Following 9th century monks as they flee from invading vikings with the body of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels – and undertake a momentous journey that helps shape England
A month and a half into 2014 and the journey that Paul Alexander Knox and I made almost a year ago lives on, not only in our hearts but also in Paul’s photography and my words. Our original plan for 2014 may have been a bit far-fetched, but it was funding limitations that put paid to it, rather than a change of mind. Driving a mobile library (with our exhibition inside) back around the route we took last April, following the monks of Lindisfarne with the body of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels, would have been great fun. Of course, a mobile library might have struggled up some of those hills in the Lake District and North Yorkshire, so I’m sure things turned out for the best.
But as it happens, there is a mobile element to our exhibition. Thanks to the Society of Chief Librarians North East and the Arts Council our exhibition, Retraced: St Cuthbert’s Final Journey, is touring around eleven North-East libraries for a month at a time, with Paul and I delivering a photography and creative writing workshop in each location.
January saw our exhibition at the lovely library inside Bishop Auckland Town Hall.
Currently, because of lack of exhibition space, we have a specially designed but rather large pop-up exhibition at Middlesbrough Central Library throughout February.
If you’re interested in seeing our exhibition this coming year or signing up for a photography and/or creative writing workshop, then here’s the rest of the tour:
7th – 26th March, Newcastle City Library
2nd – 27th April, Stockton Library
2nd May – 1st June, South Shields Central Library
2nd – 30th June, North Shields Library
July – Sunderland Library
August – nowhere, because Paul’s off to America to make new photographic work
September – Hexham Library
October – Hartlepool Library
November – Gateshead Library
December – Darlington Library
And, as an added bonus, we’ve got some funding to print copies of a book too, so by the end of April we should have some beautiful books to give to the libraries and those that helped us with the whole project. And while we’re on that topic – a massive thank you to Sue Sneyd and Mark Freeman from Stockton Library for all their work applying for and setting up this year’s exhibition tour and workshops.
The workshops at Bishop Auckland received good reviews from those that attended and we’re looking forward to continuing these elsewhere. I’m going to leave this post with a poem from Alison Carr, who was inspired to write poetry by our exhibition at Bishop Auckland and kindly sent some of her writing to me. If anyone else is inspired by Paul’s photography or my words then please feel free to send your work in too.
Before I go, I’d like to say thanks to all those who’ve followed and visited this blog. The response has been wonderful. Naturally, Paul and I are now turning our energies towards other creative projects. Paul has already had a magnificent exhibition at Side Gallery, Newcastle, and is now working on other endeavours, while I’ve turned back to my third book (or perhaps I should say fourth) ‘Swallows and Black Streams’, which I’m hoping to finish this year and am very excited with.
Please feel free to follow my personal blog at www.richardwhardwick.com or view Paul’s brilliant and very diverse photography at www.paulalexanderknox.com. There will be much more work from both of us on these sites over the coming year(s).
I’ll leave you with one of the poems Alison Carr wrote inside our exhibition space at Bishop Auckland…
Travel to Journey
Spinning back the yarn of life
The pages torn out
History’s hooded prayers – wisdom’s gasp
So many decades, centuries ago
Since the blowing grass, the tracks
Travel to unravelling, disappearing years, ages
So long ago time walled up priories
Yesterday’s ages, pages
Rage of man, sworn to God, to the purity
Of life’s rich tapestry
Walking through the ages, to the distance
Carrying the prayers
Tasting the words
Tangling with the wind, raucous neglect
Travelling to record, remind, recall, reflect
A man, a journey, seeking sanctuary
A monk, a haven, sanctuary’s walked path
Travel to – unravelling buried deep years
The length and breadth of land