GEORGE SZIRTES & CLARISSA UPCHURCH
Cloud (2016-17) A series of cloud monoprints to which poem-texts have been written by George Szirtes
printing ink, each print 55cm x 44cm
Making Clouds – A Discussion… WORKSHOP 21 April 2017, The Shoe Factory Social Club, Norwich. About collaboration between poet & artist, & about producing the Cloud Seasons in particular, followed by a hands-on session. SEE EVENTS
Clouds take distinct but constantly changing dynamic form into which people have always read images and portents. Monoprint is a medium in which ink is worked by brush and other means across a metal surface then printed under pressure allowing for painterly effects. The associative aspect of cloud form lends itself readily to interpretation in terms of various kinds of text and is particularly appropriate for exploration in poetic form.
In this case the images, which are part of an ongoing series, were produced before the poems which consist of two parts, a brief formal cinquain – a poem of five lines consisting of lines of 2, 4, 6, 8 and 2 syllables – relating to shapes suggested by the cloud itself, followed by a short passage in prose where the material takes a freer, yet still related turn, echoing the fluidity and mutability of the monoprint process.
A set of thirty such collaborations will form a book, the order of images related in discovered narrative sequence so that the process of association might develop as the reader / viewer proceeds through the book. Clouds became special objects of interest to 17th century Dutch artists such as Jacob van Ruysdael and later to British artists of the Norwich School, such as John Sell Cotman and John Crome, as well as John Constable. “Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?” asked Polonius in Hamlet. Hamlet’s answer was deliberately teasing, as clouds themselves are.
George Szirtes is a poet and translator, with a background in fine arts. George is interested in tropes of translation, migration, having come from Budapest as a child refugee. He is the receiver of several prizes for both poetry and translation. Among his works we find The Slant Door (1979), Short Wave (1984), Reel (2004) Bad Machine (2013). Szirtes has written extensively for radio and is the author of more than a dozen plays, musicals, opera libretti, and oratorios. Szirtes lives in England with his wife, the painter Clarissa Upchurch, with whom he ran the Starwheel Press. They collaborated on Budapest: Image, Poem, Film (2006). He has been a member of the Royal Society of Literature since 1982.
Clarissa Upchurch is a visual artist. Her work has won several prizes and been exhibited at many venues in London, including the main art fairs. From the mid-seventies into the mid-eighties Clarissa was co-proprietor of The Starwheel Press, that printed and published collaborations between poets and artists. At the same time she was producing illustrations and book jackets for various publishers. She has had one woman exhibitions as well as being part of group shows in England, Scotland, Hungary and Ireland. Her work consists of drawings in charcoal, conté, oil pastel and paintings in oils and acrylics, also drypoints and monotypes.
Making Clouds – A Discussion… – by George Szirtes and Clarissa Upchurch. 21 April 2017 The Shoe Factory Social Club, Norwich.
about collaboration between poet & artist, & about producing the Cloud Seasons in particular, followed by a hands-on session.