The Last Years of a Rebel

The Last Years of a Rebel: A Memoir of Edith Sitwell (Houghton Mifflin, 1976)

Introduced by Matthew Hughes, Richard Booth’s Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

The book I am introducing, The Last Years of a Rebel, is a biography of Edith Sitwell, poet and patron of the arts in the era during and after the Bloomsbury Group. It is one of the books in a recently acquired collection of Women’s biographies at Richard Booth’s Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. The bookshop currently has a exhibition that has been brought together in response to this collection of books, all of which are for sale in the bookshop.
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The exhibition is curated by me (Matthew Hughes) and is a collaboration between Aimée Parrott, Frank Kent and Jenny Valentine (Hay International Fellowship winner, 2017), combining text, drawing, sculpture and window based murals all commissioned by Richard Booth’s Bookshop.
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Aimee Parrott has created a series of unique hand-printed and bound books. The books combine monotypes, collage, marbled papers and photographs creating a rhythmic flow of imagery. Images from the books are echoed around the space, translated into window based murals which bathe coloured light onto the collection.
Jenny Valentine has hand-written a series of descriptive and poetic notes, lists and letters drawn from the collection itself. These works are interspersed as bookmarks throughout the handmade books.
Frank Kent has created three bespoke tables to house the handmade books and text, inspired not only by the dimensions of the artwork but the interior and architecture of the bookshop. Kent’s pieces make space for the audience to contemplate each of the interrelating works, gently encouraging a change of pace.

Each artists contribution both expands upon and supports one another’s. Together they illuminate the collection, highlighting the intimate nature of the books whilst at the same time trying to draw the threads of communication and collaboration to the fore.

Like the writers lives lived and told in the collection, ‘Energy is Eternal Delight’ is a gesture from the heart and fingers, hands and eyes – to touch and be touched though the pages of a book.

Like the writers lives lived and told in the collection, ‘Energy is Eternal Delight’ is a gesture from the heart and fingers, hands and eyes – to touch and be touched though the pages of a book.

Richard Booth’s Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales 26th May – 28th July 2017
Commissioned by Richard Booth’s Bookshop

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