Sunday, 3 November 2013


On 8th October I went to the opening of Bob Cobbing: ABC in Sound, curated by William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper at the Exhibition Research Centre, Liverpool John Moores University. This is an exhibition about the whole career of the leading British concrete and sound poet, virtuoso performer, publisher, poetry activist, teacher and intermedia artist Bob Cobbing (1920-2002). The exhibition features recordings going back to the 1960s and 70s, lots of publications and printed works, framed artworks, and works by some of his collaborators such as Dom Sylvester Houedard, Henri Chopin, and his wife Jennifer Pike. There are also documents relating to his activities as an arts and poetry activist, and to his early career as a teacher. Apart from the sheer compression and brilliance of his best work (see above, read it aloud), Cobbing was an influential poet and artist who inspired a whole generation through his generous workshops, performances and work as a publisher. It was a pleasure to see this show and have the many aspects of Cobbing's career sampled and effectively shown together, some of the best visual works reprinted and shown in large format. A new film by artist Holly Antrum presents Jennifer Pike's dance performance work. This was my first visit to the Exhibitions Research Centre in the John Lennon Art and Design Building, next to the Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool. Thanks to Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell for their kind hospitality.
Image: 'wan, do, tree' from the Exhibition flyer, copyright (c) 1977 by Bob Cobbing, courtesy the Estate of Bob Cobbing.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


I went to a great bookbinding workshop run by Tom O'Reilly at Plymouth College of Art on Thursday 31 October. This event was part of the Plymouth International Book Festival. I made two bound books from scratch in a day: one casebound in maroon bookcloth with marker, headbands, shiny endpapers and vellum laid pages, another a Coptic binding in blue and white. Tom O'Reilly the bookbinder is a great teacher -- everyone in the class made their own books. His own work is really various and interesting, lots of detailed embossed leather bindings, displayed on his website (see the Gallery) here

Tuesday, 29 October 2013



ONE HOUR : A SIXTY MINUTE CIRCLE WALK ON DARTMOOR 1984 by Richard Long, courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery

from Black List -- Saul and Elaine Bass -- 2006 by Simon Patterson, courtesy of the artist

Arcadia, 2012 by Tony Lopez with Orchard Memorials, photo by John S. Webb

These three images are from a forthcoming exhibition in Edinburgh -- details in the announcement below -- my works will be shown 'in conversation' with Ian Hamilton Finlay works also on display. What a great idea to put on this ambitious exhibition Philip Davenport.

Summerhall, Edinburgh 7 Dec - 24 Jan (Public preview 7pm, 6 Dec)
World-leading text artists and poets have been invited to make work about living and dying for The Dark Would exhibition, which includes work by Richard Long, Susan Hiller, Tom Phillips, Simon Patterson, Richard Wentworth, Tony Lopez, Caroline Bergvall, Erica Baum, Ron Silliman and many others, including ‘outsider’ artists. 
Whether homeless people or outsider artists or art stars - we all have to find our way through the dark. Challenging and uplifting, The Dark Would reads the human traces that we leave in the world. This is an extraordinary gathering that asks what it is to have a body and to lose it. As well as including work from the living, there will also be 'answering' works by dead artists and poets including Stephane Mallarme, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Joseph Beuys. 
Summerhall hosts the world premiere of this ground-breaking exhibition curated by poet Philip Davenport, before it travels elsewhere in Britain and abroad. The Dark Would exhibition is an ‘out-growth’ of the large anthology of text art and poetry edited by Davenport and published by Apple Pie Editions 2013.
There will be a series of artist's talks paralleling the exhibition.

Further information here: Summerhall

Monday, 21 October 2013


The Text Festivals: Language Art and Material Poetry, edited by Tony Lopez, is now published by University of Plymouth Press: ISBN 978-1-84102-359-5; 13 new essays, 164 pages including 16 colour plates, notes on contributors, and a catalogue of works shown.

