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  • Lumen Crypt Gallery 200 Cambridge Heath Road London UK (map)

The Poet Dreaming in the Theologian’s House, or; If This Is Where God’s At, Why Is That Fish Dead?

Artists: Nick Scammell and Simon Head

Responding to Wright’s faithful non-belief, Nick proposes to use the residency in the Lumen Studios crypt at St John’s Church to complete a body of work stimulated by Wright’s poetry of ‘faith against faith’. Situating the work on a holy site, directly beneath a place of contemplation and worship, feels highly appropriate.

Nick proposes to select, arrange and display secondhand book covers and pages, blind-embossed with scanned lines of Charles Wright’s poetry, accompanied by several prints of effaced pages of poetry, and perhaps also a scan of a fragment of Dürer’s ‘St John Devours the Book’ (apt, given this is St John’s church...).

Simon will produce a photographic and perhaps filmic record not only of St John on Bethnal Green, the building itself, but also examine the wider issues of belief structures and their physical representation, using images of original architectural drawings of the church by its architect, Sir John Soane. Simon’s part of the collaboration will relate to the buildings structure, portraying the physical against the divine and secular currents; in a sense the present and past congregation.

During the residency, Simon would like to project some of the original plans/drawings/sketches of the church, alongside various lines of poetry from Charles Wright, onto the fabric of the building, and make a body of photographic work. This work would be projected in the context of an exhibition.
Of course, this is a sketch of the intention; the outcome may differ.

Who is Charles Wright?

Charles Wright’s poetry is concerned with language, landscape and the idea of God, in a place where inner and outer worlds overlap below the pull of divine and secular currents. It is also a ia mystic, of description, reminiscence, meditation and epiphany. A poetry of the ‘Things that divine us,’, where ‘The mysteries beat just under the surface of everything.’ Wright blends buddha and Dante, East and West, material and spiritual, in order to examine what we can and cannot correct:

There is no sickness of spirit like homesickness When what you are sick for

has never been seen or heard In this world, or even remembered

except as a smear of bleached light Opening, closing beyond any alphabet’s

Recall to witness and isolate...

- English Days

Spirit-haunted elegist, pilgrim ‘washed in the beyond’, Charles Wright is a poet of visionary urgencies whose readiness for revelation is ever-clouded by deep skepticism. His faith against faith a species of doubt elevated to a spiritual level. Illumination forever deferred. Yet:

From somewhere we never see comes everything that we do see. - December Journal

What gifts there are are all here, in this world.

- Italian Days

The above lines illustrate the tension that runs through all of Wright’s poetry. A poetry in which life is baffling, exhilarating, and brief; whose narrator both loves and distrusts the world and words. With Wright we find obscurity and transparency, surface and depth, the radiant image, narrative rising to song, the seen and the unseen, faith and doubt.