Over the last twelve months, Richard Steadman-Jones (School of English at The University of Sheffield) and John Clark (Creative Director at Bank Street Arts) have collaborated on a number of projects where the common theme is the relationship between text and art. This Exhibition, and the accompanying two day Symposium, sees this collaboration further develop. Along with other academics from Leeds, Leicester and Sheffield, Artists and Writers in Residence at Bank Street Arts, and other related professional practitioners, the Exhibition and Symposium draws upon works and texts as diverse as Anglo Saxon Manuscripts, Scottish concrete poetry and Sol Le Witt’s ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art’. The Exhibition comprises of new work created for the ArText programme, documentation from academic and artist’s research as well as a diverse practice-based strand drawing on sonic art, photography, poetry, artists’ books and graphic design.

The Exhibition is designed to stand alone, but is to be ‘read’ as as a series of mini-exhibitions rather than a coherent whole. Works on show include:

Bryan Eccleshall – 35 x 12 = 420. Sol LeWitt’s Sentences On Conceptual Art Traced and Re-traced.

Tracing and re-tracing text has a strange effect. It doesn’t take long for letters and words to degrade and return to a collection of unhitched lines that seem to be writing, but lose any relation to signification or meaning. The shapes free-float towards and away from each other, but from across the room they still look like letters.

Rebecca Fisher – Word sindon minne maðum (‘Words are my treasure’)

Between the fifth and eleventh centuries, England was home to the Anglo-Saxons. Often known as the ‘Dark Ages’, this span of five-hundred years was actually a time of cultural sophistication, in which the Anglo-Saxons produced hundreds of poems, stories and religious texts.

Writing and the creation of texts was tremendously important in Anglo-Saxon society. Christianity was a relatively recent import – having been brought to England in the sixth century – and, as a religion of the book, Christianity prompted a wave of written accounts of Jesus’ life, in poetry and in prose.

The Anglo-Saxons created many beautifully illustrated manuscripts. Some of these glorious images celebrate God’s creation; others depict Biblical scenes; and still others display the weird and wonderful creatures that live beyond the boundaries of Anglo-Saxon England.

However, the majority of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts contain only text, some examples of which are being presented in this exhibition. How do you react to these artifacts which, although they are being presented as ‘art’, have no images in them at all?

Becky Fisher invites visitors to consider this as they look at the texts on show. And also, to reflect on the translations provided.

Individual works:

‘The Caedmon Manuscript’, eleventh century. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11: Old English poem, Genesis B

Credit for image: Bodleian Library, Project Woruldhoard

Genesis B translation

Credit: Dr S Oldrieve, Uncovering Old English Texts

‘The Exeter Book’, tenth century. Exeter, Exeter Cathedral, MS 3501: Old English riddles

Credit: The Anglo-Saxon poetic records: a collective edition

Ruthwell Cross, Dumfries, Scotland

Credit: Stuart Lee, Project Woruldhoard

‘The Vercelli Book’, tenth century. Vercelli, Cathedral Library, MS CXVII: Old English poem, Dream of the Rood

Credit: Stuart Lee, Project Woruldhoard

Adam Piette – Scottish Concrete

Adam Piette looks at the concrete poetry of four Scottish writers/artists, beginning with Ian Hamilton Finlay and his extraordinary Little Sparta garden project, and moving on to the concrete poetry of Edwin Morgan, Tom Leonard, nick-e melville and Dorothy Alexander.

Angelina Ayers – Experiments in Ekphrasis (A Residency by Angelina Ayers)

Writer in Residence, Angelina Ayers presents work from the course of a two year Residency at Bank Street Arts involving collaborative projects between writers and artists. These projects experiment with creative processes, where writers and artists aim to establish a dialogue between their work. This exhibition presents the outcomes from these collaborations and features work by Mark Rowan-Hull, Mark Gittins, Lyndon Scarfe, Jack David Hubbell, Mary Musselwhite and Ian Baxter.

Humanstudio – Art/Non-Art’ (2012)

Video loop, 3’19”

12 Pages from ‘In White Writing’ (2007 – 10) – Alan Halsey

A narrative visual poem or graphic novella or both. A record in either case of a life lived on paper, the writing-dust of 2007-10 retrieved, collaged and drawn over, drawn back on itself in a wholesale reversal or revaluation of print values; white text and images showing up and out of a solid and dreamless black ground.

Copies of the book, just published by Xexoxial Editions are available in the shop throughout the exhibition.

Fair Comment

The 12 works on display in the Atrium are open to multiple interpretation: not intended as works of art, these textworks written in a gallery about art and exhibits are now presented as critique, artwork and comment and offered back anonymously to the audience who created them.

Artist’s Book Collection

As part of ArText we will be displaying selected works from our Artist’s Book Collection – works donated to the Centre after submission for The Sheffield International Artist’s Book Prize. We have chosen to show only a handful of the near 250 strong collection here and have selected works which we feel engage with the project theme in interesting and though provoking ways.


Pages from the Symposium programme can be viewed here