Tony Lopez, Introduction: Language Art and Material Poetry
Tony Trehy, Curating Text
derek beaulieu, The Value of Nothing
Christian Bok, The Xenotext
Carol Watts alphabetise // Different Alphabets and Damage Control
Philip Davenport, An Alphabet of Fishes: Curating Bob Cobbing
Colour Plates
James Davies, if p then q three and the Text Festival
Robert Grenier, Bury Memories (whilst yet living)
Alan Halsey, Memory Screen at Bury Met
Holly Pester, 'I did not know till afterwards': An Archive Artwork
Hester Reeve (HRH.the), But the Real Work Was to Place a Stone in my Mouth
Liz Collini, Versions
Carolyn Thompson, You're so Pretty when You are Unfaithful to Me

Get the book from University of Plymouth Press here.

Cover art: Versions (detail) © 2009 by Liz Collini

Friday, 13 September 2013


The project that has kept me busy over the past few months is a book about the Text Festivals, curated by Tony Trehy at Bury Art Museum and other venues in the town in 2005, 2009 and 2011. The Text Festival has always been about presenting high quality Language Art from the very different traditions that it emerges. Artists' and poets' works have been displayed together in exemplary curated space with minimal explanation, allowing different approaches in language use to work on each other, making it possible for the viewer to experience an unusual cultural resonance and crossover. Works from Conceptual Art, Concrete Poetry, Artists' Books and Publishing, Fluxus, Outsider Art, Minimalism, Performance Art, Vispo, Language Poetry, Pataphysics, Poetry Video, Conceptual Writing, really anything made of text or performing text or associated sound works have been presented and shown.
     I read some commissioned work at the second festival in 2009 with Philip Davenport and Carol Watts. I met lots of people involved with the festival and related events in Manchester. Apart from working directly with Tony Trehy, I got to know Philip Davenport, Helmut Lemke, Kerry Morrison, Robert Grenier, Marianne Eigenheer, James Davies, Tom Jenks, Hester Reeve and others. I spent some time with Ron Silliman who was also on at the Met Arts Centre that evening and we were both put up at the same Manchester hotel. We had a good time at the festival and after the main events there was a workshop day for participants based I think on business development techniques. That was a strange experience like being new at school or going to a training 'awayday' when I used to be an academic -- but one thing that came out of it was the obvious need to mobilise our different skills to make space for our work in common. I was really struck by the urgent need to make progress on focused secondary work. I kept in touch with Manchester friends, especially Tony Trehy, and was involved in the third festival, this time showing some new work in the main exhibition. And later on Philip Davenport edited and published The Dark Would: Anthology of Language Art, a wonderful ground-breaking collection. I took part in the launch earlier this year with Philip, Caroline Bergvall and Simon Patterson at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. James Davies, Scott Thurston and Tom Jenks have been running The Other Room a series of free poetry performance events in Manchester for about five years. The associated website that they run is an important information hub for news of all kinds of cultural events in the Northwest and it helps to maintain online connections nationally and internationally.
     It seemed a worthwhile project to try and capture some of the huge range of activity involved in the Text Festivals in another form. I proposed editing a book that would gather contributions from artists involved in the festivals and also retrospectively catalogue exhibitions and events. I'm really delighted that the book was recognised right away by the editor and readers for University of Plymouth Press. It was a new area of research for me and an interesting challenge to write something about the quite separate fields of Language Art and Concrete Poetry as it happened in the UK since the 1960s. Tony Trehy and Philip Davenport have both written chapters about curating, and the other contributors have written about specific projects made for the Text Festivals. It's a valuable and unusual collection right away because of the range of contributors and what they each bring.
     This is the contents page but the order has since been changed to fit in the section of 16 colour plates in the middle of the book.

