Wordsworth & Basho Exhibition

From the WALK website:

Wordsworth and Bashō: Walking Poets is an exhibition of original and facsimile copies of manuscripts by William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Matsuo Bashō. They are shown alongside new work by contemporary UK and Japanese artists who have responded to the manuscripts, and what originally inspired them, in ways that are as fresh, creative and radical now as Wordsworth and Basho were during their lives. Artists in the show include:

Ewan Clayton, Ken Cockburn, Mike Collier, Alec Finlay, Christine Flint-Sato, Zaffar Kunial, Eiichi Kono, Manny Ling, Chris McHugh, Nobuya Monta, Inge Panneels, Andrew Richardson, Autumn Richardson, Nao Sakamoto, Minako Shirakura, Richard Skelton, Ayako Tani and Brian Thompson.

The two new works I created were ‘I Know Not Where’ and ‘Still Glides the Stream’:




“Walked I know not where’ is a line from Dorothy Wordworth’s Alfoxden journal, which – with its implicit indeterminacy – seemed to me an oblique invitation to reconfigure her text, to point at hitherto unknown destinations. 200 words were chosen and presented as a ‘map’ through which the viewer may walk, thereby constructing their own ‘word-paths’. Another panel displayed the results of my own such wanderings through her text.




‘Still Glides the Stream’ is a distillation and examination of William Wordsworth’s ‘Duddon’ Sonnets, plumbing its depths for the presence of ancient ‘water-words’ in the Celtic and Germanic language families.

Unfortunately, there was insufficient room on the information panels to print the meanings of the ‘lost’ water words, which are therefore – in a sense – doubly lost. Since ‘Still Glides the Stream’ is about salvage, this is a rather ironic state of affairs, but it does at least serve to underline the reality of language loss. The meanings are printed below:

á [old norse] river
an [goidelic celtic] water
ar [goidelic celtic] water
ar [brittonic celtic] an ancient river-name element
as [goidelic celtic] cataract, waterfall
àth [goidelic celtic] ford
eá [anglo-saxon] river
ea [cumberland dialect] gap, outlet; found in river names
eas [goidelic celtic] cataract, waterfall, cascade
ey [cumberland dialect] island or river-side ground
òs [goidelic celtic] mouth of a river
óss [old norse] mouth or outlet of a river or lake

Wordsworth and Bashō: Walking Poets is on display at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, UK, until the 2nd of November.