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Turner Contemporary explores the relationship between T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land' and the visual arts
Edward Hopper, Night Windows. (1928). New York, 10 x 12 (1) Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Oil on canvas, 29 x 34” (73,7 x 86,4cm). Gift of John Hay Whitney. 248.1940© 2018. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence.

MARGATE.- Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ is a major exhibition exploring the relationship between T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem and the visual arts.

In 1921 Eliot spent a few weeks in Margate at a crucial moment in his career. He arrived in a fragile state, physically and mentally, and worked on his poem The Waste Land , sitting in the Nayland Rock Shelter on Margate sands, which was published the following year. He wrote to a friend:

“I have done a rough draft of part of Part III but do not know whether it will do, and must wait for Vivien’s opinion as to whether it is printable. I have done this while sitting in a shelter on the front – as I am out all day except when taking rest.” (Letter, 1921 – 22, © Estate of T. S. Eliot)

Writing shortly after the First World War, the world beyond Eliot was also fractured and fragile. Out of this devastating event, a new generation of writers, artists and musicians emerged. Eliot’s poem quickly became seen as one of the most important works of the 20th century and the poem’s techniques and images continue to resonate with literature and visual arts. The resulting exhibition includes works by major 20th artists alongside historic pieces, contemporary works and new commissions.

Artworks in the exhibition range from Edward Hopper’s painting Night Windows (1928) which echoes the mood of the poem, and its evocations of people passing through the city, lonely in the crowd; to responses by international artists, such as this year’s winner of Norway’s national award for contemporary art (the NOK Lorck Schive Kunstpris), Vibeke Tandberg, whose installation The Waste Land (2007) breaks down and re-orders a single version of the poem into its component parts, playing with language and form; to new works made specifically for the exhibition, such as John Newling’s sculpture Eliot’s Notebooks (2017), a nine month project to transform hundreds of copies of The Waste Land into soil, and then back into paper.

Presenting over 60 artists, and almost 100 objects, the exhibition is the culmination of a three year project designed to radically rethink traditional curatorial processes. The gallery has worked with a voluntary research group, made up of local people, to develop the entire exhibition. Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ is consequently the result of many months spent discussing personal connections between art, poetry, and life by the exhibition research group, on getting to know the poem.

“The splintering of language and of Sound and of Vision, initially so bizarre, has become so mainstream; so seminal, we no longer perceive it as being anything but normal. But remember that every time you send a text message, use Twitter or Snapchat, liste n to Grime or Rap or Hip Hop; use collage in either literary or artistic form, every time you watch a film using montage, flashback, or mixing found and new footage you are working and perceiving in direct descent from the Modernists. And that part of this extraordinary Revolution occurred here, in Margate, just where we are standing today. ” --(Judy Dermott, East Kent Resident, Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ Researcher)

The exhibition is accompanied by a wide range of events, many of which have grown from the activities of the Research Group, from walking and reading to projects around the town of Margate.

Artists: Berenice Abbot I Fiona Banner I Christiane Baumgartner I Sir Peter Blake I William Blake I Frederick Callcott I Leonora Carrington I Cecil Collins I John Davies I Tacita Dean I Tess Denman-Cleaver I Benedict Drew & Nicholas Brooks I Jacob Epstein I Elisabeth Frink I Philip Guston I Henrik Håkansson I Rozanne Hawksley I Patrick Heron I Edward Holloway I Edward Hopper I David Jones I R.B Kitaj I Käthe Kollwitz I Winifred Knights I Barbara Kruger I Matt Lewis I Wyndham Lewis I Nalini Malani I Helen Marten I Bernard Meadows I Ana Mendieta I Lee Miller I Henry Moore I Olive Mudie Cooke I Paul Nash I John Newling I Eduardo Paolozzi I Deanna Petherbridge I Man Ray I Paula Rego I Julia Riddiough I Martin Rowson I Rosalie Schweiker I Monir Sharoudy Farmanfarmaian I Walter Sickert I John Smith I Lalage Snow I John Stezaker I Jo Stockham I Graham Sutherland I Emma Talbot I Berny Tan I Vibeke Tandberg I William Turnbull I JMW Turner I Cy Twombly I Sally Waterman I Jane & Louise Wilson I William Lionel Wyllie I Carey Young

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