Lucy & Paul arrived with an army of women for the Female War Poets Exhibition! And what I mean by an army of women is that they brought lots of beautifully framed poems illustrated by a short biography and a picture of each poet.
Our new exhibition is up.
It's all about female poets of the first world war.
It's beautifully laid out.
There's even a competition to enter.
There's original artwork too.
This picture doesn't show the detail very well, so here are a couple of close ups.
Utilising my new camera skills!
There is a lot to read, and you are more than welcome to read it out loud as you walk around.
Poetry should always be read out loud shouldn't it?
The inspiration for the exhibition came about after Paul and Lucy saw this...
So without further ado, here is the interview with the curators...
1.)Why did you choose to do your exhibit about
women and what sparked your interest in showing female war poetry.
The idea came about after Lucy had been to see a
production of one of her favourite musicals Bullets and Daffodils by Wirral
musician Dean Johnson. The musical is based on the war poetry of Wilfred Owen
and tells the story of his life as a poet and in the trenches of World War One.
Lucy entered a poetry competition ran by the Wilfred Owen story that celebrated
the Centenary of the Titanic which she won. She was then asked by Dean Johnson
who is the founder of the Wilfred Owen story to put together an exhibition about
female war poets.
Her search began as in the Wirral where she discovered the
poetry of May Sinclair. Expanding her search around the North
West , she found Cicely Fox-Smith and Mary Webb. The more Lucy discovered
the more the research evolved and the poetry on show includes international females
from Russia, Italy and Canada to name a few.
2.)Where does your interest in Poetry come
Lucy’s parents loved books and always encouraged her as
a young child to read poetry, her passion also stemmed from curiosity about WWI;
her grandfather was a Sergeant in the forces and was part of the first Regiment
to go to the battle of Mons. When he returned from the war he brought back a
poster of a horse called ‘Goodbye Old Man’ Lucy was intrigued by the poster and
wanted to know more about it.
Lucy’s aunt also left her a black book full of poems,
anecdotes and press cuttings that she had collected from WWI; this fuelled her
interest to learn more and explore the War.
3.)How did you make the pieces, was there any
specific mental and physical process – Did you know how you wanted it to look in
terms of layout, colour and fonts?
Lucy’s husband Paul, who has a background in publishing
developed the project with Lucy and took charge of the composition of the
pieces. As the exhibition has toured, the design of the pieces has evolved and
changed from the first exhibition. They discussed details and began by making
the pieces black and white as they felt this was appropriate and in-keeping with
the way things were at the time that these poems were written.
The same layout runs throughout the pieces to make them
a uniform collection and for ease of reading, photos of each woman was added for
visual effect so that the reader could link a face to the words adding that
extra sense to the whole experience. The project has evolved over 12 months and
combined Lucy and Pauls critical eyes to create a good mix of poems, biography
and visuals so that there is something for everyone at this exhibition.
4.)How are you involved in poetry in general, do
you write it yourself or just read it?
Lucy was always encouraged as a child to read poetry but
it wasn’t until her parents Silver Wedding Anniversary that she wrote a poem for
them as a gift.
Later Lucy was told by an American friend of hers to
‘just do it’, not to over think it but to write about anything, even Pauls
favourite hockey team. Her approach is to write ideas and let them simmer before
putting them all together,
5.)Do you have particular favourite
Amongst Lucy’s favourite poems are Mary Elizabeth
Coulridge, ‘Unwelcome’ – has always loved it and visualizes the poems when she
Browning was always Lucy’s mother’s favourite poet and
is also one of hers.
6.) Can you tell us a little more about three of the poets?
Mary Riter Hamilton was a Canadian Artist who painted
the aftermath of the war in 1919. Mary lived in harsh times and wasn’t young
when she crossed the Atlantic, she lived in devastated areas with food and water
shortages. – Mary is one of Lucy’s favourites due to what Mary achieved through
May Sinclair – May was a UK writer and poet who joined
the flying ambulance to aid the wounded. She was 52 at the time which was old in
those day, she wrote poems about the 6 weeks she spent there to reflect her time
and experience. – May is one of Lucy’s favourite as she was courageous to have
achieved what she did at her age and the devastating sites she witnessed.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox – American poet, she was an
inspiration to Lucy as Ella had the difficult job of entertaining the troops,
which is where she wrote and recited her poems to them.
7. And finally?
Lucy also added Inspirational women not just poets as
she felt she couldn’t leave them out for the difficult jobs they did and ones we
wouldn’t have even known about such as Spies, Aviators, Munitions workers and
It was important to give a voice to those who were
involved and the sacrifices they made.
Thanks for the interview, Paul and Lucy. I also want to thank Carmela, who carried out the interview for me. You'll see and hear more of her on this blog in the future as she is now part of the Arts Development Team.
So here are a couple more images to whet your appetite and, as always, we hope this encourages you to come and see our gallery in person.