Following yesterday’s appropriation of Boetti’s ‘Mappus’ by Jonathan Monk, the link today is to another form of artistic appropriation by the poet and artist Thomas A. Clark. His borrowing of John Constable’s signature is both more and less directly drawn from Constable’s original than Monk’s map is from Boetti’s. On one hand it involves the most obvious appropriation of all, a direct copy of the artist’s signature, but on the other hand Tom’s use of it serves to expand the poetic reach of Constable’s famous cloud studies in the most generous way imaginable. His use of a carefully placed vinyl facsimile signature invites our participation in a process of everyday poetic transformation, with a set of simple instructions: “Place the signature at the right-hand bottom edge of a window that looks out at the sky”.
As Tom says, “while it is, of course, a homage to Constable, it is also a small encouragement to look at the sky, so part of my general poetics of attention, particularly to the natural world”.
The poetics of attention, as he calls it, has been the quiet motivation for a wide and wonderful body of work over the past five decades, often made in collaboration with his partner Laurie Clark with whom he established Moschatel Press in 1973. Together they run Cairn Gallery, formerly of Nailsworth, Gloucestershire and since their return to Scotland in 2002 based in the fishing village of Pittenweem in Fife. We’ve done a number of projects together over the years including (and there’s another link here to yesterday’s map) ‘The Hidden Place’ a wall painting and screen-print which provided an alternative map of Scotland through linguistics, language and the origins of place names, rather than contour lines. It is a beautiful reminder that poetry is to be found everywhere, often hidden in unexpected places.