AboutPoets' Riddles in Stone is the culmination of a unique collaborative project bringing together poets and letter-cutters to create new works in stone for the walled garden at Roche Court. The New Art Centre has invited selected poets including Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Gillian Clarke, Michael Longley and Lawrence Sail to compose new riddles to be cut into stone by some of the most interesting letter-carvers working today.
The New Art Centre has always exhibited the work of letter-cutters, which stems from the connection between the gallery and the family of Eric Gill. Exhibitions of the work of David Jones and Rene Hague have been shown at the New Art Centre over the years. This new exhibition will be sited in the old kitchen garden, which is still used. The poets and letter-carvers have been encouraged to work with this environment in mind, and their riddle stones will be integrated into the architecture of the Wall Garden, from its red-brick walls to the lawns and paved areas.
Gary Breeze is one of the most respected letter-cutters working today and his work, both witty and inventive, has contributed much to the revival of this ancient art. He is currently artist in residence in the Archaeology department at Southampton University. Poets' Riddles in Stone follows on from the success of his solo exhibition Musaeum at Roche Court in 2004. For this new exhibition, Breeze worked closely with the well-known poet and prize-winning author for children, Kevin Crossley-Holland, whose New Exeter Book of Riddles (co-edited with Lawrence Sail, published by Enitharmon Press, 1999) was the inspiration for the riddle theme of this exhibition.
Together the curators carefully selected eight pairings of poets and letter-carvers who they felt would respond well to the challenge of working in close collaboration. Breeze and Crossley-Holland also worked together on their own riddle stone, completing the group of nine works in the Wall Garden. As Gary Breeze has said: The carving of words into stone, the most fleeting thought made permanent, is a powerful combination of disparate human skills, and this show is about the bringing together of those skills through collaboration".