Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A new way of looking at a book

What remains of the cell of the Anchoress
of Shere - the subject of Cell
by Clare Best and Michaela Ridgeway.
The Anchoress was walled up in
St James Church, Shere, Surrey
Preparing to run a series of workshops in Brighton on making books, I have on my desk a beautiful example of a new approach to poetry created by Clare Best and Michaela Ridgeway, a poem and charcoal drawings collectively called Cell.

Cell is folded so it stands alone, allowing views of Michaela's work and poems by Clare and its theme, a girl enclosed in a cell, perfectly mirrors its subject.

Michaela's striking drawings convey the horror of this voluntary imprisonment with superimposed movement, a sense of chaos, of a body without features or with features re-arranged. On the cover, a sitting body clasps its own arm behind its back - the head absent.

Clare's poems describe the girl's memories of her mother, her own adolescent visions of God and Lucifer and ultimately her death. It's a story that comes from 1329 but which has contemporary energy thanks to the way Clare tells it, the way it is presented and Michaela's fine drawings. Cell's published by Frogmore Press and designed by Katy Mawhood.

I have been collaborating with artist Jane Fordham for a decade and our workshops, coming up at Fabrica Gallery in the spring, will share some of the processes we've been through and what we've learned about mixing up words and images.

They're aimed at writers and artists and will focus on making an artist book. They will offer a new way of looking at the book, at words and images and the creative process. There will be a series of three half-day workshops as well as standalone day-long workshops. Details will be available on the Fabrica website.

For more on Cell visit Frogmore Press and Clare Best's website. For more on Jane Fordham's work visit her website and explore Fabrica's events programme here.