. Never let it be said that he can’t make happen that which his wife desires to happen.
No, really; never let it be said: that last sentence was execrable.
The Hub and Tory Boy put their heads together: the Hub arranged for one of his photos to be enlarged and put onto canvas; and Tory Boy paid for it. Don’t I have the sweetest family in the world?
And clever: they put the picture up in the kitchen, as a means of forcing me into it upon occasion.