It was a beautiful winter’s day in Newcastle where our small group met to engage with Hunter Red: Corpus at the art gallery.
Corpus is defined in several ways – it can be a collection of written texts, the entire works of a particular author or a body of writing on a particular subject. It is also an anatomical reference to a main body or mass structure.
This exhibition interrogates the body across platforms such as painting, photography, sculpture, works on paper and video work. All are unified by themes of the body represented in different and arresting ways – as controlled, out of control, stolen, the abject or ‘other’.
The overarching exhibition theme of red is loaded with symbolism and tactile metaphors. The colour also provides audiences with an exploratory experience in the Gallery space with works of art that evoke life, death, blood, reproduction and mortality.
Always welcoming, the generous gallery staff had prepared showbags with brochures of upcoming events for us, and I was delighted to find a zine ‘developed by the Newcastle Art Gallery Youth Reference Group’ in response to the exhibition.
Feeling pleased with the success of the MAAS program, I decided to gather poems as stimulus for this meeting and included:
- Red Faces by Gertrude Stein
- Child in Red by Rainer Maria Rilke
- 74 by Emily Dickenson
- The Red Dress by Dorothy Parker
- Color Me Red by Starr Williams
- Red Ribbon Princess by David Lacey
We spent a good forty-five minutes viewing the exhibition, gathering words and ideas, and I found some pieces spoke to me of my past – childhood and nursing. Our usual writing space was unavailable due to the installation of a new exhibition, and so we headed to Coco Monde for coffee, writing and sharing.
I stood transfixed and felt the sheer freedom watching these two girls in red: The Escape by Deborah Paauwe, 2015. Who doesn’t remember a time when life seemed simple – or is it just that our memories successfully block out the hurt and anxiety?
cross stitch and ric rac girl
heads shaking – sheer joy:
curls and strands flick
We run a bit, hesitate
dreaming: for or against?
chocolate or toffee apples?
milk or coke?
swim or sunbake?
school or work?
We let them float by.
The Red Cape
inspired by Dorothy Parker
I always saw, I always said
I always wanted that
Winter weight, swinging
at hip height,
an armour for the
night’s walk home.
The natural pattern of dripping blood, soaking and spreading into gauze grows heavy in my hand. Keep up the pressure. Maintain a calm facade. Remember the details to write up later – a statement for others to justify the time of slower, ever more slowly dripping.
A dropper of distilled alcohol – gin,
or some such –
spreads the pain further and deeper,
but a rubbing raw
a re-opening of wounds
patching my heart
keeping me in a semblance
* featured image: Looking for Felix by Dani Marti (plastic beaded curtains, 2000)