Tony Lopez, Introduction: Language Art and Material Poetry
Tony Trehy, Curating Text
derek beaulieu, The Value of Nothing
Christian Bok, The Xenotext
Liz Collini, Versions
Philip Davenport, An Alphabet of Fishes: Curating Bob Cobbing
James Davies, if p then q three and the Text Festival
Robert Grenier, Bury Memories (whilst yet living)
Alan Halsey, Memory Screen at Bury Met
Holly Pester, 'I did not know till afterwards': An Archive Artwork
Hester Reeve (HRH.the), But the Real Work Was to Place a Stone in My Mouth
Carolyn Thompson, You're so Pretty when You are Unfaithful to Me
Carol Watts, alphabetise // Different Alphabets and Damage Control

I was at the printers in Exeter recently to see proofs and the book looks really good. The design by Daniel Jones is excellent. The front cover (above) shows a detail of Liz Collini's wall drawing Versions. I'll post again when the book is available from the publishers University of Plymouth Press and all good booksellers.

Cover art: Versions (detail) © 2009 by Liz Collini

Monday, 9 September 2013


John S. Webb's latest book A Garden, published by Nya Vyer, Stockholm, 2012
Photographs from Rorum, Osterlen, Sweden, 2012.
64 pages, 47 images, text by John S. Webb, also includes 'Apple Garden' a short essay by Tony Lopez written for this book.
Edition of 275 copies + 25 boxed special edition signed with print, hard cover clothbound.
21.5 x 15.5 cms.
Printed by Bulls Graphics/Standartu-Spaustyve, Lithuania.
ISBN 978-91-9806662-0-30
ISBN 978-91-9806662-1-0 boxed edition.
Available from webbphoto price 195 Svkr + 40 kr postage (Sweden).

Friday, 30 August 2013


Just heard that my animated text More & More has arrived on time and will be shown at the Arnolfini in Bristol for the Ian Hamilton Finlay Weekend Friday 30th August and Saturday 31 August 2013. The weekend is a special event for the Ian Hamilton Finlay Exhibition, that is currently showing at the Arnolfini, a really comprehensive show of Finlay's cards produced right through his career from 1963 to 2006. The weekend programme includes talks by Graham Rich, Stephen Bann, Harry Gilonis, OEI Magazine, film screenings of Beatrice Gibson, The Tiger's Mind, Ian Hamilton Finlay's Carrier Strike, films by Karl Holmqvist, and Kriwet, a concert by Amor de Dias, a DJ set by Christian Flamm, Sue Tomkins audio work, and a performance by Kasia Fudakowski. Works by Victoria Bean, Antonio Claudio Carvalho and my More & More are to be shown. There is a benefit auction Friday 30th August at 7.30pm to help to maintain Finlay's garden Little Sparta in Dunsyre Scotland. The auctioneer will be George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol. I went on an exhibition tour and talk by Stephen Bann last Saturday with Graham Rich and Lesley Kerman. It was great to hear about Finlay's print projects and his various disputes and campaigns. I really enjoyed the visit to the Finlay garden at St George's church in Bristol.
    This photo of More and More was taken at the Sentences exhibition in Bury Art Museum, 2011 by Jari Kuusenaho; the animation is by ranfirefly, technical development by Tom Lopez of Microserve Bristol. The work was also shown at Poetry for the Eye, TR1 Gallery, Tampere, Finland 2012, and at Visual Poetics, South Bank Centre, London, 2013.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


