Of Water: Nancy Campbell & Robert Powell

Exhibition 17 December – 2 February 2019

Of Water brought together two complementary exhibitions by poets Nancy Campbell and Robert Powell, both of them engaged with rivers, canals, and riverside events, present and past.

Kayak by David Armes & Nancy Campbelll, limited edition print.
‘Kayak’ by David Armes & Nancy Campbell, limited edition print.

Outlook and Inrush
Canal Laureate Nancy Campbell spent a year paddling, cycling and walking England’s waterways, from Liverpool to London. The poems in her exhibition Outlook and Inrush represent the diversity of subjects the canal network offers a writer, including weather conditions, wildlife, wellness and the passing of time. Some of these poems were commissioned for a specific place or project, others are a spontaneous record of Nancy’s encounters with people and places along the canal.

November, poem by Robert Powell with drawing by Jake Attree.

A Small Box of River
Poet Robert Powell has been inspired by rivers in Canada, England, and most recently Finland. The exhibition, A Small Box of River, is part of his collaborative work with artist Jake Attree. Inspired by walks along the rivers Ouse and Foss in and near York, it brings together drawings and poems in ways that strive not to be directly ‘illustrative’, but rather to combine written and visual responses to create further spaces for interpretation by the viewer.

The artists

Nancy Campbell is the Canal Laureate, a collaboration between The Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust, part of the national Arts on the Waterways programme. Since 2010 Nancy has undertaken a series of residencies with research institutions in the Arctic and Scandinavia, which has resulted in several projects responding to the environment and water conservation. Her publications include a cultural history of ice, The Library of Ice: Readings in a Cold Climate (2018), Disko Bay (shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2016 and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2017) and How To Say ‘I Love You’ In Greenlandic (winner of the Birgit Skiöld Award 2013). She is based in Oxford, where she can often be found kayaking on the River Thames. www.nancycampbell.co.uk @nancycampbelle

Born and raised in Canada, York-based writer Robert Powell has lived for many years in the UK, working in the fields of journalism, photography, the arts and urbanism. He has published four collections of poetry: Harvest of Light, All, and most recently (2018) Riverain (Valley Press) and Aura (AmosLAB, Finland), as well as an artist’s book and exhibition, A Small Box of River (2016) with artist Jake Attree. In 2017 he wrote and co-produced, with Ben Pugh, The River Speaks, a film funded by the Canal & River Trust ‘Arts on the Waterways’ programme. He has recently been artist in residence with the Kone Foundation in Finland. Robert’s poem ‘The Telling’ won a commendation in the National Poetry Competition 2017. www.rjpowell.org

A celebratory event with readings and filmpoems was held in The Poetry Café, London, on 16 January 2019.