Artist Statements About the Work:
Stevie Ronnie: This film started from a desire to work on something that was going to become part of Lucy English’s Book of Hours poetry film project. Poetry/film collaborations often begin with words or footage or sound but we decided to try something different and start from a color palette. I created a palette and sent it to Lucy and she wrote the poem from the color. Lucy then sent me a couple of drafts of the poem and, after spending some time digesting Lucy’s words, I decided to respond to it visually. Using the color that I found in Lucy’s poem I used a form of abstract calligraphy to render the poem as a painting, where each mark on the canvas represents a letter in the poem. This approach to rendering a text visually is something I have been exploring in my visual arts practice for some time now. My intention when working in this way is to respond to a specific text through mark-making that approximates to the letter forms that would make the text when it is presented on the page. In doing so, my hope is to capture a sense of the emotional effect of the text in a visual form that is suggestive of written language. In terms of this film, I captured this response as a series of still images which have been strung together to make the film. The soundtrack, performed by my father Jim Ronnie, was composed and added during the video editing phase as a response to the poem’s images and words.
Lucy English: For the creation of Dark Place Stevie Ronnie and I decided to start with color. We were interested in co-creating a poetry-film which was not just a simple, “here’s a poem, put a film to it” approach. The color he sent me, pink, green, red and black suggested to me a “dark place” a mental state where reality is distorted and what is real and what is not becomes blurred. Trump’s call of “Lock her up” is mirrored here and seeps into the narrator’s consciousness. Stevie’s use of animation brings this poem to life as the vibrant color becomes covered in black. The electric guitar music enhances this nightmare vision.
Lucy English is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University where she is head of the Creative Writing Research Centre. She is a spoken word poet and novelist. She is co-director, with Sarah Tremlett, of Liberated Words, a CIC company, which creates, curates and screens poetry films. Lucy’s most recent project The Book of Hours, is a reimagining of a medieval book of hours in poetry film format. The Book of Hours contains 48 poetry films created in collaboration with 27 collaborators from Europe, America and Australia. Films from this project have been screened at many international poetry film festivals including Visible Verse, Canada; Weimar and Zebra, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; Poole Lighthouse and Newlyn in the U.K. She is researching the placement of spoken word in poetry films. The project was shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize in 2018 and two films won first and second prize for the Atticus Review Video-poetry competition.
Stevie Ronnie is a freelance artist and writer with a background in computing. His work crosses art forms to produce pieces for exhibition, publication, installation, screening and/or performance. Stevie has received two prestigious MacDowell fellowships for his interdisciplinary works and a Northern Promise Award for his poetry. His most recent book is Self Portrait as Someone Else (Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, 2017). Stevie has been involved in the making of several poetry films as both a poet and a filmmaker. His work has screened at international festivals including Zebra Poetry Film Festival, Monstra, Kinofilm, Filmpoem, dotdotdot Festival, Juteback Poetry Film Festival, Ó Bheal International Poetry Film Festival and others. His experiments with poetry and film have also been shown in galleries around the world as an integral part of exhibitions and performances of his other works.
The poetry from The Book of Hours was published in book form by Burning Eye Press in 2018.