I was in Dublin for the Pound conference 9th to 14th July. Lots of papers of course and with three strands running most of the time you get only a sample of what is happening. Ira Nadel's paper on Pound and the Artichoke (Pound meeting Beckett) had a spoiler from Seamus Heaney who also had something to say about this Paris encounter and Pound's dismissive remark to Beckett. Emily Mitchell Wallace was again focused on Byzantine Torcello and carved dolphins with lots of beautiful photos. I think that the Torcello mosaic is one of the most beautiful things I've seen and very different from everything else in Venice, so I was glad to have it displayed up on the big screen. I saw and heard a range of papers some of them really interesting by David Ewick, Catherine Paul, David Ayers, Jo Berryman, Richard Parker, Yoshiko Kita, Andrew Houwen, Ron Bush, Michael Kindellan (read out by Richard Parker) Giuliana Ferreccio, Annabel Haynes, Alan Golding, Daniel Swift, Philip Coleman, Robert von Hallberg, John Gery, David Moody and others. I took part in a reading with David Cappella, Desmond Egan, Kevin Kiely, Patrizia de Rachewiltz, Mary de Rachewiltz, John Gery, Biljana Obradovic, Jessica Pujol I Duran, Ron Smith, Stephen Romer, Daniel Maria Mancini, Jeff Grienensen, probably others, which demonstrated the enormous range of poets who apparently have an interest in modernism (though quite a few of them write as if it never happened). It was fun to meet up with friends and go out in Dublin for drinks and dinner. The district I was staying in, Temple Bar, is a kind of theme park of Irish nightlife, lots of live singers, pavements thronged with revellers many of them very tired and emotional. I had a day free after the conference, stashed my luggage and walked round the James Joyce sights including the James Joyce Centre and a trip on the DART train to see the Martello tower that opens Ulysses. I wished I'd taken some swimming trunks along as the forty foot bathing place looked like the best place to be. The photos above are the Martello tower at Sandycove, the interior of the tower as it is now, the sign for the Forty Foot Bathing Place, and the James Joyce statue with suitcases and litter bin by O'Connell Street.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


These are photos from the Text Art Archive Colloquium at Bury Art Museum on 20 May 2013. Me with Nick Thurston (left) in the first photo, then Holly Pester and Kerry Morrison (left), then Tony Trehy in front of the dead deer painting, then Scott Thurston (left) and James Davies. It was a good day put together by Holly Pester who has been working at Bury as artist curator, with talks about archiving and arts practice from Holly Pester, derek beaulieu, Carol Watts, Tony Trehy and Kerry Morrison. Thanks to Phil Davenport for the photos taken on my camera.


A new anthology edited by John Gery and Richard Parker, In Place of Love and Country is published by Crater Press, 2013 - ISSN 2041-0948. The contributors are Mary de Rachewiltz, Ron Smith, Wayne Pounds, Biljana D. Obradovic, Julian Stannard, Amy Evans, David Cappella, Desmond Egan, Jeff Grieniesen, Tim Atkins, Daniel M. Mancini, Kevin Kiely, Richard Parker, John Gery, Michael Kindellan, Dirceu Villa, Tony Lopez, Jessica Pujol I Duran, Gavin Selerie, Stephen Romer, foreword by Walter Baumann. This is an anthology based on a reading in London at the Ezra Pound International Conference, held at the Institute for English Studies, University of London, July 2011.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


Just packing up my neon to go to the Bury Art Museum for an exhibition later this year. It looks like Marcel Broodthaers has been here and left something behind. Now that is someone I wish I'd met and had a chance to talk to, and get a personal tour of the Museum of Modern Art Department of Eagles. I hope to get there eventually and donate some Eagle sculptures. I'm driving to Manchester tomorrow to attend the Archive Colloquium at Bury: Derek Beaulieu, Carol Watts, Kerry Morrison, Holly Pester and Tony Trehy are giving talks; I'm looking forward to seeing good friends and catching up, hopefully meeting Tom Jenks of zimZalla avant objects to discuss our upcoming collaboration.

Here is a photo by Phil Davenport of the neon being tested at Taylor Electronics (Manchester) Ltd.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig, is an exhibition on forest memory curated by Amy Cutler.
The Belfry art gallery, St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA.
6th till 11th June/ weeknights 7-9pm, weekends 12-6pm
Nearest tube Bethnal Green

This free exhibition investigates the properties of forest memory through text, archive, and ‘xylarium’, or wood collection. Between the French horticultural term “forest trauma” and Robert Pogue Harrison’s “forests of nostalgia”, a whole discipline around history, witnessing, and the memorial qualities of woodland opens up. Art works examining the cultural expression of time and history in the forest are placed here alongside archival photographs, small press texts, artefacts, and museum objects, in an old, low-lit belfry designed by Sir John Soane.

