Arrived at the Dock Museum in pouring rain, with Candle at a Window safely wrapped up and watertight, for the last day of Art on Tour. The Dock Museum are showing an exhibition commemorating the experience of the Home Front in Barrow during WW1 and the painting was secured on a screen at the entrance to the exhibition.
Harriet got us all thinking of favourite poems, and suddenly the table was littered with lovely fragments of language written alongside a tiny image of the painting. She and Rachael then ‘poetry bombed’ the Dock Museum, leaving these beautiful words and image on rails, in the lifts, on walk ways, in the museum spaces, on the stairs, in the café….pointing visitors in the direction of the painting.
Had an engaging conversation with Angela and friends, one of whom used to teach with Raphael’s husband Tim in Carlisle, and she shared several anecdotes involving the wonderful accessibility of Winifred’s paintings.
Angela is a great reader, and very interested in poetry and she and Harriet enjoyed a discussion about writing and what inspires writing. Stories emerged and experiences shared. Angela’s life in Africa and letters home that have been rediscovered. Harriet enjoyed sharing Winifred Nicholson’s lifelong practice of letter writing, particularly the letter she wrote to Kathleen Raine about a house being a ‘poem place’.
The context of WW1 provided another way into reading and experiencing the painting. We discovered on Monday that Raphael’s son, Winifred’s great grandson, works for Amnesty International – an interesting connection with the light in the painting and the candle as a symbol of peace, justice and non-violence.
The painting and its connection to the poem by Kathleen Raine, ‘Spell to Bring Lost Home’, had a particular poignancy during the time it spent in the Dock Museum, with visitors reflecting on family memories passed down, people who survived and those who did not.
The rag rug in the context of the home front was a great way of engaging visitors, immediately ‘hooking’ them into the painting as well as paving the way to the exhibition.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking art ‘out on tour’ and are already thinking – what next! In the meantime, come along to Abbot Hall Art Gallery on Saturday 30 August to an exhibition celebrating the experience at all five venues and welcoming ‘Candle at a Window’ back home.