Text as Texture

Rae Merrygold > Text as Texture

I can see why many visual artists dislike words in artworks.
They feel that words dirty the clear water that has reflected the sky.
It disturbs the pleasure of the silent image, the freedom from history, the beauty of nameless form.
I want to name our pains.
I want to keep our names.
I know that neither images nor words can escape the drunkenness and longing caused by the turning world.
Words and images drink the same wine.
There is no purity to protect.

(Marlene Dumas 1984)
Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art
Simon Morley

The following series of art works explore the relationship between literature and visual image. Each of the pieces incorporates text and have taken their inspiration from quotations and poems that I have found particularly meaningful.

Passing of the Years

A Portrait of my Grandparents, made entirely of text using a computerised embroidery machine. Machine stitching on Calico.

Passing of the Years

Passing of the Years

In each instant of their lives men die to that instant. It is not time that passes away from them, but they who recede from the constancy, the immutability of time, so that when afterwards they look back upon themselves it is not themselves they see, not even – as is customary to say – themselves as they formerly were, but strange ghosts made in their image, with whom they have no communication.

The Fountain – Charles Morgan


The first verse of ‘If’ by Rudyard Kiping made from pebbles, on canvas.

If in Stones

If in Stones

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating.

Rudyard Kipling

Strange Fruit

Created using handwritten text. Permanent marker on canvas.

Strange Fruit Tree

Strange Fruit Tree

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

By Billie Holiday and Abel Meeropol (1937)