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This report is taken from PN Review 99, Volume 21 Number 1, September - October 1994.

The Constructed Space: W.S Graham Chris Stephens

…words make their world
In the same way as the painter's
Mark surprises him
Into seeing new.l


The Constructed Space is an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by some of the artists with whom the poet W.S. Graham was associated, hung alongside examples of his poetry. Such an exhibition may seem an eccentric way of celebrating a poet's life, but several aspects of W.S. Graham's biography and his work make such a project not inappropriate. Briefly set out here are some of the thoughts that underpin and emerge from the exhibition.

Graham was perhaps uniquely involved with visual artists throughout his life, far more than with writers from whom he was, to some extent, isolated. In Glasgow in the early years of the war Graham met Polish émigré painters, Jankel Adler and Josef Herman and their young Scottish followers through his involvement in J.D. Fergusson's New Arts Club and David Archer's 'The Centre'. His first three volumes of poetry originated from that milieu, with the first, Cage Without Grievance, illustrated by painters Benjamin Creme and Robert Frame, and the second, The Seven Journeys, bearing a frontispiece by Frame.

In 1943 Graham settled in Cornwall with his wife-to-be Nessie Dunsmuir where he introduced himself to Ben Nicholson and so met Barbara Hepworth and the small group of avant-garde minded artists clustering around St Ives. Intriguingly for art historians, Graham also became acquainted during the war with Soho's much vaunted social circle ...


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