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Ekphrasis: Creating Space for Art and Literature Autumn seminar series

Ekphrasis in contemporary literature is usually understood as a poetic description of a work of art. This series of seminars will explore how artists and writers use images and texts from ancient and modern sources to create new works which speak to our time. 

These seminars have now concluded. Links to recordings are available in each seminar description below:


Tuesday 1 November 2022 18.00-19.00 

'Medusa & her Sisters' and 'Ekphrasis of TV, Film, and Musical Performances'

'Medusa and her Sisters', Natalie Sirett and Natalie Shaw

Medusa & her Sisters is a book made in a collaboration between artist Natalie Sirett, poet and editor Natalie Shaw and fourteen contemporary women poets. Exploring the myth of the snake-haired Medusa and her Sisters, both artist and poets find resonances with contemporary issues of body-shaming and objectification.

Natalie Sirett is a multimedia artist, interested in us, our stories, our icons. As an examination of the negative feminine in our culture, Medusa & Her Sisters reflects a recurring theme in her work. Natalie has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally. Most recently at the National Portrait Gallery, London and The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Natalie Shaw is a poet whose work has been described by the TLS as 'wonderfully bananas' and as ‘highly anarchic’ by Neil Astley. Oh be quiet was published by Against the Grain and Dirty Martini is out in January 2023 with Broken Sleep.

'Ekphrasis of TV, film, and musical performances',  Jane Yeh

In addition to writing poems based on still works of visual art (such as paintings or sculptures), Jane Yeh’s practice includes writing ekphrastic poetry inspired by TV programmes, films, and musical performances. She will read from and discuss some of her work in this area, which also explores ideas around identity, artifice, gender and representation.

Jane Yeh’s collection Discipline (Carcanet, 2019) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She was named a Next Generation poet by the PBS for her collection The Ninjas (Carcanet, 2012), and her first collection, Marabou (Carcanet, 2005), was shortlisted for the Forward, Whitbread, and Aldeburgh poetry prizes. A Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University, she was a mentor for the 2021 Ledbury Poetry Critics programme.

You can view a recording of this seminar here: Medusa and her Sisters and Ekphrasis of TV, Film, and Musical Performances'

Attendees to this seminar can purchase copies of Medusa and her Sisters here: to order a signed, limited edition copy of Medusa & her Sisters discounted from £21.00 to £12.00 (free p+p).


Tuesday 15 November 2022 18.00-19.00

‘In Search of John Milton’ and ‘Exploded Form: The Ekphrasis of Cornelia Parker's ‘Cold Dark Matter’

‘In Search of John Milton’, Richard Kenton Webb

This is a visual poet's conversation with John Milton's poems. Touching on my conversation with Paradise Lost and Lycidas, I will focus on his last two poems of 1671, Paradise regained and Samson Agonistes. What relevance do these have for an artist in the 21st century?

Richard Kenton Webb is Subject Lead of Painting, Drawing and Printmaking at Plymouth College of Art. He studied at Chelsea, the Slade, and the Royal College of Art and has work in national and private collections. Recent shows have been at the Martin Museum of Art, Texas; and at Hefei Museum of Contemporary Art, China. In 2020 he won first prize at the Sunny Art Prize, followed by a solo show, Hope in an Age of Anxiety in 2021. This year, he has joined the list of international names invited to the Josef and Anni Albers Residency, USA, where he made in 72 drawings his Manifesto of Painting.

Exploded Form: The Ekphrasis of Cornelia Parker's ‘Cold Dark Matter’, Patrick Wright

This presentation will include a reading of my poem 'An Exploded View'. I will then go on to discuss how this poem was made. I will finish by proposing an expanded mode of ekphrasis, one that might be useful when responding to abstract or formless artworks.   

Patrick Wright has a poetry collection, Full Sight of Her, published by Eyewear Publishing (2020). He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at the Open University. He is also currently finishing a PhD in Creative Writing, ‘Exit Strategy: Ekphrasis through the lens of the abstract and the formless’.  

Richard Kenton Webb's work can be viewed here

Patrick Wright's work can be viewed here

You can view a recording of this seminar here: ‘In Search of John Milton’ and ‘Exploded Form: The Ekphrasis of Cornelia Parker's ‘Cold Dark Matter’


Tuesday 29 November 2022 18.00-19.00

Beyond Ekphrasis

Heather Richardson and Maria Isakova Bennett

Heather Richardson will explore how creative writers can enrich their practice both by applying the analytical techniques used by Art Historians and by finding commonalities between the practice of the visual artist and the writer. Heather Richardson is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University. She has published two novels: Magdeburg (2010, Lagan Press) and Doubting Thomas (2017, Vagabond Voices). Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in journals in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her textile art has been exhibited at the International Linen Biennale (Lisburn, 2018) and at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery (Banbridge, 2019)

Heather can be found on Twitter@woven writer

Maria Isakova-Bennett will discuss the interplay between visual art and poetry in her practice with reference to her projects mira (a collaboration with poet John Glenday), Painting the Mersey in 17 Canvases (Hazel Press, 2022), An ache in each welcoming kiss… (Maytree Press, 2019), and Stitch Translations (a collaboration with 48 poets, 2018). Maria Isakova Bennett is the recipient of a Peggy Poole Award and a New North Poet Award. She has held residencies as both an artist and a poet at Poetry-in-Aldeburgh, Merseyside art galleries, and for Mersey Care, NHS Trust. Maria creates the limited edition hand-stitched poetry journal, Coast to Coast to Coast collaborating with poets in the UK and Ireland. She has four pamphlets, the latest is Painting the Mersey in 17 Canvases (Hazel Press, 2022). 

Maris's work can be found here: Coast to Coast to Coast Hand-stitched journalsPainting the Mersey in 7 canvases


You can view a recording of this seminar here: Beyond Ekphrasis



Picture credits: Pauline Loroy and Ashley Byrd on Unsplash






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