Poetry of Line


In this image I am inspecting a newly painted bronze, recently cast for a client. This work is called the Poetry of Line; it was first made in 2009 as part of a one-man exhibition called Behind the Lines. This sculpture is part of a series of works that I made combing sculptural form with incised graphic lines. In this case the lines describe the specific anatomy of a man’s head, eyes, nose mouth etc., with contour lines mapping out the surrounding form of the face.
At the time the resulting sculpture reminded me very much of a photographic portrait I remember seeing of the poet W H Auden. I was intrigued to see if my remembered image in any way matched the photographic reality. If I am absolutely truthful there was no close resemblance but there was a certain commonality in the way that my lines symbolically mapped out the landscape of a face and the way that Auden’s tracery of etched lines bore witness to a life well lived. My search for Auden’s portrait lead to the discovery of this poem below by Frazer Sutherland called Auden’s Face. Auden’s craggy countenance seemed to have been similarly impressed onto Frazer’s memory and in reading it I felt this sculpture, while not intending to bare a specific resemblance to the poet, it did have a certain empathy with this poem and to Auden’s image, so it seemed very appropriate that the title for this work should become: Poetry of Line.

Auden’s Face

Fraser Sutherland
From:   Matuschka Case: Selected Poems 1970-2005. Toronto: TSAR, 2006.

Much of any poetry’s dispensable, but
observe his face. A runic face, cracked
like baked clay, mud-veins left
by the drying sun. What are these hieroglyphics
this dry irony of skin? Read the message
of the temple broken open, the ark
desecrated. Was there ever a time better
than the one in which he lived? The sun
told him no. Bleached bones in a salt land
said don’t forget us. Age limned
the parchment with memory, decay, life scored
the tablet vertical, horizontal. Writing words
carefully looked up, he sought precise truth, kept
life in one pocket, work in another
like pencils. This was Auden’s face. He
chose, was given these serious ruins,
the mark of bitter weather

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