I had my dose a couple of weeks ago, when I was in London to visit the Royal Society exhibition, a very informative lecture by Stephen Duckworth on Lear and Crete (to be repeated soon at the Ashmolean) and, of course, the Oxford Bicentennial Conference.
No report could do justice to the several interesting papers that were read, and the lively discussions that followed, so I will not try. It was a great opportunity to meet both fans of Edward Lear and academics working on the different aspects of his production. Photographs and further information will soon be available at the official conference website.
October 12 – November 17th 2012
Happy Birthday Edward Lear
The Concourse Gallery, Michael Andrews Building, Southampton Solent University, SO14 0YN.
Southampton Solent University is collaborating with Paper Galaxy (Andrew Baker & Linda Hughes) to celebrate the bi-centenary of the birth of Edward Lear with an exhibition of work over 40 british artists including Glen Baxter, Linda Hughes, John Vernon Lord, Morten Morland, Simon Pemberton and Vaughan Oliver.
There is more than one defining Victorian writer celebrating his bicentenary this year. Edward Lear, who gave us ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and ‘The Dong With a Luminous Nose’, developed the limerick into a staple of nonsense verse, and whose drawings are still instantly recognisable, was born 200 years ago on 12 May – a milestone that threatens to pass quietly, overshadowed by his contemporary Dickens.
A number of artists who teach at Solent University including printmaker Louise Weir (Bish), Ceri Amphlett, illustration Course Leader Jonny Hannah, Head of School of Art & Design Peter Lloyd and printmaker Charles Shearer have also contributed works to the show.
The pictures, inspired by Edward Lear’s work, encompass all styles and contemporary interpretations. The artist Phil Shaw, who has contributed to the exhibition, said: “The remarkable thing for me about Lear is that he manages somehow to combine mirth with melancholy, innocent optimism with sad reality. Even as a child I recognised that ‘The Dong With a Luminous Nose’ was the story of a real man’s lost love… At the age of thirteen I developed epilepsy and Lear, who suffered from the condition all his life, gave me something extra, a sense that despite everything, life was fun. Happy 200th birthday Edward.”
As a visual artist, Lear is known for his landscape paintings and natural history illustration, but it is his quirky nonsense drawings, with their unique blend of pathos and unashamed happiness, that inspire so many contemporary illustrators. Roger McGough, poet, broadcaster and president of The Poetry Society has said: “Any journey with Lear is a pea-green delight.”
This exhibition was first shown at the Poetry Society Cafe, London.
In addition, BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please will be wholly devoted to Edward Lear on 14 October, at 4.30 pm, and the broadcast will be repeated on 20 October at the same time. The programme will also be available via iPlayer.