The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum are busy working away behind the scenes to install the exhibition Journeys with “The Waste Land” and we are waiting to reveal it to you! The exhibition opening celebration is on Friday 14th September with a Performed Reading of the poem “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, FREE and no booking required. This is followed by a Private View (please book) and then open to the public on Saturday 15th September until 18th November 2018.
What exactly in terms of artwork has made its way from Turner Contemporary in Margate to Coventry? The Journeys with “The Waste Land” team of community researchers are indebted to the work the Margate volunteer team invested in the beginning of the project, and we hope they approve of the additions Coventry have made to highlight its relevance, not only to our collective understanding of the poem, but also to include a Coventry perspective.
Margate have a concrete connection with T.S. Eliot, because he wrote parts of the poem from the Beach Shelter whilst recuperating in Margate from what was described at the time as a “nervous breakdown”. Many of the references to water and the sea reflect the seaside town, and many images of the place itself are conjured by Eliot’s words. “On Margate Sands. I can connect nothing with nothing…”. The research group has had many debates on the thrust of this phrase, place the emphasis on can and the tone changes to a more positive theme, place it on nothing and despair creeps in. Perhaps this is the intention of T. S. Eliot to equivocate and illustrates his state of mind at the time? The power of poetry to confuse, to illuminate, and to obscure.
So a tantalising glimpse…and yes there is this piece from the Margate exhibition. John Stezaker Scarecrow 2015 Collage. The others in the row are a mystery…
Could that be a Peter Blake? Is that Marcel Duchamp’s World Tour: Playing Chess with Tracey 2003-05 Acrylic on canvas, peeking out from a Margate photo? Yes! and the connection with Margate is strong, Tracey Emin, local Margate artist and the section II of the poem A Game of Chess where the chess imagery is key in “The Waste Land”. See this Peter Blake in Coventry’s Journeys with “The Waste Land” as well as the Turner Contemporary exhibition earlier in the year. Some works have not come to the Herbert for many reasons, but many pieces have made the journey, with different ones added to include Coventry’s research team themes of fragmentation, journeys and calling on reference to the city’s themes of reconciliation and regeneration.
Do come and see the exhibition and comment on the team’s interpretation, here on the blog, or at the Herbert. There is old-fashioned typewriter to record your comments, thoughts and ideas in the exhibition itself. It sounds great too!