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Sunlight in Exeter

July 21, 2014


Earlier this month I spent a couple of days in the beautiful city of Exeter. I had been invited to work alongside inspirational printmaker Catherine Cartwright in a community art project called Ancient Sunlight. Catherine had contacted me about it in June. The project sounded fascinating and important, and the concept of being paid as a poet was certainly novel! I thought about it for a second or two before saying an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Catherine and I had not met before, face to face, but both of us are active in the ongoing project Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, and both of us appeared with Beau Beausoleil in the film made at the Arab-British Centre earlier this year, though we were present on different days. Catherine met me at the station and very soon it was as if we’d known each other for years. We start our sessions in St James School in the autumn. The product of our small part in this big project will be “The Book of Justice”.

I stayed overnight at Catherine’s home and recognised this delightful piece as the work of  Jenny Southam, who’d been a fellow-student with Peter on a postgraduate sculpture course at UWE many years ago.

Ceramic sculpture by Jenny Southam

Ceramic sculpture by Jenny Southam

Jenny and her family, it turned out, live close by!

The background reading I’ve been doing for Ancient Sunlight has been illuminating. The first book I read was “All the Shah’s Men” by Stephen Kinzer, about the overthrow of the Mossadegh government in Iran by British and CIA agents in 1953. This story intersects my own life story. I’ve often wondered, since he died, why my father was called back into the Royal Navy six years after the end of WW2. It was too early for “The Suez Crisis”. Now I understand, and am appalled. A terrible injustice was done to the people of Iran and the world is still trying to cope with the consequences over sixty years later.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2014 9:39 am

    Love the sculpture! small world, eh – everything and everyone is connected, somehow…

  2. July 22, 2014 4:25 pm

    Plenty more on Jenny’s website, Jo. They are gentle and quirky and so individual.

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