Of poems and paintings

Peronel Barnes (l) with Sally Coles and the book: St Davids A sense of Place

Literature and art play alongside each other on the pavements of Rye, and have done for a long time.

To see this link celebrated at Rye Art Gallery over Easter was evocative of the living sense that poetry and a sense of place have always echoed among the cobbled streets of our tiny town.

Sally Cole, an artist based in Hastings, and recently featured at the RSA exhibit at the Rye Art Gallery, has brought out a beautifully produced book of poems and paintings in collaboration with poet Peronel Barnes. Their words and images evoke a sense of place that ties in with an intense and acute experience of the coastline and the formations the landscape makes.

Memory making and mark making are on full display in the collected work, compiled as an affordable collector’s item. It is more than a brochure and in so many ways an easy piece of art to own. Some people respond better to words, some to images, here is something for all. Artists express their souls through the prism of their process. Here Sally and Peronel seemingly play on the page for us to watch the unfolding past of childhood jaunts among the crags of St David’s, Carmarthenshire. It is a pleasure.

When I saw the charcoal etched lines of Sally’s work ‘Megalith’ I was overcome by a sense of familiarity. It is her visual journey of the walk up the Welsh outcrop Carn Llidi, where I walked some twenty years ago, it was the slope her hand created on the paper that I responded to and recognised. I have walked here. To be able to create a sense of space, a memory recovered, a message decoded from paint smears or drawn lines is a talent few can wield easily. Sally does it with flair. The book is captivating. It has captured a sense of two women, both of whom have found a heart’s home along a coastline that might be on the other side of Rye, but echoes the age-old links of land and sea. Peronel, through her sea-salted words and images splayed on the page, captures her comrade-in-arms as they introduce each other’s artistry.

At the launch, it was evident that curator Julian Day’s passion for art in every form is being homed at the gallery today. Stood amid Danny Pocket’s ongoing retrospective we were immersed in a friendship between the co-creators of the book St David’s: A sense of place that has been captured for us within the tactile textured mustard fabric of a beautiful book.

It is both beautiful to behold and hold. In bringing together the first experience that Dr Day had when hearing Peronel’s poetry pouring across Sally’s painting at a post-pandemic, much-postponed, exhibit last year, we have something rare. Peronel’s powerful readings summoned for us the sounds of the sea, and Sally’s piece on display, “The Gap”, glowed as if shimmering in the spring sunshine streaming through the atrium above.

A piece of art to carry home at the practical price of £25 from the gallery. In a limited edition this artwork of a book is available from the gallery.

Image Credits: Sagar Arya .


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