The literary and visual influence, and title for this poem house is borrowed from Norman MacCaig’s powerfully evocative poem Summer Farm; a poem about identity explored and strengthened through the use of parallelism, metaphor and imagery. It is a deeply philosophical work simply expressed. MacCaig’s conclusion about being human seems to be subjective – all we can be certain about is the ‘now’ of the things we see, the feelings we feel, at any one precise moment in time.There may well be an ‘I’ that existed a second ago, in the same way that there may well be an ‘I’ that will exist a second from now. That is all.
My own poetic and visual response to MacCaig’s speculation upon the nature of being is about how we emerge from all the things we have read as well as seen; the stress being on the importance of reading, which, when combined with the act of seeing affords us deeper powers of reflection and analysis about our surroundings as well as about ourselves.
The book on which the smaller fabric book stands, I have made from an edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, published in 1790. Other than Shakespeare being a writer who absorbed thought and feeling and shared it generously with audiences past and present, the book was gradually disintegrating in my studio and so I decided to breathe new life into its faltering form.
The house and the accompanying poem consider time and its river of ideas as being part of our conscious and unconscious selves; and whilst it may seem sacrilegious to have burnt the book in places, the effect is designed to ask a question: what do we remember of what we remember?
(Summer Farm Norman MacCaig Published 1953)