A candle-lit collection on forests, memory, and social and natural history ● Cabinets of book works, wood works, paintings, drawings, prints, film projection, and music ● Wood specimens and photographs from Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany, English Heritage, the Epping Forest archive, the London Metropolitan Archives, and local collectors ● Tree ring slices and materials from dendrochronology labs ● Installations and one-off editions from forty artists, including Colin Sackett, Chris Drury, Bryan Nash Gill, Richard Skelton, herman de vries, Katsutoshi Yuasa, and Stefka Mueller

ARTISTS / CONTRIBUTORS: Alec Finlay, Peter Larkin, herman de vries, Jeff Hilson, Colin Sackett, Gerry Loose, Justin Hopper, Carol Watts, Camilla Nelson, Anthony Barnett, Edmund Hardy, Una Hamilton Helle, Katsutoshi Yuasa, Richard Skelton, Autumn Richardson, Julian Konczak, Bryan Nash Gill, Amy Cutler, Tom Noonan, Chris Drury, Paul van Dijk, Frances Hatherley, David Chatton Barker, James Aldridge, Chris Paul Daniels, Frances Presley, Stefka Mueller, Gail Ritchie, Christina White, Paul Gough, Morven Gregor, Perdita Phillips, Amy Todman, Peter Jaeger, Zoe Hope, Zoë Skoulding, Peter Foolen, Phil Smith / Mythogeography, Cees de Boer, Carlea Holl-Jensen, Tony Lopez, John S. Webb, Will Montgomery, Michael Hampton, Kate Morrell, Ben Borek, Natalia Janota, Sung Hee Jin, Martin Bridge, Nicholas Branch, Mike Baillie, Mark Nesbitt

WITH THANKS TO SUPPORTERS: Landscape Surgery at Royal Holloway, John Wylie, Giles Goodland, Justin Hopper, Kris Rockwell, Jamie Wilkes, Sally Davies, Sally Armisen, Peggy Seymour, Sean Powley, Amy Francis-Smith, Richard, Neville Midwood, Nicholas, Liberty Rowley, Lee Wagstaff, Susan Holl, Carlea Holl-Jensen, Esther Rowley, Mark James, Susan Wright, Matthew Riley, Felix Driver, Harriet Hall, Cara Jessop, Thomas Jellis, Andrew Ray, Matthew Sperling, Candice Boyd, Katie Murphy, Louise Joly, Camilla Nelson, Alice Clark, Innes Keighren, Peter Larkin, Sue Edney, Tilla Brading, Jo Norcup, Sandra Wright, Hilary Orange, Simon Howard, Edmund Hardy, Jenny O’Sullivan, Alexandra Parsons, Charlotte Jones, Sefryn Penrose, Paul Warde, Leo Cutler, Clare Williams, Sarah Browncross, Kate Maxwell, Tim Cresswell, Caroline Cornish, Martin Bridge, Xas Arnaud, Diana Hale, and Gavin MacGregor

Monday, 29 April 2013


Got my copy of The Other Room Anthology 5, 100 pages of writing, edited by Tom Jenks with a foreword by Scott Thurston. Linda Black, Paula Claire, Becky Cremin, Nikolai Duffy, Patricia Farrell, Clive Fencott, David Gaffney, Peter Jaeger, Tom Jenks, Chris McCabe, Sophie Herxheimer, Nathan Jones, Frank Kuppner, Helmut Lemke, Ira Lightman, Me, Alec Newman, Ryan Ormonde, Nat Raha, Elena Rivera, seekers of lice, Robert Sheppard, Marcus Slease, Hazel Smith and Biographical Notes.
Lovely cover. Get it direct from the publisher The Other Room, Manchester.

