Beyond the Shadow of the Ship
In search of Coleridge
and the Imagination in the Spiral of Time
Three Highgate Gallery sets sail along Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
A crew of inspired poets and artists has gathered to celebrate Coleridge’s vision and imagination in the heart of Highgate—where he lived, worked and died—in a dialogue with one of literature’s most glorious journeys.
The exhibition is curated by Pato Bosich and Adriana Díaz Enciso, and can be visited from 8th December to 28th of February.
Opening times: Thursdays 2-6pm, Saturdays 11-6pm and Sundays 2-6pm.
At other times by appointment only. Please get in touch!:
This exhibition, centred around Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, finds continuity to Coleridge's vision through contemporary responses to his poetry, interpretations of his work throughout time, and a dialogue of other existing works with a poem that is one of literature’s most glorious journeys.
The gallery has been transformed (metaphorically) into a ship, ready to set sail and celebrate Coleridge in the heart of Highgate—where he lived, worked and died.
A series of splendid prints by internationally renowned Brazilian artist Ana María Pacheco, subtly merging the influence of myth, folklore and Medieval imagery, depict a dark voyage that connects in an uncanny way with Coleridge’s, while multifaceted artist and poet Fabian Peake, ever exploring the limits of image, word and visual media, helps us keep our bearings (or get more deeply lost) with a beautiful and mysterious textile wall piece.
Ghost ships are discerned in a condensed vision by late Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies, of international repute and co-founder of the post-war Dau al Set movement, and in a colossal piece by British contemporary artist James Dean Diamond, who, in his exploration of the expressive fusion of science, technology and photography makes us wonder what it is that we call “the sea”.
The sea has been travelled widely by British-born photographer Simon Harsent, whose work has spanned three continents. Here, the imposing presence of the iceberg portrayed in his critically acclaimed Melt monograph stands at some distance from four absorbing portraits of the sea—the life and shifts concealed in apparent darkness—from Salt Moon (Guillemot Press), in collaboration with his father, poet and author David Harsent.
The poems in Salt Moon are powerful images of mourning, loss and rapture calling the sea, its shores and birds of doom and longing, and the selection made for this exhibition is a fit dialogue with the ancient mariner’s woe two centuries later channelled by Harsent, one of Britain’s greatest living poets, who’s also a novelist, translator and librettist.
A more direct dialogue is found in David Constantine’s poem, inspired by one of Doré’s illustrations to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a utopian answering back to the ship’s curse brought about by a crime against nature. Constantine is one of our finest poets, as well as author of fiction, and has rendered into English with a lifetime’s devotion the work of some of the greatest German poets.
Yuliya Lennon, member of the Worlington Movement, brings her vision of the Old Masters in a delicate seascape that, in the exhibition’s context, conjures up the calm of expiation, while actor and puppeteer Roger Lade confers a charm to our vessel for its safe journey in the form of an auspicious figurehead.
Other poets, past and present, are sailing with us: Sasha Dugdale (also a playwright and translator, with multiple awards to her name), echoes the drama of Coleridge’s poem with another doomed journey of harrowing beauty, not by sea but by the river Seine, with her characteristic marriage of force and subtlety. For his part, poet, essayist and translator Will Stone invokes Georg Trakl from the realm of the dead through one of his superb translations of the tortured and sublime Austrian poet, demonstrating, via the Ancient Mariner, that the visionary in poetry is infectious.
Poet Caroline Maldonado, who’s also renowned for her translations from the Italian, enters in a direct dialogue with the Ancient Mariner and its imagery, emphasizing the warning in Coleridge’s poem through a contemporary plight, while multifaceted artist, poet and performer Ulli Freer plunges into Coleridge’s troubled sea with characteristic daring, and Ana Elena González Treviño, professor and researcher in English Literature and director of the Centre for Mexican Studies UNAM-UK, delights us with a translation into Spanish of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan that is bold and faithful at once.
Poet and lyricist Irina D., member of the rock band Thirsty, and captain of the Three Highgate Gallery, brings her subtle lyrics to the band’s theme “Albatross”, while poet and translator Cristina Viti, who works with Italian, English and French and is a member of the Radical Translations project, embarks on an equally Romantic journey as she envisions Lord Byron's farewell to Cádiz. As for Charles Baudelaire, also awoken from his troubled sleep to join us in this journey with his own mythical bird, surely he needs no introduction?
Beyond the Shadow of the Ship is specially enriched by the presence of Coleridge through some autograph letters and other memorabilia, generously loaned by a private collector
We’ve mentioned Thirsty’s work, and with it, we summon music as a fit companion in this adventure, with their “Albatross” video, as well as an excerpt of The Tiger Lillies (the cult trio of sublime “punk cabaret” founded by Martyn Jacques) and award-winning versatile visual artist Mark Holthusen’s enthralling adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner of 2012, by kind permission of the band, Holthusen and Misery Guts Music Ltd.
And what about the exhibition’s curators? Pato Bosich, the Three Highgate artist in residence, is a London-based contemporary Chilean artist, whose work has been extensively exhibited internationally. Apart from his role as co-curator, he contributes to the show an installation with work from his book I Bleed, You Levitate Me, an alchemical exploration that echoes The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in a visionary journey ignited by a golden and bleeding sun. These works were inspired by his collaboration with Irina D and Thirsty for the Albatross video they both directed, mentioned above, also featuring in the exhibition. Adriana Díaz Enciso is a Mexican poet, fiction author and translator, also living in London, and lyricist of the now disappeared Mexican rock band Santa Sabina. She brings to Beyond the Shadow of the Ship... a longing for the ship’s shadow.
We hope you enjoy the journey.
Three Highgate Gallery and the curators of the exhibition Beyond the Shadow of the Ship want to thank all the artists, poets and the private collector who have contributed with such enthusiasm and generosity to make this show possible; Susan Pratt from Pratt Contemporary, for her enormous help, and Thirsty, The Tiger Lillies, Mark Holthusen and Misery Guts Music Ltd for their kind permission to play the accompanying videos.
Special and heartful thanks to Margarita Zafrilla Olayo, without whose hard work, support and endless supply of hot chocolate we wouldn’t have made it.
Many thanks also to James Putnam and Yanis Angel for their generous advice, hard work and support; to Irina Zonabend for her kind assistance; to Ulli Freer, Lora Afric and Scott Schwagger for ambiance props; to Bruce Rigal for the gallery stove; to Raquel Sogra Dany, grand cupbearer; to everybody at the Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution for their kind advice and access to their Coleridge holdings; to Drew Clode, Secretary of the Coleridge Trust, for his equally generous advice, and to the British Library librarians.