Saturday, 22 February 2014


My friend and collaborator Alison Wilson has asked me to write a poem to accompany an etching she is working on which is to go in a book that will be auctioned for charity. The book is making its way around the world from artist to artist, and each artwork is accompanied by a poem. At the moment it is in Singapore.

Alison is inspired by something she saw on a beach in Western Australia, hundreds of bluebottle jellyfish washed up on the shore. The depth of colour of the jellyfish was exquisite, cerulean blue.

This is my first attempt:

This squadron steered by a strange star,
ensnared in the shallows.
Wrong elemented,
these perfect structures stranded.
Life leaves.

Perhaps a little too enigmatic…

Blue blotches on white sand,
if this were a painting blame poor technique.
upon close inspection:
this beached shoal expires.
Leaves you wordless to describe their exact hue.

I liked the comparison to a painting, life is always messier. This is the third idea:

Effective predators on their own turf,
this borderland has them stumped,
literally high and dry.
The price you pay
for getting out of your depth.

you count them along the shore.
One hundred bluebottles
hung out to die,
strung out on the sea strand.
They dream of deep water
and the joy of feasting on others.

The brief I have been given though calls for something shorter, succinct, haiku-like. There is a reason for this. Alison will have to scratch each letter backwards on to the etching plate such practicalities dictate length.

Watch this space.

I am also going to post some of the pages of our Mexican project. I hope to have these up by the middle of next week.

Here is a video of Serafina Steer: The Night Before the Mutiny.

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