Kate was the coordinator for a collaborative exhibition of poetry and paintings between a group of poets from Leicester Writer’s Club and artists from Leicester Society of Artists. The exhibition ‘Poetry and Paintings’ was staged by Leicester Museum and Art Gallery.
Photo: Kate Ruse on a visit to the Studio and Gardens of the late Barbara Hepworth in St Ives, Cornwall.
The Kestrel Illustration is the work of artist Chris Bent inspired by Kate’s poem ‘Songs’ and the line: ‘a solitary Kestrel proffers dangerous words hovers then stabs pencil sharp’.
She asked how he had made them
those bundles of words arranged on white paper.
After a while he looked up to the sky,
empty at first, except for air.
He breathed in as if it all belonged to him.
She followed his eyes.
The sooty albatross circles at dusk
bulky with superstitions it wheels round
leaving wet streaks on the page. He paused.
Chattering tits peck their way onto the paper
so fast it is difficult to distinguish the coal from the blue.
A solitary kestrel proffers dangerous words,
hovers then stabs, pencil sharp.
He moved his hand as if to point.
The kingfisher descends open beaked
to the tree the hedge the lake,
splashing colour, diving for those that swim deep.
I could talk of the flamingo, he said.
She breathed in as if it was her last,
searched the hill for a spill of shadows,
set up wooden cages, doors flapping open,
scattered sunflower seeds and dry crusts for luring
then waited, the words already fluttering on her tongue.
The poem ‘Puritan Black’ inspired these two works by artist John Barradell. The calligraphy is created with dip pen and white paint. The illustrative piece by the same artist is inspired by the lines in the poem – ‘but ironically in pirated Campeachy Wood smuggled overseas from mangrove swamps against the white cuff at your wrist’. The silhouettes of slaves bodies are depicted in the fringe of the cuff.
Photo courtesy of Market Harborough Museum. Copyright 2021 © Leicestershire County Council.
The Centre for New Writing at Leicester University commissioned a number of poems and pieces of fiction for a project called Sole2Soul. The work was based on an exhibition of William Falkner’s shoe workshop in the town of Market Harborough, currently exhibited in the town’s Museum.
There were a number of shoemakers in Market Harborough but Falkner was unusual because it was a family business that lasted for almost 150 years and, as they kept much of their workshop the same for generations, it became a piece of living history. Harris Falkner set up the business in the Sheep Market (now The Square) in the 1840s. His son William moved it to the High Street in 1876. It remained in this part of town until 1987 when the workshop was carefully dismantled and brought to the new Harborough Museum.
“I visited the exhibition and wandered around the very picturesque town. I chose to write my poem about a dog who is let loose in Market Harborough and set it in the late 1800s. In a way it is the dog who tells the story (or tale … or tail) of the types of materials and shoes and boots that were made in the workshop and worn by the people.”
On the turnpike roads coming into town
carriages rattle steel over stone
rain stops and starts a lame dog follows a scent
skirting around pedestrians he avoids the boot kick
runs across Church Street cringes low
then doubles back to Falkner’s open door.
Drawn into the workroom
by smells of glue and tannin he hears
the clicker’s knives honed sharp.
Amongst uppers soles heels and lasts
a warning shout sends him scuttling
round the benches zig-zagging out
onto the street again.
At the Three Swans he stops to scratch
dismounted huntsmen walk the same track stomping over gravel
their boots once waxed and polished
now scuffed and muddied.
Down Adam and Eve Street
hobnails clatter over loose cobbles
the rain cascades the dog takes cover.