I’ve been writing about 26 Atlantic Crossings for a while now. It was an experiment. Would bringing 26 visual artists and 26 writers together work? And would the fact that the artists are Canadian and the writers are from the UK and Ireland enhance or hinder creativity?
The project was six months in the imagining, creating and organising, so it seemed to be a bit of a dream when I made my 35th crossing over the Atlantic last week for the opening of the exhibition held at Books and Company, in Picton, Ontario.
A whole is greater than its parts
As overall editor for the writers’ side of the project, I had the privilege of seeing jpegs of all 26 artworks and reading all 26 sestudes. It was a relief to know that the experiment worked even if experience tells me to have an unshakeable faith in people’s generosity and talent. But nothing prepared me for the excitement I felt as I saw the artworks being pulled from their wrappings and met their creators for the first time, for ‘real’.
Artists do what they do, writers write what they write to connect with their work and with their viewers and readers. With 26 Atlantic Crossings they also connected with each other. Heartfelt appreciation and wonderful stories emerged as the exhibition took shape.
When you produce something you love you hope that others will love it too. We can get cynical with disappointment. We protect ourselves from criticism with a ‘I don’t really care’ attitude. But when 52 creative people trusted their talents and put their individuality and their souls on show, the energy – and not a little pride – crackled.
Keeping the ‘whole’ a secret until the launch day gave everyone the thrill of the unveiling. In the 1960’s there was a special word to describe a performance art event – a happening. 26 Atlantic Crossings was just such a thing – A Happening!
I felt only one sadness – that 25 writers were absent, silently waiting in the UK and Ireland for reactions to their words, to hear from their artists what they thought. Well chaps, everyone was and are delighted.
26 AC – The Book
As a souvenir, 26.org.uk published an e-book with the images of all 26 artworks and their sestudes. Sophie Gordon, one of the writers, gave us a very elegant design. The e-book is available for download, for free, here.
Joanna McFarland and I took a punt and had 100 printed. All were sold out within 24 hours. So if you didn’t get your order in for this very limited edition, I’m sorry. Do download the e-book.
These kinds of projects only work with the generosity of spirit, time and talent from all involved. But there are always the few who hold us all together and get us to the finale.
Thanks to John Simmons, Wendy Matthews and Joanna McFarland for holding the core and ensuring that an idea turned into reality.
Thanks to Kate B Hall, Tom Collins, Chris Bird and Roger Horberry, the editorial team who supported the writers and made sure every sestude was exactly 62 words.
Thanks to Wendy Matthews, Sharon Fox-Cranston and Sam Sakr, the curators of the exhibition, and their ‘hanging crew’. It was visually stunning and gave visitors a wonderful feeling of space, tranquillity and time to absorb the interplay between the art pieces and the words.
Thanks to The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery and Monica Mills for serving their local wines.
Thanks to Drew of Blooms on West Lake for providing some living sculptural succulents to grace the room.
Each week I will post one of the 26 artworks with their sestude. I’ll start this week with Sophie Gordon’s sestude to Joanna McFarland’s painting Compass Roses.
I’ll fill a vase with compass roses.
Each bloom – a journey not yet travelled.
Every petal – a step along the way.
These are rambling roses,
getting lost and found again roses.
They scale mountains.
They cross oceans.
They thrive on imagination,
and flourish under an adventurous hand.
I’ll fill a vase with compass roses.
They help me find my way.
Photo credits: copyright 2014; The Secret Archaeologist
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