The Memorial Arts Charity's Art & Memory Collection

A National Collection of Contemporary Memorial Art

An open-air exhibition of six carved and lettered works in slate and oak by six of the UK’s foremost lettering and memorial artists. From a beautiful Solar Seat to a Haiku Triptych, these fine exhibits are part of The Memorial Arts Charity’s evolving collection of works on memorial themes to be permanently on display at Winterbourne and five other major sites in Bristol, Perthshire, Canterbury, Lincolnshire and Herefordshire.

The purpose of the Collection is to enable people to discover the art of lettering design and letter-carving and the rich possibilities for memorials made by artists trained in these skills.

John Andrew – Haiku Triptych: Day. Green Westmorland Slate.

1100 x 930 x 180mm.

This three-panel work uses 17th century Japanese Haikus that to my mind resonate with feeling, and we a timeless reminder of the greatness and wonder of the world we live in. For me, nature, and the senses we are blessed with, are celebrated perfectly in these short fragments; they call up worlds of enjoyment, sensual pleasure, love and history. I see the slates as prayer-stones to the gods of nature. They also speak of the importance of really appreciating the present moment, ignoring the ‘tug of the future’ ever present in all of us. Now is the only real time we have; the past and future do not exist. Be fully alive to the present moment and truly live it – it is the essence of life.

Pip Hall – Solar Seat. Green Cumbrian Slate with spherical iron supports.

40 x 140 mm.

Sure on this shining night of star-made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me this side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole

I was very moved when I first head this poem by James Agee sung in a setting by Samuel Barber. I feel a weight being lifted when I read these words, seeing myself from the perspective of the solar system – and one that might be explained not by religious or scientific belief but by kindness; a simple, but powerful idea that I wanted to express using elemental forms. I wanted contrast of material too, and took the opportunity to collaborate on the making of the seat with friend and local blacksmith Lucy Sandys-Clarke. The lettering moves around a carved raincatcher in a spiral – a form recognised by healing arts, such as the Alexander Technique, in the way we move.

Giles Macdonald – Songs of Ages 11. Ordovician Slate, about 460 million years old.

2100 x 410mm.

This stone celebrates the different periods of geological time – unimaginable ages stretching one after another perhaps for four thousand six hundred mill8ion years. During these periods, different stones – slates, lime-stones, granites, marbles, coals, minerals, sandstones and fossils – were laid down, consolidated, stretched, compressed, reformed, eroded, melted or extruded. We try to understand these ages and talk about them by the names we give them.

Eric Marland – Memorial to an English Oak, English Oak.

1067 x 550 x 90

This headstone-shaped piece of oak had been in-tended as a memorial to a timber merchant but developed some rather large cracks whilst seasoning in my garden. I feel it is important to acknowledge the environmental impact of memorial-making, just as we are encouraged to consider our carbon footprint in every other aspect of our lives. This is not to suggest we abandon memorials as I’ve seen how cathartic their making can be, but that we carefully consider the materials we use when commemorating a life. I had wanted to carve ‘To Create Is To Destroy’ underneath ‘Memorial To An English Oak’ but that seemed too negative, so I came up with ‘Every Act Of Creation Is, By Its Very Nature, Also An Act Of Destruction’. In the end it was decided to leave the viewer to draw their own conclusions from the felling of an oak to remember an oak.

Pippa Westoby – Nautilus. Green Slate. 470 x 343 x 102mm.

I researched Edward James on the internet and found a line from his poem ‘This Shell’ which reads, ‘My house grows like a chambered nautilus…’ I felt that using a line from one of his poems, which refers to his house, would be a fitting memorial to him. I found a beautiful picture of a chambered nautilus on which I based my design. I did not want it to be an obvious memorial. My design is slightly ‘wacky’ to reflect the fact that Edward James was a somewhat eccentric person. As it’s a strong design, a strong colour was needed, so green slate seemed the ideal choice.

Pippa WestobyPippa Westoby – Nautilus. Green Slate. 470 x 343 x 102mm.
Eric Marland workEric Marland – Memorial to an English Oak, English Oak.