The Artists

Janet Turville

I became inspired to learn more about the life of D.H. Lawrence after visiting the Birthplace Museum at Eastwood. There was a tin bath hanging on the wall outside which reminded me of the one we had until the mid-1960s. Like Lawrence I was born into a working class family, lived in a terraced house and my mother came from a mining family.

During my research into Lawrence’s life for the exhibition of ‘Trust the Tale’, I discovered that he left few personal possessions behind. I wanted my art to possibly reflect something new about his personality. He was an avid letter writer, as were many people at the turn of the century. It made me want to see the letters that are now kept in the Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham. After studying them, I was inspired to use the handwriting and present the words and phrases in graphic form.

Selecting parts of the letters and turning them around, I viewed them through a mirror and selected the best designs which resembled symbols. Some words, such as ‘letter’, produced many successful graphics. Other words produced nothing of interest. The handwriting was reproduced as accurately as possible, whether the words were legible or not. I was fascinated by the amount of abstract symbols that could be generated in this way. It is tempting to make a connection between the symbols or signs as being figures, animals, insects, angels or aliens. As in the Rorschach inkblot test we make of these shapes what we will.

A series of 2D pictures and inkjet fabric prints has been the outcome of the work. White and black Polyester fibre was used to create the pictures as the representation of the ink on paper. Found historic fabric designs and Nottingham lace are the backgrounds for the digital prints. Lawrence was a visual artist as well as a writer. Although the original words in the letters were written 100 years ago they look contemporary when presented in this new form.

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