Exhibitions

The Poetry Café hosts a lively programme of art exhibitions inspired by poetry and literature. A number of our exhibitions have toured to other venues, resulted in publications or have been shortlisted for the prestigious Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. We collaborate regularly with up-and-coming artists, including students from the Illustration and Graphic Design departments of Middlesex University.

Current exhibition: Headbooks!

11 December 2017 – 3 February 2018

Headbooks exhibition image

Sidekick Books presents Headbooks!, a winter exhibition of visual poems from the first two titles in the wildly experimental Headbooks series. Each book is an interactive, collaborative compendium combining the aesthetics of guidebook, catalogue and poetry anthology, melding the factual with the fantastical, the lyrical with the visual, and brand new work with remixed public domain art. Contributing artists include Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo, avant-garde Scottish poet and performer Harry Giles, CLiPPA Award winner Kate Wakeling and Burning Eye Books editor Clive Birnie. Included are scrapbooking and do-it-yourself pages so that every copy is customisable, blurring the line between reader and writer.

The exhibition showcases collages, calligrams, mixed-media translations and telegraphic poems across two floors, including some exclusively redesigned for the exhibiting space. On the ground floor, you can find rewired and re-mediated versions of the poems of Catullus, the Roman poet famed for his bawdy and salacious verses, and for his explosive love-hate relationship with the mysterious noblewoman referred to in his poems as ‘Lesbia’. Below deck, you will uncover the dive-verse world of Aquanauts: sorrowful shipwrecks, Loch Ness sightings, vile jellies and deep sea leviathans.

The exhibition is curated by Sidekick’s writer-editors Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone, both multi-prize-winning poets in their own right and previous joint winners of a Saboteur Award for Best Collaboration. A launch event was held on Monday 11 December 2017 with a mixed Roman/underwater theme. Togas and other costuming encouraged. Red wine, grapes and honey cakes will be served, and the filthiest Catullus translations – those deemed too extreme to be exhibited – were performed aloud.

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