A note on: Undergoing Rorschach testing live at Illuminations launch...

The Austrian Illuminations Anthology launch was a surprisingly intense evening. Always with launches things are smaller, there's nothing to make, the book is done, it's a ship being pushed out, so the energy and often audiences are lower, but in this case that slight reduction created concentration. David Fried's reading was especially intense I felt, personal and direct, and Iris Colomb is a gifted performer.

I read my fiction made of quotations story from the anthology, for Peter Handke, giving a far longer intro than I would normally do, explaining my habit of collecting quotes from novels and poems, which are past 11000 in total now, and how I intend to shape these into a novel one day.

Then came David Rickard's rather remarkable work. He suggested to me, as his piece in the book was the ink of a squid he has crushed in his original illuminations performance rendered as a Rorschach type piece of artwork, that he would follow this theme down a rabbit hole. He discovered the importance Klecksography and poetry to Hermann Rorschach original idea and how this overlap was too much to resist, so he contacted Doctor Marc Desautel, clinical psychologist and director of Rorschach Society. He invited Marc to participate in the event by analysing me live, before the audience. All I wanted to do is commit with full verity to the test, to not try and game or perform, and though we met briefly before, it was genuinely under the auspices of analysis that we did the test. I thought his insights about me were mostly true, all told. You can watch the videos of this below

A note on: an interview with Kathryn Lloyd for Jerwood Open Forest

A great interview with Kathryn Lloyd up on the Jerwood Arts website, speaking to David Rickard primarily, with me in a wee bit, about the Jerwood Open Forest. More info on that here www.stevenjfowler.com/openforest "

KL: Steven, collaboration also seems to be a vital part of your practice. Would you be able to discuss this a little bit — in terms of what sort of role collaboration can play in poetry and performance?

SJ. Fowler: Collaboration is pivotal to me. So much to say here, but to cut to the quick, collaboration is not a method; it is human interaction, just with a creative goal as the excuse. Friendship, love, family — this is collaboration. I wish to spend my life in the company of people happily making things, being challenged by their intelligence and thoughts, being provoked into that which I wouldn’t have seen alone. It in no way eats into the solitary process — one so exclusively associated, bizarrely, with poetry, it often seems. In this specific case, with David’s gesture, to open his project up to a stranger, I took it be an extraordinary act of hospitality, of generosity, of humility, that he and I shared some essential methodological appreciation of collaboration, and so I felt responsible to really commit to the work, in all ways. It has proved to be a really brilliant time — all of it positive, a real highlight of my year.

KL: David, your proposal incorporates text through the use of Steven’s poem. How do you associate with the role of writing — do you also like to write? Or is text something that you find more natural to incorporate when written by someone else?"

http://www.jerwoodvisualarts.org/writing-and-media/returnings-kathryn-lloyd-conversation-david-rickard-sj-fowler/

A note on: Jerwood Open Forest exhibition opening

A privilege to be part of the 2016 Jerwood Open Forest Exhibition at the Jerwood Space in London, thanks to my collaborator, David Rickard, and the staff at Jerwood, who have all been exceptionally generous in supporting my work.

David was shortlisted earlier this year for the project and invited me then to work with him in producing new texts for his proposal, and as the process of the project moves towards the award being granted, the Jerwood Space hosts an exhibition with representations of the works being proposed by each artist. David created a wholly new work for the exhibition, conceptually connected to the Returnings idea, that saw him source an out of commission memorial bench and gently dissect it into its constituent parts. I then wrote a poem / text responding to this work, a word for each piece of the exhibited bench skeleton. My words are beautifully projected in the gallery against a wall, becoming a kinetic poem, the entire text on loop, revealed over exactly three minutes.

The launch event was lovely, so great to spend time in that space, meet the other artists, and see my work exhibited in a gallery I often visit and admire. David and I also had a chance to appear on Resonance FM talking about our work on the day of the opening. A wonderful collaboration that I hope spawns lots more work with David in the near future.

A note on: Open Forest Exhibition at Jerwood Visual Art

November 2nd to December 11th at Jerwood Visual Arts, London.
171 Union Street. Bankside. SE1 0LN / jerwoodvisualarts.org
Gallery hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm / Saturday & Sunday 10am – 3pm

I'm pleased to have a newly commissioned text responding to, and collaborating with, the work of artist David Rickard on exhibition at Jerwood Visual Arts as part of their remarkable Open Forest project. The work explores the notion of dissection, the breaking down of things into their component parts and the fragmentation of recollection, all expressed by way of a deconstructed memorial bench. The installation is part of a wider work entitled Returnings www.stevenjfowler.com/returnings

The Jerwood Open Forest exhibition brings together the work of David Rickard and the four other shortlisted artists for 2016, with new bodies of work spanning installation, film, ceramics and performance on display. Jerwood Open Forest is a collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Forestry Commission England with the support of Arts Council England. http://jerwoodopenforest.org/

A note on: Jerwood Open Forest with David Rickard - Part #1

Over the last few months I've had the opportunity and pleasure to work with the artist David Rickard, in quite an inspiring context. David, whose remarkable career as artist has been marked by a particularly complex and deft relationship to space, object, architecture and process, has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Open Forest scheme.

After being shortlisted for his idea David, very generously, began a conversation about how poetry might find a place in his idea. His proposal was to engage with Fielder Forest in Northumberland and create a trail throughout unmarked woods. The rail would be made of a reclaimed house or building, stripped and dissembled into the very rawest wood of a structure, bare planks, and on each of these planks, following a carefully selected route, would be inscribed one word. This trail would then be read as it is followed, neither a narrative, or a poem, or a story, but all of these. And then, vitally, the trail and its posts would rot, become once again the forest, and so my words would be edited by the very forest itself.

From the Jerwood Open Forest blog, David wrote: "Returnings: 29 Jul 2016 - So far my search for a forest has been headed simultaneously in two very different directions. Firstly, for a growing, photosynthesising cluster of trees, a forest in the current tense and secondly for a building with timber bones, a forest in the past sense. Eventually these two will come together, but for now they are poles apart. The living forest will be a plantation, established and grown for the eventual yield of its timber and Kielder Forest has been identified as the prime candidate – an expanse of 600 square kilometres of forest stretching across the northern half of Northumberland.

In parallel there have been conversations with demolition contractors, with names like Titan and Redhammer, and the hunt is on to establish how we can find a suitable building that will form the fabric of the installation. It will be a timber structure that has come to the end of its functional life and is ready for a return trip to its place of origin.

Carved into the surfaces of the beams and boards will be words.  One word on each piece, which together form an expansive poem with no beginning or ending; a meandering narrative that flows through the circuitous journey that the timber has taken. The voice of these words will be S J Fowler, a contemporary English poet that has agreed to collaborate on the creation of ‘Returnings’. Now there are fragments; a forest, a hunt for a building and words. There’s still a lot to do before these fragments combine to form a work."