Live in the #Layers – @TopFloorArt #AugCraft17 #Saintfield #KnowingtheDance

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.
                                      Gustave Flaubert
Yet I turn, I turn, / exulting somewhat, / with my will intact to go / wherever I need to go / and every stone on the road / precious to me.
                             (‘The Layers’ extract, Stanley Kunitz)

LayersandReflectionsprogrammesmall

Tomorrow August Craft Month begins – it’s the annual celebration of craft and applied art across Northern Ireland and an amazing opportunity to see, meet and/or work with the finest designer-makers living and working here.

I had a bird’s eye view of all happenings when working on the digital comms side of Craft NI (the originators and the coordinators of the month) and I continue to be staggered not only by the creativity and imagination of the designs but also by the powers of mastery over materials that we call ‘handmade‘.  ‘Angels’ hands‘ was my name for it because I still find it hard to believe a human being actually made what has been made with bare hands. If you happen to be near pretty much anywhere in NI this month check out the August Craft Month programme.

Layers and Reflections @TopFloorArt

A bit of excitment this year for me as there is a bit of a reflection of my work in the ‘Layers’ exhibition that opens at Top Floor Art on Thursday (3 Aug, 7-9pm and on through the month). No making on my part, I add quickly. ‘Live in the Layers’ takes words from Stanley Kunitz inspiring poem ‘The Layers’ (below). The idea of the piece is from my investigations of the moving parts of poems, through the Knowing the Dance project.  Like the child who takes the transistor radio apart to find out how the noise is made, I’ve been digging into the layers of composition that give poems their resonant qualities.

The making part is wonderful and is the result of a conversation with Top Floor Art’s artists and proprietors textile artist Emma Whitehead and fine artist Stephen McClean who is also a sawdoctor. I had the idea of free floating letters of the phrase, like a mobile (not the telephone kind), moving, catching on each other, throwing shadows on the page. Stephen suggested carving the letters from distressed steel using saws – a sort of meeting of his two worlds.  Emma Whitehead ran interference so that the thing actually made sense as a whole piece.  I’ll have photos shortly but couldn’t wait to share the details.

BandBPaperWorkshopIf you are near Saintfield on Thursday eve (3 Aug, 7-9pm), do call in for the preview and the exhibition – including a range of makers of all craft practices and levels of engagement, a solo show by Ruth Walker (Glass), the fabric mountain and the Butterfly Cloud. Get all the details of what’s on at Top Floor Art HERE  

*Images courtesy of Top Floor Art

The Layers

By Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz, “The Layers” from The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz. Copyright © 1978 by Stanley Kunitz.

 

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