Lover’s Letters Kestle Barton, October 2012
This site-specfic project was commissioned to create work in the grounds and create a relationship with the gallery in SITE-NON-SITE
Lover’s Letters began when my partner and lover Nigel Bispham started to send me letters and poetry through the post. He lives only a few miles away. An avid letter writer all my life, technology and time, had finally eroded my letter-writing tendencies, so I was delighted.
A reciprocal conversation followed and follows, that must be differentiated from any other dialogue, verbal or written. It is this that I tried to capture in the Kestle Barton woods near Frenchman’s Creek. Woods are the site of lover’s trysts and the project aimed to evoke lover’s conversations through text. The letter sized ceramic triptychs (a letter, a poem and reply)were placed on a series of trees along a path.
I am still trying to tease out what is different about letters. Letters are written for an audience of one. As A.S. Byatt writes in Possession, letters,
‘exclude not only the reader as co-writer…..but they exclude the reader as reader, they are written if they are true letters, for a reader’ (p. 131).
It is this that I have tried to re-capture in representing letters via ceramic tree plaques. As the letters contain only references, and indices of original texts, they are not ‘true’ letters. They can only be representations of such.
‘Any true understanding is dialogic in nature…in essence, meaning belongs to a word in its position between speakers…[its] meaning is realised only in a process of active, responsive understanding’ (Tim Beasley-Smith on Bahktin, p.91)
It is this ‘active, responsive understanding’ that I wanted to capture in the sequential letter format, and by intentionally including an audience, form a different position between speakers. The endeavour is to share a private exchange or conversation , and invite others to be part of ‘a complex web of invisible others’, who form different meanings and connections in a relay of language, the expression, form, and interpretation, changed by the site, and context of the texts.