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Launch of SOIL at Ledbury

On Saturday, October 23, Catherine Swire’s debut volume of poems, SOIL, was launched at the Barrett Browning Institute, home of the Ledbury Poetry Festival. The poems are about the landscape around the Malvern Hills, its history of trauma and human intervention over many centuries. I have been inspired to start a body of work using the poems as a source. I do not see myself as illustrating the poems but using them as a bridge to connect things seen with things remembered or imagined. I have worked in this way at intervals over the years – indeed my exhibiting career began when a series of charcoal drawings based on the beekeeping poems of Sylvia Plath were included in a significant exhibition at Ikon gallery in Birmingham in 1991. One of my drawings, Eastnor Obelisk, was exhibited at the BBI on Saturday and will remain there until November 2 along with sketchbooks and associated source material.
I am also interested in the figures in Catherine’s landscape and have been working on a drawing of Prince Arthur, who is buried in an exquisite tomb in Worcester Cathedral. I will post an image shortly. I would like to do something on Edward V, one of the princes who disappeared into the Tower and who appears in a medieval stained glass window in Little Malvern Priory. The glassmakers Richard Twygge and Thomas Woodshawe had a workshop in the vicinity of Great Malvern Priory and were clearly highly skilled. Their Magnificat window in Great Malvern Priory was a gift from Henry VII and includes an image of Prince Arthur.

Catherine Swire and John Elcock of The Artel Press at the launch of SOIL

26 October 2021