Poem by Susan Wicks with artwork by Elizabeth Clayman
With an afterword by Philip Gross
“Together, the words and images here are a celebration of a fine aesthetic principle: that a tight, even exhaustive focus on the small thing, the simplest of stimuli, is not restriction but a liberation into a vast range of associations.” – Philip Gross
Lace is the result of a collaboration between poet Susan Wicks and artist Elizabeth Clayman.
The 13 images here are from a series of 50 charcoal drawings on gessoed wood panels and are a response to a collection of antique lace housed within the ‘hidden’ collections in the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery store-rooms, opened up as part of the museum’s Re:Collections project.
The random way the lace had deteriorated, as well as the intricacy and variety of patterns, invited different responses from the artist: the journey of the lace, where it came from, who made it, who wore it… carefully drawing with soft vine charcoal, which is fugitive, like dust, onto something of substance mirrored the labor-intensive act of lace-making itself.
The meditation of Wick’s poem is an imaginative journey directly provoked by the frayed shapes and often defective patterns of the lace itself, as translated by Clayman’s drawings. At its centre is a ‘she’ – at times the imagined maker(s) of the original fabric, at times the artist, and at times simply a woman looking out at a strange world through the complex grey curtain the lace provides. The poem invites a study of, and eventual escape from, depression, but also reads as a study of the creative process itself, and the restraints female creators, particularly, have traditionally suffered from and overcome.
What people have been saying
‘In characteristically bold and thoughtful responses to Elizabeth Clayman’s beautiful charcoal drawings Susan Wicks’ poem engages with the lace both as material and metaphor, finding ‘a honeycomb of cells where blackened bees/bumble in and out in a reek of scorched wings.’ Never cosy or predictable, often bristling with intimate, visceral imagery, a powerful engagement with female physiology the poem, like the drawings, like spiders’ webs, is tough, resonant, unique. – Catherine Smith
Elizabeth Clayman’s exquisite drawings of lace fragments have a meditative, haunting power. The delicate, closely observed charcoal drawings make visible what could so easily be overlooked. Under Clayman’s gaze, the frayed, disintegrating lace remnants become worlds of great mystery and beauty. Her fascination becomes our fascination. – Wendy Orville
ISBN: 978-1-910413-11-1 (Hardback)
Publisher: Stonewood Press
Price: £12.99 (Poetry)
Extent: 40 pages
Publication: November 2015