Liverpool's centre for the contemporary arts

Sean Borodale

Sean Borodale, Artist-Writer-in-Residence, March 2016 – March 2017

Sean Borodale works as a writer and artist, making topographic and documentary poems written on location; this derives from a process of writing and walking for works such as Notes for an Atlas (2003), a Guardian Summer Books recommendation in 2005. Bee Journal (Jonathan Cape, 2012), his first full-length collection of poetry, shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize and Costa Book Award, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Bee Journal is due to be re-issued with Vintage Classics in May 2016. His second collection Human Work (Jonathan Cape, 2015) written whilst cooking is the narrative of a voice in domesticity; a spring 2015 Poetry Book Society Recommendation and Observer Poetry Book of the Month. He was selected as a 2014 Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society. He collaborated with Mark Rylance on a four-actor performance of his walking-poem Notes for an Atlas for the first London Festival of Literature at Southbank in 2007: Monument for a Witness spanned 8 nights at Festival Hall. In 2007 he co-produced lyrical 16mm film documentary of Taunton Livestock Market, Bring in Daylight; Mighty Beast was an adaptation of his film-script with producer Sara Davies for a BBC radio version of the poem. Mighty Beast won Radio Academy Gold Award for Best Feature or Documentary in 2014. His second feature for BBC’s ‘Between the Ears’ was based on his collection Bee Journal and broadcast in 2015. Printwork includes the Ice Observatory Surveys, a screen-printed text-based triptych for the MET Office in Exeter.


Image: Sean Borodale, Rescue, Courtesy the artist.

Borodale's aims for the residency are to develop three interconnected projects that bring his literary and visual arts practice into greater alignment. ‘Rescue’ will use James Joyce's novel Ulysses (set in Dublin) as map to correlate the 18 episodes of the novel with sites or events of resonance in contemporary Liverpool. Earthed in a reading of Joyce, the writing process will record experience of the echoes of one city (Dublin) through the present history, topography and community of another (Liverpool). ‘Rescue’ alludes to what is healed or sustained through remarkable achievements of the everyday, towards illumination of vivid, deep connection between Liverpool and the world by immigration, commerce, conflict, activism. The project will culminate in a manuscript of equivalent length to Ulysses for submission to publisher.

‘Lyrigraph’ (from Greek lyric, concerning the lyre, and graphos, writing) will comprise four large screen-printed texts. The texts, as lyrigraphs, record a process of writing on site underground, in the geological 'sacrifice area' of the Mendips in Somerset; its quarries, caves, archaeological and ancient, funereal landscape. The piece will be accompanied by an essay with documentation, towards production of bookwork and exhibition; working with Hotbed Press in Manchester.

The third project is a recording of Joyce’s Ulysses, read by the diverse people of Liverpool; the point to reflect on how communities within Liverpool hold an identity through dialect. Public engagement across districts of the city, working with libraries, community groups, as well as Bluecoat.

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