Arts and culture

Welcome to the Arts and Culture Blog.

Arts and culture

Welcome to the Arts and Culture Blog.

Photograph of grass with the blades closest to the frame are in shadow and silhouetted against the sunny lawn visible in the background. Taken by Jodie Sherell in 2020.
Jodie Sherell, 2020

The Arts and Culture team works across the University to create and support exhibitions, events and performances. In this blog, we’ll highlight this work and also share interesting projects by staff and students developed through their research and teaching.

The photograph accompanying this post and the one featured on our banner are by current Photography student Jodie Sherrell as part of a series of work taken in the first 2020 lockdown.

For this first post, we’re sharing a poem by Bethany Climpson created using lines generated from members of The Writing Circle. The Writing Circle is a student writing group led by Peggy Riley, Lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing. They are currently working on an anthology of their work and we’ll share more details about that as soon as they are confirmed.

a year of this

In the last part of the story of my life,
I met you for Mexican food;
sipped coffee as I entered the theatre;
that last take-away, paneer and heat,
cumin; all the smells of summer:
rose, honeysuckle, sweat pea.
The taste of my best friend’s Bolognese,
a warm fondu, friends at the table,
a celebration: the cheese board, all laid out,
1:05AM.

I thought it would be the chillies I miss,
but it’s the heat of the bodies,
the press of strangers squeezing past.
It was my first day of tech,
(perfect teeny, tiny doughnuts with candyfloss;
a hyper-refined taste of the fair)
I didn’t realise it would be my last.

See:

for a year, I have only seen the four walls of isolation,
parted from human touch. There is bird song, now,
old tea stains in old tea cups
and candy-sweet pink gin.
I’m trying to keep things growing, ongoing,
watering can and basil pot.
My grandmother’s famous apple crumble,
hands sticky with marmalade
(this is my 54th loaf of bread)
and I’ll make a cake from anything I can catch,
anything that’s standing still.

I trace the shoreline with my viewfinder.
The birds don’t know what we’re doing:
teaching ourselves back-stitch, chain-stitch,
maybe make-a-wish stitch,
watching rocket launches (west north west
out my bedroom window), trapped
in the prison of the 21st century student house;
front line work, sitting at my writing desk,
stacked royal blue reading books with deep navy writing,
old letters and thoughts untangled, ink flowing—
the birds are chirping in my garden,

and then there is snow.

Snow falling heavier than it has for days,
from battleship sky to icy hill.
Keeping me indoors with steaming hot chocolate,
staining the window, tracing ink-washed island chains.
Fresh roses on a chilly spring morning,
first flakes carrying the ozone tang of pine sap and sea—
I didn’t know that snow had a sound.
The little boy squeals in delight
(my nephew’s photo, smiling at me from a different time),

and the mineral smell of more to come
hangs in a white sky.

I touch the Valentine’s Day card I made
with my own two hands;
the skin of my lover the softest it’s ever been.
It has been a year
and the day has already come back around.

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