Saturday, 27 April 2013


Friday evening, 26th April, Sara and I went on the Aune Head Arts Quiet Walk number 1, led by Sound Artist and Naturalist Tony Whitehead, 7.30pm to 10.30pm at Bellever Forest, just a mile south of Postbridge in the middle of Dartmoor. In the evening light we walked and ambled up woodland tracks near the Youth Hostel, taking plenty of time to stop and listen to the sounds of Dartmoor. It was a treat almost right away to hear our first cuckoo of the year in the distance at first, then it flew close by and continued to call. We saw a roe deer very close and heard chaffinches, wrens, blackbirds, greenfinches, sparrows, woodpigeons, songthrushes, goldcrests and other quite ordinary birds - but we really took time to listen and to hear all the calls. Higher up in a clearing we waited and listened for fifteen or twenty minutes for the last of the evening songbirds, and when the air changed as the light faded a songthrush's extraordinary repeated variations were echoed across the valley way into the distance.
     Then we walked higher up towards Bellever Tor on the forest track in among a group of about twenty Dartmoor ponies, snorting and munching, tearing at the grass. As it grew really dark we saw the first planets, Saturn and Mars, coming into view, and then the mass of stars. It was very cold when we stopped on a high ridge and saw a red glow in the distance that turned into a red full moon rising over the moor, the colour draining out as it lifted higher in the sky. Then we walked down a steep rocky path by torchlight back to the Bellever Forest car park and drove back through Moretonhampstead and Dunsford to Exmouth. What an amazing experience and great company, thanks to Tony Whitehead and Aune Head Arts.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Simon Lewty’s exhibition ‘Absorption’ at the Art First gallery in London leads the viewer into a similar frame of mind as that which must be required to make his sumptuous and intricate works. It is not possible to follow what is going on in these graphic yet painterly works and remain a detached onlooker. For this sophisticated and highly developed body of work is in some respects a return to the mixed illuminated practice of the scriptorium. The artists and scribes who worked with pen, brush and coloured inks on early European masterpieces such as the Book of Kells, figured their miraculous stories with real and imagined creatures, decorated botanical flourishes and other marginalia that were sometimes at odds with the sacred texts they were supposed to serve. Whereas Simon Lewty has developed aspects of that practice but turned it directly inward towards the world of dreams and imagination. His ‘pictures’ are written in the neat but fully elaborated secretarial hand of another age, in long lines too long to follow easily back across the paper when you come to the right hand margin. The text is a kind of adventure narrative, made of fragmented and rewoven experience, and the written surface is varied with coloured inks phased in and out, and numbers and capitalised words. Sheets of paper are pasted together in the larger frames and written over, leaving slight traces of the joins, rather like those just visible somatic traces in calf vellum. His previous work, which may be explored in The Self as a Stranger (Black Dog, 2012), includes creatures, figures, buildings and bits of landscape – but the more recent works in ‘Absorption’ are pure handwritten text.
     The ‘picture’ is an almost impossible page of writing, and in order to see it fully and follow, you must read it as you would read an old-fashioned hand made legal document such as a house deed or will. And some of those documents also have lines that are too long to manage easily, that make you wish you could trace along with a fingertip as you go. In some of the larger works the text is translated into Tachygraphy, the long obsolete shorthand system invented by Thomas Shelton (1601-1650?) and most famously used by Samuel Pepys for his Diary. Lewty has taught himself this shorthand system and employs it to fabulous effect in his large scale translated works in luminous coloured ink symbols that look asemic to the viewer but cannot be so in this alien script. We get a ‘dual text’ effect above and below or side by side and move between the two blocks, complicating further the reading and viewing experience. Here an artist’s practice has joined writing back into drawing and fused them both into something unforeseen that gives maximum scope for the imagination. It is an art with a very high estimate and expectation of its audience and that is something sorely needed at the present time.
    Simon Lewty 'Absorption' 11 April -- 11 May at Art First, 21 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DD; images copyright Simon Lewty 2013 are included here courtesy of Art First.