Ekphrasis and Collaborations

2022. 3 Poems by Miriam Wei Wei Lo and Drawings by Jenny Potts Barr for the exhibition ‘Ever evers: of “other loves and landscapes” at Bunbury Regional Art Gallery from 4th April -6th June 2022.

Ekphrasis: A Poets Perspective:

I approach ekphrasis in the spirit of jazz improvisation.

There are rules here and description is part of the game, but so is invention and extension.

I first responded to glimpses of the artist’s work on Instagram. I was particularly drawn to the shell dolls. They called the poetry out of me. So did the cabinet of curiosities.

So much of writing is about connection. Ekphrasis is the name we give to the connection between art and writing: A strong relationship, sparks leaping across the gap, two art-forms feeding one another.

Poetry is particularly close to art because it is so reliant on images to do its work. Form and word-play can also build up layers of meaning. Ekphrasis: Two journeys towards Art. 

Ekphrasis: the artist’s interpretation.

A Greek word meaning description.

A term used to describe the act of writing poetry inspired by artworks. Reverse ekphrasis can be a term used to describe the act of a painter painting the words of a poet or writer.

One inspires the other work and a process of creating begins. But image making is slippery, like Eliot’s falling shadows or his missing words. 

For Thine is

    Life is

    For Thine is the

“The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot

‘In defence of the seemingly random’ -Drawing by Jenny Potts Barr 2022
Installation view -Out From the Water by Miriam Wei Wei Lo and In defence of the seemingly random by Jenny Potts Barr

The Artist’s drawing ‘In Defense of the …’ is of a cabinet of curiosities found in a large private shell museum. The unfinished line work, half colored objects, and color swatches were done to make the paper mimic an abandoned coloring-in page.
The drawing’s use of perspective relies on the paper’s white space to convey absence.
The Poet’s haibun ‘Out from the Water’ is an ekphrastic response to the drawing. A haibun is prose and haiku in conversation with one another. The poem is seen here as a wall decal, mimicking a museum explanation.
This collaboration between artist and poet speaks doubly to the memento mori of ‘still life’; both in art and in writing. The two works exist side by side in equal size, mirroring each other.

‘She Spies the lovelie distance ‘Drawing by Jenny Potts Barr 2022
Installation view of the three paper works titled ‘The ladies of the Bellview’ alongside Decoration by Miriam Wei Wei Lo.
Installation view She spies the lovelie distance by Jenny and Decoration by Miriam.
Installation view .
Come Come Play Drawing by Jenny Potts Barr 2022
Installation view Siren by Miriam and Come Come Play by Jenny
Installation view Large Doll from Come Come Play.


‘The civility of french earl grey’ drawing by Jenny Potts Barr 2019
This Hopeful Shack Catalogue excerpt featuring the commissioned poem ‘Who comes calling?’ by Miriam Wei Wei Lo. Miriam responded to the drawings for the exhibition to create the poem ‘Who comes calling?’ exploring the conflict between the domestic and the wild in the imagery and her own reactions to their content.

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