I am really pleased to say that the Tarot project that Tom de Freston and I have been working on for a couple of years has come into fruition! We have called it Fool’s World, which seemed appropriate, given the narrative of the major arcana begins with The Fool, and ends with The World. If the Fool is lucky enough to have come out the other side of his journey, he will attain the World.
Here is a little extract from an interview Tom and I did for Lighthouse recently which describes the practicalities of making something other than a book:
In our discussions about how to make the pack into a physical object, we decided to focus solely on the Major Arcana cards, which are traditionally the most significant and represent the large turning points in life. They are also the most universally recognised outside of the Tarot-reading world. There are many spreads that can be done with the Major Arcana, so we hope that the cards will be useful to work with.
Practicalities came to the fore, such as the size of the cards and therefore the legibility of the font. We also didn’t want Tom’s powerful visuals to shout over the poems. Nor did we want the poems to have dominion of the cards, allowing Tom no space to play in. For this reason we lighted upon the notion of a set of visual cards and a set of poems cards, with each taking prominence respectively.
I feel very lucky that Tom wanted to work on this collaboration, and we both feel blessed that Gatehouse Press would want to publish something more challenging than a book. They worked incredibly hard to produce something gorgeous.
Below is one of the poem cards – the first in the pack. Here is a link to the Gatehouse shop, should you be tempted: http://www.gatehousepress.com/2015/12/fools-world-a-tarot-helen-ivory-tom-de-freston/
Destruction and re-creation is coming on apace! I have perhaps become a Trickster archetype! It’s all part of my fetish for recycling and re-imagining lives for found objects. The image below was taken from a falling-apart fairy-tale book I found on ebay for a song, or more like, a few notes. I have transferred the image onto un-stretched canvas and painted into it with acrylics. You’ll see the gold hasn’t come out too well in this photograph – it is very difficult to photograph reflective surfaces and I’m not a pro!
The words here were taken from two stories in another damaged fairy-tale book. It’s hard to see the quality of the paper from this picture, but it is a cheaply printed wartime book. The book’s previous owner has crayoned on lots of the pages, so I didn’t feel mean about cutting it up.
The avant garde publishing house Knives, Forks and Spoons Press has expressed an interest in publishing a collection of my cut-ups which I’m very excited about. This has given me the impetus for more experimentation with materials and has caused me to open my paint drawer again after a hiatus of fifteen years. Perhaps I will see how my oil paints have fared during hibernation. I do love the smell of oil paint in the morning.
It’s been a whole month since I told you about the exhibition at Anteros and I’m sure we’ve all been pretty busy since then. I for one sold some work there, took that exhibition down, made a couple more pieces, then installed some work in another space. It’s the Forum in Norwich, and will come back home on the evening of the 20th March. As you will see from the photograph, I have a whatnot, though you probably can’t see what’s on it from my photo. Martin’s been taking pictures of all my word & image assemblages, and scans of my collage poems. I’d like to update the Artwork pages of this website soon, and also I am working towards a comic-book scale collection of these pieces which The Knives, Forks and Spoons Press have shown an interest in.
It’s very exciting to see my visual and poetry practices coming together in this way, but to be honest it actually seems like the most obvious thing in the world. Heaven knows why it’s taken so long to happen. I guess this is what is called one’s development as an artist or poet, or whatever, and whatnot.
I am currently getting ready for [drum roll] my first solo exhibition, and this is the boxed and unboxed chaos in the room that I work in. I am installing the work next weekend in The Front Room at the Anteros Art Foundation on Fye Bridge Street, Norwich.
We are having a public, Private View on 20th February starting at 7pm, and from 8pm there will be poetry readings from George Szirtes and myself, new prose from Ian Nettleton and music from Paul Finlay of Das Fenster and the Alibis, and Girl du Bois. The exhibition will run till 7th March, and as it’s right in the window it might be hard to avoid if you are walking past!
I was delighted when Flik Hemmant who is the new Director of Anteros invited me to exhibit there. I may start calling myself an ‘artist’ very soon. I’ve only just tentatively started calling myself a ‘poet.’ I like Gwyneth Lewis’s quote: ‘In England, if you say you’re a poet, it’s as if you have a personal hygiene problem.’ But mostly, I think it’s because where I come from, it’s like giving yourself airs and graces. But I do write poems, so I must be a poet. If I call myself an ‘assemblage artist’ this takes the pressure off the second word and leaves me with something I can maybe live with.
I’ve just begun to work on a collaborative Tarot project with the wonderful artist Tom de Freston. Like me, Tom has always loved the archetypes and the symbolism of the Tarot and we decided to work together on a pack. We are not entirely certain of the outcome of the project but I am very much looking forward to the journey. This is a (pretty amazing!) first draft of my Moon poem. I’m still going to be making my own collages and assemblages for the poems, but this particular pack might grow a lot faster with both of us working on it!
I’ve been busy honest! Here is one of my latest Tarot poems. This one is The Star and as you’ll see I am branching out into the three dimensional…
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