A sequence of my poems featured at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe alongside a number of other artists’ works. The exhibition, curated by and featuring the work of Paul Evans, ran from December 2012 until the middle of January 2013. The event included photographs, paintings and drawings, a sound installation, digital and video artworks each accompanied by new poems. The other artists involved in the project were Karl Hurst, Chloe Brown, Humanstudio, Hondartza Fraga, and Tony Kemplen.
The exhibition as a whole used as its starting point the Victorian hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ which expounds the intrinsic notion that ‘God made [us] high and lowly’, and made hierarchies around all the creatures of the planet. The artworks and poems on show explored how this principle was fundamentally questioned by post-Darwinist thinking.
I wrote the following poem for ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ after contemplating this rather spectral, haunting photograph by Karl Hurst.
surmises we begin as fish
then wriggle out with features like a frog’s,
a lizard’s, before the mammal in us surfaces.
These creatures sniff the air for something,
clawing at the light that keeps them pinned,
a lost terrain contoured on their skin.
They’ve burrowed up from deep inside our heads,
a swerve we cannot shake. We ask
of them the hardest things: to feel, to speak.
Works by Chris Jones, alongside paintings by Paul Evans and poems by Matt Clegg have been placed in the new Cancer Genetics Building and Cancer Research Building in Cardiff. The commission – led by Paul Evans – has been created in close collaboration with researchers at the Cardiff University Medical School, technicians and practitioners in the area of cancer research. The commission, along with details of the new building can be viewed in this pdf.
I was commissioned by Arts in the Peaks, along with eleven other poets and six artists, to produce a poem-text for one of a set of twelve companion stones that would be placed beside a guide stoop (an early form of directional marking from the 18th Century) on the Peak District moors. Back in the summer of 2008, I worked with the sculpture Amanda Wray
to design a stone (gritstone block) that was to lie next to the guide stoop on Beeley Moor near the Neolithic burial ground Hob Hurst’s House.
The journey to completion has been quite a long one: the twelve companion stones were recently ‘unveiled’ at the Moorland Centre, Edale
in May 2010. In mid-July the stones will be taken to their designated sites across the Peak District where they will sit until the rain washes them away. To read more about the project, read the poems, and see all the stone designs see the Companion Stone site.
The photos show the text and carvings on the stone, and a shot of me and the kids with Amanda at the launch day at the Moorland Centre in May 2010. A map shows the location
of Hob Hursts House the old guide stoop: the companion stone will be placed right next to it. The photo’ at the bottom of the page shows us visiting the Companion Stone in April 2011.
Two hands squabble
like birds’ wings in a squall.
Paths gone to heather,
grasses silver under foot.
We slow dance through mud.
A thorn grips the wind
with nothing else to cling to
but its own skewed limbs.
Whinchats flit and whirr,
throwing out short jags of song
to tether the air.
You roll in your palms
four white flares of bog cotton.
Skin snuffing out stars.
This stubborn-made stone
hitching a lift to nowhere
with three blasted thumbs.
Worn on this finger
a powder ring of lichen,
white flicks of bird shit.
Rub Ds furred with moss,
a B unfurrowed by rain,
this O’s scraped softness.
A dog sniffs the block
where drovers slowed to spatter
thick gorse and heather.
Which way home? You wave
towards a vanishing point
that locks furze to sky.
In your cold hand
my hand warm with sun.