The new installation in the Poetry Lightbox Series features a poem fragment by Tessa Scott. Tessa completed her creative writing MFA at Sydney University after studying fine art and design. Her first poetry collection Dream Houses was published in California in 2019. She works as a designer and teaches poetry and English as a second language in Berlin and Hamburg, where she lives with her teenage son, comedian partner, nearly identical twin tabby cats and overgrown allotment.
She says, this poem fragment, crossed with two image cuttings, is called 'the flowering woman.' The first image is a colonial-era botanical sketch from the German Transport Museum in Berlin. This softly-lit watercolour of flowering pōhutakawa attracted my eye from across a darkened room crammed with model ships. The second image is a half-destroyed carved wooden statue of a woman, from the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. The poem fragment is a line from a longer sequence called Bodies of Water, which uses the Beaufort Scale as an extended metaphor for transformation. In the flowering woman, putting two unrelated images together, transformed them and their proximity suggested the story of Daphne’s metamorphosis into a tree, from the myth of Daphne & Apollo. Somehow, from my current location, in the middle of the European response to the pandemic, I found Daphne’s self-protective shape-shifting to be a highly relatable response to an ever-present and swiftly morphing danger. So, in that sense, this image is a record of a state of becoming, in turn representative of the creative process to me. It’s a kind of mental, and spiritual flowering, when you hit your stride as an artist, hence the title. I’m so happy that this work can be on this wall in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, at this time.
This magpie collecting of fragments is my typical visual process, I’ll collect images that attract me, with no real intention. Only later in the process of sifting and sorting, will the true worth or meaning of an image be revealed. A sort of purposeful accident, but the point to me is to keep the eyes open to the world around us. That’s a fundamental difference for me between visual & verbal process. The verbal is much more intentional, and requiring of labour and attention. A lot of spit and polish goes into a poem, I never “hear” them in my head in the way I “see” visual work, often fully formed in my mind’s eye. The tension between these two worlds fascinates me.
The Poetry Lightbox Series is curated by Wellington poet Sarah Scott and showcases fragments of poems, erasure and collage from local writers responding to the natural environment in and around Te Whanganui-a-Tara.